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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Street people (SOLD)

‘Street People’ mixed media © Peter Gander SOLD
Painted just a few days before the show and already sold (thank you to Simon Golding ;). For a change I used gouache in addition to watercolour to get those fiddly bits of (especially) light colour down on top of a watercolour base. (The alternative being to save the areas in white by using masking fluid, then watercolour). ‘The Street’, as you may know from previous posts, is a shingle spit in Whitstable that is exposed at low tide and is a popular spot for walkers, thus the ‘Street people’ title. I’ve even caught a bass when fly-fishing here after spotting some gulls swooping down over the feature. It was fun, if time-consuming, painting this, as people are obviously detail-rich, but I will be doing some more like this at a later date. Watercolour and gouache on Langton 300gsm rough watercolour paper.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Original painted postcards - seascapes

Low tide tracks © Peter Gander FOR SALE
During my recent art exhibition at The Horsebridge in Whitstable, to save me going quietly mad during the less busy spells (okay, and to look like a proper artist), I painted some tiny originals to sell. In the end I painted nearly twenty of them over a few days and here are a couple of favourites.
Early start © Peter Gander FOR SALE
This one exploits the rough surface with a dryish brush. I use a huge size 20 squirrel mop, useful for overing a large area quickly. 
Pebble path © Peter Gander FOR SALE

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Linocut sketch: Navarrenx salmon poster/postcard

© Peter Gander
My brother David lives with his wife Lindy and daughter Nancy in a fortified medieval town called Navarrenx in the Béarn region of south-west France, close to the foothills of the Pyrenees. Navarrenx was the first fortified town to be built in France (in 1316) and reminds me of Canterbury near my home in Kent, as it has a wall and ramparts surrounding it and, like Canterbury, you cannot walk around the town without being aware that the place is steeped in history. A minute’s walk from my brother's front door is the ‘Gave d’Oloron’, a picturesque salmon river that I have fished myself - not for salmon as yet, but I have caught rainbow trout here, cooked on a riverside barbecue minutes after being caught! David and Lindy run Galerie Le Petit Chien and I have threatened to produce some Navarrenx-themed artwork many times before, so this morning I finally got down to sketching out this poster/postcard design en route to London on the train. By the way, any similarity to the golden age of travel poster design is purely intentional - I do love the retro feel that it has ;) The bridge is drawn from memory and I have since checked my pics of the bridge and it doesn’t have as many arches, so I will need to address that, but generally I am very content with the design. Fiona suggests I make the happy angler look in the direction of his quarry too, which is a fair point, as the two elements are a little disconnected. This will be a two-colour linocut, in black and a blue-grey and will be a tad smaller than A3 size. I will make handmade limited edition prints of this and I will also scan and produce postcards from these prints for their gallery too. Permanent pen and graphite pencil (grey areas) on parchment sketchbook. © Peter Gander

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


A piquillo poses. © Peter Gander
The last of my ‘piquillos’ sits in a plastic tub shielded from my cutting mat by a napkin. Bought from the deli round the corner from the gallery where I’ve stewarded for the last couple of days. Piquillos are a favourite basque tapas dish. Quite fiery are these innocent-looking peppers (more like a chilli pepper) which are stuffed with all sorts of things but in my experience, usually a creamy cheese. My brother lives in the basque town of Navarrenx in south-western France, so I am happy to report that I’ve come across these delights before. The heat of the chargrilled pepper is offset by the smooth, rich cheese. Note how the oil has taken on the hue of the mini red pepper. I can’t recommend them enough! Watercolour on Langton rough 300gsm paper.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Mini linocuts, framed

© Peter Gander FOR SALE
For my current show, I produced this cute little trio of linocuts, A Whitstable Oyster Yawl; Whitstable Seagull and the familiar-by-now Whitstable Fish Market Fisherman. They were hand-printed onto watercolour paper with a waterbased ink in a black-to-blue blend. They are edition numbered, signed and framed in a white box-style frame.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Boat by The Street, Whitstable

© Peter Gander • SOLD (2010)
Just east of the harbour on Whitstable's shore is a long shingle spit that, at low tide, extends a kilometre northwards out to sea. It has been nicknamed 'The Street' as it is a popular walking spot. Just visible on the horizon are the Maunsell forts. See previous post for images and info on these wartime relics.

Friday, August 13, 2010

'Local mackerel' linocut, the final print

© Peter Gander Limited Edition linocut FOR SALE
So, in conclusion, though the idea of a Japanese paper really appealed (it even had wispy, sun-on-the-sea-style highlights in it), I had to abandon the idea once I saw that the fibres made the ink spread in a bad way. Thus I used a heavy watercolour paper in the end, which was ideal in the end as I hand-coloured the back of the mackerel with a metallic turquoise glittery paint to add an extra dimension. (The weekend's photo will hopefully do more justice to that). Using an oil-based ink these days is not so popular due to the hassle and un-eco-friendly nature of the cleaning products, but in this case it was necessary to print then colour afterwards with watercolour. Something that you can't do obviously with water-based inks, as they will then run once you add further colour, post-printing, by hand. Oil-based printing ink with watercolour and metallic glitter paint on 250gsm smooth watercolour paper.

'Local mackerel' linocut, inking to printing...

Using a heavy-duty craft (Stanley) knife to get rid of excess lino
All off, then I bevelled the outer edge of the fish to avoid it catching any ink
This Japanese 'Yuki' paper was intended to be used, however it was too fibrous/furry and didn't take ink well. In the end I used watercolour paper, which was just as well as I added some hand-colouring which the thin Yuki wouldn't be fit for.
Taking a rubbing with a graphite/lead pencil, 'brass-rubbing-style', is a great way to foresee how the print will come out, like a dry proofing. Albeit the wrong way round, it will let you know if there's any lines not quite working.
The complete rubbing.
I was keen to produce a vertical gradated colour effect with black on the fishes back to ultramrarine blue at its belly. The ink is then picked up on the roller where the gradation becomes more fluid as the roller goes back and forth. So the roller was used vertically here. The trick is to span the gradation only within the height that you need. Mixing/thinning the ink at this point is very tricky as you can't mess around with the blended inks too much without spoiling the gradation.
The goal is to achieve a fine 'pore' to the ink to get to a good and thin consistency. Listen out for a fine 'hiss' too as the roller runs to and fro, this is a good sign that the ink is ready. At the point that this photo was taken, it is visibly too thick, as seen on the roller.
My roller bed is virtually the same size as my intendeed paper (about 30cm deep), so I stuck (with double-sided tape) the fish down on the same size peper that will be used to print on. A piece of card on the right is stuck on the edge. This will have the 'receiving' paper butted against it to register accurately.
The fish is inked and awaiting a sheet of paper (and a printing felt over that) before the roller does its work.
A ghostly fish is visible through the thin Japanese paper. Felt is laid over this to cushion the printing matrix.
After repeat inkings and prints are made, unless you are, if you are imperfect like me, going to get ink where you don't want it. Simple cover those places up with some masking tape or paper - anything that masks the area as long as it is lower than the lino (otherwise it will also pick up ink, of course).

Thursday, August 12, 2010

'Local mackerel' linocut, final cut marks, work-in-progress...

© Peter Gander
© Peter Gander
I finished the mackerel linocut last night. The lettering was rather tricksy to carve - lots of tight curves at a small size. Note that I've cut away around the outline of the fish. The lino beyond this will be cut away completely with a Stanley (craft) knife to avoid any unwanted areas picking up ink later. Then it will be mounted onto card or wood for stability and ease of registration.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

'Local mackerel' linocut, first cut marks, work-in-progress...

I carve the lino initially in an outline first, to seperate the whole shape from the background (which will be cut off later and the carving laid out to register on a block). Different tools are used here for different purposes. Not that the finer 'V' tool is used to inscribe the fine ridges of the fish's pectoral fins and a wider 'U' tool ploughs out larger areas that will be white/blank, such as the belly area or outside the outline itself.

'Local mackerel' linocut, tracing down work-in-progress...

Having carefully copying the mackerel design onto tracing paper, it's ready to be flipped back-to-front and transferred onto the lino itself.

'Local mackerel' linocut, work-in-progress...

Using the tried-and-trusted and ancient method of a grid, I enlarged the reference drawing to the right size for the linocut onto tracing paper.

'Local mackerel' linocut idea

The original idea inspired by the mackerel's unique patterns. © Peter Gander
The fact that I am a big fan of fish and fishing has probably no been lost on you. And looking at a glossy fresh mackerel at Whitstable Fish Market the other day, I couldn't help noticing the fingerprint-style tiger stripes on the fish's back. With a fondness for the trompe l'oeil too, I made this particular fish undoubtedly a local one to Whitstable! This will be a hand-coloured linocut printed ready for next week's exhibition at The Horsebridge Gallery 2, Whitstable, Kent.

'Fishing boat, low tide, Whitstable'

Sea salt sits on top of the paper slowly doing its work
The final painting © Peter Gander FOR SALE
Revisiting a miniature painting that I did last year, I recently painted this larger original watercolour of a low-tide fishing boat on the mud flats of Seasalter, Whitstable. Appropriately for a painting set here, (named after the tradition of using huge shallow copper pans left in the shallows of the sea to collect salt for trading many years ago), I added sea salt to add texture to the foreground mud flats. The salt draws out the watercolour pigments leaving interesting crystalline patterns, though this time, they seem to have little impact. Something I need to experiment further with.

Monday, August 09, 2010

'I love Whitstable' colour study II

Same study with darker colours added over the top of the lighter values
Having slept on this study for a few days, I decided I was unhappy with the pale tones of study 1. So because I wanted a darker foreground, I was able to paint over the lighter one and this time give the design a warmer, deeper reddish brown which ties in more strongly with the tabasco sauce bottle too and thus makes for a more harmonious piece. I also made the blue of the sky a deeper cerulean blue.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Seasearcher fishing trip - no bites but 2 sketches

10 rods at the ready...
This morning I went out hunter-gathering. At least that was the idea. Fiona I think was feeling sorry for my me and my woeful record when it comes to catching a decent fish for the table when I go out beach fishing and had bought me a couple of sea-fishing trips for my birthday. This morning I was to spend one on the chartered fishing boat, Seasearcher, out of the Royal Port of Ramsgate which is about 13 miles east of where I live. As you can see from the sketch, the weather was rather (Paynes) grey and I was glad I'd packed the waterproofs. We were out from 9am until noon and it being midsummer my thoughts were on a lovely silver bass or three. Perhaps a string of mackerel. At worst a common dogfish, (everyone catches them, some catch so many they consider them a nuisance). Well, three hours later, the ten of us fishing caught a grand total between us of... nowt. Still, I did come back with a couple of sketches, so it wasn't entirely fruitless. 4B pencil and watercolour on rough 300gsm paper.
Squid (calamari) and herring to tempt those huge silver bass...
Well, I should have smelt something fishy when I discovered the boat was called Seasearcher and not Seacatcher. But to be a fisherman, you need to be an optimist and there's always next time... Permanent Pentel pen and watercolour wash on 300gsm watercolour paper.

Friday, August 06, 2010

SOLD: Sheppey Storm

© Peter Gander SOLD
Thank you to Kathryn of West Malling for purchasing 'Sheppey Storm' yesterday :)

Thursday, August 05, 2010

'I love Whitstable' 1st colour study

The complete study shows how crude the laying down of paint is, but hte important thing is establishing where those colours are. It would take  a braver (or more intuitive) artist to work without a study - but this works for me! Note that there are now 4 seperate colour swatches on the right, (if we count the gradation as one). The other great thing about applying colour by brush at this stage is that you will get more natural effects when not simply covering a flat area, see an example of this in the centre of the oysters, where the colour adds modelling and plumpness to the shape of the oyster's fleshy centre. That form would have been quite hard to have 'guessed' when cutting blind with a lino blade! Next stage is doing a tighter layout in pencil on tracing paper. The lettering for instance, needs a bit of crafting, although I always strive to show a hand-drawn and hand-cut font, as it lends a special quality to the piece you simply can't achieve with a 'proper', hard-edged, computer-set typeface.

'I love Whitstable' with colour in-progress

Although it may look half-decent here, the colour is just being put down loosely as a guide. The thin bleedproof layout paper, whilst perfect for tracing and pan drawing, is obviously poor in accepting watercolour, which just sits on the surface, but I am not concerned about finish as such with a quick study. When it comes to lino prints, I am a big fan of keeping it simple and you will note that I have made small 'swatches' of colour to the right of the drawing in order to keep note of how many colours, or lino/relief blocks that I'll need to cater for. Having said that, the beach portion will be a colour graduation on the printing roller itself, going from a sandy tone to a light cream at the base, which is effectively a single colour as the blend is done in one go.

'I love Whitstable' black rough drawing

This is the black-only rough on layout paper awaiting some colour washes.
Following on from my indecisiveness about the other contenders for the Whitstable print, I opted for what I now call 'I love Whitstable', featuring a bottle of tabasco sauce to represent an 'I' and a pair of overlapping oysters rpresenting the 'love' heart. Keen to water no further time, you can see that this shot is taken on the train home, where I produced a quick layout which I then traced through in permanent black pen onto bleedproof paper. Thus I could be ready to do a quick colour study over the top in watercolour to check how my seperate lino 'plates' need to be organised.

'The Greta' Thames sailing barge

© Peter Gander SOLD
Recently on the subject of Whitstable's Oyster Festival, The Greta is a common sight in the summer around Whitstable too. A vintage Thames sailing barge, it is used today to take people on trips around the Thames estuary, for example over to the wind farms and I believe she is usually docked at Faversham, west of Whitstable. The 'bishop's finger' symbol on the mainsail (derived from a shepherd's crook) is a logo belonging to her sponsor, Shepherd Neame Brewery, Britain's oldest brewery, also based in Faversham. Watercolour on 300gsm Whatman watercolour paper (SOLD).

Sleeping woman on train

Whilst I decide which Whitstable print design to opt for, I had a break and sketched this fellow passenger on the homeward journey on the train last night. She woke and left before I could finish, but that's live sketching for you. Black Bic biro on parchment sketchpad.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

From sketch to print: 'I love Whitstable'

Initial scamp (thumbnail sketch) for '6 Whitstable Oysters' print

Whilst fighting for a decent design solution for the previous post 'Whitstable Windfarm' and not getting very far, I turned my attentions to a new idea altogether to prevent me getting stale with it. Thus, I have sketched out this arrangement of 6 Whitstable Oysters. Whitstable, where I used to live and is about 7 miles from my home in Herne Bay, is renowned for its oysters (see my 'Wheeler's Oyster Bar' painting too). The town has just held its annual 'Whitstable Oyster Festival' too, where the local bishop blesses the first haul of the molluscs which spells the start of the festival, a procession through town and much more. I am a fan of oysters myself and at the harbour's Whitstable Fish Market (see again, my 'Whitstable Fish Market Figure' linocut in a previous post), I'd recommend 6 oysters with a squeeze of lemon and a healthy dash of McIlhenny’s Tabasco Sauce, seen in the design above. Being six oysters, I thought a graphic dice/domino-style arrangement of the oysters around the edge might work nicely. The 1st designs portray the molluscs as part of an 'I love'.. heart symbol, especially apt as the oyster is beleived to have aphrodisiac qualities! But I will pursue the tabasco & oysters version as that one really grabs me right now. The other design I will revisit later. Blue Bic biro on sketchpad. All images & text, copyright © Peter Gander

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

'Whitstable Wind Farm' from sketch to print: first sketches

Initial scamps (thumbnail sketches) of my Windfarm print
I first tried a square format in my sketchpad on my train journey to work today. In the spirit of the golden age of travel posters and with my graphic designer hat on, I was interested to see how the sails might join up to make the letter 'W' and assumed a square format would help with the geometric layout. Bearing in mind that this will be  a print and not  apainting, I was keen to keep it fairly simple. As you can see from the left-hand page, however, the face-on perspective wasn't yielding many good results. It's not until I tried a new perspective, literally, that things started to look sufficiently dynamic. As per the final scamp, top right. My dilemma now is that to the uninitiated, the sails of the turbine may not register as such as they are cropped down. However, I will explore it further. Blue Bic biro on sketchpad.

'Whitstable Wind Farm' from sketch to print: background

Following in the spirit of my 'Winderful Whitstable' posters & postcards of the past which have been very popular, I am looking at a new slant on the title, but this time using the Kentish Flats Windfarm, off Whitsable's coast, as inspiration for a new linocut, or possibly block print. The windfarm, built in 2005, is 10km from the shore (just visible on the horizon in my pic) and consists of 30 wind turbines, each 140 metres (459ft) high, taking up around 10 square km in total. The rotors are 90 metres in diameter and the turbines were installed by a specialist ship which had immersible legs which stood in the 5 metre deep water whilst the monopiles for the shafts were driven into the sand and clay seabed. The total average annual output from the farm is circa 280 million kWh. Windfarm pictures copyright and courtesy of Elsam: