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

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Colour Print Trials and Bees.

The weather has been fabulous, spring has arrived and it’s been too nice to be inside so work has been a bit slow. But in between wrestling with the garden, sporadic bookbinding and printing I have been making a series of small colour print trials. These are using 2 relief plates and are helping me understand how printing ink colours behave when overprinting. It’s not always the same as applying glazes in oils or watercolours. Hmmm
The possibilities are endless.

Inspiration? The pond, minus frogs though.

 colour-trials

 

Bees bees bees….
I have spent the last couple of days in the garden digging, chopping and moving things. The frogs have scattered now and it’s mostly quiet in the pond but I was accompanied by the buzzing of some newly minted queen bumble bees and the odd solitary bee.

So far the bee count this year is, Queen Bumble Bees;  Bombus hypnorum, pratorum, lucorum, terrestris and pascuorum. One odd little solitary, one Andrena fulva and… joy of joys.. the male Anthophora plumipes, the hairy footed flower bees, with their unmistakable high pitched buzz and speedy flight.

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Hairy footed flower bees.

Top; one lurking at the bottom on a stachys leaf near a favourite spring pulmonaria flower
Above; zooming off to chase away another male. He is a little supercharged bundle of male aggression and will even tackle large bumble bees who stray into his territory.

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A dainty little B pratorum The Early Bumblebee, approaching the winter honeysuckle, tongue unfurled in the first and legs up coming into land in the second.

 

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The Common Carder Bee. B pascuorum. In the second photo she is balancing on one flower with her back legs while getting her nose right up into the flower.

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A gorgeous two tone ginger Tawny mining bee Andrena fulva resting in the sun.

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and a little solitary male… waiting… waiting… waiting for a mate.. :)

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Branch Book 2 and some Goldfinch sketches

I am continuing to teach myself basic bookbinding and for this trial I printed all the Branch Book plates in a line and made a concertina book. It would work really well this way if I had actually made the original plates follow on a little better.. but for a quick trial it was fine and it was the binding I was most interested in. That, at least, is getting better.

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The Branch title is slightly inset which was a small new success. Small new successes sustain me over the many mistakes…slow learning.

Outside my workroom window is a small magnolia tree whose furry buds are getting ready to open. Yesterday a couple of goldfinches settled there for a while. Small flocks can always be seen by the waterside where the teasels grow and they love the seeds of knapweed which I (rather reluctantly) have in the garden for the bees. I keep meaning to make a print of these pretty birds so, at last, a few sketches. A print might follow in a couple of years … :)

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Goldfinch and Magnolia buds

Monday, 27 February 2017

February Night Frogs in the Rain

I’ve had a bad cold for what seems like most of February, but if anything can cheer me up and really heralds the approach of spring it’s the arrival of the frogs.
After a warm sunny day last week, as evening approached, a light rain started.
We could hear the frogs from inside the house, blissful in the rain, splashing and jumping around the pond. Their eyes just pinpoints of reflected light in the dusk.

I made a quick reduction print to record this joyful event.

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“February Rain”… lino reduction  6 x 4 inches

frog sketch

Later I took my small camera out and recorded their spring song. Well I like to think of it as song!
This may be the most boring Youtube video ever, no visuals to speak of but take a minute to listen to happy frogs on a February night in the rain. Tiny spots of light are their little froggy eyes moving about the pond.


Now isn’t that just lovely?

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Pig Print… “Number 1. Dottie the Gloucester Old Spot”

As you may know I am working, intermittently, on a series of pig images. This is “No1” a Woodcut, based again on the lovely Dottie from Old Weston Garden Farm.

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Dottie woodcut; Image A4

Gloucester Old Spots are gentle and good natured and were known as the Orchard or Cottagers pig. How this delightful and smiling pig must have brightened the day of the smallholder and to all accounts still does.

Lop eared with large black patches and a smiling upturned snout they are one of those charming “picturebook” pigs depicted as lazing in sunlit orchards and I do like the old wives tale that the spots developed from the bruises of falling apples.

They are good mothers.. here are a few of Dottie’s piglets. Ahhh uber cute!

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Photo from Old Weston Garden Farm Facebook page.

Lots and lots more info on the Gloucester Old Spot HERE  from Chris’ Salute the Pig blog

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Working Drawings

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First Proof

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Block

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First Prints

These are really first trials for the image. I am intending to make another smaller print in lino of Dottie for the book which I hope, in part, to hand print.
But I love the chunky properties of woodcut.They compliment the chunkiness of pigs I think. Something I would hope to retain in the lino version. Will be interesting to see the comparison.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Signs of Spring

In the garden…. honeybees.

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In the wood;.. shoots of bluebells and the lovely spotted leaves of Lords and Ladies.

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NIce!

Monday, 13 February 2017

Bird Hide

Another small experimental book about the Spinney. This little book describes part of my route through the wood where the old oaks grow. Part way along the track are the remains of a fence, once for some limited purpose as there was only ever one strand of wire, now missing in parts. It’s another remnant of some other time, rather like the old oak trees.

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Initially I planned this as just a dense, tree filled, background with the fence, but as I worked on the block I thought it more apt to incorporate bird shapes “hidden” in the background. I am acutely aware that the wood is full of watchers, birds, squirrels and even perhaps the trees. You are never alone in a wood .. are you ? Also along the route there are signs to the Savages Spinney Bird Hide.

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First rough design based on my sketchbook drawing

Adding the reference to the nearby Bird Hide by the water seemed apt. Who is watching who I wonder??

So should anyone care to take time to look into the image, there are 16 birds worked into the background, some a little abstract but then how difficult is it sometimes to see the inhabitants in a wood?

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Two flying birds on the fold and the walking figure at the very end of the book.

The concertina form is joined by a thread of “wire” kept in place by two small twigs from the oak trees and is backed with linen, like the old maps which had that very satisfying strength and pliability. The covers are hard and quite weighty and the whole thing folds very nicely.. It is all hand printed so has a tactile surface so much more pleasing than the digital print.

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It’s a very satisfying thing to hold in your hand too, that is so important for a book.

It’s not often I am pleased, but, despite the many things that could be improved,  I like this little book very much.
It has taken a few weeks to work out and I have more prints to play with,  but at least one is actually finished.

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Hurrah!!  I am managing to stick, in part, to my 2017 resolution of finishing things!
More finished things soon.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Paper, paper, paper.. and more paper

This week I have been experimenting with some paper dyeing and decorating alongside attending a great little course at City Lit in London led by Nesta Davies, all about dyeing and manipulating paper. The course was particularly interesting to me because Nesta is a bookbinder and so has books in mind when creating these papers. The scope is endless.

I tried some paper decorating many years ago but nothing with dyes, which is a whole different thing.

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Dyed and decorated papers

At home I tried some natural dyes and inks, as well as commercial brands. I made a few trials of paste papers, edge dyed folded papers…

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…and even a bit of eco dying with the steamer. Fascinating.
The lovely thing about the eco dyed papers is that they are, not only double sided but a complete surprise.

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I have promised myself that the next time I do it I will make notes as to what went where and how. I am just too excited to get that organised.

I have no conclusions or plans as to what exactly to do with them yet, just having a lovely time playing with stuff!Next weekend, after the final day, I should have some more resolved items. Maybe not, because I have another week of experimenting ahead. :)

Monday, 30 January 2017

Quercus: A Small Block Book

A small block book using some trial prints from the oak tree plates. I wanted to make another block book in the same way I had made the Seed Book in the summer in Amsterdam, just to make sure I could remember the process and steps.

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The 8 trial prints were a mixture of the plates in red and black and on the opposite side the word “Quercus” just stencilled in grey. I also decorated the edges roughly to see how that might work.

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Prints and book makeup.

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The book and the plates

I say “just”  but it was quite a job to paste all the pages onto the boards to get the correct fitting and to keep things clean and not get gluey finger marks all over everything. An awful lot of careful measuring and accurate cutting is required too which I definitely need to improve on.
So it’s fine but a little raggy here and there.

“Quercus” -  Oak Trees of Savages Spinney.  A Book of 8 Prints

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