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.