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

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Growing Tips: Part 1

Over the summer I worked on two projects which I haven't yet had time to write about.
This first one was something I had been wanting to do for a couple of years.
I am trying to make better boxes and am rather fond of the shapes of the tips of growing plants.
So I made a triangular box to contain the work.  Well in fact I made two. One to see how it would work and then the one which would house these " Growing Tips"

Roughs and first go at the box.... Yes, its not simple to make a triangular box that works nicely!


first trials...
 


It was an exercise in combining printmaking. (Lino and collagraph) with some scanned digital work.
In my mind there would be a small field of emerging plants and on the back of each plant a tip about how to encourage growth in both plants and people.

First I designed and cut the blocks for the tips and proofed them:




I wanted them to stand up so made lots of paper trials to try to find a stiff paper that would laminate and print well as well as stand up. I eventually chose some 300gm watercolour paper. I could have used a thin card mill board but then there was the problem of cutting a tab... there is always an issue. And it seems to me that lots of time is spent trying to solve these incidental problems than actually doing the creative work.

I decided to make a small background shape to add to each design to add some more colour and made a registration sheet to try to get the designs in registration. Trying not to waste paper I jigsaw cut the paper to fit in as many triangles as possible. I have three different sizes of triangles.





 

Printing was interesting but rather time consuming. I tried a few different techniques including rainbow rolls.. some worked and some didn't and the watercolour surface sometimes poses a challenge to print, getting the ink consistency and pressures right were a bit tricky.
In the end I had 26 images good enough to use.

I had printed some papers to cover the boxes ... nice!

    

more to come :)



Monday, 2 September 2019

Countdown to P-Day

It's only a few days now before the Autumn Country Market At Easton this Sunday, where we will be showing our completed "Salute the Pig" book.
I have spent the last few months getting just 10 of the 25 books bound, prints made, some accompanying ceramics prepared and all the bits of faffing around that go along with having a stall.
It has been very, very time consuming.. But we will be ready for Sunday!!!


















The Books:

I am not a bookbinder as such, so the most nerve racking aspect of all this has been trying to bind the main letterpress printed books.  There are only so many beautifully printed sheets to work with, and I cannot afford to make any serious mistakes.















Covers and endpapers were handprinted. Books sewn and glued then all assembled and the original lino print plates tipped in and stamped. Phew..It's adhering the endpapers to the covers that I have found most difficult... but it is good to try and get things right. All I can say is, I have made them the very best I can at this stage of my bookbinding ability!















Chris's accompanying recipe booklet was digitally printed and so we designed it in InDesign echoing the type style of the main book. I converted my piggy sketches to monchrome red and dropped them into the text. The books are finished with a binding of ... what else but... stripy butcher's string!



The Well Fed Pig


















The Well Fed Pig:

We are selling a few prints from the book seperately and I worked on a large two colour combined lino/woodcut of the Well Fed Pig. I had already explored this theme of the pig tattooed with its favourite food in some earlier experimental ceramics and it has developed nicely into the print. The original image is A3 and I am selling these, plus a smaller digital A3 version.






















Three Little Pigs 

I liked some of the sketches from the recipe book so much that I decided to have some cards printed of the piglets. More may follow!



































The Ceramics 

I like to make ceramics occasionally but I could never say I am a ceramicist. However over the last year I have played with some ideas which I thought might work for the pigs.  My ceramics are a bit like my bookbinding.. rather experimental, so sometimes ideas worked, but very often not, due to my own inexperience and/or firing issues, which rather dampened my initial enthusiasm.
But eventually I have enough good ones to be able to add them to the Pig Box and offer a small number for sale....and for me to consider continuing....many thanks to Gay and Julie for dragging me out of the slough of despond!



 I am making a page on the blog about this project... I wonder if it will ever be finished :)

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Catching up

It's been so long since I posted! 

The year is rushing by just toooo fast but with lots of interesting print experiments, more bookbinding and some great workshops and now I'm very busy planning for the “launch” of our Pig Book in September. Hurahh!

I also have a series of posts to come about my labour of love in getting my book project The Colour Of Birds together and there will be updates on Salute the Pig progress.

Meanwhile a few simple little hoverflies seen in the Botanical Garden in Cambridge last week.
This was my first ever screenprinting on fabric experience at a fab workshop taken by Ricki Outis.
OOh I rather like this!


Saturday, 23 February 2019

Bees Back at Easton

Last week on a beautiful Spring afternoon we had the private view for the “Plants and Pollinators” show at Easton Walled Gardens. This week has been snowdrop week and the Gardens have brimmed over with sunshine and visitors. There are 19 of the bees on show with their explanatory labels, notes about bees, my technique and prints and postcards for sale.

























The gorgeous black form of the Large Garden Bumblebee.. one of my all time favourites especially as I had first seen it in my father’s garden.

It has been a while since I have shown the bees and it was so SO lovely to see them back on the walls of the Coach House which was our Easton painting workshop home. It was also particularly lovely to see some of the old painting group! Thank you all for coming along.




















The show will continue into March and  I shall be there on some of those days, talking about my lovely bees, what to grow to encourage them and how I go about painting and drawing them.
The new bee, the Tree Bumblebee was finished and framed in time and I now feel I want to continue filling in the gaps of my set of British bee paintings. I had seen a couple of bees in my garden last year that I have not yet painted..only about 230 species to go Val!
























I am sharing the space with botanical artist  Dawn Wright whose beautiful painting of lilac was featured on the private view invite.

Big thanks to Ursula Cholmeley and her team of gardeners and organisers who have made it all possible!
The show continues until 17th March and I will be there on Thursday 7th. Thursday 14th and Sunday 21st.
Do come along to say hello if you are in the area.

Prints of the Buzz Paintings and sets of cards are available to buy from me. You can see the selection here at
https://buzzbooknprints.blogspot.com/  you can see more about each bee by clicking on the image.

























Snowdrops at Easton taken yesterday morning… beautiful!

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Progress on the Tree Bee

The bee is coming along. I decided to break out a bit and paint this one slightly larger than the Buzz set. It’s been a couple of years since I painted a bee but, as I still have a habit of collecting dead bees I found I had 6 very good little Tree Bumblebees in a pot. It is very helpful to have a specimen to work with.



The tree bumblebee is by nature quite feisty and will sting when it thinks its nest is under threat. I first saw one of these very attractive ginger black and white bees at Easton Walled Gardens back in 2011. It was foraging amongst the glorious blossom of a cherry tree. A few years later,again at Easton, they had made a nest in one of the lovely old stone walls which surround the Gardens. Most recently, apart from seeing them every year in my garden, a colony has set up home in a tree stump in the Spinney. Unfortunately the stump was also the home to a geocache box, so whoever wanted to record their presence would have to contend with some rather angry bumblebees. They have a reputation for taking over old birdboxes and are definitely a bee that likes to site its home up and off the ground.

 

The rough tracing of the cherry, which I changed in the end to simplify the pencil work.


 

About 3/4 finished… and on the right preparing to paint the wings… always a bit tricky!


Am I pleased so far???  Hmmm, normally I have to put things away for a year at least to be able to answer that. :)

Monday, 17 December 2018

Pig Progress and Florence 2

PIG PROGRESS:

There is so much going on right now, but in between the prints and drawings and learning a bit more bookbinding, I am working on the pigs. More 3D ceramics ones this time. I had experimented with some 3D shapes over a year ago and have been wondering how to decorate them. On my recent trips to the Fitzwilliam Museum I had looked at the wonderful old English decorated and sprigged saltware, which at last sparked some ideas.


My skills don’t quite run to sprigging yet, so my first pigs ( of what will hopefully be a series, called “The Well-Fed Pigs”) are just black and white scraffito. I thought it would be rather nice to pattern them with all their favourite foods, “well fed”, in both quality and volume. More, many more perhaps, to come!

LWpigs

Sketches and notes for “The Well Fed Pigs” and a couple of trial pieces. I like them!

FLORENCE 2:

This autumn I decided to try to bring more ideas and experiments to some sort of resolution. I find it impossible to say “finished” but at least something other than files and folders of random sheets.

So I made a small folder (good bookbinding practise) for the Florence prints and mounted them on folded sheets. It is a much nicer way of storing these colour woodcut experiments and they looked  much improved for a bit of care and attention

IMG_7353. IMG_7346IMG_7345

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Thursday, 15 November 2018

Florence 1

I took the little Florence sketch from the Staffordshire figurine in the Fitzwilliam and made 3 woodblocks to correspond with the 3 main tones and printed them… many times, just as an experiment.

florence n blocks

The results were very interesting. Nothing wonderful but enough to make me think this is a good way to work.

prints     IMG_7245

Some of the overprinted details are lovely and unexpected.The different colours and weights of colour change both the atmosphere of the image and her “look”.

I also made a little watercolour of the figure, just to get to know her better. I have a weakness for china figurines. Strange smooth shiny little people, often “idealised” versions of real people or classical figures, in pastel colours often with painted features that do not quite follow the contours of the model.  Nice! More character and much more real in a way. Sometimes, people whose makeup has gone askew, look just like this!

flo 1 copy

I had a look at the real Florence Nightingale, who looked nothing like her china portrayal. The moon faced ideal of gentle Victorian beauty she was not, but a handsome, and uncompromising looking lady.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

A New Bee for Easton

It’s been a while since I have painted a bee but, in February 2019, I am delighted to say “Buzz” the Bee paintings will be returning to Easton Walled Gardens.  They will be part of a “Plants and Pollinators” exhibition. My work will be alongside the lovely botanical paintings of Dawn Wright see her website here. https://www.dawnat29.com/.

It’s a few years since I painted a bee..in fact nearly 4 years. The last one was the lovely B ruderatus .https://pencilandleaf.blogspot.com/2011/05/black-queen-beautiful-bombus-ruderatus.html

This bee and another favourite, the female woolcarder bee, have never been made into prints and for this show I will be making a few prints of these for sale, as well as a new watercolour.

I have chosen the Tree Bumblebee, Bombus hypnorum, as Easton was the first place I saw this feisty little bee, collecting pollen from an early flowering espaliered cherry tree, in the spring of 2011. Back then it was  relative newcomer and so had not made it into my original British Bee exhibition.

I have decided the painting will be of the little bee perching amongst the cherry blossom just as I had first seen her.

As usual my working method is this: Thumbnail sketch to think about layout: then build the body shape of the bee, then “flesh” it out.

new-bee

First thumbnail rough for B hypnorum

hyp-sletch-1

Construction of the bee form.

sketch 2

Filling out the body.

Then some colour notes:

hypcol1     hypcol2

hypcol4    hypcol3 

I am looking forward to making detailed painting again..I just hope I can do it!