Monday 28 December 2009

3d Art Exchange Project (Part 3)

As I had already made these circular monoprint backgrounds I wondered about using them as a basis for the house forms?.   I retrieved some high resolution jpegs and gave them a 'try out' on the computer screen using Photoshop.  But ~ I thought nah..... doesn't really do anything much for me.  I think I then  left it for a few days   A couple of nights later as I was  lying in bed, going off to sleep, I had this idea of making an embossed house with shapes of animals and creatures and maybe objects associated with aspects of just `'being" in your own space; in a place where only you could go.

I was thinking along the lines of a 'house of the soul' or 'of dreams'.    That  idea appealed to me,  in that,  the figurative elements, so to speak,  would only be suggested given the nature of embossed images.    I had always liked the idea of making some artwork using this process and it struck me that given that it would be a 3d form then it would be easier to see the emboss.  I thought that I might incorporate a botanical form alluding to the idea of growth and gardens   I also liked the idea of the animal like spirits.  

As with all of my house forms there would be  no door in or out of this space as the idea is that it represents a place of rest or meditation and of privacy.
Maybe I would be a spider’s web, as a metaphor for one to spin a story or a dream and  even a chair to rest one’s self on, as one contemplates…………………………..


But no it was going to be the emboss house forms I thought to myself.  So using Hahnemuhle or what is sometimes called German etching paper I did some tests with various  animal shapes cut from polypropylene. The first emboss house here is  test trying out  various shapes - thought to myself better not include a cross as it might not appeal to a non Christian.  The rabbit didn't look so good either.

I also tried some shapes cut from other materials e.g.,  linoleum and card but I preferred the polypropylene.  These last two images of single house forms show the final house form  showing each side.  It reminded me of ice cream and of Aran jumpers!!  The final shot shows all of the houses together which of course I send flat packed to the Four Oceans address in USA. I have not yet received my ten items by return but they should turn up sometime within the next couple of months and I will then load them up to my main website in their own portfolio with a link here from the blog.

Recent finds, Printmaker from Finland

Came across Cata's work in the past few months and I really like how she has combined drypoint and monotype.

related website of Finnish printmakers

3d Art Exchange Project (part 2)

What you see here is a sheet which shows various image compositions for a 3d house template which I decided to try to make using the tetra cartons which I had been saving from my cranberry juice breakfast drink.  I had tried these out for making single images to use as figurative elements previously.  I cant remember whether I have posted any on this blog but will check later.  I love the effect that one gets with these, it is unique to this material.  They have a kind of softness to them and the great thing is that you can scribe straight into them you don't need to prepare them other than clean the fruit juice off and make sure they are dry.

I used a drypoint tool and an etching needle to scribe the lines into the tetra carton.  I had previously made a blank of the house form to make sure the size and proportions were  correct and fitted together OK.    I seem to remember the first proof of the template came out horrible because the grey tone left by the black ink just didn't look good to me.

The one in the photo (second last from bottom) has been wiped with enormous pressure to get rid of the grey tone but I still wasn't happy.  So Idid another proof using warm red.
I didn't worry too much about the tone on this proof as its appearance to me added another quality to the house that I cant explain - it just looked good to me.

Then I had this thought -- uh uh I don't think this 'plate' will hold up to ten printings through the press I don't think it has the stamina - it will surely fall apart.  Drat and Blast !!  I liked it though and still do.  Oh well !! La dee dah !!

Sunday 27 December 2009

3D Art Exchange Project ; Four Oceans Press

I signed up for this project with Four Oceans press,  a while back and went through various ideas before I eventually made the final decision as to what I would submit as my ten items.  All that was necessary were that these 10 items were made by fine artists.  Stipulated additionally was that they were three dimensional and sufficiently identical, to be considered an edition.

At the beginning I was thinking that I might use some of these white plastic bottles to make something with but having fiddled about with them before and briefly once more I thought NO ...I will make something using printmaking techniques and create  a 3D object.

Another idea I had in my head for ages was that of making a house out of sky.......YES  that is, using photographs of the sky.  Then I thought to myself  "oh goodness how am I going to be able to take photographs of sufficiently good quality given my difficulty with standing with a crutch and holding a camera and so on."

Anyway it was probably while I was blathering about this that the lovely C. must have nipped out the back garden and taken six lovely photographs of the sky and clouds for me.  Having been subject to this act of  kindness the photos took on a more significant resonance and I was driven to then upload the photos onto my computer and fiddle about with them using Photoshop.   I couldn't use them with their "as is" color,  because I'm afraid that the sky in Dunfermline wasn't that blue but the basics were there.

I tried out the water color filter and then the 'accented brushstrokes' as well as the 'find outlines' but I don't now......... I just wasn't that sure.  Then I did some 'curving',  making animals shapes ( which you can see more clearly if you click on image 4 )  and so on.
That effect,  I kind of liked.

Finally I printed it out and constructed the wee house.  So that was one possibility maybe and of course I could print over that using e.g.,  figures made on an etching plate.  Well maybe I wasn't that sure yet.

Making Miniprints 5

From an old collagraph cut away millboard.... to two copper plates.   One monoprinted using KitKat foil scrunched up and the second with a polymer image on,  made from a positive using  tusche wash on true grain (textured acetate).  This having been  exposed  on an ultra violet light box /photo etch.

I had this little plate from a while back which I also considered.  It was made by scribing into a green Toray plate so it's either an engraving or maybe a kind of drypoint although I tend to think it's the former as there was no burr.  

The image with the plate which has had adhesive blown around it using drink straws and then had carborundum sprinkled upon it was also made and considered but I didn't even get as far as proofing it because by then I was thinking that I would have to really use photo etch to be getting anywhere satisfactory.  The accompanying difficulty with getting anywhere as far as this miniprint was concerned was to do with the imagery I was using.
I needed it to be something that mattered tome .  To be something that had some significance.  I suppose because I had done that proof of the web on the mill board.

I remembered that last year or before that even when I was doing some tests I had made a small photo etch on copper, of a spiders web that I liked so I had a look around and finally located it.   Took a black and white  proof.  Then decided to do one in green.  It was the correct size i.e., 10 x 10 cm and I was thinking I could block the lines other that the web itself using acrylic etch and possible cover that area  with carborundum.

 But then while I was looking around for that little plate I came upon an even smaller one which was I think about 10 cm by about 7 cm.  My chum Tatiana was here at the time while I was at this stage and I was saying to her how I would really have liked to use this polymer positive but it wasn't large enough.

Tia suggested  making another wee  plate for the remaining 3 cm by 10 cm.      I always say two minds are better than one so that was it I knew I was off then.

I had another plate cut by Bill our wonderful technician using the exact same plate which was a piece of Negjet zinc which I have had for years.  Its gorgeous to work on that and copper are my two favorite surfaces for any kind of etching or polymer photo work.

Making Miniprints 4

Using the dog and figure images I then tried out a plate I had which had a layer of polyurethane on it by scribing into it and removing the dog image whilst leaving the figure as a line.  Gosh I was so frustrated by the size limitations and the dog kind of ended up almost looking like a frog !!

I tried one other where I just made a template with  the top part of a figure removed and then I painted tat area with acrylic etch ground.  Then I sprinkled on some fine carborundum.
When that area had dried I applied another layer of acrylic ground and then sprinkled on some more fine carborundum.  I was reasonably pleased with that proof but didn't take it any further.

Making Miniprints 3

A couple of other things I tried out were drypoint on propylene and scribing into Lascaux acrylic hard ground to use in a collagraph.  I had 2 or three images of a human and a dog which I quite liked and thought I would see how they looked.  With the  propylene I used a diamond tip  drypoint tool as I prefer it to the carbide tip and think it gives a better line.

I found that I could get a finer line by applying a layer of the Lascaux acrylic hard ground to the thin sheet of aluminium that I had.   I applied this with a pro arte brush which is soft, a bit like a watercolour brush but somewhat firmer.  You need to apply that to the plate in a couple of thin layers in opposing directions.  It only takes about 15 mins to dry.  I have never measured the exact time as I usually do something else while its taking place.

Making Miniprints 2

Following on from the earlier post re making miniprints. I had a small collagraph plate from ages ago that happened to fit(almost) the size of 10 x 10 cm so I 'trimmed it down and tried it out on the inkjet print out just to see how it would look. First I took a proof just to get an idea of how it looked.

Not that great, as far as I was concerned.  as the lines around the 'head' area were a bit of a mess.

So I added some carborundum to make the area darker and make the 'head area' more prominent.  I actually can not remember how I did this or what I used but it still did not look satisfactory - either on the proof on white paper or on the inkjet itself.

The original was made using PVA and plaster powder I seem to remember and the plate became ever so thick and clumpy.  I certainly wouldn't make it that way now but I think it was an early plate.

So that was that.

Friday 25 December 2009

And So this is Christmas

and what have you done ....another year over and a new one........not yet begun...I have finally found some time to update my blog as its way way behind with stuff I have been doing never mind stuff I have come across or discovered books I have been reading and so on.

One of the things that is on right now is an exhibition of prints selected from an international submission by contemporary printmakers.

International Printmaking in New Zealand   
Exhibition at Art at Wharepuke, from December 20th (2009) to January 25th (2010) The works in this exhibition were selected from an open submission  and  its aim is to present a perspective on Current processes and concerns within printmaking practice today.   Fifteen artists works are included ( three of which I submitted) representing eight different countries. The venue is open from 9am to dusk every day.   IMAGES- I dont know who these works are buy but Mark graver, who is the director of AAWharepuke,  tells me there will be documentation of the works on their website soon.   I think one of these might be by Sandy Sykes?! Art at Wharepuke 190 Kerikeri Road Kerikeri 0230 New Zealand.
I just checked out my hunch about the red orange andd green print and YES the piece is by Sandy Sykes check out her website to see lots more works.
I used to be "into her work" way back when,  but that was in the days before the internet when one was only exposed to what one saw,  in whatever art magazines, one could access or afford etc.   
I am so glad that,  thats no longer the case and we can see each others works and most importantly learn so much from one another which is one of the motivations I have for eeping my blog.   The web has democratized access to knowledge and its no longer such a case of who you know and what they know regarding how to do this or how to access that and so on.   That's one of the reasons why I continue documenting my practice ; hopefully helping other printmakers to find their way along the long and winding path.  It is something that has been of great help to me so I like to think I am contributing to the greater pool of knowledge. Blah blah blah...that's quite enough from me now..time to go and prepare some food!!

Wednesday 18 November 2009

For David

free glitter animations
Funny Animations

Making Mini Prints 1

I had this image that I drew with making a print in my mind, for ages and I thought I would have a go at realizing it.  The fact that I still liked it, also made me think that it was worth pursuing.  I wasn’t too sure whether I would use collagraph in combination with inkjet or drypoint  …just thought I would actually get on with the doing of it as opposed to the thinking about it –

It’s made using pencil and cheap gouache paint and was done in a sketchbook.  I don’t often use those nowadays.  It’s about 20 by 20 cm square. I love how I made the two areas of turquoise colour and left a white area, horizontally across the middle. I was thinking in terms of printmaking when I originally made it.  Actually I am now thinking I could even try it out as a larger monoprint tomorrow but that’s another adventure.

I thought I would print out this background and then make the graphic marks with drypoint on polypropylene.  Having said that I am not too sure that it does throw up a burr but I like using the material and its transparent which I like because you can see really well where you have and haven’t inked/wiped etc.

Of course when I tried to remove the black drawn marks from the image digitally – it just wouldn’t work as can be seen  and I DIDN’T like the effect I was coming up with,  despite trying various things in Photoshop.

So I removed the black elements and thought I would transfer those onto a polypropylene plate.  I was making this print or attempting to with the `littlest print exchange in mind.  I also had the green door print exchange in mind.  One of them required a 9 x 9 cm print the other a 10 x 10 cm print,

I then removed the tonal aspects of the image.

Given what I said as to the possibility of including collagraph/ carborundum in the print I was thinking about making the animal vaguely bear like creature into a silhouette shape.

But then I thought that it's weight,  tonally stood out too much visually and that it didn’t work.  So I thought maybe having it appear lighter weight in tonal terms would work better.

I used a “scribing tool” that my friend Tatiana, had very kindly made for me. Having said that acquiring the components WAS a collaborative effort.  She got hold of these “handles”, which normally have small thin, metal tools for repairing tiny computer parts.   Instead we put a cut off injection needle which I think she may have sharpened.  I’d had a visit scheduled at the vets to get my cats annual flu jab so I asked the vet if she would let me have some needles that she used for horses and large patients as I explained, what it was for.  I had to assure her that I wasn’t going to be using these for any inappropriate means which I said I surely wouldn’t.  In my mind I made a mental note that I was going to send this generous woman a hand printed greetings card, this Christmas.

So after “umming” and “ahing” I decided to scribe into the plate and I seem to remember that by then I had this idea that I would make the bear shape as a cut out mask which would be in the print as a feint shape created by the wiping process (i.e., it would be the clean area and the remaining picture space would have tone.

Blast it, I thought,  the line is too crude.  Because of the limitations of the material I couldn’t get the gestures of the facial marks precise and it really matters to me,  so that was that.

As I had already printed out these backgrounds for another print I thought I would print this “drypoint” onto it to see what it would look like and it still didn’t look promising.  So I put it aside for the meantime and went on to try out some other ideas.

I did lots of little trials like this with the "Littlest Print Exchange" in mind as well as the Green Door International Print exchange, which I will discuss in  more detail later.
I was not too sure if I would be able to meed the first of these as 50 prints were required and as I knew I would be recovering from the surgery on my spine  well I just felt it best to withdraw my commitment.

I decided to keep with the green Door exchange as that required only 10 prints and one had a further one centimeter to play around with !!

Sunday 8 November 2009

So sad to hear that printmaker, Nancy Spero died a couple of weeks ago

I don't know how she died or if she was ill for a long time and in a lot of pain.  I hope not.  But I suppose only those that were close to her would know such things.  She always looked such a slight figure in photographs that one saw of her.
She certainly looked very beautiful in photos I have seen of her when she was in her 30's or 40's but in any event of course I will remember her for her beautiful and inspiring art work.  I  can't remember exactly when I first became aware of her.  I remember being very "into" her when I was doing my postgraduate printmaking course (1999) at Wimbledon School of Art in London.  I seem to remember that I bought the book I have about her work, around about then.  It's the one that is published by Phaidon.  There have been so may posts about losing her although I don't know that she was appreciated enough while she was still around.  For example the Tate modern I believe either have one piece of work by her or none.

"Her continuous engagement with contemporary political, social, and cultural concerns is renowned. 
She has chronicled wars and apocalyptic violence as well as articulating visions of ecstatic rebirth and the celebratory cycles of life. Her complex network of collective and individual voices was a catalyst for the creation of her figurative lexicon representing women from prehistory to the present in such epic-scale paintings and collage on paper as Torture of Women (1976), Notes in Time on Women (1979) and The
 First Language (1981)."  
from the entry about her on  Wikipedia

For me, as an artist and developing printmaker, I found her inspirational.  I say this in the sense  that her work was formally speaking "beyond the frame".
Although I had become interested in printmaking because of the beauty of the embossed qualities of intaglio and the immaculate white pass par tout, I soon became aware of how much it limited and frustrated me.    It was by looking at artists such as  Nancy Spero and others like Annette Messager, that  I eventually became encouraged to create my own printmaking based installation.

In addition to this, I had also recently visited a wonderful exhibition of printmaking at Whiteleys' in West London.  It was presented by  the Printmakers Council.    There I saw a host of contemporary printmakers who were printing onto all kinds of substrates and onto soft and rigid surfaces.  There were people making printworks  into three dimensional forms, incorporating "ready mades"  and really experimenting with the possibilities.  I felt really excited!!    I think it was then, that I decided to make a printmaking installation to submit to the next such event hosted by the PMC and I did.  

It was kind of scary -  I made it about the war in Kosovo and the basis for it was, polarized perspectives and extremism. though it was motivated by my response to what was being reported from the break up of the former Yugoslavia it became a piece about the pointlessness of war.   

It was called "Silent Apocalypse".   I had recognized in my own work a preoccupation going back a long way and linked to me own origins with the "abuse of power" by all sorts of means .  This being from interpersonal relationships right through to international policies.

Getting back to the works of Nancy Spero, I was particularly "taken" with the gouache painting /drawing (works on paper)that she did - not so much her early oil paintings.   It was their idiosyncratic nature and the way she,  for example would make a helicopter part human part bird and part monster.  They also had that manic quality that my little brothers drawings had, that he made while he played with his toy soldiers and tanks and guns.
Overall her pieces  appealed to me because they seemed to represent themes that are universal and some of them were quite gutsy.  These  represented the tools of government policies in theaters of war such as eg Vietnam  Only the players were real people getting displaced traumatized raped disappeared and brutalized.  The works were also made from the perspective of a woman and how women are affected by war and violence.
Her husband and long term partner  (painter) Leon Golub,  also worked with similar issues.  She also represented those peoples whose lives were oppressed and smashed by repressive regimes - sadly it's still going on today -  all over the place.

Even though the concerns within her work were often bleak there was a wonderful inventiveness  and beauty to it.

I was fortunate enough to be able to see Spero's work in person when I went up to Newcastle in 2004 to see the exhibition presented by the Baltic centre, in Gateshead.  The show was called "other Worlds and featured 2 of my favorite artists i.e., Nancy and Kiki (Smith).
Taken from the publication that accompanied the exhibition 

"Nancy Spero is a respected feminist artist whose practice has greatly influenced a younger generation. Her work on paper and her installations are an acknowledgement of the power of the carnivalesque, and an exploration of the potential recoding of space and architecture through a visual poetics of word and image. 
Never abandoning the figure, even at a time when images of women were thought to carry only negative connotations, she has systematically refigured the feminine as collective, social and empowered. 
Coming from the generation of artists immediately following Spero, Kiki Smith has always acknowledged a liberating impulse in her art.   Both artists have turned vulnerability into strength (*), making art that represents the female body, but in forms that avoid objectification or narcissism ( *: which particularly appealed to me) , and that can speak to the universal without idealization or reduction (*: ditto) . Both artists make art from the histories, fantasies, legends and myths of the feminine, reclaiming the female body as an expressive vehicle of emancipation and desire".