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Monday, January 31, 2011

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

Hippo & calf © Peter Gander

The inked hippos await the roller press

The whole background is ready for inking
Adding shellac to prevent ink soak-up
The lino is registered onto a paper template
A pencil rubbing checks the linework (in reverse)
Cutting the image out with a craft knife
Carving the lino (detail)
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 mixture of collagraph and monoprint. Oil-based inks on 200gsm black card.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Crow King: final print

The Crow King © Peter Gander
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

Thursday, January 27, 2011

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

Continuing my corvid phase, today I used a lino-like material called Japanese Soft Cut vinyl that I bought online from Intaglio 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.
Carving fine lines is tricky with vinyl
The pencil ‘rubbing’ to check progress
Mixing a two-colour gradation on the roller
Ready to roll. Note the card registration blocks at the top
The first ones drying
Inking the card background
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 and away I go. I tend to try out different paper colours as artists prints (AP’s) until I find my preferred one. In this case it was a humble brown paper. On to the background. Sometimes the background simply doesn’t warrant the efforts of lino/vinyl cutting or I simply prefer to use a different substrate for its unique texture. As was the case here - I cut out the negative area left by the crow from card, the kind you find on the back of layout and cartridge pads. It’s not as soft or corrugated like cardboard and being made of pulp, reveals interesting textures when inked up, not a dull smoothness. Use shellac or PVA to prevent the inks from seeping too much into the absorbent card though. Once this has dried and the cut-out married up to another board and registered, make the second colour print-run. The main photo reveals the final print, which I am very happy with! Seawhite (of Brighton) waterbased printing inks on (Paperchase) recycled ribbed brown Kraft paper (A4: 297mm w x 210mm h).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Crow II monoprint

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

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Crow I (adapted monoprint)

Crow I © Peter Gander
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

Sow 1 of 10 board prints © Peter Gander
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 to woodgrain than lino. 2-colour oil-based ink on Raven black paper, 1 of a limited edition of 10.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Suffolk sow, Snape

Suffolk sow, Snape © Peter Gander
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.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

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

Finally, a rainbow at dusk!
The ‘real’ view from Room 8
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 Shrimps followed, appropriately, by Fish Pie.

© Peter Gander

Fortunately, The Crown & Castle operate a relaxed departure time the morning after your stay, so I had the opportunity to paint this scene from our window looking out over the estuary at Orford on a drizzly misty morning before we left. 6B pencil and watercolour on 300gsm Grain Fin NOT paper.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Clare, reading

Clare Snowdon reading, Cerét, France, 1991
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.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Winter salmon monoprint

Winter salmon © Peter Gander
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.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Leaping Salmon

The final two-colour print © Peter Gander

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

Making the cardboard print for Leaping Salmon

The logo made with cardboard printing
Logo in-situ
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.
The cardboard salmon © Peter Gander
Cornelissen’s Shellac Varnish
This cardboard is taken from the back of one of my drawing pads. It’s quite solid and just thick enough (about 3mm) to be able to cut through easily with a scalpel blade. Also you can see where I’ve debossed and incised areas like the gills and fins with scribing tools. I also used the back end of a paintbrush to dimple the fish’s body and thus create white spots where the ink won’t reach. PG’s TIP If you’re using uncoated paper and card you will need to prevent ink soaking into the substrate, so use Shellac varnish or PVA to coat your relief ‘block’. I use shellac as it dries very quickly. The one shown was purchased at London’s Cornelissen’s art shop. A couple of coats or more may be necessary, but they dry very quickly. So once your image is cut out, you can adhere it to another board for stability, but a small one-off design won’t need it, if you’re going to print it rubber-stamp style. Small surface areas can be sponged or painted with a thin layer of ink or use a roller and sheet of glass to roll out your ink on. If you’re crafty and have a little space between seperate colours or tones, you can easily dab on colour all in one go if you’re quick and can do it before the first colour you put down dries out. As the print is relatively simple, I wanted to make use of some spare fancy Japanese Yuki paper. This handmade paper has threads of silk running through it. It’s not very evident from the main pic, but the detail photo here shows how the threads reflect the light.

Soaking the card with shellac
The Yuki paper
The salmon just before it’s ‘ready to roll’
I cut a window the same size as the baseboard holding the fish, out of a larger piece of paper which was then taped to the bed of my roller press. The larger piece of paper matches the paper size that will be used for printing on. Then I drop the freshly-inked printing block inside the window, lay a piece of paper face down onto that, then keep it in place with the felt blanket. Then it’s a case of adjusting the roller press pressure to suit and get printing!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Black and brown hen

Black & brown hen © Peter Gander
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 the fox threat.  
In-progress with my huge (size 20) brush
If you like a bold painting, use a bold brush. A big brush. Detail is not my bag as I enjoy a more gestural style and a size 20 mop was the only brush I used here, (its fine point small enough if the odd delicate mark needs to be made however, such as the pupil of the hen’s eye). The Russian blue squirrel-hair mop holds bath-loads of water and is a particular favourite of mine, but be warned, it is as expensive as it is exotic!
Size 20 Pro Arte Renaissance squirrel mop brush with Winsor & Newton watercolour on Bockingford 190gsm Rough paper.