"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Colour Sketches from the Wood

Some small sketches from the wood to make some colour notes as the weather changes. They will help so much for printmaking. I start with a pen sketch just quickly getting down some main lines and lights and darks and then follow up with the colour notes.

I have wanted to do this for some time dithering about what paint etc as I need a quick drying paint for working outside. In the end I used gouche. Gouache is still my go to paint for these quick colour notes. I love its thick slightly chalky texture.

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Its a small square sketchbook 5.5 inches square 14 x14 cmss

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There are 60 pages.. I hope to fill them all.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Autumn Jess

Sometimes I would really like to get another dog. A few days ago I saw a lovely brindled whippet/cross scampering about in the woods. I could not help thinking on my late, much loved lurcher Jessie who I drew and painted so often.

So just for the sheer love of her and of course of a bit more printmaking practise I made a small print. I liked doing this so much that I plan a few more Jessie tributes.

It’s a two plate lino printed with blend rolls on Japanese paper.

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Jessie sleeping amongst falling autumn oak leaves. image 16 x 11cms

Sunday, 24 September 2017

More Colour Print Tests

There can never be enough tests! After a week in lovely Scotland I have spent today making some more test colour prints based on the sketch book work of the path in the wood.
4 colours. 4 small blocks. many many variables….

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Sketchbook and plates.

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Colour trials.

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Image 4 x5.5 inches.

They are going to get larger..

Sunday, 17 September 2017

The Sedgewick Museum, Fossils and other things beneath my feet

Back in 2014 I was beginning to discover the (to me) thrilling world of the fossils embedded in the Oxford Clay which underlies this area. We were once a Jurassic shallow sea and its fishy remains are still held in the sticky mud. I have collected quite a few, see my blog post; More about fossils, here,  tiny crinoids, elegant belemnites and the odd fragment of ammonite collected from the reservoir shore.

On Tuesday we made a brief visit to the Sedgewick Museum in Cambridge. If you love cases of fossils and bits of bones and maps and things, a quiet contemplative atmosphere and no crowds, this is for you. I could have settled in happily for a few days of quiet sketching.

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Photos from the Sedgewick Museum Website.

There is so much there to study and consider; the beautiful hand written labels on the specimens, Darwin’s note books, astonishing relics of creatures that knew a different earth and the strangely comforting feeling of being amongst benign ancestors. I thought more about the layering of my Path prints and those things deeper down from 200 million years ago.

The museum was started by Dr John Woodward (1665-1728) and included fossils which had been collected and drawn by the Italian artist Agostino Scilla who published a book of exquisite observed drawings in 1670 See more about Woodwardian and Scilla here.

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A Woodwardian case including some of Scillas fossils.

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One the drawings from Scilla book magnificently titled La vana speculazione disingannata dal senso (Vain Speculation Undeceived by Sense, 1670). I want to draw some more fossils and bones now.

Then there is the structures of rocks to consider, the layering of rocks and sediment.

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Print work has been hampered by an awful cold which has laid me low for the last 10 days but colds are often an opportunity to think about things and I have been considering how I might incorporate some of these wonderful things in the prints. It’s all there under my feet, embedded and hidden, but there.

However in the sketchbook I have been working on a few more rough ideas exploring the path, what I see on it, possible colours, how the map can help and other random thoughts about the fence posts. The charcoal burners keep returning too.~

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A4 Sketchbook notes

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Ideas and thoughts.. sometimes having a cold can be quite productive.:).

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Prints, Prints and more Prints

After the very enjoyable experience with the large print earlier this month I have started taking a closer look at the possibilities of overlaying prints and combining plates. I have made overlays before, sometimes just out of curiosity or even by mistake.
Now I am beginning to find the potential more intriguing, especially where I can combine different types of print: relief and intaglio, monoprint, wood and card or lino etc etc. the combinations are endless but I think this may be a way forward for me. There are technical problems. Plate heights to deal with, ink and paper issues and having the patience to LET THINGS DRY. Curbing my enthusiasm and impatience is sometimes very hard.

They are getting bigger too. A2 is actually beginning to seem a bit small!

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A2 woodcuts ( from the big print) combined with added shapes. Up on the path in the woods the autumn Arum berries are a bright note in amongst the dark tree cover. The woodblocks were made with this walk very much in mind.

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A3 prints combining relief and intaglio blocks.

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A4 Trials



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A2 Plates. Wood lino and card plates. They are loosely based on what I am seeing on the path at the moment, dappled light, twigs, stones, leaves etc

I like these.They are an interesting development.  For me they need more consideration in the way of content and composition etc etc.. and of course then there is the issue of colour.. Hmmmm… way to go. 

Monday, 21 August 2017

A Big Print

Following on from the sketches and small print trials from the last post, a large print. My first venture into large scale printmaking. You have to up the size of the marks, get organised, have much more time just for cutting and inking. Then have space for laying out the blocks and the print paper.

All this was made possible by our excellent tutor Katherine Van Uytrecht and the City Lit printroom.

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It’s not a good photo but gives an idea of size. The plates were wood and lino and I loved doing it. There was only time for one print so I can only regard it as “ A Start”.  Some things worked some did not but that is what experimental printmaking is all about.

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An idea of the surface detail…

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The print set up… registration plate, woodblocks and the paper taped at the far end. The print is just over 4ft long. Nice! More to come.


Sunday, 6 August 2017

Colour Trials

Following on from the sketches in the wood I needed to try out some possible colour combinations for next weeks printmaking.
Greens and blues for undergrowth, the water of the reservoir, deep russets and reds for dark shadows and fallen leaves, white flashes for birds and insects which catch the light as they fly through the dappled canopy, dragonflies in iridescent blue, red berries and  cerulean sky blues.

First some sketchbook notes.
I am trying to keep the palette limited which will make the printing more interesting and hopefully harmonious.

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Then some small approx A5 trial prints using some of the colours.

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Limited palette overprintings with colour notes: For once I have actually made a note of the colours on the test pieces. My working practise is improving!

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It will be interesting to see what will happen when I start to interpret the sketches and colours on a larger scale. Maybe something completely different, but that is just one of the unexpected joys of printmaking!