Monoprinting: Linear Containment – Stage 1 & 2

My theme for this project is ‘Linear Containment’ and my start point is a simple triangle.  These monoprints are being formed in layers using multiple masks.

The aim is:

  • to achieve crisp, sharp objects with some overlapping
  • an ordered visual outcome
  • to produce images that evoke emptiness, hollowness, no life
  • to establish a sense of confined spaces, but without specific explanation
  • to create an outcome for viewer interpretation


Unfortunately I’m not always the best at recording my creative journey and often spend time mulling ideas over while out walking the dog, then record only a fraction of my ideas before moving to experimentation.

I really should have cut out cardboard and moved things around, tried colour schemes and so on, but instead I went to Photoshop and played with moving the components there.  Much quicker but possibly not as satisfying.

I chose to use the lower image above to start with.  Ultramarine blue and 2 different yellows were picked, hoping I would get a good green mix on the second print run.

What a shocker!!!!  Disgusting.  First sample (left) super heavy, dull and deserves the bin.  Second sample I used 50% translucent medium in the blue, pressed with tissue to remove additional ink and printed twice, once with a mask over the main larger shape and once without.  OK, moving on ……..  Don’t have time to mix up a new colour batch so let’s see if I can improve it a little at least.

OK the feature triangles are better with the multi-colour (rainbow) roll and as my mask is quite a thick plastic I’m getting the slight white halo around them as I wanted.  So one thing has worked, but the blue and yellow mix on the large shape is truly awful and the random patterned background also isn’t what I’m after.  It’s taken away from my ‘sharp, crisp image’ aim of the project.

Note to self: I detest blue at the best of times so why persist with trying to achieve a satisfactory outcome with something I  don’t see working clearly in my head?  Let’s go back to a colour scheme I love instead.


A new day, a new colour palette, another view on ‘Linear Containment’.

GREAT colour scheme!  More earthy.  Huge improvement in colour, placement and linear dynamics.  Today I’ll continue working on the background patterning covering around 2/3rds of the print plate.
300gsm Hahnemuhle, 3 sets of masks + corrugations, 2 x through the print press, solid colours.

A little bottom heavy, not such a good directional pull (to my eye).  May look better rotated.

I prefer the first sample in this stage.

300gsm Hahnemuhle, 3 sets of masks + corrugations, 2 x through the print press.

Colour was applied roughly to main green feature using small roller to obtain uneven coverage.  Colour added to smaller triangle which remained clear in the first sample.

Final print for this stage.  An additional layer in this print to achieve the ‘ghost’ sections.
250gsm BFK Reeves, 3 sets of masks + corrugations, 3 x through the print press.  Unfortunately one of the masks tore slightly, which is very evident.

Now let’s put these (and new) ideas in a virtual container, shake them up and see what falls out for stage 3, and beyond.

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Watercolour painting – Lesson 2

LESSON 2: Two colour sky

300gsm Medium Arches watercolour paper:

Sample 1:

Nice sharp edge to the land area considering I haven’t learned how to do that yet, but not enough variation in blue from upper to lower sections.

Sample 2:

Lost some of the distinct edging to the land on this one and I’m not overly impressed with the sky.

185gsm Medium Arches watercolour paper:

Sample 3:

Again, messed up the land but getting the clouds better.  Trying to get my brain to recognize the differing colours in the clouds and the variation in the strength of the blue across the sky.  Improving.

Sample 4:

This is passable but I do have a tendency to have a lot of clouds.  Variation in blue from upper foreground to horizon line is quite good.  Definite progression in cloud shape and colour positioning.  I’ll probably look back in 3 years and see how rubbish this all is but it’s working for me at this point.

On to lesson three.  More sky, I think.

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Watercolour painting: Lesson 1

For a while now I’ve been wanting to add colour to some of my prints.  Watercolour seems like a soft colour approach but it’s not something I know anything about.  So I’ve embarked on a beginners watercolour landscape course.  I don’t necessarily want to paint landscapes (and that will be a bonus outcome, in my view) but I thought it a good start point to learn how to apply the paints to create different effects.

LESSON 1: Creating a single colour sky with clouds.

185gsm Medium Arches watercolour paper:

Sample 1:

Not enough cloud definition.

Sample 2:

Much letter definition.  A better spread of blue, darker at the top and fading towards the horizon.

300gsm Medium Arches watercolour paper:

Sample 3:

The  texture of the thicker paper is much more pronounced.  This sort of speckled look doesn’t appeal to me.  However, the variation in the laying down of the sky is better, a little more differentiation between high foreground and lower background towards the horizon.

Sample 4:

In this one I see definite movement in the sky.  It feels like the wind is blowing the clouds along.  I seem to have got the hang of the blue colour placement and the clouds have improved.

I haven’t learned how to do land yet so just put something in to ground the composition, and even that has improved over the four samples.

On to lesson two.

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The glory of oranges

I love my orange tree.  It’s the pride of my garden, closely followed by my mandarin and banana trees.  I’m not a great gardener but this tree rewards me every year, and I’ve just harvested kilos and kilos of gorgeous juicy fruit.

After making multiple jars of marmalade, and squeezing several containers of juice, I found myself left with a couple of buckets of orange peel.

It felt like an excellent time to see if it’s possible to make paper from peel and pith.  Surely there would be some cellulose in the pith at least?

I put the lot in a muslin bag, tied it up, boiled it with a little caustic soda (possibly a mistake in hindsight, but at least nothing will ever go mouldy in the future!) and left it to cool.  The pectin turned to jelly as the pot cooled – oh, how I wish I hadn’t put caustic soda in, I could have tasted it!  The smell was amazing.

Rinsing took a while and the skins started to fall apart under my hands.

No amount of rinsing would get the water to run clear so my mush went into the blender to be lightly pulped, still running orange colour!

Using my normal papermaking techniques – documented on this blog many times – I proceeded to make sheets of paper.  The orange pulp didn’t have enough fibre to form sheets alone so I mixed it with varying quantities of my cardstock pulp and came out with some lovely, and fragrant, sheets of A5 and A4 paper.

Clockwise from top left: Plain A4 sheets, A5 sheets with added banana pulp on some, close-up of textural surface showing specks of peel throughout.

That was fun!  More pieces for my ‘earth’ theme book I am working towards creating.

Posted in General Arts, General fun pursuits, My Creative Pieces, My paper | Tagged | 3 Comments

Livening up industry magazines

Every month in the office I receive The Advisor through the post.  It’s a finance industry magazine, very straight-laced, chock-full of mortgage and loan info, bank adverts, and all those other (boring) necessary financial facts our business relies on knowing.

Imagine my surprise when it landed on my desk displaying a fresh, vibrant, colourful and FUN cover, instead of the normal Shutterstock-purchased images or ‘happy family’ photos we usually see from business publications.

What’s going on?  Have they a new graphic designer, layout artist or editor?  Or has someone just woken up to the fact that it is hard graft wading through articles that look boring before you even get started reading?

I don’t know the answer but clearly someone has decided to try a new approach and has put some thought into matching quirky and fun imagery to more imaginative article titles.  Hooray!

So I donned my glasses and sat down to read.

I was pleasantly surprised.  There were some very interesting articles.

So I want to let everyone know that it IS possible to jazz up even the driest subjects and entice subscribers to wade through what can sometimes be tedious reading.

I can guarantee I read more from this issue than any other in the past.  Fingers crossed that they keep this up!

All images from The Advisor, issue October 2017.  As you can see, some crossed the centre-fold.

Posted in General Arts | 1 Comment

Just a few rows each evening

I made a commitment some time ago to make a blanket for someone less fortunate than myself.  My friend, Rita, who is a superb knitter and crocheter, got me started.  I required multiple balls of left-over 8 ply yarn – double-knit, as it is known in the UK – and a size 5 pair of knitting needles.

OK, excellent, nothing I needed to buy.  I mean, who in the world of textiles (or ex-textiles in my case) doesn’t have a stash of goodies just waiting to be used up?

Step 1: Cast on 50 stitches, knit every row until you have a square and then cast off.
Step 2: Continue until you have 28 squares.
Step 3: Stitch them together in rows of 4, followed by stitching the rows together into a long 7 x 4 panel completed blanket.
Step 4: Iron.
Step 5: Donate it to a worthy cause.

My goal, which I have stuck to solidly, was to knit between 5 and 10 rows at least 4-5 evenings a week when I was home (not away on hols) until I finished.

That day has now come.  It’s taken 2 years, but as Rita said “Someone, somewhere, will sleep warmer because of you”.  I’m so proud of myself and I’m so happy to give it away.

And look at this from the Wrap with Love website:

And I’m about to be one of the contributors!

With hands that don’t know what to do with themselves in the evenings I’m already on the next one.

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Paper casting

After my debacle with the mixer a few days ago I regrouped, put my brain in gear, and blended some of my pulp into a finer, more smooth paste.  Currently working with banana fibre and cardstock I’m making the components of what will become a travel journal.  This stage is  creating a cast paper motif for the front cover.

I was inspired by my friend, Robert, and his work at Primrose Park last week.  He made his own molds, which are fairly large, and formed some fantastic paper reliefs with them.

I’m not after anything that large or that dimensional, just something low-relief to complement the ‘earthy’ tones of my sheets of paper.

Over the years I’ve accumulated several sets of Cedar Canyon Rubbing Plates and decided to see if I could use them to cast paper.  Made of tough, fairly rigid, plastic the pulp should dry and release quite easily.

I don’t see why they wouldn’t work although the imagery is quite complex and some areas are very fine, but as long as I can push the fibre into all the recesses well enough I should get a reasonable result.

I started by pressing small amounts of pulp into the mold and, once completed, I used a rolling-pin to flatten the back.As the shapes slowly dried I  periodically pressed the pulp down into the molds, hoping to improve the final definition.

I laid them outside to finish drying in the warm shade (with a brick so they wouldn’t blow away) and was surprised how quickly the pulp formed into solid paper pieces and popped out of the rubbing plates.  As they dried they shrunk slightly and came away from the plates, leaving them completely clean.

They’ve buckled a bit as they dried but, depending on how I’m going to use them, I reckon I can dampen the back of them and re-flatten them to lie nicely on backing sheets.  Very pleased with this stage of the project.

Posted in My Creative Pieces, My paper | Tagged | 6 Comments