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Friday, April 30, 2010

Monoprint: 'Sea Captain' carved wooden figure

Having a handy printmaking roller and inks around my studio, I thought I'd try a monoprint or two. I am a big fan of what they call 'flat plane'-cut woodcarvings, which are, for want of a better expression, 'crude' carvings. They are full of character and have the carver's equivalent of broad brushstrokes in that they are left with their cut marks visible, (in flat planes). This small carving sitting on my studio shelf made a good drawing subject. To briefly explain a monoprint, a thin smooth surface is rolled in ink (my printmaking glass was used, but usually a more portable/lightweight surface such as a sheet of platemaker's aluminium or suchlike is used). A sheet of (preferably smooth, not-too-thick or not-too-textured) cartridge is laid directly on the ink, without pressing on the paper, as this will cause the ink to be transferred. The pressure of any object on the top (visible) side of the paper causes the ink to be transferred onto the other, face-down side of the paper. I rest my hand on a mahl stick as I would normally rest it on the paper while drawing, otherwise a more vertical approach to holding your drawing implement is needed. This also imparts a looseness of style, which has its own charm too.
You can use anything with pressure to make a mark, not necessarily a traditional one, such as a spoon or a stick. When starting however, it's good to see the mark you're making on the 'soon-to-be' reverse of the paper, i.e top side. A very fine line can be made by a Biro (working or not), whereas a soft pencil will give you a gorgeous, fluffy line. A credit card edge will, like a piece of charcoal held on its side, impart a very broad, flat stroke. Combine various implements for some fantastic effects. The end result definitely has that special 'print' feel about it, resembling an etching or drypoint. If you're careful, the print can be lifted and checked as you progress, before finally peeling off. Other colours can be added in the same way, as long as you register the paper well. Try at least a single colour one and you'll be rueing the fact that it's called a 'monoprint' for a reason and feel it's a shame you can't get more than one print done at a time!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Happy St. George’s Day

We’ve been celebrating St.George’s Day today at work. Bloody Mary’s (perhaps only because they’re blood-red) with sausage or bacon sarnies (very English). We even had a knighting ceremony of the most gallant male in the company. This chap was standing stock still in the warm sun outside The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, as in like a sculpture, so made for a perfect model! White and sepia Cretacolour leads (which are very pastel-like) on black paper sketchbook.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Long socks on the tube

Drawn from a reference photo, but held at a distance and drawn freehand/freestyle as if drawing from life (never trace unless you want a dead-looking sketch!) You can't beat drawing from life, of course, but sometimes you find yourself happily woth a novel in your hand rather than a faithful sketchbook and need to resort to other means to capture that scene. Blue Quink Ink on Khadi Indian handmade paper) sketchbook.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Crayfish (Crawfish)

'American Signal Crayfish', to be precise, these 'critters' were introduced into British watercourses in the 1970s and have virtually eradicated our own native crayfish, reducing them to a mere 5% of their original number. A similar scenario to red and grey squirrels, these unwelcome guests are now seen as a pest and anglers are by law, encouraged to kill them if caught and not returned. A bit like carp are treated in Australia. Anyway, on a recent visit to friends who are lucky enough to live by the banks of a lovely English river and it being 'closed season' for river fishing (for fish, that is), I adopted the foraging approach and caught a handful fo these fellas for the pot, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall-style :) As I waited for my net loaded with oily mackerel to coax them to me, our host foraged for wild garlic. Hugh would have been proud. They were delicious and I will continue to do my best to help out with their eradication. You can't beat catchin' and cookin'. Who needs a supermarket? This original will be sent to our lovely hosts as a thank you. Soft pastel on Fabriano Tiziano coloured pastel paper.

Water margin

Recently my kids Hannah and Jack and I built a pond in the back garden so I guess I have been inspired to portray some aquatic life but in a way that stretches me artistically. And what better painting medium to portray water than watercolour? (Well, plus a touch of gouache too for the reflections). Nice and impressionistic, this was painted on Langton smooth, 300gsm paper.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Hut Sweet Home postcard art

From the majesty of a lion to something a little more whimsical. A Whitstable (Kent, UK) shop has been asking me for a beach hut postcard painting for some time now, so I finally obliged. I left the doors off for aesthetic reasons of course. I could feel at home here ;) Brushed ink linework with watercolour on Langton smooth paper. Original (approx A4: 21cm x 29cm) for sale, email for details.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Bronze lion, Trafalgar Square, London

I am fortunate enough to work within a brisk ten-minute walk of London’s Trafalgar Square and today’s sunshine drew me out (forgive the pun) into the madding crowd. I had been invited to the pub, but now at least I have a new piece of art to talk about. (I’ll do the pub tomorrow). Painted ‘alla prima’, i.e executed on the spot, with no drawing construct or underpainting involved and started and finished while wet, in one session. Instead of using a pencil to sketch out the image first, I use a watery mix of the blue, which is easy to build over later or ignore if not quite in the right place. After all, I only usually have around half hour out of my lunchbreak by the time I set up and allow for a return journey, so I have happily reduced the stages of constructing required for these sessions. Speaking of simplicity, I also used only a swordliner brush (size 9), perfect for both fine detail (not really my style) and broad strokes. The drier strokes on the rough Khadi paper around the lion‘s mane aptly reflected the texture of the bronze carving in the sunlight. Painted in blue Quink Ink on 210gsm rough Khadi (Indian) paper (sketchbook).