Friday 26 June 2015

Printmaking Week 8 - Aquatint , Develop Your Drawing Week 7

 I was really pleased  with  the effect of aquatint , it  looks a bit like my original watercolours of Fleet mudflats.  I still need to work out  how to disguise the accidental  marks - maybe some drypoint?
  On a scanned copy of my etching  I used some    grey Pitt pens to   colour in areas with 2 different  tones. Then using etching stop-out varnish ( as sticky bituminous  mixture)  on my plate I painted the areas that would  be reserved as white, a counter-intuitive  procedure!
Then donning mask and gloves,  a thin layer of resin was  applied to the plate using aquatint box ( basically a dust cloud of resin! ) I should really have used the stop- out afterwards as it's inflammable and part of the process involves heating the plate from underneath to melt the resin.  

 Then the plate was put in week acid for 15 seconds, more stop-out varnish applied to  light toned areas just etched   and for the darker tone the plate was put in the weak acid for a further 45 seconds.
Then  the stop-out varnish was removed with paraffin ( resulting in this rather nice  effect of the gold of the resin) ) and the  resin removed with methylated spirits. 
Then the exciting bit! There was just time to ink up with Prussian blue - I'm getting better at judging how much ink to take off , and put it through the press.  

 I'm not sure  I'll want to do etching and aquatint  in  the future,  as it requires access to facilities and there's a lot of processes involved.  But I've gained a whole new respect and insight  into  what goes into an etching and  looked at the prints in the RA summer Exhibition  with a new perspective  on my visit on Wednesday (more in another post)
The 'Develop your drawing ' class this week  was off-site  around Waterloo Bridge collecting sketches  and information   for a 2 week project  on the theme of Journey.   My sketches really were sketchy but I had a lovely time scribbling .Below are some of the photos I took as a reminder, I'll probably do a bit of playing in Photoshop to develop some ideas for next week.


Tuesday 23 June 2015

House for Sale!

After 3+ months work, our house is finally on the market and looking fabulous. I love seeing my work  displayed on the  freshly painted walls.

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Printmaking 7 : Etching and Drypoint Proofs

 First thing I did in my printmaking class was to put some paper into soak for taking proofs of my etching  but I had ( almost) instant gratification as there some paper already prepared in the blotter. Applying ink and the wiping it off again always seems counter-intuitive  but I loved the marks and the 'foul-biting'  where the hard ground wax wasn't thick enough. Shame about the unintentional mark across the middle  which occurred I think when I was applying the parcel tape to  the back of the plate and didn't give due care to protecting the front. Anne- Marie scanned  my proof and printed off some copies so I can play with  working out which areas  to use  2 different tones for aquatint. 

Meanwhile I did some more work on my drypoint plate of sand ripples.  Although also an intaglio technique, as it's printing from the rough burr produced from scoring into metal rather than a groove from acid etching, the  printed lines on the proof were either too harsh or too subtle compared to the plate itself ( below). Again, I have some scanned copies to  plan what to do next. 

Develop your Drawing 6 : Metamorphosis

Week 6 of  Develop Your Drawing at City Lit  was intriguingly titled 'metamorphosis' 

  After initial warm up   with graphite sticks of drawing cones, spheres , cylinders and cubes with line  only to describe surface   we had a longer  session than normal looking at artists work: Rembrandt's elephantDa vinci musclesGrunewald  folds; Henry Moore's Sheep and ( my favourite) Kathe Kollwitz figures with lines describing form with such sensitivity.
 Then dividing our A1 paper into four  and using HB pencil ( my least favourite drawing implement!)  we drew 2 objects on opposite corners, using only lines to indicate 3D structure. My colander  was rather more successful than the staple gun.
Then the 'metamorphosis' , using our imagination to show 2 different stages of change from one object to another:  my 2 were more like  paths of evolution with different bits lost!

Some interesting examples from others  of bloated hammers and bottles turning into hands, mine was very tame by comparison but then there was some good-natured  fighting over the best objects.
Next week we're released into the wild ( well Waterloo bridge)  with our sketchbooks to collect information for the following 2 sessions.  

Friday 12 June 2015

Stash Sorting , Storage and 'Shibori'

 Once upon a time, I took swatches of all the fabric in my stash  and stuck them on pieces of  card  roughly by colour. In theory it was so I could identify gaps   or find what I wanted rather than rifling through lots of boxes and bags. In practice it was just for gloating. I've  got rid of  loads (honest) and acquired others ( this was before I got into African fabrics and Indigo) so time for the folder itself to be chucked as part of my studio sort out.
Most of my fabric, evicted from the  very large wardrobe, is now sorted by colour, projects and types into boxes on the plastic B&Q shelving. Not a thing of beauty  but actually more functional than the Ikea Ivar shelving I'd originally ordered but which fell apart.
 My original Ivar   stores mainly art materials and threads  and I couldn't resist the metal trolley ( not having my sewing things to hand in the drawers of  desk). The print browser  actually hold prints from my classes but also hopefully shows  potential house  buyers that this room is a studio  ( I debated whether to set up an easel but thought that might be a step too far).  I bought a second  wooden  step-stool - as  both Gillian and   Tiggy have also pointed out, they're indispensible studio equipment.
Erica- the- exercise- bike has been evicted from the kitchen  - it's actually rather nice to cycle looking at artwork rather than kitchen cabinets . As it's a bit early in the morning to switch the radio on , I've taken to listening to music on my phone with  earphone : 'losing my religion' works particularly well.

 Progress in the rest of the house - the electrician has just replaced some of the lights and   I've installed some blinds. The patterns of light through the venetian blinds in the bedroom on the newly painted walls are just magic - instant shibori.
Photoshoot next Wednesday!

Develop your Drawing 5; Printmaking 6

This week on drawing course at city Lit  we were exploring properties of pencil: the different marks of  2H, HB, 4B  during the warm-up observing the outlines and shapes of a tangled heap of tools borrowed from the sculpture room.

Then we chose 1 item to do a large  close-up on a A1 sheet after filling the whole sheet with a mid tone. Despite using several  2B pencils in each hand  it still took a lot of time and effort - I was so ready for my coffee and Portuguese custard tart ! The coffee holder was just what I needed to prop up the wrench - the photo is deliberately blurred  by the way.
Later in the print class, I traced a section of  the mudflat photo I've also been using as inspiration for my collagraphs , then turning it over and using carbon paper, transferred the  main lines  onto the hard ground  plate I prepared last week.
Then I worked into  it a bit  inscribing the wax with a biro,  trying not to do too much as will be using the same plate for aquatint and possibly soft ground
Then 4 minutes in acid! Picked up some additional unwanted marks somewhere along the way ( the wax layer was very thin), I'll just have to incorporate them somehow into the design. No time to make a proof , that will be the first task next week.
Very difficult to take photos of such shiny images but I wanted to record the stages for my sketchbook.

Wednesday 3 June 2015

Develop Your Drawing 4 : Changing View Points

This week in drawing class at City Lit we got to play with colour!! 

 Warm up was with graphite sticks following ' skylines' of  shapes of still life  without looking at paper - first with sharp end then blunt, broader marks.
 Then 1st exercise with red, blue and orange pastels : elipses in red, vertical lines  in blue, horizontal  lines in orange. Then for 2nd exercise the still life was moved 90 degrees and  exercise repeated  with blue elipses, orange vertical lines, red horizontal lines.

 For 3rd exercise the  still life was moved a further 90 degrees and  zooming in on detail  with v large orange elipses
 Next the challenge was to work into what you had , joining up areas  with addition of black and white, developing a composition. Started with applying charcoal to to all the white areas to provide a toned background  and rubbing everything back with a rag ( absolutely filthy at the end of the session! )
 Break for coffee and Portuguese tart then more work  adding darker areas, trying to pull the picture together.
Final  version improved by cropping  but ran out of time to increase range of tones with more darks and lights. Composition isn't great- it's  hard  working on such a  large scale  and could have done with more variety of marks. But I had fun!!
Nothing to show here for the printmaking this week. Apart from taking in some black paper to take some embossed prints of my collagraph plates I was mainly preparing a plate for hard ground etching. Polishing the plate with brasso  reminded  me still need to do the knocker on our newly painted front door! Then it was bevelling edges  with file;  degreasing with ammonia/ whiting mix and applying and removing hard ground wax with a roller ( a knack that obviously needs  considerable practice) Anne-Marie was very patient with me. 

Tuesday 2 June 2015

Among Drifts of Sea Thrift

 Back rested and revived from my few days away on the Isle of Portland. On arrival at Weymouth, the beach was packed with families enjoying the sun ( and a traditional  Punch and Judy show) - very different from when we visited in March! The first thing I did after I'd dropped my bags off  at the hotel was head out to the  Chesil Beach visitor centre. This was also busy with  visitors - you could hear the determined crunch of feet  heading up the slope from quite a way off. But only a few metres away it was much  more peaceful. The expanse of pink and yellow flowers was glorious and I found a sheltered spot to sketch crouched down among drifts of sea thrift, listening to the sky larks. 

Refreshed after a good night's sleep, I  walked directly from the hotel on one of the 'Legacy  Trails' of the old quarries including DWT King Barrow Quarries nature reserve.  More pinks and yellows including some of my old  favourites from my chalk grassland survey days:

 Polygala vulgaris ( milkwort)
 Hieraceum pilosella ( mouse-ear hawkweed)

 Lots of Common Blue butterflies
 Sculpture both natural wind blown trees and hewn from  stone  like 'Still Falling' by Antony  Gormley ( below) in Tout Quarry
Then a  walk down hill  to lunch at   Jacksons' Gallery with views out to sea and excellent soup, coffee and Florentines .

 Inspired  by  the current exhibition by Roy Winstanley , I walked down to Chiswell  and onto the beach for some sketching  and taking lots of photos of weathered surfaces and beach detritus.  
  With good timing, I was  in the area during the  ArtWey open studios fortnight so with the weather the following day being rather wet and windy , I headed inland  by bus to Upwey. Bit of a trek from the bus stop   but I was made very welcome at the Gallery on the Wey  ( particularly liked the etchings of Wendy Batt) .

I had a lovely lunch at the Wishing Well CafĂ©  after some purchases from Upwey Potters:
                                           Raku 'axe head'  by Bill Crumbleholme
   Dish by Laurence Eastwood
The Heights hotel where I stayed was a very different experience from our usual 'home-from home' of Ferrybridge Cottages  but perfect for a  brief breathing space . My room was comfortable  and the staff  so helpful and I spent hours looking out at this view  of Chesil from the bistro -  both at breakfast and evening meals I had a window seat. Spectacular.