Tuesday 26 May 2015

Running away to sea

We're not too far off putting our house on the market - painting finished, new carpet installed, blinds ordered  so when there was an 'open house' advertised for a  town house we've been tracking on 'Right Move', it seemed a good opportunity  for some further research in Faversham. The journey down was so much greener than last year ( all those apple trees) and there was wonderful local produce on sale in the market. It was a useful exercise   looking round the property - lots of space but   rather dark and a feeling of being hemmed in, so some revisions to the spec needed. After a late pub lunch  writing up my notes I wandered around to remind myself of why we want to move here: the creek, the  history, the countryside, the inspiration.

Then Sunday and Monday working in the garden sorting out the  crazy paving - some  refitting of the edges like a jigsaw puzzle and filling in the gaps with sand then pea shingle so it blends in very well with existing gravel area.   Ian was in Jonah mode about my methods: hearing "I'd love to be proved wrong" for the nth  time did not improve my mood so I did most of  the work myself.  I shouldn't complain too much though as he's been incredibly supportive including encouraging me to take some time off.

It's been  a hard, relentless few months physically, mentally and emotionally  and I really need a  rest,  so I'm off  for a few days on my own at the Heights Hotel in Portland. I'm taking  some books, my camera and some sketching materials  but no laptop or tablet and looking forward to  seeing the flowers and having some nice meals out. I know it's half term  but I know some quiet spots.

The final straw  was the long anticipated delivery from IKEA this morning  of various bits of  furniture.  The Ivar shelving I ordered for my workroom was all broken !!  I've  some  Ivar units in constant use for years but the quality has nose-dived out of all recognition. Any ideas about alternatives?
So glad I'm running away to the sea tomorrow!!

Friday 22 May 2015

Printmaking 4 : Collagraphs with colour

Rene demonstrates that inking up plates for intaglio is a very messy process! After the excitement of printing collagraph plates with black ink last week, it was time to play with using different colours in different areas  

In this I applied etching inks :cyan first and hand mixed brown second , wiping off in between
In this I applied cyan and brown at the same time ( the brown was rather darker)
Then a quick roll over with some Prussian blue relief printing ink  and the 'ghost' print below. I like how there's still some residue from the intaglio. 

 Below  are the same steps  but applied to a different plate. Despite going through the same processes and through the press at the same time ,  they look rather different , I especially like the top one

Tutor Anne-Marie was very patient as the press was playing up and a lot of adjusting and brute force was required. Next session in 2 week start hard ground etching

Thursday 21 May 2015

Develop your drawing 3 : Tone and composition

 Another week , another still life- getting rather familiar with some of the objects like that quirky wooden spoon!
 The warm up exercises this time to follow the outline of all the shapes while not looking , like city skyscapes. Then using  broad side of the charcoal to find the main shapes and explore composition using a viewfinder
 The final sustained drawing involved covering the A1 sized piece of paper with charcoal and rubbing it around to give a mid tone. Then to use erasers to carve out the white areas and charcoal to add the darkest. I got a bit carried away with a painterly range of tones which was not as effective as where others had stuck to the brief of just black white and 1 grey. Pleased with the spoon though! A bit frustrated  with the limited range of marks possible with an eraser. I like charcoal better now I'm wearing  nitrile gloves and not getting so messy but do lose some sensitivity of mark.
I   chose the colander for the positive/ effects of white holes on a dark background and dark holes on white ( and the interesting shadows ) but didn't have the tools to achieve that ( and we were supposed to be looking at the larger shapes rather the detail). I was really flagging by the end of the session despite coffee and Portuguese custard tart, it's hard work standing at an easel for 3 hours  but revived at the thought of playing with my collagraph plates .

Thursday 14 May 2015

Printmaking Week 3 - Collagraph results

Feather Intaglio Ghost print 1
The results of  inking up collagraph plates made a couple of weeks ago did not disappoint ! The  variation in marks using different techniques was amazing 
Feather collagraph plate ( post relief printing) 
This plate  was just a feather  stuck down  with PVA onto  a piece of card ( I did remove the quill part) with multiple layers of shellac to seal it ( the yellow colour). We first put  plates through the press with just a piece of dampened paper to get an embossed image - very subtle so couldn't get a good photo but  intriguing nevertheless. We then inked the plate up with a roller and relief inks  and put it through the press, again with dampened  paper

 Feather Relief  ghost print
Finally we removed most but not all of the ink and then  used etching inks to get intaglio prints - applying and then a lot of work to rub most of it off!  Harder work putting them through the press than drypoint too as the plates are thicker . But so worth it. Below and at the top of the blog are the intaglio 'ghost' prints, total  magic
Feather intaglio ghost of ghost print!
The plates themselves are works of art in their own right , particularly when they've  retained some of the ink 

 Mudflats I Collagraph Plate post relief printing

 Mudflats I relief ghost print
Mudflats I intaglio ghost print

Mudflats II collagraph plate post relief printing

                          Mudflats II relief ghost print                 Mudflats II intaglio ghost print

With embossing, relief printing, and intaglio ( not forgetting the plate itself) get 4 different effects from 1 plate. And that's before experiment with combining techniques, different colours and play with chine colle. That's next time!

Wednesday 13 May 2015

Sketching in museums - Wellcome Collection

 Another Tuesday sketching with Margaret Cooter and co, this time at the Wellcome Collection with it's bizzare, sometimes macabre  medically linked objects.
I got to combine both amulets and  the difficulties of drawing hands from previous sessions at the  British Museums. There was a case of tiny amulets  in the  reading room ( for warding off evil and bringing good luck ) and a larger display of 'votive offerings' carved in stone.

I concentrated on drawing artificial hands constructed from metal, leather, wood and other materials. Some had more functionality than others but all elicit  sympathy for the original wearer
 Then very good coffee and looking at each others sketchbooks in the excellent cafĂ©  before heading off the see the Richard Diebenkorn at the Royal Academy ( with a glimpse through half open doors of the Summer Exhibition being installed)

Develop Your Drawing week 2 - observation

 Week 2 of 'Develop Your Drawing at City  Lit  was on observation - particularly line and proportional measuring  based on the still life below. We started with some warm-up exercises - drawing  with a continuous line with charcoal not looking at the paper ( above)
 This was followed  by using the side of a piece of charcoal to make broad marks and then using your non-dominant hand . The same piece of A1 paper was used, the previous drawing just being rubbed  out with a  cloth, I like the ghostly marks remaining .

Then concentrating on doing it 'properly'  with measuring, lots of rubbing out and moving objects around - I'm not sure that light is right even now, nor the teapot spout but a  big improvement on how it started . Coffee and a  Portuguese custard tart helped.   
There was also a lot of waltzing with easels - turning them round to the centre so you could see everyone's progress.


Saturday 9 May 2015

Progress on House Preparation

Today has been spent testing out potential paint colours for  our bedroom and emptying out the contents of the bedroom  bar the bed itself  ready for the  decorator who starts Monday . Upper left is our choice at the moment ( it's a bit greener in reality)

 The removal of  approximately 60 boxes and various  pieces of furniture into storage went very  smoothly  on Friday  once our neighbour had kindly moved her car ( despite parking suspension in place there were still people parked outside our house) 
 Most of it we'd moved into the front room in preparation apart from the large wardrobe and desk  in my studio- they took quite a bit of time dismantling with a very impressive tool kit

 My studio looked strangely empty ( about 20  plastic boxes of fabric are stored temporarily in the cellar )

But not for long as the  bedroom contents (2 chest of drawers and the suitcases from  under the bed)  are  waiting to find temporary  homes.  At least the drawers have  made  it back into the chests  but the rest may have to wait until tomorrow...

Tuesday 5 May 2015

Re-engagement with Plants

Overnight in Shrewsbury after an intensive few days re-engaging with plants as part of Biological Recording module at Preston Montford Field Centre. The 'quantum leap' sculpture to celebrate birthplace of Charles Darwin  is controversial ( mainly for it's cost)   but I rather liked it especially  how it echoed the shapes of the Welsh Bridge behind. I also enjoyed all the quirky timbered buildings (thinking ahead to Faversham)
At the FSC centre,  it's' bee hotel' is allegedly the largest in the world!

River Severn


The course was mainly classroom based with a thorough grounding in the basis of biological recording . We  planned and executed a survey as part of this ( more to show we understood methodology but it was difficult  not to get  caught up in collecting data). Heather and I were looking for evidence of  anther smut (fungal infection) of male flowers of Red Campion  only to find that this one flower was the only example! We had to be very careful when doing searches for literature using the term 'smut'!! 

  It was good to be back among enthusiastic natural history people and in my natural habitat and I look forward to returning to Preston Montford in July for the next course on using a flora. The accommodation was comfortable and the food excellent with opportunity to test some local ales in the bar while discussing the days activities. Meanwhile I have to submit 2 assignments while finishing packing up boxes for storage ( collection on Friday)