2020 10 27 Image of the week

Angie Lewin, Twisted Stem, Calendula and Pebbles, 2019, watercolour, pen and ink, 56x77cm

I’m a big fan of Angie Lewin and have a copy of one of her books which I use as inspiration towards some of my own work.

The image above comes from her exhibition entitled Nature Assembled recently shown at The Scottish Gallery. Although it has recently finished it is still possible (probably for a short time) to view the works on display in situ by taking a virtual tour.

Angie has also made a short video of her process with a close-up of some of her work.

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Linocut print: Lamb’s Tongue weed

After a couple of trial runs and a bit more carving I completed a very successful print.

Claire Brach, Lamb’s Tongue weed, linocut, 30.5x23cm, 2020

Good outcome with solid ink coverage and I’m pleased that my instinct led me to translate some aspects of the design differently than the original drawing.

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Linocut: Lamb’s Tongue weed

This year, whilst in covid lockdown, I’ve spent a lot of time walking in bushland both observing and collecting flora, mainly weeds.

A few weeks ago I started photographing Lamb’s Tongue weeds (Plantago lanceolata). They have a robust cylindrical shaped head which I can’t flatten and use in monoprinting through my press, so I decided to translate them into a linoprint.

Sitting at my drawing table I started sketching the Lamb’s Tongue along with what I could see across the lawn; my birdbath, some flagstones and fencing.

The birds hopped in and out of their bath, sometimes drinking, sometimes getting a wash.

The angles weren’t right but the idea was solid. I didn’t want a realistic version of my garden, I was after having my weeds in the forefront and the garden falling away behind. After photocopying, tracing and redrawing several times I found myself with a usable design.

I started cutting my lino. Because I never like to make life easy for myself, part way through I decided to swap some of the positive and negative aspects of the image. I’ve just about finished cutting and can’t wait to see the first print proof. Let’s hope I didn’t totally stuff it up.

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2020 10 21 Image of the week

Andrew Sharman, A Dream of Sheep, linocut 30x19cm, 2020

I first discovered the prints of Andrew Sharman via my subscription to the British printmaking magazine pressing matters. I was immediately struck by how he takes landscape imagery and re-imagines it into a simplified (or stylized) design that still encompasses a vast amount of information.

His choice to keep to a very reduced colour palette I find enticing and the use of multiple overlaid shaped blocks is very effective.

pressing matters magazine, Issue 11, P 56-59, 2020
Further work can be found at https://andmadeprints.co.uk/

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2020 10 13 Image of the week

Klaus Plumer, Meeting in small groups, linocut, 30×40

This image recently appeared in an online group I’m part of and I was immediately struck by the amazing effect achieved in the colour application on this linocut.

My experience with lino printing has always been to roll the relief surface smoothly and cover the entire area but here the artist has applied the ink more organically, still using a roller. How on earth he has achieved the horizontal ‘watery’ or ‘shimmery’ effect I don’t know but I love the combination of black and gold.

I wonder if instead of using oil-based inks, as I do, he uses acrylic paints and they partially dry on the lino surface before the image is transferred to paper thereby creating only a partial pick-up. Very interesting.

A master of many painterly effects, using a wide range of media, his art is well worth checking out on facebook.

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More gelli printing

This week I was introduced to another way of gelli printing, one where texture can be created whilst still being able to produce quite exacting patterns.

In September I blogged about a similar, but slightly different method, and gave the steps I took. However, with that method a colour is placed down and, once dry, a second colour is rolled over the surface. This means that the purity of the first colour becomes polluted by the overlay colour. For example, if you put blue down in sections first and later roll yellow over it the result on the mixed areas is going to be some kind of green or, at best, blue with a green tinge. It’s hard to keep the true colour.

My new method should eliminate this problem and ensure the colours I lay down remain pure.

Good colour result but poor paint pick-up

My first pieces gave me excellent colour results but the transfer of paint from gelli plate to paper was patchy. I realised that both layers of paint had to be fairly liquid so they didn’t dry out before pulling the print. I left the Matisse Structure paints aside and used either Matisse Flow or Atelier Interactive for both layers.

Good colour combinations and improved paint pick-up

The paint application on the above 2 pieces was somewhat uneven but the transfer was much better. A definite improvement.

Colour combinations and transfer working well

Both the colour and pattern transfer worked well on these pieces and I’m very happy with the results. Here’s the method:

  • Using a brayer, apply paint across the entire gelli plate surface and lie a stencil over the top.
  • Using a baby wipe, remove all the paint on the gelli plate surface showing between the gaps of the stencil.
  • Keeping the stencil in place, roll a second colour over the stencil and gelli plate. This will fill up the gaps that were just cleaned with a second colour.
  • Remove the stencil and place paper over the surface, pressing down to transfer paint to paper.

When the stencil is removed it ‘sucks’ up some of the paint trapped between it and the gelli plate and this creates a textural effect in those areas.

Close up of texture from first layer

Interesting outcomes. I’m mulling over what comes next with my gelli plate.

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2020 09 30 Image of the week

Sybil Andrews, The Gale, 1930, Linocut, 21 x 24.6cm

Cutting Edge Modernist British Printmaking, Published by Philip Wilson Publishers, 50 Bedford Square, London, 2019, P55, ISBN: 978-1-78130-078-7

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2020 09 24 Image of the week

Zilvinas Kropas (Lumen print)

Image taken from an amazing article featuring Zilvinas Kropas, Aušra Kropiene & Meta Kropaite about photography of the 21st century. https://bit.ly/3kIlM99

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New gelli plate printing

Over the last 12 months I’ve done quite a bit of gelli plate printing using a few different methods; random rolling of paints, applying stencils, mark making with objects and the like.  All have been done with either one or multi-layers of wet-on-wet paints.  I’ve enjoyed the loose style of image transfer and the colour mixes.

This week I tried a new method – new to me at least.  My goal was to create more structured patterns that are repeatable.

For my first paint layer I used Matisse Structure acrylics (these will dry quite fast) and for my second layer I used Matisse Flow or Atelier Interactive acrylics (more slow drying).  It’s wise to make note of whether your colour choices are opaque, semi-translucent or fully translucent as each will produce different results.  My paper was smooth 110gsm cartridge.

My method was as follows:

  • Place plastic stencil on gelli plate (it sticks nicely).  Using a small sponge or soft applicator dab a mid to dark colour over the surface.  Carefully remove the stencil and allow the paint on gellli plate to dry.  By the time I’ve washed the stencil it’s ready.
  • Using a lighter acrylic colour, squeeze a little on the gelli plate and roll it across the whole surface.  Your first layer will remain in place.  Immediately place paper over the top and press by hand.  Lift off from one end.  The first layer of dry paint will adhere to the second wet paint layer and all should transfer to the paper.
  • Remove any remaining paint from the gelli plate with hand sanitiser.  It’s quick, clean and easy.  Then you’re ready to go again!

With this method I can build up multiple layers and create detailed imagery.  These would be lovely as endpapers in handmade books.  I’m slowly building my stash.

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Continuing drawing figures

I’ve continued working on drawing fashion figures.  Referring to my text book, I’ve produced a couple of line drawings demonstrating different poses.  Using one as a template I went on to complete a body shape.

I’m in two minds about the path I’m taking.  These images look very easy to produce and shouldn’t take much time, but to create two reasonable looking legs I probably drew about fifteen or so.  The book encourages rubbing out instead of continually starting again and I find that useful.  It’s instructive to be continually going over and over the same space until you’re reasonably happy with something.

I definitely haven’t got a natural talent for figure drawing but let’s see where this goes.  I’ll continue with it over coming months interspersed with other more immediate projects.

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2020 09 14 Image of the week

Cyril E Power (1872-1951), The Tube Staircase, linocut printed with 3 blocks; yellow, cobalt blue, black on thin cream oriental laid paper, edition of 50, 44.4 x 25.6cm.

Philip Vann, Cyril Power Linocuts: A Complete Catalogue, published by Osborne Samuel Ltd, 2008. Page 49, ISBN 978-1-84822-140-6

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New challenges in drawing

I’ve had a project in mind for a while now but know my drawing skills aren’t up to the job so I’ve bitten the bullet, invested in some basic drawing books and picked up a pencil.

I love fashion illustration and the elongated’ giraffe’ style body draped in wonderfully outlandish costumes, so my new books include both natural looking figures and more fashion-model stylized outcomes.

I started with head shapes.

I tried ‘fashion illustration’ faces.

I went full body.

That’s an interesting exercise, building the body up from block lengths.  I note that fashion illustration leans heavily toward pigeon-toes.

I explored another method.

What have I learned so far?

  • Keep a rubber at hand!
  • Buy a new pencil sharpener.
  • Abandon illustration style faces.
  • Stop stressing and loosen up the hand.
  • Who cares if I use an entire sketch-book and fill it with rubbish?  So just do it.
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2020 09 07 Image of the week

Vivian Maier (photography), New York, NY, 1954

I’ll let the viewer add their own narrative to this, but I can’t help wondering what the future held for the subjects in this photograph.


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Monoprinting shapes – Part 2

Building on the prints from my previous post I created a range of multi-layered monoprints, sticking to a reduced colour palette and using only lines and circles.  Threads of varying thicknesses and types were laid to achieve either resists or laid patterns.  Circles, both the positive shapes and outer masks were incorporated, enabling me to form solid, translucent or chance markings when combined with threads.

A selection of these prints was then made, ready to combine into a new book.

After some consideration I chose to construct a blizzard book using instructions I found on youtube.  This book style is easy to make, assuming you understand how to calculate the number of sections required and cut and fold accurately.

As my print paper was only 110gsm I chose to make a hard cover to help it stand without sagging.  Using previously painted paper I covered 2mm board, inserted the prints into the folded spine and attached the covers.

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2020 08 26 Image of the week

Jan Mankes (Dutch, 1889-1920), Bomenrij, 1915, oil on canvas


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2010 08 17 Image of the week

Yon Sim, To have Missed it, 2018, emulsion-lifted photographic print with shellac-based and acrylic inks

This is one of a set of images in this series, all of which are superb. It’s worth a visit to Yon Sim’s design and photography website to view them all.


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Monoprinting shapes – Part 1

Using a very reduced colour palette I’m currently starting a range of monoprints based on lines and shapes – in this case, circles.  I’ve had quite a long time away from my core interests of linear connections, boxes, containment and the like and am enjoying returning to puddling around with inks in a new exploration of these themes.

Blue isn’t normally prominent in my work but for this project I’m embracing black, ultramarine and cerulean blue.

This first batch are what I call the ‘negatives’.  They are the first pull when threads have been laid as resists on the print plate.  They are pretty useless as is but some will be used as a base to overprint later.

This second set demonstrates how the plate prints once the threads have been removed and left an imprint in the ink.  I’ve then added a further resist in some images.

This is just the start and I’ll be continuing to add print layers at different tonal values to create more complex and engaging imagery.

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2020 08 03 Image of the week

Sumptuous cakes designed by Moscow based artist
Tortik Annuchka.

Resources, more information and other cakes to drool over:

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2020 07 27 Image of the week

Frank Hinder, Tram kaleidoscope, 1948, tempera on hardboard

This is a painting I regularly visit at the Art Gallery of NSW.  The statement alongside says (in part):

Frank Hinder’s ‘Tram kaleidoscope’ captures the essence of Sydney modernism.  It synthesises elements of Cubism, Futurism and Orphism to form an ambitious statement of the city as a dynamic, living organism.  The painting is fragmented and presents simultaneous views of the tram and the outside street.  Time and space are no longer linear and discreet, they have become intrinsically intertwined.  The chaos, however, is ordered and unified by a repetition of forms.  The cylindrical tram, distant buildings, a zooming car and crowd of anonymous commuters are integrated harmoniously into the composition.


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2020 07 21 Image of the week

Having just emerged from under an avalanche of administrative tasks I’m back on track with my creative life and just about ready to start a new work of my own.

This video, although more than an ‘image of the week’, captured me entirely.
Turn the sound on and enjoy these elegant super-sized kinetic sculptures.

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Completed: Monoprinted concertina book

Claire Brach, In Isolation, 2020,
free-standing articulated concertina book,
commercial & handmade paper, mixed media drawing & painting, monoprinting

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2020 07 02 Image of the week

Kevin Foley, Dog Tired

As a printmaker of longstanding Kevin Foley finds inspiration in what he sees around him on his small farm and surrounding district in central Victoria.

His ‘model’ for this image is his border collie, Scout, who, although sadly passed away now, is evident through many of his prints over the years.

Being such a dog lover myself I’m obviously drawn to this image of Scout but also the technical side of the print.  The textural background is fascinating, as I’ve often considered how to produce terrain covered with layers of decaying leaves, fallen twigs or the like.  Here I see dry spiky straw on dry earth or similar.  I note the subtle colour change as well.

As I’ve been slowly struggling through repeatedly drawing my dog, Jack (although I’ve lapsed for quite a while), I also enjoy the rendition of Scout and feel I could run my fingers through her fluffy coat and tickle her belly.

To see more of Kevin’s work please click on the link below.

Image reproduced with permission from the artist.

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Part 3: Monoprinted vignettes

Finally every page printed.  32 different plants printed in isolation, each showcased in their own right.  Here is a selection.

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I also printed some of my book pages without the background.  The plants are so lovely on their own I didn’t want to clutter them.

Having decided how the book construction should look I spent half a day making some handmade paper as fly leaves between the sections.  Using recycled cotton rag paper scraps combined with banana tree pulp I created the finest paper I’ve ever made.  Hold it up to the window and I can see through it. . . well, almost.

These sheets, now dry, have been cut to size and attached to a  more robust plant fibre paper to be sewn into the spine.

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2020 06 23 Image of the week

Sebastian Wasek, Storsandnes Beach in Moon Light,
photo uploaded to pixels.com 3/2/2019

Being a person who finds blue a difficult colour to work with, this picture is a beautiful study of blue tones.  Stunning photography and I can feel the bone numbing cold radiating from it.


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Part 2: Monoprinted vignettes

In part 1 I showed the waste prints from this project and explained the process of transferring plant material, mainly leaves, to paper.

Each page was initially prepared by printing a textural backdrop representing the concept of different terrain.  Jack and I walk bush trails, streets, through parks, on pathways, through burnt undergrowth & across creeks and I’ve included colours that encompass these different aspects.

Here are 12 of the 32 completed background pieces, ready for the plant overlay.

The range includes single layer prints sometimes using masks, whilst others encompass a design feature once the mask from the previous print has been removed.

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2020 06 16 Image of the week

Ethel Spowers, Wet Afternoon, 1929/1930, linocut, printed from four blocks on thin ivory laid tissue, 23.9 x 20.2 cm image (irreg.)

I’m a huge fan of Ethel Spowers.  I can learn a lot from her multi-block linocuts.


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Part 1: Monoprinted vignettes

When looking back over my recent online mixed media course I was struck again at how much I had enjoyed creating temporary vignettes from plant material.

So over recent weeks I’ve been diligently collecting, pressing and drying plant material with the aim of creating a permanent record of my time in isolation.  Having been cooped up in the house for a couple of months or more my main outlet has been walking my dog, Jack, on bush trails, giving me the perfect opportunity to build a plant collection.

Some weeks ago I completed the front and back inner and outer sections of the book as well as the concertina spine (not posted yet).

For the last 3 weeks I’ve been working on creating 32 pages, each showcasing a different plant.  In this post I’m showing some of the waste prints, the trials I suppose you would call them.

My printing experience tells me that plant material prints much better the second or third time.  The initial pass through the press flattens the foliage properly and deposits some ink, but often not enough.  So it’s good to trial every one before re-inking and placing the item on good paper.

I like to look at the print plate (in this case a sheet of acetate) after the leaves have been through the press and removed, and see the remaining image on the plate.  If I’ve a good imprint I put the plate through again, sometimes with different papers.  It’s amazing what comes out.

From these photos it’s clear to see where the plant material has been printed on plain paper, to gauge the ink pick-up, and where the acetate plate has been printed once the foliage has been removed.  I enjoy the positive/negative aspects of these.

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2020 06 08 Image of the week

Lyndal Campbell, Glampervan, 60 x 90cm, oil on oil painting paper

I couldn’t go past this riot of colour and energy.  This would look terrific on my workroom wall, which is where I spend most of my day.  Every time I look at it I discover something new.


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Exploring Mixed Media: 7

Working with nature: Plant Drying

In anticipation of creating some nature monoprints I’ve continued to collect fallen flora.  Each leaf has been carefully laid out and pressed between paper, in single layers, using my Albion press and book blocks.

These leaves are more robust than the last ones I tried, where I learned to only press single layers at a time.  The veins on the three larger types are very prominent and I’m hopefully of excellent print transfer definition.  In fact, just during the drying process, colour leached out.

This gives a great indication of what I should be able to achieve when printing.

These small fronds have barely a vein and might only work as a resist but for the next part of my mixed media journey I’m really after leaf prints.  So I’ll experiment and see what I can get.

A friend living on a rural property very kindly sent me these skeletonized leaves, which is a boost to my meager findings.  Even though I live in a bushland environment, and walk daily, I rarely find good specimens such as these.

In mid April I created a range of nature vignettes, which was a new experience.  Having completed the on-line course, I’ve decided to extend this concept and create my vision of printed vignettes.  This collection, added to my existing dried flora, will become the basis for some of the imagery.

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2020 05 25 Image of the week

Parlous Land by Elizabeth Magill is a series of 10 lithographs (editions of 45) and I’ve chosen this very atmospheric image as my feature this week.

Elizabeth Magill, Deer Park Clearing, 2006, lithograph, 61 x 84cm

http://www.paragonpress.co.uk/works/parlous-land/ – see all 10 prints here.  A beautiful set.

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Exploring Mixed Media: 6

Masks, Stencils & Monoprinting

. . . with a bit of painting and drawing.

A fairly good result.  Perhaps a little less colour in the upper background would have been better.  The buds have more orange and colour variation that has come through on the photo.  Very pleased with the lower rock effect.  Quite a dense image.

Very pleased with the drama of the background.  Possibly need more work on the very light stems.

A much lighter hand with the paint here bringing a more calming effect into play.

The best one of the four prints.  A ravaged landscape, after the bushfires, slowly regenerating.

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2020 05 18 Image of the week

I’ve chosen a video by Erik van Ommen as my pick this week.  I couldn’t go past this artist, both his prints and his paintings.

Check him out on both his website and youtube to learn how his artworks are created.

Video as per link above
Youtube search

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2020 05 11 Image of the week

Debra Luccio, Reach, 2019, monotype on Velin Arches paper, 59 x 42.5cm
(The Australian Ballet’s Marcus Morelli rehearsing Tim Harbour’s Filigree and Shadow)

Turning to the back page of a magazine last week I came across this stunning print by Debra Luccio.  Enthralled, I researched her and spent time perusing her website where I discovered this image is only one of a large selection of monotypes, drypoints and etchings from her exhibition ‘Dancing from the Dark, Looking for the Light‘.

I love looking at artists work on-line but in this case, by visiting Debra’s youtube channel, I was able to share in 2 of her past exhibitions and also ‘attend’ a monotype tutorial.  Seeing her working on a piece from start to finish and then viewing works hung in exhibiting galleries is a real treat, especially in this current climate of disconnection due to isolation.

In her body of work we are treated to an expert at capturing life as it is happening; presenting us with movement, passion and energy, and an incredible sense of drama.

Whether you are a printmaker or not, or any type of artist for that matter, I hope you find these works as captivating as I do.

Click here to visit Debra’s website and learn more about her art practice.

Links as embedded within above text.
Image reproduced with kind permission from the artist.

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Exploring Mixed Media: 5

Continuing with the Gelli printing & stencilling, I used my original source photos as a start point and reproduced some of the images then cut stencils & masks, plus addition pieces to widen my selection.

These thin acetate stencils are quite robust although hard on the hands to cut with an Xacto knife.  I also cut ‘fronds’ from Yupo – much quicker but they will have a shorter lifespan.  Both positive and negative cuts will be used.

Cutting Tip: When making masks or stencils where you are creating several similar shapes it’s a good idea to cut them as one; i.e. with a bar at one end so they stay together.  They are simple to handle and if the bar is placed below the base line of your background it makes picking the stencil up very easy after printing.

This method also provides the option of selectively masking, or printing, areas by slipping some of the stencil sections underneath the paper so they are discounted.  However, one of my main reasons for working this way is so I don’t have loads of stencils getting tangled or lost.  And they are quick to position if you’ve planned them properly in advance.

I’m not a painter and use acrylics infrequently so here are a few of my initial trials:

Left to right: 1. Paint rolled Gelli plate, acetate stencil resist, overlaid paper pressed with a baren. 2. Painted stencil placed directly onto paper and pressed. 3. Remaining paint on Gelli plate left to dry, then grey paint rolled over the surface and print taken.  The plate had been lightly misted with water, hence the speckled effect.

Left to right: 1. Acetate resist fronds, sponge stippling through stencil. 2. Embossing plate pressed onto painted Gelli plate, overlaid with rolled acetate stencil leaf. 3. Acetate resist trees on rolled background, overlaid with paint-rolled rubber bathmat ‘stones’.

What have I learned so far?

  • Acrylic paints dry very quickly, even Flow acrylics, so getting good image transfer onto dry paper can be an issue.
  • Some of my acrylics are Atelier Interactive brand which are reactivated by water so using a thicker paper, dampened with a cloth is enabling better transfer.
  • When colour mixing using a range of paint brands together, as long as one of them is an Interactive it will improve the transfer process to damp paper.
  • Once equipment has been used immediately submerge it in water to aid removal of residual paint.  Then clean completely.  Leaving acrylics to dry on rollers, paintbrushes, sponges, stencils, etc is a mistake and it requires a lot of effort to clean dried paint.
  • Rolling acrylic paint onto slick acetate stencils is very difficult.  Both the roller and the paint slips around and I’ve not yet managed solid coverage.

The next stage is to work on multiple layers.

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2020 05 04 Image of the week

Neil Burnell photography, CRAWL

Well worth clicking on the resources below to find out more about this amazing photographer and see other pieces of his work.  Outstanding atmospheric photographs.


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Exploring Mixed Media: 4

Gelli Plate printing

These first samples have been about re-familiarising myself with the Gelli plate, getting good coverage and colour combinations.  All produced with various brands of acrylic paints.

Creating patterns within the painted layers.

Stencilling: Experiments with different media.

Left to right:
Top row: 1) Water-soluble crayon on paper, overlaid stencil and wiped with damp cloth. 2) Remaining crayon on stencil wiped over clean paper. 3) 2nd print with remaining colour on cloth.
Second row: 1) Water-soluble pencil scribbled on paper, overlaid stencil and wiped with damp cloth. 2) Same as previous but with darker colour. 3) Remaining colour on damp cloth wiped over clean stencil.
Third & Forth rows: Inktense pencils scribbled onto paper, overlaid stencil and wiped with damp cloth or stippled with sponge (to avoid excessive running).  Further prints on clean paper using remaining colour on cloth or sponge.

My preference for adding pattern, at this stage, are the results from the acrylic paints in the Gelli plate section and the water soluble crayon 2nd & 3rd prints.

Moving on to hand cut masks with acrylic paints on Gelli plate.  Not something I’ve really explored before so looking forward to seeing how crisp the images are.  Others in the facebook group write that they are experiencing bleeding and loss of accurate masked shapes.

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2020 04 30 Image of the week

Werner Dieterich photography, Stuttgart Vineyards

Probably my favourite colour scheme.  A landscape but also a brilliant linear composition which is (as anyone who knows me will attest to) what always captivates my eye.


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Another take on natural dyeing

Over the years I’ve done a range of techniques to apply both natural colour (i.e. colour extracted from nature: leaves, bark, berries, plant stems) and natural patterns (i.e. leaf imprints, petals, fronds, pine needles, etc.) to both cloth and paper.

I’ve also created monoprints using commercial inks on paper.

A few years ago I read about a textile artist who buried a flat piece of cloth in the garden for a couple of months and left it to the whims of the weather, before retrieving it to see how it had survived and what colour it had taken up.  I don’t think this is a wholly uncommon exercise as I’ve heard about it several times since.

Two weeks ago I adapted this garden approach into a tray-dyeing trial with paper.  I used 2 standard kitty litter trays.

Tray 1:

  • Layer 1: Blue/grey stones
  • Layer 2: Strips of 250gsm Hahnemuhle print paper
  • Layer 3: Blue/grey stones
  • Layer 4: Strips of 250gsm Hahnemuhle print paper
  • Layer 5: Blue/grey stones
  • Periodically spray with water and alternate between sun and shade

Tray 2:

  • Layer 1: Wood chips
  • Layer 2: Strips of 250gsm Hahnemuhle print paper
  • Layer 3: Wood chips
  • Layer 4: Strips of 250gsm Hahnemuhle print paper
  • Layer 5: Wood chips
  • Layer 6: Off-cuts of paper + wood chips and stones to hold everything in place
  • Cover with clingfilm to keep moisture and stop the wind blowing the wood chips away
  • Periodically spray with water and alternate between sun and shade

Yesterday I liberated the sheets of paper, gave them a wash and ironed them dry.

Tray 1 – Layer 2:

Tray 1 – Layer 4:

Very little, if any, difference between the 2 layers of paper.  Extremely good results and very usable for future overprinting.

Tray 2 – Layer 2:

Tray 2 – Layer 4:

There’s a significant difference in the colour leeching from the wood chips on the different layers.  I was given a range of chips from different trees and I bagged them separately.  Although I wasn’t given the names of each individual wood I ensured I kept them apart when I layered.  Fantastic results.

The underside of the papers have also come out well.

And what about the off-cuts that were used to hold the main sheets down in the wood chips?

Fantastic.  There is a definite grey imprint where the stones rested.

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Exploring Mixed Media: 3

Anyone following this thread will note that I’ve changed the title from ‘Working with nature’ (which were parts 1 & 2) to the overall course title.  I feel happier not being so constrained by the narrow reference to nature.

It’s been an interesting fortnight with much studying, a lot of personal reflection and some interesting (and some crap) art experimentation.

Personal interpretation:

Having totally misunderstood the course instructions I took one of my nature photos, selected the colour palette and splashed some acrylic paints around.  The tutor explained that we were to disregard any form of representation and simply apply colour to paper.

That was fun – using an old credit card to push paint around – and apparently wrong (yep, it was one of the crap experiments).  Great colour scheme though.

I regrouped.  Further instructions revealed I was not to paint the image but, rather, capture the ‘essence’ of it.  Oh-oh, not my strong point.  (Note to self: What does that even mean?).  I thought I’d change image to something with more colour; it might offer more scope.

This got a moderately better (??) response in “Good place to jump off and move to the next part of the course”.  I read that to mean ‘You really don’t have a clue what you’re doing, do you?’.  And she’d be right.

What the heck, let’s have one more go …  I went back to my original image.

This elicited a ‘like’ from the tutor on the group fb page but no comment.  I’m laughing because I’m having fun and not seeing a whole lot of difference between my ‘art’ (used in the loosest possible sense, of course!) and some of the other posts on the group which are fawned over.

Do I care?  Honestly, no.  The more I look at them the more I love my personal interpretation of the exercise – and that’s what it’s all about for me.

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2020 04 24 Image of the week

James Joseph Lloyd, monotype

Jim Lloyd grew up in Devon and spent much of his time walking and camping on Dartmoor.  This image, and others on his site, have been created with reference to photographs from other people melded with memories and influences from his father, R J Lloyd.

Another of his pieces I particularly like is this one.

A beautifully rendered minimalist land and sea-scape.

Google search

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Working with nature: 2

Identifying  colour palettes from photos

This is something I’ve done many times before but this time I’m exploring computer programs that automatically extract colours from photos.

In the past I’ve always painted  swatches or wrapped threads to indicate colours.

Having such a large collection of threads made this a relatively easy task.  Painting swatches adds more difficulty because it relies on a certain level of colour mixing knowledge, but I’ve always found it fun to do and I’ll be getting to that in this course soon.

However, at this stage, it’s all about extracting the main colour hues using technology.  It seems that the norm is to photograph, manipulate and crop images using a mobile phone (iphone is the go for my course) and utilize particular apps to analyse them.  That doesn’t work for me for a number of reasons – primary being that I hate mobile phones.  In addition, I have a superb camera that is almost permanently affixed to my hand.

So, having downloaded my photos to the computer, it was time to explore how to extract the information I needed.  After several very engrossing hours (and several cups of tea) and trials of many programs my choice was made: Adobe Color was it.

It’s a versatile program, with a lot of flexibility and options.  There are a range of preset palettes to choose from; Brights, Mutes, Dark, etc. as well as Custom – and that’s just in one part of the program.

I started by using a preset palette and then customised it by moving the colour icons around the photo.

In the part of the program I’ve used it’s only possible to extract 5 main colours but it is enough for what I need in this instance.

Having been asked to select 9 images and colour analyse them, here’s what I’ve produced.

Can’t wait for the next step.

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2020 04 14 Image of the week

Melody Knight Leary, “Inheritance?”, solarplate, Akua inks on Arches 88, 2018


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Working with nature: 1

This week I joined an online class exploring different ways of working with nature in an art practice.

Initially we were encouraged to explore our environment and collect flora that attracted us.  Obviously, in parks and and on bush trails I only picked up fallen/dead pieces but I also took the pruning shears to a few bits in my garden as I felt my colour range from public land was a little sparse.

Having been collecting, drying and flattening various pieces over recent years to use for printing I felt I had a reasonable collection as a start point.

From here I added other less organic pieces and started creating and photographing small vignettes.

This dried flower head has a deep russet red tinge to it.  It’s some kind of shrivelled gum blossom.  It sits atop a torn piece of Kozo I dyed a while ago.  I felt that the shell and rectangular stone (polished Jasper given to me by a friend) added a contrast to the organic shapes of the other components.

Rusted bolts and a dried and bleached coral found on the beach were added to my garden materials.

It was a challenge to work a design around a long piece of fire grass but the inclusion of items with very different shapes has brought more interest to what could have been just a very long narrow composition.  Torn kitchen hand towel, heavily stained by tea, has been used to create a straight edge to the right.

Love the colour of the Kangaroo Paw I picked yesterday.  Each flower head seems to be tipped with tiny claws.  Then this morning a few red dried leaves drifted to my door, begging to be included.

The piece of stamped copper shim was given to me by a master metalworker I met some years ago and is a keepsake of my creative time teaching in Grafton.  Again I’ve added Kozo, but undyed this time.

Turning the Kozo around changed the composition from horizontal to vertical allowing me to add the 2 shell sections in keeping with the directional pull.  The photo has transformed them from matte white shell slices to shiny pearlised pieces.

Some of the fresh leaves I collected were starting to dry out and today I found that although they were still green in colour they were so dry they disintegrated when I tried to use them, so I just included the fragments in my vignette.  Some of these materials have been used when printmaking and are a little stained with inks.  I think it adds to the colour scheme.

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With the restrictions of being at home pretty much full time I joined a small on-line challenge this week.  Entitled Notan/Counterchange, it was described as follows:

Notan is a Japanese design concept involving the play and placement of light and dark or two different colour elements.
The word ‘counterchange’ means to change parts or (poetically) to chequer, for example with contrasting colours.

It took me a while to come up with an idea but the result has come out better than I anticipated.

Having used white paper as one of the two colour elements this part has, obviously, merged into the background of my website and created a very interesting finished image.

However, if I want to maintain a ‘framed’ look to my piece I need to either increase the size of the red paper to surround the white section or choose a second colour to mount the piece on to.

I don’t think this is half as interesting as the first image.

And there’s always the possibility of adding another colour.

Not quite in the spirit of a counterchange once a third colour has been introduced but it could be the start of an interesting lino or woodcut with added chine collé.  These are only very basic beach hut shapes but a long row of individual huts with added colour and counterchange might be worth exploring.

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Articulated concertina: More complexity

In January I posted the results of my exploration into creating a double articulated concertina book.  I made two samples; one with basic stitching and the other with an attractive beaded join.

Ever since completing the these I’ve been irritated by the unattractive stitching on the top version.  I liked the idea of adding more sections to the cover and having each one provide an articulation but the beading on the second version looks more polished.

So for the last week I’ve been working on how to improve something that was essentially finished but not giving me the visual outcome I wanted.  I turned to my embroidery skills.

Using embroidery threads and beads I’ve managed to transform a good-looking book with average joins into something much more complex and interesting.  The stitched embellishment has been applied to both the front and the back as well as the inside covers.

NOW this project is finished.

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2020 04 06 Image of the week

Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack, Desolation, Internment camp, Orange, NSW, 1941,
woodcut, printed in black ink on thin ivory wove paper.


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2020 03 30 Image of the week

I’ve been a fan of Suzie MacKenzie and her collagraphs for a while and recently bought her book Making Collagraph Prints as it’s a print style I personally lean towards in my own work (when I’m not distracted trying out other print methods).

I’ve chosen one of her inspirational landscape pieces as my feature for this week.

Suzie MacKenzie, Before the Summer Storm, collagraph & chine collé, 2017 (?)

Suzie MacKenzie facebook

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Finished and framed etching

At the beginning of February I posted my hand-drawn Banksia serrata and my journey to transform it into an etched print.  Today I share with you the finished piece, framed.

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Part 2: Two colour etching

Back at the end of January I wrote about a 2 day workshop I did with Basil Hall.  Click here to read that so you get the idea of what I was trying to achieve.

Essentially I didn’t go with any plan of what to etch into a plate for the first day so I drew a random design that I entitled Circus.

The first plate was printed as a black proof and I applied colour in some areas ready for etching into the second plate.

I was pretty happy with it, seeing as I really hadn’t had any idea of what to expect from the class.

Once both plates were aquatinted and etched they were printed together in blue and yellow.  A reasonable first attempt.  Last week I reprinted the plates using a cyan blue and diarylide yellow.  Unfortunately the registration slipped horribly.

Interesting colours!  Not quite ‘circus’ enough for me though.  So I made a change.

That’s a bit more like it.  Now what can I do with it next?  I think some water-colour might be fun.

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2020 03 23 Image of the week

I have a love/hate relationship with collage.  However, I’m delighted to have come across Derek Gores and his masterful assemblages.

Collage portrait of Salma and Frida

http://www.derekgores.com/collage/ – some other fabulous pieces of work here.

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