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Showing posts from January, 2011

‘Wildlife artist of the Year’ submission 1 of 2: Hippo & calf

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I have just finished and entered two very different prints for the David Shepherd ‘Wildlife Artist of the Year’ open art competition. Both, however, are combination prints, using the same techniques as the previous post; King Crow. That is, using both Japanese vinyl and cardboard printmaking in the same print. Both use the vinyl for the main images and cardboard for the more textured backgrounds. Hippo & calf utilises the black paper to full effect in that the paper becomes the linework. In other words, the cut lines, rather than the areas conventionally left to print by cutting away all BUT the lines, are revealed by the background paper. So what looks like a 3-colour linoprint (for the hippo itself) is actually a single (graduated) print on black paper. The ink was mixed on the roller in this case. The carboard background was printed seperately, flecks of white paint added by hand too. Every print is unique as each one is coloured up seperately and is effectively a bit of a mixt…

The Crow King: final print

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Seawhite (of Brighton) water-based printing inks on A4 (297 mm w x 210mm h) Paperchase recycled ribbed kraft paper. (See previous post for work-in-progress story). Buy at Folksy

Work-in-progress: The Crow King (vinyl & board print)

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Continuing my corvid phase, today I used a lino-like material called Japanese Soft Cut vinyl that I bought online from Intaglio Printmaker.co.uk It’s floppier and shinier and softer than lino, though I think lino still has some way to go to be beaten. The vinyl I found much ‘stickier’ than lino, with the end of the cutting stroke often rebounding or not finishing in a clean manner. However, if you are not planning anything too fine in detail, it’s lovely stuff and very easy to carve.
Once my design is carved, I make a ‘lino rubbing’, placing a sheet of thin cartridge paper over the lino/vinyl to check that all is well with the image. Then I cut out the shape with a craft knife (easier to do than with lino) and stick it onto a board to keep it stable for printing and to register it properly. Rather than use a solo black for the crow, which after all, have irridescent feathers, I opted to mix a blue and black gradation on the roller. Then it’s just a case of testing the roller pressure a…

Crow II monoprint

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Another monoprint study. This is essentially a sketch for a two-colour linocut that I plan to cut later tonight.

Crow I (adapted monoprint)

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I confess I tried hand-colouring this black-only monoprint but sadly I made a hash of it. Thus with a bit of Photoshop magic, I saved the piece, though now that it has been digitally enhanced, I can sadly no longer say it is a monoprint, of course. But the 1940’s-style colouring looks good. Original: water-based ink on Neutral Daler-Rowney Murano Pastel 160gsm paper.

Sow, board print limited edition 1/10

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Following on from yesterday’s painting of the pigs at Snape in Suffolk, I wanted to explore a more gritty texture for the pig and an uncoated board print fits the bill nicely. Board prints (paper/card-based) are ideal for speedy but impressive printmaking. (The small print runs also make them more attractive for collectors). The pig here is cut out jigsaw-style from the background which is also kept for the second colour. The two pieces are then inked up seperately, printing the (pink) pig first ten times then running the printed pig through for the second (background/mud-brown) run. I did try other coloured papers for this, but only a black will reveal important lines, such as her mouth and the shadow under her ear. You have to think in negative values, which is quite tricky as the ‘holes’ become the black areas. You can see why I chose uncoated board for this, as it reveals some great textures you just don’t get with a smooth surface, such as line. The appearance is actually closer …

Suffolk sow, Snape

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On the way back home from Orford we spotted this free-range pig farm at Snape, Suffolk. Their bright, chrome-like, corrugated tin huts resembled wartime Anderson shelters amidst a bleak landscape. There were many huge sows like this one snuffling out deep holes in the wet winter earth, looking pretty content. A large, dry brush dragged across the very rough surface of this paper ensures a lovely texture is obtained for the muck and dirt on the sow’s body. Sepia Conté pencil and watercolour on 300gsm Daler Rowney The Langton 100% cotton Forme Ronde (Mould-made) paper.

View from Room 8 at The Crown & Castle, Orford, Suffolk

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It's my birthday today and to celebrate this at the end of last week my wife Fiona organised a surprise overnight's stay in Suffolk, with a fly-fishing session en route. Forgive the poor quality of the shot taken in very low light, but we had arrived at about 1pm and on an overcast January afternoon, the light doesn't last for long. Numb fingers and chilled toes are the downside of a winter's birthday and soon took a grip. Dark at 5pm, I had a couple of takes in the afternoon, but the fish got off. Come dusk, however, when I had about 5 minutes left of light, I dropped a weighted cat's whisker into a deep area of the lake and counted it down to the bottom to be rewarded with a strong pull and this lovely 2.5lb hard-fighting rainbow which took a good 5 minutes to get in. Then it was off to The Trinity restaurant at The Crown and Castle in Orford, Suffolk for a hot bath, a cool pint of Greene King ‘IPA’ and a bottle of ‘Hop’ ale and a hearty meal of Potted Brown Shri…

Clare, reading

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I was sifting through years of arty paperwrk in my cabin and came across this study of an old girlfriend reading that dated back to 1991. I was obviously not too well-equipped (artistically) for this holiday (like I would be now) and drew this using a Bic biro. Cerét, Rousillon, France, 1991.

Winter salmon monoprint

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Following on from my previous ‘Leaping salmon’ post, I printed a few copies onto Raven (black) paper in white and pale blue inks. Tonight to one of these prints I added a background of stylised wintry riverside branches in hand-painted brush with Winsor & Newton white ink. I think I owe the design style of the branches more to the curly wrought-iron gates in front of our house more than anything else. The flowing fine lines of the trees make a nice contrast to the textured block printing. Once printed onto the Raven paper I immediately thought that the fish looked like an icy cold pescatorial ghost, like a ghost koi carp, I was just waiting for some inspiration to take it further. Monoprint - hand-painted white Winsor & Newton ink and two-colour cardboard print on Raven black paper.

Leaping Salmon

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See today’s previous post to see how this was made...

Making the cardboard print for Leaping Salmon

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After printing a simple oast house logo for my wife Fiona’s blog, ‘Fiona’s Kent Food’, I felt inspired to test the boundaries of printing using paper and card. Unlike the glass-smooth surface of lino, cardboard and paper can have a lovely texture and the fact that it is easily cut offsets the downside that you can’t print more than a few runs from your ‘block’. These are really monoprints, in fact, as no two will be the same. Because Fiona’s end product was a logo for digital reproduction and thus only one was needed, it wasn’t really worth crafting it in lino anyway.
It is the lovely texture of a hand-pulled print that was the important thing. Of course, I could have imitated this printed effect digitally in Photoshop, but where’s purity/fun in that? So, accepting the limitations of paper and card I chose a simple image of  a leaping salmon, as fishing is a subject close to my heart.
This cardboard is taken from the back of one of my drawing pads. It’s quite solid and just thick enou…

Black and brown hen

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As both chicken-owners and parents, we’ve learnt the hard way that it’s not worth giving our egg-laying friends individual pet names, thus the rather prosaic title of this post. We started off with six hens a few years ago and a flurry of cute names, but the odd disease or wily fox has claimed a few and with it, the novelty of the birds with the children has diminished too, so ‘black and brown hen’ it is. This particular hen is a black-rock, a dark-brown egg laying hybrid. Black-rocks are a true first-cross hybrid from selected American strains of Rhode Island Red (male line) and a Barred Plymouth Rock (female line). They are lovely, densely-feathered birds with a big body frame. The health of a bird is often reflected in the strength of colour in their ‘comb’, (the headpiece), which in her case is a very strong red, so we know she’s healthy and happy. Our birds are essentially free-range - we let them out of their hutch and pen area in the morning and lock them up at night, due to …