Monday, September 28, 2015

Autumn Sketches

We are taking a break, I am back at college and Sue off to warmer climes for a while. Meanwhile in September I tried to make one 30 minute sketch a day. They had to be in colour and A4. That’s quite a task for me but its been great, getting ideas down quickly and simplifying things is always a good exercise!
Here are a few favourites: leaves, bugs, elderberries, blackberries, the grebes, starlings, last plums, jam The last one, below, is the huge supermoon with the flock of passing geese. The sound of their cries is the essence of autumn to me.


See more and the inspiration behind them over on my blog
Back with new work, new inspiration, and new thoughts in the New Year!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Something a little more exotic......

For various reasons, Val and I are taking a break from the blog for a while and  I'll be turning my attention to some slightly more exotic creatures  for a few weeks. I got myself into the mood by doing a print with watercolour  of a toucan and a macaw.

When we look at how our wildlife has evolved, we can  learn a lot about our [and their] environment  .....the colour of their feathers/fur/shells and the shape and size of their beaks/bodies etc., As in plant forms, it seems to me that there are few design features in the wildlife of the world that don't make us wonder at their perfection and  make us thrilled to be able to observe them. 

Print and watercolour 20cm x 20 cms
I'm looking forward to studying these exotic cousins of  our more sartorially 'subdued'  species of birds but  it seems to me that the more colourful the plumage, [perhaps this applies to more than birds!] the less beautiful the song.  Walking home from the wood  recently in the dusk, I couldn't help  feel thrilled to hear the melodious song of a robin perched high on  a tree at the side of the road - that takes some beating, but I'm sure our blackbird is up for it.......   

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

More Bees..

This time I have been working on an image of a bee playing a pipe. It’s a trial both for a bit of reduction lino practise and a possible visual for a poster which will include a poem.

It took rather a long time to get this far. I am not sure reduction linos are for me. I find them a bit limiting and have ended up actually preferring the black and white. But its all good practise.The character of the bee was important and that is always a challenge especially in lino. One tiny slip of the cutter and everything changes.  It’s an all purpose bee of no particular species. Not quite as stylised as I wanted, so may try another version.


First reductions and colour trials


Four not-too-bad prints. There are 4 colours plus white in the most complex print.

But I love the simplification and choppy marks of lino and woodcut. These sort of marks would be hard to achieve in any other medium. The happy accidents and unforeseen marks are particularly rewarding.


Final black and white print and the plate.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Brooding rooks

More rooks but this time I've changed the process a little and also used the carborundum and p.v.a. mix more as a drawing tool. Each print is different depending on the way the ink has been removed from the plate and the range is quite surprising.

The first print was quite minimal in terms of the ink  that was picked up as the block went through the press

The following prints varied and you can see more tonal difference due to the texture of the surface and the amount of ink that has remained on the different surfaces of the plate

I particularly liked this print which is much darker and I think  the texture of the feathers around the neck works well.

Collographs are fascinating things, the possibilities are endless!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Stalking like a Rook

Sylvia Plath's poem 'Winter Landscape, With Rooks ' is a difficult poem to read because of the deep  sadness and despondency it evokes and yet the words

                                               feathered dark in thought, I stalk like a rook,
                                               brooding as the winter night comes on.'
sound wonderful to me. It almost conjures up a picture of someone growing feathers as they stalk along the hedgerows hunched up against the cold as the thin winter sun goes down. 

Perhaps my imagination is getting the better of me as the recent  weather turns from very hot to cold in the space of 24 hours, and a hint of autumn is in the early morning air. The combine harvesters are working all night if they can before the rain stops them but the blackberries and sloes are plumping up nicely because of it. I think the wood will provide plenty of berries for human and avian foragers alike this year.

I printed the rook by press rather than by hand and thought the results were interesting, as their is no clear outline around the carborundum, making the rook blend softly into the background
 30cm x 15cm Monoprint
Each print will be different because of the way it is inked up on the plate, areas of light and dark can be manipulated by hand with careful ink application and removal 
30cm x 15cm Monoprint with pen and ink
Monoprint with pen and ink
You can already see the difference with these three prints and that's something which makes the whole process very demanding but also very interesting, not to mention time consuming........

Friday, August 21, 2015

Birds in the Bird Cherry

The Bird Cherry tree is dripping with red fruit.


The blackbirds love them. So do the wasps. I have picked some to cook with quite a bit of sugar, then to freeze, to bring a little August sunshine to the dark days of Winter.

These are some print trials for “August” in my “Bird Cherry Year” project. At this time of year the greens are dark and saturated but so far I have lightened the green to get the cherries to print. I may add some highlights on the cherries but they are not very shiny. Its more of a a sheen, along with the dusky bloom of these cherry/plums.

Many more trials to come. So far these are just tests, printed with cheap water-based inks. The better quality inks will look quite different.  I think it will be well into November before I can consider printing them all as a set.



Blackbirds and Birdcherries

Friday, August 14, 2015

Some (late) Spring Bees

In between things I am continuing with recording what happens to the Bird Cherry this year in print. The idea is to be able to make a small book. Rather than rely on photos I am waiting until things happen to the tree so I can make some observations from life.

In the Spring with the first blossoms came the bees. I have had the plate cut for ages and only now got round to printing some trials. I combine the plates so it’s a slow and uncertain process. here are the first ones.



This one is the nearest to what I need.. I wont be able to print the set until much later in the year. So plenty of variations to come.