Saturday, 12 December 2009

Blood on His Hands

In the studio for a couple of hours this afternoon, produced little of note and finished the afternoon with this small image on a page torn from Machiavelli's The Prince.

The title inspired by listening to a politician talking twaddle on the radio whilst I was working away. They always seem so oblivious to the trail of wreckage they leave behind. I did think that I should perhaps dedicate the work to the specific politician but then decided to leave it as a general award to any passing 'prince'.

I was given a load of classic title books during a visit to Hay-on-Wye last year when one of the book shop owners told me to help myself - and I did. I am not usually a book vandal!

The page was gessoed, the leaf design is an acetate stencil gelatin print, the blood red sun is chine colle and the left side panel was a strip saved from some previous gelatin work and glued down.

Friday, 11 December 2009

December and the Creative Wilderness

Its been a very quiet time creatively. Apparently, I have done something nasty to a disc in my back and its taking ages to heal. I was in the studio for the first time in a while yesterday sorting some things out and trying not to cause myself any further bother!

I have been playing around with some bleach lift on fabric - because it has been the only thing I could manage in the kitchen and I have made up some gelatin plates today, in the hope that I can get some printing done before Christmas stops everything in its tracks.

Not the end of the world but frustrating nontheless.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Birds on a Wire Series

Have been busy with the gelatin prints and am starting on a series with birds - tentatively entitled Birds on a Wire.

The studio looks chaotic but hopefully out of the mess some good work will emerge.

The two little birds I began with are morphing into other images, ideas are forming and I am out and about with the camera trying to get the shots that I want to develop into stencils for the work. I am interested in using the four images above for an artist's book - I have about 25 now in this series and they would be a good size to adapt for that.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Gelatin Print VII

Still exploring gelatin printing and today changed the format for the images - due largely to the fact that the gel was starting to break up at the edges, so I masked the worst bit of the plate and carried on until the cracks became too large to work with.

I have reduced the bird stencil down in size for these smaller prints and did try to get some more birdy photos this morning but Maria and Luigi - our resident crows weren't hanging around long enough for a family portrait.

At the end of the session today, I began printing onto newspaper and got some good results with that - the gelatin seems to happy to grip the newspaper, so I will now be searching for some good newspaper articles to print on.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Gelatin Print VI

Really struggled today with printing second colours and ruined some really nice images from yesterday. Salvaged these two circles and manipulated the bottom one digitally to see if I could enhance the birds. The original was quite ghostly but I liked the composition and didn't want to lose it by doing another horrendous overprint! So I'll keep it in the digital library. I am still clueless about file format for the web and the bottom image looks very pixelated when enlarged - sorry!

Once the circle started to crack I cut a square out of it and turned it over to get a bit more use out of the plate and got about 20 small experimental prints out of it. And I have just about run out of paper.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Gelatin Print III

I had intended to spend the day printing but my mistake over day, date and time for the workshop lunch threw that out of the window. Anyway, I enjoyed the get-together and seeing the work and managed to salvage the afternoon to myself and got about 15 prints - some better than others.

The gel is now on day three and holding up quite well - beginning to peel away from the glass plate a bit - but still viable. This is real progress - the plates I made with the previous 'recipe' lasted about 4 hours.

Pathways - Paintings from the Workshop

Workshops I and II

Diptych (Oil pastel and acrylic) - Jacqueline Owen

Got my wires crossed and nearly missed the Pathways workshop lunch at the end of the workshop exhibition. However, made it and it was good to see the work inspired by the Quiet Lane project and also to see the paintings generated by the second group who had approached their subject of a walk in a forest area in a completely different way.

The Pathways exhibition at Qube showing the work of the four lead artists involved has its Private View on Friday and I am looking forward to seeing their own response to the subject.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Gelatin Print II

Turned first print on its side and overprinted with circular gel plate
Second print
Gel plate with impressions left by placed objects

First print taken
Inked up gel plate with assorted items laid on top

Just figured out how to load multiple images! Not too sure why it has loaded in reverse order but here is some of the output from the day - the gel plate (bottom image)was first inked up using water based printing inks and a roller, then I laid a variety of stuff on top of the inked plate - ribbon, leaves, bit of lace, rubber bands. I placed a sheet of cartridge paper over the top and gently hand rubbed the back of the paper to obtain the first print. No need to go mad here just a smoothing over the back of the paper really.

Then I removed the items and placed a second sheet of cartridge paper over and gently rubbed the back of the paper to pick up the imprinted images left on the gel.

The top image is the last one of the day when I have overprinted one of the first prints I took with an image from a circular gel plate.

I have used 130g cartridge paper for this print run.

Gelatin Print - Making a Plate

A week on holiday got me thinking about gelatin prints again. I really got into this last year and posted about it at the time but felt that there was more work to be done here and that I could also use the prints with my stock of digital images. There was very little information online at the time; there is a little bit more now I notice, but it was enough to get me started.

The drawback was the time it took to make the plates and the fact that the gel broke up quite quickly - you would just get to the point where you were making progress and it was getting interesting and the cracks would appear.

So for those interested in this here is the latest recipe for the gel plate shown above.

Makes a plate about 8x10 inches and 1/2 inch deep

1 Pack Dr
Oetker Gelatin (contains 6 sachets)
1 pint water at room temperature

plasticine or clay
Plexi-glass sheet or reinforced glass (not picture frame glass, far too fragile)

Newspaper torn into strips

Put water in pan and slowly add all 6 sachets one by one and stirring slowly with wooden spoon.
I mean slowly! When you have added all the gelatin powder put on medium heat and stir constantly to dissolve the gelatin and then leave to cool down a little.

Whilst that is cooling make a dam with the
plasticine or clay on your plexi-glass. I previously used a tin tray but this is much better and you can make any size and shape you want. Just make sure it is pressed down onto the support and there are no areas that will leak.

Pour the gelatine slowly into the mould you have created and skim the surface with strips of newspaper to get rid of any scum and bubbles on the surface.

Leave for about an hour and a half in a cool place to set. ( I left it in the studio - it really does not need a fridge) Until it feels firm to touch.

Use sharp knife to cut right down onto the plexi-glass or glass and carefully remove the plasticine dam.

(This beats the previous recipe where you had do all kinds of stuff and then leave it in the fridge for 12 hours)

And the plate is ready to use...

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Moors 'n Stuff

Back from a week on Dartmoor. The moors remained shrouded in low mists and rain for most of the time but we holed up in a cottage and made the most of the rest and getting away from it all. I was brave and fearless in not taking my mobile phone or laptop and managed to survive without them. I did however, take a load of books and some art supplies (for the one sketch I made the whole time!) I pushed myself into taking 2 photos. Really though, it was very good to do nothing.

I have made resolutions to cut down computer time and ONLY use it for really useful things(blogging????). Do I really need to Tweet? Do I really need to bookmark every site I visit?

Made a couple of random purchases in lovely second hand bookshop on the way back and now off for cuppa tea.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible:)

Thursday, 1 October 2009

September Roundup

Here we are at the end of a lovely September - probably my favourite month of the year for no reason in particular. The temperature has changed - just put the fire on in the studio for the first time today. The leaves are turning and its been a busy month in and out of the studio and a good one too.

I have concentrated on experimenting with paint - oils and acrylics. Decided to leave spray paint and bitumen aside for a while to give my lungs a rest! (I do try and think 'safety' but get carried away
at times and forget to grab the respirator and open doors and windows.) I spent a day this week with a group of people with chronic respiratory problems and it does give you a reality check.

It was great to have been invited to do the Pathways workshop and added to the experimental period that I had wanted to allow myself this year. When I have been away from home I have tried to catch up with learning more about digital art and how I can apply the techniques to my own work.

I also wanted to think about using a sketchbook journal again - probably allied to the fact that I have been playing around with so many different mediums and need to consider how they react together for future reference
(and be able to remember it all!).

So, what will October offer up?

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Been Thinking About Pathways

A travelling week and mostly tied up with other things but spent some downtime looking at more of the photos from the Pathways project and thinking about what else could be done with this collection of images - all the sketchbook information and preliminary work having been left at Qube for exhibition use.

It has been good to have this time to work offline. And of course, I now have a head full of ideas but no time for a couple of weeks to start anything new - so it will have to wait until I am back in the studio. Such are the frustrations of life! But still, it helps to take the laptop away with me and be able to use the graphics creatively when you can't get into the studio. I am increasingly finding that one informs the other very nicely and brings so many different elements to my work.

The second workshop began last week (day 2 this week) - ours was over two consecutive days and it will be good to see what the participants get out of their two separated days - I know they were approaching it in a different way, with different artists leading the workshop and it will be interesting to see how this impacts on their finished work. I can't help feeling that having a week in between and time to consider the project might be beneficial. Or would it destroy spontaneity?

I am really looking forward to seeing the exhibition and how these different approaches affect people's work.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

52 Suburbs

Came across this fantastic blog - well worth a peek!

Friday, 18 September 2009

Never Ending Circles

I have been reviewing some of the photos from the two day Pathways workshop. Considering sensory elements to a greater degree was something that came out of the workshop for me. Of course you are generally aware of the sights, sounds, movements around you but we are not often in a quiet place where you do stop and pay attention in a mindful way and without distractions.

Colour is usually my primary concern and how to use it in an abstracted and expressive way. Sitting at the edge of the pond, I was picking up the blues, greens, umber, burnt orange, pinks from the immediate landscape.

And then I heard a couple of splashes in the water and looked up to see a kingfisher darting across the surface, leaving behind these lovely circles in the water. I was too late with the camera to catch the bird, it was long-gone.

This is only the second time I have seen one but then I don't spend a lot of time hanging around ponds.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Pathways at Qube Oswestry

Day Two of the workshop - tiring but very satisfying day. What amazed me most was the quantity of work that has come from this project so far - it was quite staggering to see how much had populated the walls and floor space by late afternoon.

For work on canvas (all 12 x 12ins) Jood and Janie gave us a limited pallette of acrylic paint, graphite sticks and oil pastels to work with in order to give some cohesion to the finished pieces. Again, despite the fact that our styles were all quite different, the finished work hung together well and it will be interesting to see them as part of the Pathways exhibition at Qube in October.

For me it was good to work with other artists again and it gave me some new practical ideas to add to my own artist's vocabulary. Particularly, the sensory element of the Quiet Lane experience and how to develop that in my work.

A video excerpt below of Janie demonstrating oil pastel and graphite technique and Jood talking about oil pastel layering.

For more information check out the links below.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Pathways at Qube Oswestry - Quiet Lane

Working on a two day artist-led workshop at Qube, Oswestry. 'Pathways - Artists' exploration of environment through creation'. This week's workshop is being run by Jood Gough and Janie McLeod. The second workshop 22nd and 29th September being led by Gill Crozier and Judith Harrison.

This morning we spent a couple of hours along the Quiet Lane collecting images and information to work on over the next two days. There are six of us participating and of course we all approached the task in different ways - sketches, photography, abstract and representational.

Back at the centre we pooled our information and began exploring the information gathered to get a sense of our 'Pathway' experience - not only visual images but the sensory impact of the Quiet Lane.

Jood and Janie led us through a variety of mark making methods and toward the development of ideas for a 'finished' work tomorrow. By 4pm there was some really good work underway and I am looking forward to Day Two.

I will try and post some pictures tomorrow - I was so engrossed today, I forgot that bit.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Colour Field

After the jpeg trauma yesterday and as my eyes were beginning to glaze-over consulting the photography manual last night - I took a break and looked at one of the colour field paintings I did last week (based on the garden photo colours) and played around with the image for a while using Gimp and fractals.

There seems to be differing advice about compressing and decompressing jpegs ranging from absolute disaster to no problem - so the day ahead will be spent in the company of the printer to see what I can rescue - deep joy.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

I've only had the camera six years...

I have mentioned several times on this blog that photography is safe from me but I wonder if I am safe from it. Here I was tootling along taking a few snaps of this and that when the fancy took me and then all of a sudden I hit the wall of realisation that there's a world of difference in the little old 4x6inch photo, what gets posted to the webpage or what I might like to have reproduced for a larger canvas. Yes, there has been a slight niggle in the back of my head somewhere that I ought to do some research on this matter but we arty types get busy with the creative bit.

Today, I wanted to take a look through the portfolio for this year and although I have been so much better at documenting work, for a lot of it I did not save the original image only images ready for the web. This is not a problem for work I still have around the studio but for work that has gone into the world, I am left with jpegs. Not the end of the world but it means a few days now of checking what formats the work is saved in and spending evenings in the company of the photographic manuals for some basic information on file saving for nitwits!

The small canvas above is one of the 'Fired Earth' landscapes in spray acrylic paint - hand manipulated to give it texture. This was the last of a series I started late last year and finished last month.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Garden Photos IV & Other Stuff

Blustery day outside and a couple of hours to spare before an appointment this afternoon. The garden is starting to look August weary but still lots of colour to be found out there and I am busy collecting as many shots as I can before autumn sets in and the perennials die back. The sunflowers above are just about to 'go over'.

I have been using the colours of the garden to paint some simple 'colour field' works on canvas and paper and enjoyed not particularly thinking about anything other than the juxtaposition of the colour. Will photograph and post later - nothing particularly fantastic but a joy to have the opportunity to simply play with paint.

On a more serious note - for me anyway! I reluctantly made a decision not to take up the option of the Professional Printmaker's programme this year. I had to stop last year for family reasons and although I badly wanted to start it again this term, the 'family reasons' are ongoing and would just make something that should be a rich and invaluable experience, a major stress. I've had the tears and tantrums but feel relieved to have made a decision - for this year at least! The Print Centre is such a vibrant place to work and the output is of such a high standard that it has been a difficult decision but I will keep up with printmaking in the studio here and catch up with the Print Centre workshops through the year.

I am feeling more relaxed about workload now. There are things I want to do with my own professional practice this coming year which will be easier outside a formal educational framework.

Friday, 14 August 2009

The Garden Photos III

A busy family week and in between visitors and travelling, I have been pressing on with the garden photos and thinking about using the images. I am enjoying grabbing the camera and getting a few shots as the flowers appear and its good to do something positive when I just don't have enough time to spend in the studio.

I like the fact that flowers are so unfashionable in the artworld, naff, twee, kitsch and all that stuff. Sometimes, you get sick of 'the concept' and sometimes you just want to see what's going on under your nose and not have to explain the 'outcomes' and intellectualise everything.

I'm not in a bad mood - honestly.

Friday, 31 July 2009

The Garden Photos II

I have been getting some quite good results with the garden photos and if it ever stops raining might get out to take some more. I am experimenting with layering and building the image from the base photo.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

The Garden Photos

Spent the evening looking at more of the garden photos that I have collected over the last few weeks and playing with them digitally to consider as many options as possible. I am not a photographer but I do find it really useful as a 'sketchbook' tool and love what you can achieve with digital imagery. I like the fact that you can explore ideas and often see so much more in the dull photo you started with. Sometimes it is just a dull photo - I do have limitations! My main aim is to consider ideas for printmaking with the garden images.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

RSI stops play

Its been a wierd summer thus far. I've been struggling with painting on a stop/start basis and trying to carve time out in the studio when I can. To add to the interruptions of life, my wrists have succumbed to repetitive strain injury making computer-use a pain - literally that is.

So it is is through gritted teeth...

I am back with the flowers, the garden is summer-full and is such a rich source of colour and form. Photographing, manipulating and researching other media.

That's what I'm up to right now - less time online and more thinking about work but hey that might be good for the soul and output!

Friday, 26 June 2009

Playing Around

It's been a more productive week and I have lots of bits drying tonight. Just been playing around and getting back into work mode and thinking my way through a few ideas. Finished this pot made from garden magazine pages. Kind of daft but seemed a shame to throw these high definition pages into the recycling bin.

Think I will play with the image digitally and see if I can have some more fun with it.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Regional Print Centre - Print Out

Private View last night for the Print Out Exhibition at The Regional Print Centre, Wrexham. It was great to see the work of all the artists showing. Although I have to declare an interest - I began the Professional Printmakers' programme last year but had to put it on hold due to 'stuff' beyond my control.

The six artists had produced mature and innovative work - each piece held its own place individually with no weak links and some nice sculptural work from Frances Carlile. It is well worth a visit if you are in the area. Ends 14th July.

It was also good to catch up with the artists and chat a bit about how the year had gone. I am hovering over what to do about continuing with the programme. The standard of the show and the relaxed pleasure of the artists was evidence enough that this would be time well spent and an opportunity not to be missed.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Kinetic Sculpture

Came across this amazing kinetic sculpture through a Twitter contact. It's magical.

I will try and find out who the artist is.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Work in Progress

Eventually got into the studio late today. I have some building work about to start on the house and that needed some preparation but the fog began to clear this evening and I've been working on some ideas for prints (one shown here).

I was interested to see an item in the newspaper today about David Hockney using digital imagery for his new work and particularly his iPhone to 'paint' images. It is something I have become increasingly fascinated with, in preparing images for the website or blog. "The Computer is a terrific medium..." said Hockney and I have to agree. It is becoming an increasingly important tool for my work. The ability to keep pushing the boundaries of an image and also to retrieve the original when it goes horribly wrong is brilliant and it often gives me the courage to try something new and different.

Hockney says he messages his iPhone paintings of flowers to friends.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Talk to the Hand

Still thinking about hands and gathering images and information for a possible project. This pic of a falling cup nearly hit the bin - after lots of shots failed to produce a useable photograph. I eventually managed to get something to work on in The Gimp. I still haven't figured how to save images for the web using this software, so apologies if its a bit blurred.

I think it is quite dramatic now and sufficiently interesting to store in the project folder.

I am going to be travelling for a couple of weeks after Easter, so posts will be thin on the ground for a while. I hope I can use any free time to research. That's the plan anyway.

By the way - No cups were injured in the making of this work.

Monday, 30 March 2009


A sketch, two pebbles, one hand, a photo, Adobe Photoshop, a print, scan, and Gimp -there that tells you everything you need to know.

The pansy image I have been working on in recent months began life with the text 'trapped' - I took it out for the finished piece but decided to resurrect it on the pebble trapped in my hand and with the rising image of the pansy between my fingers. The scanned hand is a bit blurred and there is some kind of halo effect going on, so that needs some work.

The pebbles were collected from the Suffolk beach where I spent all my childhood summers with my aunt and are imbued with memory and emotions. They are so very tactile and beautifully coloured. The original image derived from a difficult personal situation and continues as a self-portrait.

I think I might carry on with this theme and see where it takes me - I am very keen on mixing media and re-using images, so this will tick all my boxes .

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Voyage Round My Camera

I cast a wry eye on this family of signs - they looked like father and son defending what looked like a mound of sand. Why two signs? What does the new sign say? If you've taken the trouble to buy a new sign and peg it to wood, why didn't you take the old one away?

Saturday, 28 March 2009

New Horizon?

I am at the tail end of one project and have been scanning the horizon for inspiration. This has been going on for a while now, too many ideas tumbling in and not really settling on one thing or the other. I still feel a bit split, with interests in, painting, printmaking, mixed media and anything else that passes under my nose in a creative kind of way. I don't think I have yet been able to tie the different disciplines into one coherent working practice.

After a severe self-bashing, I took the camera for a walk yesterday and spent the evening working on some photographs and then cropped and manipulated the image I use as a Twitter profile picture. I like the way the reflections in the sunglasses have made interesting abstract shapes.

It may be that a few more voyages with my camera might unblock the brain and jog it into some useful action.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Wolverhampton Art Gallery

Went up to Wolverhampton to see the Art Gallery there for the first time. It was a bit 'between shows'. Andy Warhol Paintings, Posters and Screenprint exhibition starts later this month and was in preparation. Another gallery was closed for some reason, so there was nothing in any of the lower galleries. I seem to have a knack of visiting galleries between shows - my most famous trip was to New York specifically to visit MOMA to find it was in the middle of refurbishment and closed for the duration. I know, I should look these things up before I start out on the big adventure.

The upper floor had a hands-on sculpture exhibition that was crawling with school children making the most of the sign that said all exhibits can be touched! After fighting my way out of the melee, I found the Utmost Fidelity exhibition featuring the work of husband and wife artists Adrian and Marianne Stokes. The Madonna and Child (1907-8) by Marianne Stokes (above) is famous for having been chosen as Christmas postage stamp in 2005. I particularly liked the fact that they had no children, a private income and were able to travel widely. My own 'lead weights' keep me busy and poor! However, envy apart, I enjoyed a lot of the work - more Marianne's for the luminosity of her subjects and the gorgeous costumes and colours- many were Hungarian villagers from the area they stayed on their painting travels and looked as fresh as if they were painted yesterday. It is a portrayal of an
idyllic world, rosy-cheeked children, young women sewing their wedding outfits but the quality of the work speaks for itself and it all felt a refreshing change from the surfeit of gloom-laden, hand-wringing, politically correct and on-message exhibitions that are de-rigeur at the moment. Some days you just feel grateful to rise above the misery.

I would have liked an exhibition book but the £35 hardback in the shop was prohibitive.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Gelatin Print

Working today on a gelatin print I made a couple of months ago. I used powdered animal gelatin to make this and want to experiment with the vegetarian brand to see if there is any difference in the setting properties. I have been using GIMP to change colour and testing some of the filters - this is very slightly manipulated using IWARP. I like the fluid quality of gelatin printing. It is very gentle and floaty. You need a fairly solid gel and water-based printing inks. (I will get around to putting some techniques on the site asap - if anyone needs any information before then give me a shout).
Lunch and then some painting.

Change of Scenery

I have had a couple of comments about a black background being difficult to read, so I have changed it to something neutral for a while until I can decide on a new hex code. I had hoped to give the blog and the web(black theme) the same style but would rather people were able to decipher my blurb - so here we are in f6f6f6 (hex not swear word).
I appreciate the feedback and it is important to the growth of the site. Now back to work...

Monday, 16 March 2009

Start The Week

A weekend with The Gimp has been entertaining. So far so good. I am reluctant to get too excited about it as I don't have a graphics background and it might disappoint the expert? But it has far exceeded my expectations and I will continue to use it. I do have some Adobe experience and that has been useful in finding my way around but I also found helpful tutorials on Youtube. So really still a fan.

Because I have been away from home and studio quite a lot over the last few months, it has been good to have software in place to manipulate images and consider taking it to other areas/media but I am hungry for new work and that means back to drawing or pouring paint this week. I began some paint exploration last week and that is propped up in the studio, so that's a good start to this week, even if its a decision to bin it.

Thursday, 12 March 2009


I picked up a copy of The Guardian Tech pages at Starbucks this morning and found an article about Open Source software. I already use and like Open Office and was interested in GIMP, the Open Source answer to Adobe. As I am on a borrowed laptop and without my lovely Adobe software to play with
, thought it was worth a try.

It was easy to download, has a user-friendly interface and some nice filters - I quite liked the paper scroll shown here. And if you can't afford Adobe then its worth giving it a whirl. If I have any problems I will complain loudly here.
The site can be found at

Otherwise, I got into the studio this afternoon but more of that later when the paint dries and the dust settles.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009


Looking at some of the images printed yesterday. This one started as a photograph taken a couple of weeks ago. I like the way the print changes the character of a pretty ordinary photo and gives you so much more. I have faced the fact that the world of photography is safe from me! I had the idea that this single plant looking out over the frozen field is a sentinel waiting for Spring.

From one photocopy, I am getting maybe one decent print and two for the bin. Some of the lighter images may be useful to keep as background for something else.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Coming Up Roses - Part II and Dead Birds

Spent the day experimenting with gum litho lift. The image on the left, that I was going to abandon a week ago; photocopied in black and white and re-printed, has taken on a new life and the separate elements are working far better now.

It was a mixed result today with quite a few surprises. The little pansy image did not work out well at all - I know I promised to post the outcome but it wasn't strong enough to scan, so will do some work there to see if I can improve it.

Some of the best images were from magazines, the dead birds came from a National Geographic magazine - this might be the print quality, sharper images? I quickly ran out of photocopies , each one had a short life of maybe two or three prints before it started to degrade and there was probably one good one.

I am finishing the day looking at other suitable images to take to the photocopy shop tomorrow.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Photo Lift

A photo-collage showing the end of the working day in the studio ...and its looking a little more normal with bits of paper and images that I am currently working on strewn about.

I have been experimenting with gum litho lift today. That is the coating of a Xeroxed photcopy with gum arabic and using the lithographic theory of oil and water not mixing to produce prints. I think that's it anyway. Oil-based inks rolled onto the coated photocopy attract the ink to the darker photocopy ink and is resisted in the lighter areas.

The results were variable - and are hanging on the line drying. The first few were poor and then I began to see some interesting developments, which I can build on.

I do like printmaking in that it often opens the option to take images that have not worked well in one medium and develop them in an entirely new direction.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Gin & Tonic?

Having spent the last couple of days clearing the studio out; the spider breeding programme was going too well, I thought it would be a good idea to post a couple of photographs whilst the floor, table and sofa were not piled high with paper, journals and sundry other essentials.

It is amazing how much stuff you can hide under a table. It will look this pristine for the next couple of days and then revert to its usual chaos.

I snapped these this evening and when I uploaded the photos, was amused to see that I had left the gin & tonic on the paper cabinet. I am rather fond of the gin & tonic end of the studio and its where I do my thinking - and take the odd siesta.

One of the main reasons for the clear-out is the decision not to paint for a while and concentrate on printmaking - so here goes...

Monday, 9 February 2009

The Gum Arabic Arrived

After a severe bout of internetitis in the last few weeks, I have finally recovered enough to get on with some serious print work.

Yesterday, I moved on with A Sense of Place project, after experimenting endlessly with the bottle in the window idea I found it kept running into a blank wall and came back to this little image of the pansy - I really like its simplicity. The initial scribbled drawing began before Christmas and has been rumbling along in various guises since. The combination with the pansy leaf seems to work well.

I am now working with hue changes in Adobe and have run off a series with subtle changes and on different papers. I will experiment with printing onto canvas this week.

And back to the title of the post. I have been meaning to get around to some gum litho lifts for ages and at long last got around to contacting the suppliers. That is the plan anyway. I think I will see what happens to this little image during gum litho lift and report back with the image - good or bad!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Too Much Art?

"Art does not die because there is no more art, it dies because there is too much". Jean Baudrillard

interesting and probably increasingly important question - no, not because I just asked it but because I wonder about my place as an artist and where all this self-expression is leading me/us? I believe art is a power for good in a social context, life enhancing, embracing, worthwhile for society and should be valued as such. Without the 'arts' we lose the the best that we can achieve as a civilised society.

The article (link below for full text) by Matthew Nash is I think, as relevant to students and artists in the UK as anywhere else. The making of art may well be deeply satisfying but often a frustratingly lengthy process from concept to fruition and artists like everyone else need to survive, have bills to pay and student loans to think about and that is increasingly difficult in a saturated market.

James Elkins

Art department fliers... usually list the famous artists who studied in their department or school. It might be more honest and thought-provoking to go ahead and list famous graduates in the college brochure, but to preface the list with a disclaimer - something like this:

Although these artists did study at our school, we deny any responsibility for their success. We have no idea what they learned while they were here, what they thought was important and what wasn't, or whether they would have been better off in jail. We consider it luck that these artists were at our school.

In general we disclaim the ability to teach art at this level. We offer knowledge of the art community, the facilities to teach a variety of techniques, and faculty who can teach many ways of talking about art. But any relation between what we teach and truly interesting art is purely coincidental. Such a flier might add, in the interests of full disclosure:
We will not discuss this disclaimer on school time, because our courses are set up on the assumption that it is false.

James Elkins is a professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

I dropped in to see the Waterhall Modern Art Gallery in Birmingham yesterday on the way back from Ikon. It all seemed a bit disconnected. Some of the work was very good and some not so good. The comments left by visitors echoed this impression. It all seemed a bit hit and miss in a major city gallery. The Art Market is a big puzzle to me!

Review - Ikon Gallery, Birmingham

There are two Ikon Galleries but one is closed until the Spring. A good excuse for a further trip.

I thought New Zealand Artist Darcy Lange's exhibition of 'Work Studies in Schools' was going to leave me cold. A room full of school desks with video screens showing a picture of school life in Birmingham of the 1970's with recordings of lessons and feedback from pupils and staff. His studies of Oxfordshire schools (1977) compared art, history and science teaching in private and state schools.

However, as soon as I sat at one of the desks and put the headphones on I was hooked on many levels and enjoyed flitting between desks to catch the next class and assess whether the member of staff was Mr Nice or Miss Nasty. The link to your own education is obvious and any comparison is made from that social, historical and political opinion. The digitally reworked videos are a great social history of the area and documentary film-making as a genre. It was interesting to see teachers' own opinions or political views being stamped on young minds with the eyes of an adult and the realisation of how much good or damage can be done to our children, often unwittingly but also by design. Fascinating stuff.

The Roumanian artist Victor Man's exhibition 'Attebasile' required a lot more serious reflection and I felt quite lost at first in the stark space containing untitled artefacts, black and white with shades of grey . The paper handout made little sense of the exhibits and I found it annoying trying to match one with the other. The work had a sense of darkness and was embedded in a cultural context that was
at first difficult to interpret. Roumanian folk art, politics and fear expressed through lovingly crafted little sculptural pieces. It was helped by the curator-video tucked away at the back and I revisited the work with a different perspective. I couldn't help feeling that I needed to see this work in Victor's house - it was more personal narrative than commercial venture and although the curator was keen to tell us that he had developed a close working relationship with the artist, I left with more questions than answers.

Oh, and there's a nice little Spanish Restarant/Cafe in the gallery.

For information:-

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Star Blog for Colour Lovers

I have been checking out some addresses that I've been Bookmarking to add to Favourites and this one is a real gem. Amazing...

I have added the home address for the site in the sidebar but the link below
is very interesting. Colour inspiration from artists (Pollock, Picasso, Matisse, Van Gogh, Warhol and lots more) . The site is a great tool for artists, website and blogsite designers - anyone really who is interested in colour in any way. Absolutely packed full of information, palettes and patterns and additions from 'Colour Lovers' adding to the blog.

Monday, 19 January 2009

A Sense of Place

I am taking a sabbatical from college for a couple of terms but will continue with the collaborative project A Sense of Place, as there is quite a bit of work already, so I should be able to manage without a problem. Also, having started it, I am more than a little curious to see where everyone's journey has taken them based around this theme. It is very loose, so where the threads will go is anybody's guess. There are some examples already on the a-n Artists Talking, Project Blogs,The Regional Print Centre at Yale Wrexham - A Sense of Place.
I have posted the initial line drawing of the view through the window on a-n blog and the bottle and roses image . I think it will be a good idea to wait and see Kate's image before I move on now with another piece.