Saturday 29 December 2012

The Cats out of the Bag

If you are interested in making a print-on-demand,  book then check out a great competition on PHOTO BOOK GIRLs blog where she has extensive information and reviews about which 'print on demand' service to use.
Of course I would be delighted to be able to win the prize and would have no problem with making lots of books.

Wednesday 31 October 2012

Wood Circle - from Relief to Intaglio

This print / drawing - I am not too sure what you call it, not that it really matters that much - well it was originally produced ages ago when I was at Wimbledon doing post graduate printmaking.  It was done as a relief print.  I just couldn't get to grips  very well with the Albion press there and because there was practically no one,  to offer us technical support much -  I didn't do that much on the relief side.  Having said that I guess I am more into intaglio as a printmaking process.  There was something wrong with that Albion press though - I wonder if its still there in the studio ?  or whether "el Alan" has chucked it out.

Getting the height correct with the various boards so that the pressure exerted when one pulled the lever over didn't seem to work very well. The other printmakers also had difficulty using it.  I used to get stressed up by it.  I don't think I would now as I would approach it with more patience.  I have one more version of this somewhere which is just the single print but also worked with coloring pencils just subtly though.  Blast I can't find it - just had a look upstairs ......... which is now bugging me - wondering where the heck I have put it.

Anyway you get a little bit of an idea of the print proofed as a relief print.

This dreadful mess is a relief print which I tried to print intaglio - although I knew that it most likely wouldn't work because the lines were too wide.  They were originally cut away with a lino cutter - well actually those particular tools can be used on wood or lino.

I had this image for ages and I have always liked it so I suppose I hoped it might work at least to the extent whereby I could make some further interventions .........but no it wasn't really going to be happening.  I was still thinking about which image to work with for the DCA print studio exchange.

In the end I thought that I would try to draw the image again on the reverse of the 'plate'.  So I drew a slightly different version on the reverse. The diameter of the circle by the way is about 18 cm.

This is a proof of that  image - it's a state proof which I made not long before it was b.a.t.  I loved working with this wood - I used a scalpel to initially go into the drawn lines and then a 'scraper'.  I purchased it a while back at intaglio printmakers - possibly to use for burnishing - though to be honest its something I could do with some instruction in,  as when I have done it - its been a bit of a disaster.
Here's a photo of a scraper - taken from the catalogue of Intaglio Printmakers (London).
I used it to go into the wood over the lines made using the scalpel and it seems to make a line that the ink goes into well for the intaglio proofing.  I actually have the small and the large one.  The other item which came in very useful was the roulette wheel I bought ( this was inspired by seeing Sandra Baxter using them working on one of her largish copper plates.

Friday 14 September 2012

Sorpresa Scatola di Venezia

which means 'surprise' 'box' and 'Venice' get a little box (container) and don't know what's going to be in it.  So it's a surprise...............

In April/ May of last year (2011) I decided that I would like to make some pieces for a project that was being put together by Marina Moreno ( based in the UK)  for an installation  to be exhibited at the Serra dei Giardini, Venice.  Initially one had to send them jpegs/info for a preview of  your work to see whether they wished to include you in the project.

I wondered whether I would be able to make such teeny  tiny  works ...but as I got more and more into it I found that I was able to do so.  Perhaps the fact that it was 3d helped.  I 'erred' on the smaller side as it had to fit into about 8 cm cubic space , i.e., inside a transparent acrylic  globe.  I already had one of these ( I purchased it at The London Graphic Centre years ago in case it came in handy for a project in the future) .................. so I was able to try it out to see what it looked like - which was a great help.

The blurb about the project said there was going to be a catalogue produced too so I thought that would be a nice souvenir of the project as although I have visited the Venice Biennial in the past (1999) vs a vs the delegation,   + in relation to a project called "Agendas X3 "  it was'nt likely that I would be in a position to attend.

Under a broad interpretation of the given  theme "ILLUMINATION"
 - here are the pieces I created for the exhibition:


" Inimois II "

 Size: 55 x 85 x 15 mm  /   2.25 x 3.75 x 0.50  inches

 Techniques/ processes:

trace monotype, drawing, collage, drypoint pastel drawing. C.A.D. printed out on on 'Fabriano 5',  160 gsm paper, using archival inkjet pigment. Additionally incorporated is 'Fabriano Rosaspina' 220 gsm and Hahnemuhle   paper 220 gsm,silk thread, transparent tinted gauze ribbon with bookbinders pva.

 All materials archival
 The subject matter of this piece, is linked to the acquisition of knowledge –
  i.e. to become illuminated.  There are darker aspects involved in this process   
  but also lighter dimensions which the book explores.  Now that the internet is 
  more a part, of most peoples lives -  knowledge is no longer the exclusive
  domain of the elite.

 The word “Inimois” comes from the ‘Lingua Ignota’ of Hildegard of Bingens writings , this was a  secret language, that she developed in the 12th century.  It means human being or being human………..

" Beata Orbis "

Size:  60 x 60 x 20 mm  /  2.5 x 2.5 x 0.75 inches

Techniques/ processes:

C.A.D., intaglio collagraph, inkjet printed, onto Mingeishi Japanese paper, papier mache onto eggshell, bookbinders PVA and brown craft paper.  Shredded 60 gsm paper tinted with acrylic ink.
all materials archival

Generations have come before us and will follow – this piece concerns  people of the future, who will walk this earth and be the guardians of our planet.  The shredded text representative of how they are ‘nested’ within history,  knowledge and learning – with the hope that they will add further discoveries to this sanctuary and be wise and benevolent to our ‘blessed earth’.


" Tiger House "

Size:  65 x 70 x 42 mm  /  2.5 x 3 x 2 inches

Techniques/ processes:
trace monotype, drawing, drypoint pastel drawing. C.A.D. printed out on archival pigment on Bockingford watercolour paper 190 gsm also incorporating bookbinders pva.
all materials archival

This piece has visual icons from cultures of the East, West as well as from the Southern hemisphere and is ‘sited’ on handwriting that refers to the visionary 17th century artist William Blake. In doing so the artist makes an allusion to the difficulties he faced because of his “otherness”. Gradually the people of our planet (represented within the construct of a tiny house form) are moving more across and between borders – and so there is a need for us to show  more tolerance towards  people of difference within our social environment.

See the top navigation bars on the home page one of which takes you to the catalogue.

This link takes you directly to the catalogue on

Sunday 12 August 2012

Burning Marks in Printmaking...........

I think this is the second time I have had a 'fiddle about' with making burn marks with a pyrograph tool,  this time onto muslin ( or also called calico)  cloth and I like the effect.  I also tried using a stencil cutting tool which you plug in at the mains.  The tip of it heats up  and ostensibly it is used to burn its way through the wax card or acetate I suppose as in if you were cutting stencils - I have never tried using it for that.  I thought I would compare them.

I was thinking that I might use this as part of my printmaking work at some point.

Sunday 29 July 2012

Submissions in 2011 for 2012 exhibitions (+ outcomes)

This steel plate etching with inkjet chine colle was one of the three prints I sent as submissions to the British miniprint exhibition, which is organised nowadays by the Printmakers Council based in London, which I used to be a member of ( I was actually on the committee for about 4 or 5 years).

I had been selected for the previous exhibition i.e., the 7th British International Mini print and wondered if it was too much to hope for,  as in will I have success on this occasion?  Anyway I did,  and it softens the blow somewhat of NOT having the artworks I submitted to the Royal Scottish Academy's annual open, selected.  The costs for the RSA were reasonable as these things go,  (especially compared to the R.A.  in London which is eight times, more expensive so you don't feel so bruised.
"Eve" linoleum intaglio   image 8 x 10 cm   paper size approx 20 x 30 cm

The figurative image above  is one that I have used previously on a yellow coloured background. The title was "Catalan bird" referring to the small copper etching of the medieval birds found in the margins of an illuminated manuscript. 

 "Catalan Bird" 
polymer spit bite and hard ground etching with inkjet chine colle 
20 x 30 cm

  It was in a work that was made using the so called "Polymer spit bit" technique.  Which is where you laminate a layer of photo polymer film with a stochastic screen onto your plate and then 'cure' it.   After that you layer on another polymer film.   Then you drop some of the developer which is of course made using washing soda crystals and water.  It's ages since I did it - so I would definitely have to search out my notes.

I have also made submissions to the  SSA (Society of Scottish Artists') exchange exhibition at the Wroclaw Fine Art Academy Gallery in Poland.  I have not had any success with my submissions to the SSA as of yet and hope that I will at least this time get selected for this and or for the annual open they receive works (submissions) to,  in the second week of January just after Christmas.

I also sent a proposal for the Engramme solo exhibition (in Canada)  but that is a bit of an 'outside chance' when you are up against people such as e.g.,  Nan Mulder (really admire her mezzotint prints - think these works are better than her paintings) and David Faithful ( his website is pretty nifty - don't you think?!)  who are also  members of SSA. In addition they are long standing members and  quite involved with the organisation so you never quite no what your chances are realistically.

The above image which I refer to as the disappearing polar bears was my favourite I had hoped might be selected but it obviously didn't appeal to the selectors.
I'm sure I 've seen those three bears somewhere before ...........Here's a link to a print started in January 2010 which is still in progress.

The 8th British Miniprint, is currently touring the UK.
Heres another photo of the bears with the embossed edge more apparent.

Note this is a LINK to one of the prints I submitted to the previous British Miniprint Exhibition.

Sunday 8 July 2012

Why do people stop posting on their blogs ???

I just don't know why this is.   Maybe I felt like I had lost the thread with what I was doing,  although that is not true.  I have been working away in my studio all the while so it isn't that I have not been working.
I did 'lose the thread' at one or two points though however as regards making my artwork but these were just hiccups really -  I managed to get going with things again once I just physically got on with doing printmaking activities or drawings.  That's the way to bypass these things "energy follows action" and all that.

I was working on my book edition for most of last year .....well up until August September (2011) that is.    I plan on uploading a description of the process of making the edition on my bookart blog at some point in the future.  There is a  link to that blog on the navigation bar under the heading of the blog.

One of the things I  considered at the beginning when I knew I would be making the edition of artists books was a 'tri-fold' book.  I have always liked the alter like tableaux that one sees when looking at medieval and early renaissance art in particular.
So I asked Bill at the workshop to help me cut some mill board into the shapes but with the folds too. These took a good few hours to do.
At that point I was researching lots of book formats and technical information regarding stitching and binding too.

Anyway that was how I came to have this shaped cardboard in my  studio and how I ended up making it into a collagraph - this was done  around August September time.    I felt a sense of urgency as I started working with it desperately wanting to make larger work - all the book stuff had been around A4 size (20 x 30 cm) so I just wanted to break out of the frame as it were.
It was done on impulse and  really,  I ought to have known better but I guess I was rather 'taken' with the shape and I had developed some drawings of birds that were kind of  lifting up a figure that was in a sort of cruciform gesture.  The idea wasn't quite finalized but I knew I wanted to take this into the tri-arced shaped plate.

At the beginning I was creating the print with a specific exhibition in mind.   I planned on making a submission to a project for a show in Poland.   Although I had plenty of potential prints,  the required  'format' for this show was that the print  be  56 x 76 cm in size  (as well as 2 other 'smaller' size prints).

It was an S.S.A project which had in a way been what had motivated me to join the Society of Scottish Artists.  This being almost 2 years ago now.

Technical Process

The collagraph plate ended up with loads of set backs, many originating in my having chosen to use cardboard for the base which was not suitable and which was a mid brown colour.    Of course this makes it difficult to 'read' the extent to which the plate has been inked/ wiped etc............ never mind anything else. I had paper cut outs for the figures on the plate, bits of textured wallpaper and torn card from the plate surface itself.  Early on in the process I applied cut out shapes using drypoint card, I then scratched into it with a scalpel to subtly define the figures body / torso area and it gave a lovely effect. The first one or two proofs , were excellent, well especially in terms of giving the ghostly effect, that I had hoped for,  this effect was one which was unique to that material.

I decided I needed to add some dark tone behind the central right and left figures  and I thought if it was graduated - getting lighter as it rose to the top of the picture that it would look good.  I scanned the proof into Photoshop and did a 'mock-up' to see how it would look (as you can see above)
Of course while I was doing the mock up I couldnt resist fiddling about with the visual elements and was considering locating some of them  ouside the picture edge.

Getting back to making the collagraph plate.......................  OK so I thought I needed to add some tone to the plate.  I made up some Lascaux Pastel Ground, in three different strengths to apply to the plate.

I would add 1 part pastel ground to 2 parts water, or 2 parts pastel ground to 1 part water and so on an so on.  It dries fairly quickly e.g.,  20 minutes and then you can, if you want,  take a proof although given all the fiddling about I had to do,  with the graduating  effect I was after -  I had to take my time.  I seem to remember that I used several natural sponges.

In terms of what the inspiration was  behind this piece ................... well............. this is something that is never easy to explain.......I develop a ‘collection’ of images figurative as I go along.  Mainly using photos of figures from books, newspapers, the web or sometimes taking photos myself.  I then usually simplify them taking them down to the bare  essentials.  It’s often the bearing or the gesture of something that engages me and that for me expresses something in particular.

I then amend and hybridize them to communicate some particular emotional state or similar.  Often I will then do drawings then trace monotypes then scan them back into the computer then re-scale and hybridize them and so on ..............If I analyse it too much then I would never do anything.

I have referenced a ‘crucifix type’ image previously in my work so that’s probably harks back to my Catholic upbringing.  That certainly wasn't what I was aiming for with the piece - it was the birds lifting the fabric of the vestment of the figure - the idea of humans and creatures being tender to one another.  Of these beings sometimes telling us something about ourselves.


Ugh !!.......... this proved to be a considerable effort and as I mentioned above working on a brown surface is not conducive to 'reading' the extent to which one has sufficiently inked up the plate nor wiped it............

It took 2 or 3 hours to wipe the plate and I am going more and more off this kind of thing - I must say.

At that same time I was  also working on images that were  3.25 x 4 inches  or 8 x 10 cm in size - these were to submit to  the British miniprint competition by the way which were due  Sep 21st 2011.
But more of that in another post.

Saturday 14 April 2012

Reincarnation ?

As you will know if you have read this blog from about a year ago well less in dear furry friend Toby passed over to the other realm and I miss him still so much.

I was delighted this evening to get a sense of how Toby was through encountering these moving pictures
of a fellow called Henri.

Wednesday 11 April 2012

For Those of You who Happen to be in Riga ? !......

There has been a fair amount of items in the news the last week or so about it being the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.  It was on again this lunchtime with coverage of people queueing to go into a shop to buy Titanic 100 memorabilia.  I think that, that's rather 'sad'.  By which I mean spending ones money on that sort of trivia and tack.  Apparently there's a group of people on board a ship heading out to the spot where the Titanic sank.  OK some of them are relatives of those who lost their lives and of course for them it really is something special and meaningful.  But outside of that is it not just a rather voyeuristic  / ghoulish activity.

Having said all of that........... maybe I am also 'jumping on the bandwagon' with having participated in the "Titanic 100" exhibition with the Latvian artists association at their art gallery in Riga.
See this LINK to view the artworks I created to submit to this exhibition.  The thing that most appealed to me about participating in this exhibition (if I managed to get selected) was the theme which was described as "Strong Waters" which is in fact a direct translation of the printmaking term 'aquatint' or perhaps more so,  as it is written in the French language i.e., "aqua forte" - water strong.

central overhead view of "Silent Witness" installation

It's a theme I had previously explored in my installation called "Silent Witness" which began as an homage to those who had lost their lives in the 'coffin ships' which is how this phenomenon is/was termed by people in Ireland.  They were the ships that took people from Ireland, ostensibly to America , during and following the Famine in Ireland in the 1830's.

Here is a LINK to photos and the artists statement of that installation which surprisingly is still on the web even though I am no longer officially on the Other Peoples Pixels website.  I previously had a website with them but was unable to maintain the annual payment.

Here is another in case that one expires - this second link is the installation as shown at The Bhavan Centre in London where I exhibited with the Riverside Artists Group.

Its a beautiful art gallery but as you will see from their website they don't really make any effort with documenting all the lovely exhibitions  that go on there which is a shame.

I wasn't so happy with the way I had to show it there - I mean it wasn't a patch on how it looked, when I first exhibited it at the art gallery in  Osterley House.  
Being a  huge grand country house (that is part of the National Trust ) its art galleries  are spacious and very atmospheric, so it was  a pleasure to install and view the exhibition there.  BUT where the documentation and promotion of its visual arts program is  concerned I am afraid its scores marks are equal to the Bhavan Centre (as referred to above).
Anyway its just to  give an idea of the nature of the artwork and for those who are interested you get a sense of where it was first shown..

Here is the invitation/ publicity material as sent to me today by artist printmaker, Nele Zirnite, who curated the exhibition.  I think these are rather nicely done.

Saturday 24 March 2012

Etching Linoleum with Caustic Soda

Lino  Intaglio + etch with caustic soda

Isn't this gorgeous's by Jo Sculthorp who keeps a blog called the green room - check her out she's an interesting artist.  It's lino printed relief and she has used lots of caustic soda.

If you decide to use caustic soda on linoleum - then you need to get all the materials organised and prepared keeping in mind that caustic soda is dangerous stuff.
Having said that I don't want to put you off using it.   You just need to be sensible.

Items / Implements You will need


Rubber gloves

Maybe some eye goggles in case of splashes

Old newspaper to protect your surfaces

protective apron

  artwork by Steve Edwards - its a relief print but
 I just love what he has done with the caustic soda


Caustic Soda Granules

Wallpaper paste flakes

A glass container  such as a jam jar or similar to mix the caustic in.

A stick or old wooden spoon to stir the caustic soda mix

A Tea spoon and a Tablespoon  for measuring.

Cold water

You will need a lid  too, to seal it  if there is any leftover.  I can not remember how long this stuff keeps but I seem to have the impression that it does actually keep for  a long time.  We had some at the print workshop I go to (FDPW in Dunfermline) and Bill (our technician)  says he made it years ago - it still works !!

To Create Your Mix

Take your glass container and fill it one third full of water.  
Into that  sprinkle two teaspoons of the dry wallpaper paste flakes.
Mix this together and leave it aside for five minutes, during which time it will  thicken up.

Put two teaspoons of caustic soda granules into this mix and then  stir it with a wooden spoon or  stick. ( don't use metal !!)

The mixture will get warm but don't worry - this is just the caustic soda reacting with the water/paste.
I think its a good idea to get a pencil or biro and write a label to stick on the jar .e.g.,
"2 tablespoons caustic soda and 2 teaspoons wallpaper paste"
 also put the date.  The mix is  ready for you to use on your linoleum.

Of course before you apply the caustic soda mix to your lino plate you will need to consider if you want to first apply some 'resist' onto the plate.


I have to add here that I came across some old book where the person had made a walled off area on a lino plate using putty or modelling clay so I guess you could do that too - I haven't done that myself so don't know about the 'ins and outs' of that approach.

I have also heard that you can use sellotape and parcel packing tape.  Actually I did a little test area on a small piece of old lino and used the shiny buff coloured packing tape and made a hole in the middle of it.  I put some caustic mix on it and it worked the area covered by the tape remained unaffected.  You can remove the parcel tape by slowly pulling it off or one time I removed it using acetone or nail varnish remover or it may have been methylated spirits.

I have mainly used wax crayon as a resist and also scratch into it. I can sharpen a kids wax crayon to a very fine point and do fine lines or I can cover a large area and then scratch into that for the caustic soda mix to etch into.

 I like this method because I can remove the wax crayon later on by scraping it away gently.  If there's still a small amount left then this can be removed by placing  brown paper over the surface of the lino, placing  a heated clothes-iron on top of it, not too hot though.

Iona Johnson - Australian artist (she doesn't have  a website)       Lino etch

Etching ground (bitumen based)

You can also use the old fashioned dark brown (syrup like consistency) as a resist - I tend to stay a way from it because of the need to use white spirit or similar to remove it.  I am highly sensitive to the fumes from it (it makes me feel really ill).

TIMING - 1 hour max

The caustic soda  mix achieves its maximum etching effect on the lino surface  after one hour.  No point in leaving it on longer than that. You might like to do a strip test and do a band of say 6 areas to/  get 6 different tones.

Wash the caustic mix from the plate under a hot tap using an old  dish (washing-up) brush or toothbrush to clean the surface thoroughly.

You can create a good range of tones by using acrylic hard ground and caustic soda combined 

Bear in mind that by using the caustic soda to create darker tones than the natural tone of the lino surface when you wipe it with ink (as you would e.g.,  an etching or dry point)

in combination with Lascaux Acrylic etch hard ground ( which you can dilute to different strengths)
as well as the lines you make in the linoleum itself - I use a  "cheap-ish" etching needle which they sell for students to use.  They have a long wooden handle and sharp pointed metal tip.  I have also used a triangular-shaped plate scraping tool.   It has a nice pointy tip - you just need to wrap some tissue paper around the shaft,  to protect your fingers as you are holding/ using  it.

          Iona Johnson       lino etch (details as above)

Here is a link to the post I wrote re. the print edition,  I made for the Dundee Contemporary Arts, print studio portfolio exchange -  using lino and caustic soda with the Lascaux Acrylic hard ground.  I diluted to about 3 strengths.  `one part water to 3 parts LAHG, 2 parts  water to 2 parts LAHG and finally 3 parts water to 1 part LAHG.

The Lascaux acrylic Hard Ground is available to buy at Intaglio printmakers suppliers in London.
It isn't cheap - but it is such a versatile and useful product.  You can use it in a collagraph fashion on  a metal plate to 'edit' your plate.  Of course you can also use it for collagraph making, in itself.

Raised text using etching...........more tests

Initially I tried to get the raised text effect using aluminium, zinc and steel but none of them worked.  I was using copper sulphate as the mordant.

sharpie marker on zinc etched in copper sulphate

I did proofs of the plates,  only yesterday - I had not bothered to do them after I finished etching the plates  because I could see that if I rolled ink across them I would get the background area as well as the handwriting.  Which of course wasn't what I wanted.  As can be gleaned from reading the previous post I wanted to be able to offset the text to acetate to then work on (a la monotype) and to be able create figurative imagery by additive or subtractive means.

Just thought I would see how they looked.  I quite like the larger of these which is done on steel.  I wrote the handwriting on the plates using a sharpie marker - to act as a resist.  I used the same ink mix on these - its funny how different the colour looks?!

Polymer Stamp Making Machine

I have been finally having success with my imagebox polymer stamp making machine.  When I first had delivery of it about 2 or 3 years ago.  I went through the process of making a stamp and it was a 'flop'.  So I thought OMG its not that easy and I was working on other printmaking projects and thought bah....I will have another attempt another time.
Fast forward to now where I find myself in a situation where I need plates of raised handwritten text to offset to acetate and then work up further to create monoprints
                   *    initial tests of A7 polymer stamps - offset on acetate - monotyped

So I had a go at the weekend taking great care to get dense black and white negatives and made sure I adhered strictly to the instructions.  AND it worked.
Last night I tried another one trial plate and it worked well - probably even better than the first one. I did make the writing bigger and fatter and I found I got the best negative for my stamp making procedure through doing the handwriting on the computer screen itself using a Photoshop virtual pencil.  Not the greatest 'ergonomic' experience as such but you kind of get used to it after a while. .

Here's a photo of my first test * - which looks awful in one sense but for me its a successful out come and I am able to proceed with my idea without having to spend hours and hours of back breaking neck aching carving of a lino plate - which I started last week.  I will finish that sometime but who knows when.  I was finding that my hands were truly aching after I cut away the lino of about 20 words and with 6 plates to create - life's too short and my hands are too precious!!

First A4 Polymer Stamp attempt

I had of course initially endeavoured to get the raised text by etching using aluminium then steel then zinc but time after time it just wasn't happening.  I was using the salt etch mordant i.e., copper sulphate which some might think would be a 'cinch' but you must be kidding it was like trying to get blood from a stone.

I wrote the above as a 'draft' post about 6 weeks ago.  Those polymer stamps I made using the Imagebox machine were A7 size - which is pretty small. 

 Second A4 Polymer Stamp attempt

Since that time I have been attempting to make an A4 polymer stamp and its been a lot of disappointment and frustration.  I have four A4 failed polymer stamps to show for it.  

I am hoping that the next one will be the one that comes out well.
I suppose at least they have improved.  The only thing that's missing from them is they don't have a floor.  The raised text is there but the poor little letters don't have a ground to cling on to.  Some of them even tried to escape down the sink plughole when I was washing out the 'gunge' from the polymer stamps.
Pretty boring post but that's an aspect of printmaking sometimes - trying to make something work !!


My A4 polymer stamp has worked - I used 1  minute for the first exposure phase which creates the 'floor' of the polymer stamp.
Then I flipped it over and let it settle down (the polymer sachet) for another minute,
Then as Sally ( at Photocentric) suggested - I did the next phase, i.e., the image exposure for 14 minutes.
This stamp has a floor which is excellent because that way the handwriting has something to grip onto.

I am so so so PLEASED !!!!........I got there in the end. HOORAY !!

Saturday 3 March 2012

Junior Printmaker number 1 (2012)


This young lady 'Birta Clara’ looks a bit sleepy or tired - I can't remember what the situation actually was although I do remember that it had taken me a while to ink up her plate with her although her mother was also helping in the task.  
Birta stayed in our house during the summer along with her sister 'Erna Carry' and their mum Birna my old buddy from the time when I was doing my masters degree, in Barcelona.    We had a lovely time and the girls were very good house guests and spent hours just playing with one another in their own little world.  They would either be upstairs in their bedroom or in the back garden - the weather was lovely during the summer and some days we sat out in the sunshine and one day even filled up the old garden plastic pond with water for them to splash around in.  Jo Arksey another friend from the 'Barcelona days',  came over to lunch with us that day too.
They would often ask if it was OK for them to go into the studio to do some drawing.  Then they would work industriously for a few hours just quietly getting on with it themselves.  I would pop in now and again and talk to them about their artwork.
Birta is still at the stage where she just draws whatever she likes and creates a world filled with all sorts of creatures and locations that link to her dreams and schemes.  Her older sister, another beauty, made drawings about her friends and their clothes and parties and fun things she liked like houses and roller-skating.  It is regrettable that she was very self critical of her own artwork and was quick to rubbish it and that in part was why she didn’t end up making a print using the ready made drypoint card as she wasn’t happy with her preliminary drawing.
They enjoyed being with our pussy cats too especially Toby as he used to be there most of the time.  Those were the final days that he was still in good health.  Even after all this time - I still miss him - dear sweet fellow.

Monday 30 January 2012

Summer Visitors 2011

Good times at Fife Dunfermline Printmakers workshop were had during the summer when my dear friend Birna(4th from left)  came to stay for a few weeks with her delightful daughters Erna Carri (2nd from left) and Birta Clara (2nd from left).  That "gombeen" in the centre, wearing green is me .  On the extreme right is Bill the fabulous erstwhile technician and on the extreme left is the wonderful Sheila.  Birna was a previous member of FDPW and it is through her that I became aware of the  place that is now an important part of my life.

Thursday 19 January 2012

Strong Waters

Oh its a Hectic Life !!!!
and of course all self imposed - if only I had been this 'hard working' earlier on in my art life!!!!!!!!  
But back then I had 'all the time in the world' or so it seemed!!!  I tend nowadays, what with my various health difficulties, to  try to get as much done as I can while I am able to ( i.e., feeling sufficiently well enough to do so -albeit at a paced momentum ). 

Having said that my back(spine) is not as dreadful as it was before my 'laminectomy'.  This being the term used to describe the surgical procedure carried out  on me, two years ago now.  This was performed by an excellent neurosurgeon (can not call her name to mind)  at a hospital in Edinburgh whose name I also cannot dredge up from my brain.

Anyhu (as "Mister Byrnes" of the Simpsons would say)  I had an email just now from Nele Zirnite.

She is a member of the Etching Guild based in  Riga, Latvia, which is linked to  the Latvian Artists’ Association.  Having researched Nele further - I think she may well be the founder/director of the Etching Guild.

 Her work is amazing - it is right up my street - I think we may well like a lot of the same things visually. 
Anyway so I am honored to have my work selected,  to be in this exhibition, that she is involved in organizing.  The show is called "Strong Waters".  Although it may have a title which is somehow linked to the Titanic anniversary,  as in its the 100 years aniversary of the year it sank.    Such a coincidence that giant cruiser sinking off the coast of italy in the past few days - very different outcome given that a very high percentage of its 4000 odd passengers survived.  I cant begin to imagine the heartbreak of those,  whose loved ones have perished - it must be unbearable.
  Getting back to the works selected for this upcoming exhibition in Riga - I created the piece "Deep" especially for this show as well as another called "Last Words" so I was pleased it had a good outcome.  .  Oh but ............I had so much trouble getting that print to work out !!!.   

Mind you "Deep" had it's difficulties as well..........I did four versions of it.  Aye Carumba !!!
The first was in red and yellow.  The next two were done in  two different blues.  The final one which I executed in a more spontaneous and speedy manner was done on black Somerset paper.  I thought to myself "At last I have the ideal situation in which using this paper is completely the perfect thing".  It had been hanging about in my planchest for centuries!!
Here is the "Deep"

Given  that I was not at all happy with the photos I took of these prints.  Taken under a flouruscent strip light - I couldnt get the daylight conditions weatherwise.  

Its even more amazing that they got chosen - hopefully as a response to the imagery itself - well thats what I like to think anyway.   For the net I actually made that form,  by sewing it together with thin cotton wool string.  Then I inked it up and  and off-set it through the etching press.  The figurative image is from a drawing I did which I scanned and fiddled with in Photoshop, printed onto Japanese lightweight paper and then chine-colled it using a tricky procedure of 'half pasting' it as it went through the press.  Thereafter I lifted up,  the upper part of the figure, which then had the imprint of the net on it and had not been rice pasted.  Later on when it was flattened and dry I pasted it down and put it through the press again.  It is really nice this print  'in the flesh' , as it were.    It is about 54 x 74 cm.

Here is the other print "Last Words" 

Again a dreadful photo.  This was done using isopropyl alcohol onto water based relief printing ink.  The main figurative element is collagraph with other parts being inkjet chine colle.  The upper right being part of the background having been distorted and polarized to give that 'black hole' effect, oval.

Its pretty cold here in the studio now so I will have to wrap this up now.  I have at last posted on here having fallen out of the habit over this past year.  Lets see how we go - I have lots of other projects I have participated in,  to post about, in order that I catch up with myself.  I am afraid I ended up in the situation I used to always say was the reason that I didn't have a blog i.e. being too busy making art to be spending time writing about it.