Project 13: Combination Mono and Linoprint

20/07 – 11/08/17

Project 13: Combination Mono and Linoprint

In this project you will be putting two printmaking techniques together – monoprinting and linocutting. Firstly, you will need to choose a subject where colour and line play equal parts… the two printed layers will need to contrast and compliment each other.

Development of the Subject

The most time-consuming element of this exercise for me was the development of the subject. Again, as is the way of this crazy world at the moment, it is the daily news that inspires my ideas. This time, I was, as many others were, horrified by the Grenfell Tower fire in London. Horrified not only by the huge loss of life, the absolute terror of those people affected, both of the survivors and those that had to await the inevitable with no hope of escape, but the apparent sheer incompetence, disregard and disdain demonstrated by those charged with their responsibility of care. The more that was revealed of the extent of their failings, the deeper the understanding of the lack of compassion for human life cut. Saving money appears to be more important. The appearance of the structures to be beautified to preserve the ambience of the locality for the gentrified areas seemed to be placed above safety.

All these points kept taking me back to my RE classes at school, my teacher was always referring to the biblical quote: ” the love of money is the root of all evil”, commonly misquoted as “money is the root of all evil”. These two statements, that are readily confused, are so different in meaning, it is understandable that this has stuck in my memory. The love of money encourages greed, envy, division and corruption of power. Money as an entity, can be the bringer of so much good and improvement. I decided to concentrate on the true quote and its meaning. How to put that into an image that would work as combined mono and linoprint was the challenge.

I began with visual brainstorming using imagery as well as words.

As in the above gallery, I began with representational ideas and then began to explore a symbolic direction using the golden bulldozer to illustrate the clearing of areas ripe for gentrification and “improvement”. This misnomer completely ignoring the fact that communities were already thriving, being multi-cultural, colourful and “ordinary”. These communities, particularly in city areas are comprised of people who live and work in the city but can ill afford the extortionate real estate prices. They rely on social housing, yet they are not, as commonly reported, all single mothers having more children to get a council flat, dole scroungers, immigrants who have jumped the council queue. I am ashamed to say that up to a point, I had also been brainwashed by this lazy journalistic reporting, and I was overwhelmingly impressed by those interviewed during the Grenfell tower fire. They were not the dregs of society, they were like you and me – families settling for the evening, school kids doing last-minute revision for their GCSEs and A Levels, young professionals building careers, extended families coming together to feast after fasting through the day for Ramadan, senior citizens settling down to watch the evening news, people being people in the perceived safety of their own homes. The eloquence, the stoicism, the empathy for their neighbours – it was true and honest and extraordinary. To represent my subject was a challenge indeed!

The idea so far was to use text to represent the existing communities, with the Golden Bulldozer clearing the path for improving the neighbourhood, with its clandestine objective of attracting a “better type” of person – whatever that means! However, I then looked back at my inspirational quote, and wondered if this was putting across the message? Was the bulldozer too clichéd, I looked at amending the design by using the yellow brick road analogy winding through from the green parks and glass fronted penthouses towards the badlands to be transformed. However, I could not see how to make this work in a combined mono and linoprint. I returned to my original plan after some thought.

As this decision was made, I then had to consider scale, the final composition and how to fit what text into the design. I had been advised to look at the work of Angela Cavalieri by my tutor some time ago, and how she used text to fill shapes.  This is where the use of words to create tower blocks etc grew from. I considered an A3 format, a square – looked at how I could incorporate the perspective I wanted and finally, came to the conclusion that a 30x20cm size would fit my idea best. I also had to look at which aspects should be made by monoprinting and which by linocut. As mono printing belies excessive detail, I decided to use it to give the bulk shape of the bulldozer and the background of the image. Text would suit the linocut as I had used the method in a previous project fairly successfully, along with outlining the details of the bulldozer’s tracks and components.

Monoprint Element

After deciding on the overall design, I needed to create a template for both negative and positive masks for the monoprint. Using the scale of 30x20cm for the entire print, the template had to fit in size and position. Once traced and transferred to a piece of card, I cut out the main shape to create the positive and negative templates, I then made several masks to enable a series of prints. I must admit, after marking out my graph paper guidelines and positioning the negative mask first of all, I found I had completely forgotten the process. I mistakenly started working as if the mask were a stencil, rather than masking an inked area – I did realise my mistake after the first attempt but decided to use the result to practice the registration and concept.

At this point, I had read ahead of my instructions to note that I should consider different colour schemes and representations within the series. So prior to printing, I also made notes to explore how different colour treatments could influence my message and prints. I considered the background first, thinking about atmosphere:

  • dark and moody to reflect the downtrodden
  • blue skies to show happiness in an ordinary life lived
  • orange/red to denote vibrancy, maybe anger, conflict
  • neutral blue/grey to sit behind the dominant foreground

Next the bulldozer, I made the decision that this would be yellow regardless, although, there was  a consideration of a mixture of bright, shiny, golden-yellow that would bring bling to the area, and a green tinged, tarnished effect in the vein of all that glitters is NOT gold.

Then the tower blocks themselves. This was where I could have a bit more free rein:

  • they could be black/grey to show dereliction or decay, lower class
  • or the colourful creativity of the less wealthy to make things their own, the diversity of the residents from age, to culture and taste
  • gentle soft colours of comfort, routine and familiarity
  • Clashing colours of hot-blooded differences from culture, age groups, belief systems

I then looked at the combinations of these three components and noted them to put in front of me whilst inking.

Whilst printing, again I was hounded by the registration. I was expecting to have some white space around the central bulldozer, as printing up the edges of the mask is always elusive depending on the thickness of the paper or card used. This added to the image, I think, where the registration was more accurate. Although, where the registration was off, it only served to highlight the problem.

Linocut Element

This is really the detail to go over the monoprint. Initially, text was to be used in the tower block, and on the bulldozer. I was hoping to use some choice words to further expand on the golden bulldozer motif ie  GENTRIFICATION across the scoop/bucket, GREED on top of the back of the body following the perspective and finally AFFLUENCE across the back. Unfortunately, in reality, when I began mapping out the lettering, it became abundantly clear that there was little space for this, particularly considering that these would have to be carved out of the lino and remain in one piece. I really wanted to include the word GENTRIFICATION, but had to concede that the smallest word GREED, was the only one that would fit anywhere. However, as I needed to add the details and outline to the bulldozer with the linocut, it would have been impossible to add this to the machine itself. In the end, my compromise, was to add GREED beneath the body of the vehicle between its tracks, following perspective lines. This worked to give some movement to the bulldozer going forward and had no ambiguity as to its meaning.

I also thought I could give more substance to the bulldozer by detailing its wheel tracks, cab, bucket and general outline. This proved to be a little delicate after successive inking, printing and cleaning, and some of the thin lines came away, however, I don’t this particularly detracts from the intention.

The Combined Mono and Linocut Print

Whilst I was drawing and cutting the lino, the monoprints were hanging up to dry. Once done, I reviewed them to decide which colour inking treatment to go with each. I initially worked on the red backgrounds, working in various black/greys, these included one monoprint ghost print just for curiosity (not particularly successful but interesting). Then depending on the background, I used a variety of ink colours and inking techniques such as selective and rainbow rollering, dab printing and wiping out.

All linoprints were made with a jig and strips of card that could be placed around the print block to keep the print paper edges clean and then folded back whilst the block was inked. The print paper was a heavy cartridge that had been soaked in water and blotted, and the inks were Japanese Sakura oil based inks (quickly depleting in quantity now) with white oil paint for mixing. Once dried the printed papers were placed beneath a drawing board with heavy books to flatten out the kinks. I had a selection of varying results, with the main problem, as usual, being the registration. The predominant cause seemed to be the misalignment between the two print techniques. If I could have devised a combined jig to use for both, I think it would have been better. However, I actually feel, as long as it was not too far out, the slight differences add to the image in a way – maybe because the individual elements in the design are misaligned it reinforces the message?

Results and Lessons Learnt

Overall, looking at the prints hanging up to dry, I was quite pleased. On closer inspection, as noted above, not one was particularly well registered, however, on a few, this added rather than detracted (my own opinion). Some of the colour combinations I really liked and those on a lighter background seemed to work best – this is purely in an aesthetic sense. I was disappointed that the so-called tarnished yellow did not really come through, not tinged enough with green. I also feel I missed a trick by not including the pieces of text on the bulldozer.

Do they convey the message of gentrification clearing away existing communities? Yes and no – without the text, then no. There are a few things that I made conscious decisions about during the  idea development that still leave me unsure. Should I have added more ghost buildings to give perspective and sense of place? I had decided not, as it may have overcrowded what I had hoped would be a concise and simple message. The text conundrum has already been mentioned. How much explanation should go along with a piece of work – should it need any? I have often watched art critics explain well-known works and listened to their renderings and interpretations that start with “What the artist was trying to say here was…” and I’ve thought “Really? How do you work that out?” So who knows – maybe it’s down to the viewer only, I’ve tried to express myself, I can not really stop someone else taking another meaning from it if any.

As for lessons learnt, my main lesson from this particular project is to not constrict myself. By that I mean, if I had decided to work bigger, I could have added the text I initially wanted. However, I think the word I chose ie GREED does sum it up – I just think it needed more punch!

I also think, looking back at my work on monoprints, right at the beginning of the course, I didn’t really exploit this technique enough this time. I was much freer in my approach before, I think my striving to put a meaning behind my composition is starting to inhibit my creativity and I am trying to control the outcome too much. I think I need to loosen up again – think more abstractly, consider colour as mood, shapes as emotions, still think symbolically but more expressively. Sounds easier than it will be I’m sure.

Last but not least, I must get my head around accurate registration or throw caution to wind and make my lack of skill part of the work – purposeful bad registration – sounds as easy as a pianist deliberately playing the wrong notes!

Best Three Prints of the Series

Which do I consider the best of a mediocre bunch, with possibility of putting these forward for assignment 5?

This was tricky, I felt I should have a cross-section of colour combinations, so out of the four that were more striking, I discarded one that was too similar to another. I have selected the best registration, or the least bad! I did notice that I may have set myself up to fail by cleaning the edges of the monoprint plate too emphatically and therefore making the background reduced in size. This may have assisted in scuppering the two print blocks from lining up properly. Another lesson learnt.

Series of combined mono and linocut prints - 2 of 9

Series of combined mono and linocut prints – 2 of 9

Print 2/9 is an example of the red background and black/grey text, The text graduates from black in the foreground to a grey in the distance, the idea being it would recede, not overly successful but the lettering is fairly consistently printed.

 

Series of combined mono and linocut prints - 5 of 9

Series of combined mono and linocut prints – 5 of 9

The next selection is print 5 of 9. It is straighter than the photograph suggests and a better registration outcome. The black ink is fairly well-printed and gives the bulldozer presence, unfortunately, the yellow should look more tarnished than it does to contrast with the brightness of the community it is encroaching upon.

Series of combined mono and linocut prints - 8 of 9

Series of combined mono and linocut prints – 8 of 9

Print 8 of 9 has arguably the best registration although it does illustrate the over-wiping down of the background edges as it is reduced in size compared to the linocut. Generally, I like the directional marks pushing the bulldozer forward with the perspective of the GREED text helping it along. I had tried to work in some texture in the blue background with wiping out and scratching of colour – not sure this works, but in general I quite like this one.

Whilst reading this through, another thought occurred regarding the text. What was to stop me preparing small linocut blocks with text separately to the main block? These could have been positioned carefully on the printed paper, turned over and pressed into the block. A little late now but an example of my working too closely to the subject and not being creative in my thinking!

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Abstract Painting Classes

January – May 2017

Abstract Classes

I had the chance to join in weekly abstract classes here on the island. There was a core group of three students who attended regularly, with others jumping in for various weeks depending on their stays in Lanzarote. This in itself is interesting as abstract painting is so subjective, it was fascinating to witness how different the students’ interpretations of similar themes were to one another. Two of the other students had been attending the classes for a couple of months before me and had come to grips with certain aspects, whereas I was a total novice. My only foray into this genre was a couple of projects in the Practice of Painting course, however, these were very basic.

Initially, we looked at various abstract artists’ work in books to see what sort of things appealed to us. I was drawn to colour, especially red, and more loosely worked paintings. Some of the many artists we looked at over the weeks were Frank Stella, Sonia Delaunay, David Hockney, Frank Marc and Vasily Kandinsky.

Action shots taken and kindly allowed to be reproduced her by photographer and tutor Betty Rawson.

Mindlessness

I was so out of my comfort zone it was almost frightening – I had to forget everything I relied on – observation, sketching, planning – and let my mind go. I found I didn’t trust my colour sense anymore and, to be honest, began to think I never had any! Our first lesson was drawing random shapes and adding colour. I really struggled, I didn’t know what I was doing – I didn’t have an end result in my mind to work towards… but there was no going back!

The next week promised to be more fun. Our initial class of five dropped to four, our two experienced students and another novice and myself. We had been warned that we would be outside in a field so to come prepared . This was January in Lanzarote, so although warm enough, it was windy and we had previously had some rain so trainers, jeans, fleeces and aprons/coveralls were the order of the day. We advanced, armed with rolls of paper, brushes, pots of water, water-soluble paints and canvases, everything had to be weighed down with stones and insects had to be discouraged from landed in the paint.

We began with a long roll of paper between two and just splashed, dribbled, splattered and daubed to our hearts content for the first hour. We then set up our canvases and with a little more thought, began to make our paintings.

Field work for abstract course - experimental mark making and beginning my first canvas

Field work for abstract course – experimental mark making and beginning my first canvas

The painting on the canvas above was worked on over a few sessions…

Third session on the Squares and Circles canvas

Third session on the Squares and Circles canvas

A bit more work was done on this, along with some glazing with a dilute PVA substitute tinted with various colours.

Squares and Circles - maybe finished, maybe overworked - still not sure which way up I prefer it. Interesting start though.

Squares and Circles – maybe finished, maybe overworked – still not sure which way up I prefer it. Interesting start though.

Time to move on – we had another experimental session with a small piece of work made with sticking coloured shapes. Some shapes were cut from paper we’d painted and some from patterned paper and magazines. Again, I floundered – my fellow student below was doing so well as her colour sense was developing beautifully – in the beginning, it always took me until 20 minutes before the end of the class for me to “get it”.

Cutting, colouring and sticking shapes onto small card to make small abstracts as reference for a painting.

Cutting, colouring and sticking shapes onto small card to make small abstracts as reference for a painting.

Following our planning and experimental stage we took reference from this to begin our next painting…

I called this Wash Day in the end as it reminded me of clothes being blown about on washing line.

I called this Wash Day in the end as it reminded me of clothes being blown about on washing line.

We always had a little critique at the end of a session and regarding the above, we all thought that the dark shape in the middle was trying to dominate. This, however, was not necessarily a bad thing as a little challenge in an image can work – we nicknamed this challenge the “Party Pooper” as it’s trying to suck the joy out of the rest of the painting.

The weather was lovely so another outside session for us today. We started with a warm up by using brushes on the end of sticks and made marks paint on paper. The sticks were heavy and it was more like sword fighting at times. In fact my brush broke and had to be taped back together at one point. It certainly loosened us up for our canvas though.

Extended brush painting, outside. This was fun and bordered on dangerous at times but a good warm up exercise!

Extended brush painting, outside. This was fun and bordered on dangerous at times but a good warm up exercise!

Using the garden around us as inspiration, not to mention the fabulous view of the mountain in the distance, we began our main event canvas. This was worked on for a few weeks worth of classes and has a little more to be done for improvement. Many methods of mark making were employed in it, from wiggling a paint laden brush in a semi-uncontrolled way across the entire canvas, to drips and runs being blown and guided by turning the canvas this way and that. It has been glazed with dilute PVA with an orange tint several times. The shape and size of the canvas gave the painting a little more scope for experimentation.

This has had many interpretations in the class, what started out as a garden/bougainvillea inspired piece of work has become darker with wicked forest, to horses galloping across it carrying knights...

This has had many interpretations in the class, what started out as a garden/Bougainvillea inspired piece of work has become darker with wicked forest, to horses galloping across it carrying knights…

I was going to give this another heading, however, it still does come under Mindlessness.  In this week’s class, we were to bring a piece of music that made us feel something. We had a pretty full class for this one, five of us at our work stations with ear phones listening to different music and just painting – making marks that we felt came from our music. Nobody knew what the other was listening to. We worked on our canvases for most of the class and at the end, we looked at each other’s work, listening to the music that inspired it. It was fascinating as we were in a larger class than usual, yet we were completely absorbed in our own world of music and paint.

I titled this after the music I was listening to - Titanium. The track I chose was Titanium by David Guetta featuring Sia.

I titled this after the music I was listening to – Titanium. The track I chose was Titanium by David Guetta featuring Sia.

I felt that it was about overcoming outside negative influences, being independent and pushing yourself upwards and onwards – never giving up.

The range of music was vast, from my dance track, to a gentle classic piece, to an African uplifting beat and vocal, to an oriental and mystical composition. We could all see the influences from each in our paintings, although we would never have guessed what they were.

Themes and Where to Start

This week we were down to two of us – I think everyone else knew how tough this would be! Our challenge – whether we chose to accept it or not, was to make a self-portrait – not only abstract but in 3-D. Back to square one then! After looking at each other blankly for a few minutes, we started looking through magazines, patterned papers and other bits and pieces for images, textures, colours that appealed to us and that may be descriptive of us. Even this was really difficult for me. I started cutting and ripping things out and gathered a pile of samples of stuff! We made a base, which we could either paint or cover in other papers. We then began building our self-portrait. This was really tricky, the only things I could fixate on were colours I liked and chocolate! Anyway, this is what I came up with – not very impressive I know…

3-D Self Portrait - is what it's meant to be, but even though I made it and it's about me - I don't get it!

3-D Self Portrait – is what it’s meant to be, but even though I made it and it’s about me – I don’t get it!

This week, I was allowed some comfort back. We were allowed to draw a still life!!! My turn to be happy and for my lovely classmates to groan :0)

Betty had set up a still life of an orchid, with a starfish, a lantern and a few knickknacks. It was actually quite complicated as we had a few minutes to draw it from one angle, and then move around to capture others. Fairly straightforward, but the first few were to be without lifting the pencil, charcoal, pastel or whatever from the paper. (Even more groans from the back – my revenge was complete!)

The last drawing was to be done without looking at the paper – and just to make sure – we had to use white oil pastel! Once this was done, we took our white on white drawings to the table and, using watercolour paint, we were to put down whichever colours we liked, wherever we liked on the drawing. The point being that the paint would be repelled by the oil pastel wherever it met. Unfortunately, I got carried away and decided I wanted a wet in wet effect. The paper was dampened with water and paint added. It seemed that the extra water didn’t allow the oil pastel to resist the paint so well, so my first attempt was a fail…

Overly dampened paper with watercolour on oil pastel

Overly dampened paper with watercolour on oil pastel

 

So, much to the consternation of my fellow classmate, who had done the same, we had to redraw in white oil pastel and start again.

This time, I ensured that the pastel was thicker, although I couldn’t look at it, and did not pre-dampen the paper.

Watercolour was added randomly at first and the resist from the oil pastel was much more successful. I then swapped to a finer brush and traced some of the lines left from the resist. This was very therapeutic and satisfying, and illustrated how something representational could be used to create an abstract work.

 

 

Still Life Orchid in white oil pastel to resist watercolour

Still Life Orchid in white oil pastel to resist watercolour (with a surprise dolphin!)

More drawing this week! We had a plate of peppers plus some other edible items that I can not remember – and as they were abstracted, the drawings don’t help!!

Our method of beginning an abstract painting this time, was to draw the shapes we saw, no particular detail and no tone, just shapes. We made three large thumbnails on a piece of paper and working in shades of black, white and grey, roughly filled in shapes that we had drawn or added.

Monotone shapes drawn from still life - peppers etc

Monotone shapes drawn from still life – peppers etc

I felt that no one of my drawings was what I wanted, so amalgamated all three into something more pleasing to me as below:

Amalgamation of thumbnail sketches

Amalgamation of thumbnail sketches

The drawing was transferred onto some gesso coated hardboard 62 x 45 cm and then painted in acrylic, again with shades of black, white and grey. This is not yet finished but I’m looking forward to working on it again.

Large painting from thumbnail sketch

Large painting from thumbnail sketch

In our final lesson of the term, our last method of starting an abstract painting was to use colour. We had to think of an occasion or event that had a big impact on our lives. With that in mind, we had to relate that to a colour. We then mixed some tones of that colour and made a swatch of those tones on a piece of paper. When we had done that, we needed a contrast colour with mixed tones to add to the paper as below:

My swatch of emotive colour tones with its contrasting colour tones.

My swatch of emotive colour tones with its contrasting colour tones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, I had not brought a canvas with me, so had to use a spare one of Betty’s which was only 20cm square. Although, I probably wouldn’t have finished anything bigger in one session. The event that had a dramatic impact on me was related to water. Specifically, my first experience of a water slide into a pool when I was about ten years old. Prior to this, I was a complete “water baby”, and couldn’t wait to have a go. Not really knowing what to expect, I got in line with everyone else and was soon skidding down towards the water. The complete, all-encompassing wave of water that engulfed me, took me completely by surprise and I barely managed to surface and recover. I still like swimming but have a fear of being out of my depth and overly choppy water, be it in a pool or sea.

Water Shock

Water Shock

That’s all for this term but I am looking forward to the next one.

What I’ve taken away from this is that, I need to let go of the controlled way of working sometimes and go with what I feel rather than what I see in front of me. Art is an emotive and subjective form of expression and if it’s not created with feeling then I can not expect it to be viewed with feeling.

 

Assignment 4 – Collatype Collage Block Prints

27/06/17

Assignment 4 – Collatype Collage Block Prints

Task 1 (Project 11)

Present two prints of your textured collage test block with a descriptive statement

Descriptive Statement

Test block sectioned with items glued down ready for sealing

Test block sectioned with items glued down ready for sealing

 

The materials are listed from left to right, top row first.

Number one, the double stripped trim printed well and depending on the pressure used when inking, gave a variety of marks ranging from parallel fine lines, to more solid, thicker ones. It was easily malleable into shapes and could be twisted for interesting patterns.

Number two, the textured knitting yarn printed as a broken line mostly which occasionally linked up, it was very flexible even more so than number one.

Number three, the wide gauge embroidery mesh was stiff and unyielding, its main properties were that it gave a distinctive grid and could therefore mimic harder substances such as iron mesh or bars. It could easily be cut into specific shapes and would stay stable when being glued.

Number four, the gauze bandage was extremely easy to manipulate. It could be stretched, twisted, laid flat or layered and easily frayed at its edges. It could give the impression of flowing movement and shapes and was particularly useful for describing tone. I was a little disappointed with the straight relief inking with the black ink, however, when inking with a dabber and wiping, the results could be very versatile.

Number five, the ribbon. This was great to use as it was flat and the longer strip lent itself to being twisted and was still sufficiently stuck down with the glue. It worked well with the relief printing but I particularly liked the effect when the ink was gently wiped away to some extent. This then gave lovely highlights and really replicated a silky texture with the edges being more defined.

Number six, the bubble wrap was quite interesting particularly where the polythene creased. I was less drawn to the more solid bubble shapes than I was the twisted and stretched appearance. It was also flexible enough to twist although it needed a fair amount of glue to stabilise it. From this I think I would also like to try using some cling film, scrunched, twisted or creased

Number seven, the netting used to package supermarket fruit was a great texture. It was similar, although stronger to the gauze bandage and wouldn’t fray. It would particularly print well with the black ink and gave a random texture that could be very useful.

Number eight, I was unsure as to what results the handmade paper would achieve. It is a lovely texture that when torn, behaves almost like fabric in the way that it frays. I have used it before in mixed media painting where water-soluble paint clings to the frayed edges in an interesting way, hence my trying it here. In effect, it gave a nice texture but in a way that the source was not identifiable.

Number nine, the buttons were a fun addition, although, they really did just look like printed buttons so maybe not as versatile as the other materials.

Number ten, the dress making pins printed much better than I anticipated although again as the buttons, I don’t think I would use them very often.

Number eleven, dried spaghetti also printed well. This could be really useful where straight lines are called for, they can be broken into different lengths, used at angles, spaced apart or brought close together for texture.

Number twelve, porridge oats. I had obviously raided the kitchen cupboards for these few materials. These were a little disappointing in pure relief yet with more ink added and wiped, they could be useful for textures and tone, and also for using in conjunction with other similar materials of differing sizes (see number fifteen).

Number thirteen, long grain rice is a hard substance when raw and is surprisingly random when printed, great for texture, tone and highlights if wiped. The grains also printed very cleanly when printed in relief.

Number fourteen, Florists’ Winter Fauna is the name on the packet. a useful dried bundle of organic matter that florists use to enhance display designs. Theoretically, it could be used as a collage material in a clump or pulled apart to separate the strands as here. However, although it printed well the main challenge is getting it to adhere to the block as it is so curly and not overly flexible.

Number fifteen, gardeners’ potting grit. Fairly small-grained grit that gives a lovely random texture when printed. It also sticks down very well.

Number sixteen, dried, broken egg shells. These have been saved over time and are really useful for collage. If the pieces are too big when being stuck down, they can break down further and give an interesting, almost tortoise-shell effect.

Second relief print of test block with black oil based ink

Second relief print of test block with black oil based ink

Mix of relief and intaglio printing in multi colours from test block

Mix of relief and intaglio printing in multi colours from test block

 

 

 

 

 

I have selected print two of four for the black and white prints and print one of four for the coloured prints. A slightly different choice than previously made at the end of the exercise due to the clean appearance of the black and white relief print.

Task 2 (Project 12)

Present three versions of your collatype collage block print exploring a representational theme and a variety of collage techniques accompanied by a critical statement about your choice of subject and the way you have translated it into print.

After deciding to create a triptych type print series for my project, I have selected the three images below to represent my subject.

Final three selections from each image for assignment 4

Final three selections from each image for assignment 4

Critical Statement

I initially quote from my write-up of Project 12 itself:

“Over the time my previous assignment was in transit and with my tutor for feedback, I began thinking about what subject I would like to tackle for this project. Many things were in the news at the time not least the effects of climate change and the continual, nonsensical 140 character ramblings of the new president of America.  This one particular morning, the two collided once again, and the short-sighted lust for dollars over having a sustainable planet for the future of humankind hit the headlines. I had my subject.”

The more I explored ideas around my subject, the more I realised that one image would not suffice to put across my intention of drawing focus to this potential backslide to planetary destruction. Attention had to be on the misuse of power, the concern that this attitude may grow and continue in the wake of such an influential climate denying government and the dramatic results of such. As with many messages conveyed through the visual arts, I have tried to simplify and symbolise the message.

The portrait of POTUS stands as a figurehead for all those that ignore, deny and seemingly despise the science and evidence before us. Going back to my initial sketchbook thumbnails, the objective was to create a portrait of Donald Trump to illustrate the smugness with which I perceive he has taken power of one of the largest nations on the planet. That planet is under threat by human hand and he and his band of climate deniers are ploughing ahead with many policies to further the business dollar at our future’s expense. I need the portrait to describe this smugness and for his image to be recognisable. The use of some of the collage materials, in my mind, lend themselves to a pixellated image not unlike a comic book illustration. The use of orange flesh also help to give the impression of the real life caricature I see. It also serves to remind us not to dismiss the apparent incredulity and initial ridicule that we may think protects us from such people’s attitudes and opinions, they are not alone.

The combination of the portrait and landscape in a more linear image serves to illustrate that the shapes that we make and the decisions that we take are intertwined with all that is around us. Eventually, we as humans will become part of the landscape. We as individuals are merely blinks in the eye of time. We are transient but our attitudes and actions have repercussions and will carry on – we need to ensure that we make the right ones for humanity’s future. This I have tried to describe by bringing the two outlines together with stripes of colour, loosely relating to earth, sea and sky. No one human being is all omnipotent – hence the amalgamation to reduce their self-perceived power, the natural world will overcome its challenges, if given the opportunity.

The final image is to represent the earth’s warming, the melting ice caps, rising sea levels and the decimation that may ensue if we allow it, such as encroaching deserts and then little by little, in the loss of our familiar flora and fauna and so on…

Reflection

Overall I have enjoyed this particular section of the course. I feel it has allowed me the freedom to experiment with many types of materials and techniques without being overly process driven. This, now I read it back, seems contradictory as I have begun to develop my own process. I have acknowledged the need for organisation and structure to produce better quality and clean print productions. However, what I think has happened is that I am now doing this more naturally and everything feels less forced.

Measures against criteria:

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills – I have become less concerned about the lack of specific materials in my location and have begun to see this as a way to think differently and be more creative in how I achieve outcomes. I am more patient, and in particular in Project 12, by expanding the brief and creating different images, I have been able to organise the stages of work and maintain productivity ie performing a process on one image whilst another dries etc. The sketchbook work has also allowed me to improve my design and composition, by visualising images and simplifying them for printing.

Quality of Outcome – allowing myself time  to experiment with technique and material options, to work through ideas and visualisation and very importantly, to change my mind as a result, I feel I am closer to realising my ideas when I commit to the final work.  In these projects, I have had less mishaps with the actual printing and the results have been cleaner and sharper than in those previous.

Demonstration of Creativity – previously, I always felt that my skills were very representational ie drawing from observation etc, and my real shortcoming was when asked to use my imagination and create from scratch. I now feel that once I have my subject, I am brimming with ideas to illustrate its concept. As for the subject itself, combined with finding my personal voice, I’ve discovered that as long as I have a passion for that subject, I can drill down into it and find a “hook” to work with. From being able to draw fairly well, I now feel I can actually be creative from within myself. The more I do this the more confident I become.

Context – I realised some while ago during this learning process, that I am naturally a reflective person, I am also very self-critical – particularly negatively. This has good and bad connotations, although I am learning to turn that criticism into a more objective trait, particularly with making choices about ideas to take forward and selecting my work. I still enjoy the research aspect and have learnt to filter out what I need and want from it rather than become swamped in data. I try to keep my learning log succinct and easy to navigate, not least for myself to refer back to past projects.

Going forward, I feel more in control of my own outcomes, not least in having learnt to let go of the control and let things evolve. I like the elements of contradiction and experimentation that have emerged from these projects.

 

Project 12: Collatype Collage Prints

Project 12: Collatype Collage Prints

09/05-20/06/17

For this project you will be working towards a series of representational images.

Over the time my previous assignment was in transit and with my tutor for feedback, I began thinking about what subject I would like to tackle for this project. Many things were in the news at the time not least the effects of climate change and the continual, nonsensical 140 character ramblings of the new president of America.  This one particular morning, the two collided once again, and the short-sighted lust for dollars over having a sustainable planet for the future of humankind hit the headlines. I had my subject.

I had an initial image in my head of a corporate “suit” lugging a sack of coal (much like the coal men of my rural youth – who used to deliver to our house every month), through a devastated landscape. The value of the coal far outweighing the value of his surroundings in his perception.

This is how I began to thrash out my ideas in my sketchbook. I explored variations on this theme, morphing the dollar sign, using little, round, suited businessmen, adding text etc and kept coming back to this one man who has the audacity to abuse his dubiously acquired power.  It became clear that one image would not sufficiently describe where I was heading. I had a rough vision of the decimated landscape, however, I had to bring “him” in to it too! I started researching and put out a Google search for “smug images of Donald Trump” and was presented with several pages full! As in the public domain, and as my final choice as source material did not have a photographer noted, I am unable to give him or her acknowledgement. I made a few sketches and realised that I needed to simplify the image considerably to have a chance of making it work as a collatype block. See sketchbook pages below:

Developing an idea for Project 12 Collatype print in sketchbook

Developing an idea for Project 12 Collatype print in sketchbook

Further development and notes for climate change image

Further development and notes for climate change image

The decision to create a series of three images to describe my theme - thumbnails and notes

The decision to create a series of three images to describe my theme – thumbnails and notes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work on the simplification of the image and how to create the print blocks

Work on the simplification of the image and how to create the print blocks

How to create the blocks for my images and scale up to 24x32cm size

How to create the blocks for my images and scale up to 24x32cm size

For the second image - how the layers would look with portrait beneath the landscape

For the second image – how the layers would look with portrait beneath the landscape

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once I had the thumbnails finalised for my three images and had squared them up, I then had to enlarge the scale of each to 24x32cm ie four times the size of the thumbnails. Enlarging the images to this size on paper made it easier to see them in a simplified way and to consider the collage materials that may work from which to print.

The images were then traced and transferred to the same sized card with which I could make each print block. Once these were ready, I then returned to my sketchbook to explore the collage materials that would create the shapes, layers, textures and tones required. From working through each image in my sketchbook, I decided to have texture and tone evident in both the first (portrait) and third (landscape) print block, and due to the two layers, chose to use varying line thicknesses to create a cleaner effect in block 2. Using the test block created in Project 11 to guide my choices, I stuck my selections in my sketchbook. I was initially going to create a page per block, but I seemed to gain sufficient knowledge for each and could use similar materials for all of them, although I kept to different thread and strings for number 2. Once the collage of each block was complete, I fixed the reversed tracings on the wall, along with a pencil rubbing of the portrait as this was the trickiest to visualise. See below:

Enlarged drawing of image 1 - portrait

Enlarged drawing of image 1 – portrait

Enlarged drawing of image 2 - landscape layered over portrait

Enlarged drawing of image 2 – landscape layered over portrait

Enlarged drawing of image 3 - landscape of climate change

Enlarged drawing of image 3 – landscape of climate change

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exploring collage materials in sketchbook

Exploring collage materials in sketchbook

Pencil rubbing of collage materials that may be used

Pencil rubbing of collage materials that may be used

All three print blocks completed with collage

All three print blocks completed with collage

 

 

 

 

 

Print block 1 - Portrait with collage applied

Print block 1 – Portrait with collage applied

Print block 2 - Landscape layered over Portrait with collage applied

Print block 2 – Landscape layered over Portrait with collage applied

Print block 3 - Landscape of Climate Change with collage applied

Print block 3 – Landscape of Climate Change with collage applied

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reversed transfer tracings fixed to wall for reference

Reversed transfer tracings fixed to wall for reference

Reversed transfer tracings fixed to wall and sketchbook for reference

Reversed transfer tracings fixed to wall and sketchbook for reference

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the print blocks were complete, I set about researching inking techniques to achieve the images I envisaged. I took my time here as I suspected this would be almost the most crucial element for success. The books I looked through are as below, along with my thoughts prior to printing my images:

Printmaking Handbook – Collagraphs and Mixed Media Printing by Brenda Harthill and Richard Clarke 
ISBN 978-0-7136-6396-9

I was interested in the blind printing or embossing techniques as one layer of print. This would add a 3D effect that may help delineate shapes – particularly for the portrait and combined images.

It was also noted how weak colour can enhance a sculptural effect. Some of these ideas can be tried out using newsprint first, although, I would imagine that thicker paper may be more successful for blind printing. In particular, for the third image in the series – the environment post climate change – would benefit from the rubbing of weak ink into the blocks – using blues/greens/grey-blacks for atmosphere and texture combinations.

Learning Linocut by Susan Yeates ISBN 978-0-7552-1330-6

Referencing particularly the inking techniques and tips on page 73 onwards.

Rainbow rolling – alluded to in the course materials also. this may be an additional method to add interest to the combined image (block 2). Considering using “blind printing” then overlaying with rainbow rolling. Other tips were dabbing much smaller areas with a cotton bud – also with homemade dabbers or scrim/muslin pads.

Results of experiments:

I experimented quickly with newsprint, taking a blind print of each block. They rendered unremarkable results, probably due to the thin paper which creased very easily. Using a swatch of the print paper I intended to use for two of the prints, one dry and one damp, I obtained better results. The best being with the dampened paper. Although I am not convinced that it will add anything to these particular images. Using the cartridge paper – the dry paper was nondescript, however, the dampened cartridge was much more successful, shower finer embossed details.

I had intended to use smooth, ivory Somerset printing paper for the middle image which will effectively be linear rather than tonal as it overlays two images. My thinking being  that the paper would add another element to the print. It also appears less processed and bleached – giving the impression of being environmentally friendly – as I have limited choice and I have never made my own paper before – it would have been nice to use recycled paper I made myself, maybe another time. For the other two more textured and tonal prints, I intend to use the cartridge paper which performed well in the experimental blind prints.

Inking of Blocks

I prepared my ink plate taking into consideration what I had learnt and researched, taking each block in order. I prepared trial swatches of colour mixes for each and kept them available for reference for each inking of the blocks. See photos below:

Swatches of blind print experiments with different papers

Swatches of blind print experiments with different papers

Colour palette for the portrait print

Colour palette for the portrait print

Colour palette the linear layered print

Colour palette the linear layered print

 

 

 

 

 

Colour palette the landscape print

Colour palette the landscape print

 

 

 

 

 

All printing paper had been soaked and blotted to achieve a damp surface for printing.

The specification of the colours to use were merely a starting point, and it became obvious that using a roller to apply the ink for both the portrait and the landscape were not an option. Instead, homemade ink dabbers, pieces of rag/muslin and cotton buds were used for adding and wiping away ink to help achieve depth, translucency and tone as required. Coincidentally, four prints were taken from each block, each of which were scrutinised and analysed to adjust the inking for the subsequent prints. It was noted, especially after the experiments with blind printing, just how much pressure was needed in specific areas to achieve a successful result. The outcome being, a print that was also embossed without a separate blind print. Only once did I re-register a print to add additional ink, that being the portrait (number 4 print I believe), this served to make me realise that doing this was a risk I didn’t want to take.

It was extremely hard work ensuring that the correct pressure was applied to each pull of the print and it did make me wonder if using a press with the softness of a “blanket” combined with a mechanical pressure would have been physically “easier” and more controllable. However, I did feel very connected to each result with the effort I had put into it.

Below are photographs of each print per block with associated self critique and notes taken at the time.

Portrait Image:

Portrait image - print 1

Print 1 – Improvements : work dark to light, hair needs more dark for depth, shadows more brown/black, top lip should be darker than bottom, more orange on the ear, more dark above collar and under eyebrows

Print 2 - Improvements: More yellow on hair and eyebrows, more orange on edge of face, ensure ink is pressed into lines, more dark on gauze around eyes, darken top lip, leave middle of lower lip white

Print 2 – Improvements: More yellow on hair and eyebrows, more orange on edge of face, ensure ink is pressed into lines, more dark on gauze around eyes, darken top lip, leave middle of lower lip white

Print 3 - Improvements: Need to balance the yellow of hair and brows with dark, some definition lost along with the smug expression, needs more pressure on printing

Print 3 – Improvements: Need to balance the yellow of hair and brows with dark, some definition lost along with the smug expression, needs more pressure on printing

Print 4 - Improvements: Expression and definition still allusive, second layer of printing had unsuccessful re-registration

Print 4 – Improvements: Expression and definition still allusive, second layer of printing had unsuccessful re-registration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Combined Image:.

Print 1 - Improvements: Felt the stripes of colour did not help to define the image, does it bring the two layers together too much? Consider using the mid blue for the portrait and the purple black for the landscape

Print 1 – Improvements: Felt the stripes of colour did not help to define the image, does it bring the two layers together too much? Consider using the mid blue for the portrait and the purple-black for the landscape

Print 2 - Improvements: not sure if this is saying what I want. It works ok but I feel it separates the images too much

Print 2 – Improvements: not sure if this is saying what I want. It works OK but I feel it separates the images too much

Print 3 - Improvements: using one dark colour, brings the images together but the registration has slipped blurring the lines, print again with more care

Print 3 – Improvements: using one dark colour, brings the images together but the registration has slipped blurring the lines, print again with more care

Print 4 - Improvements: All one dark colour, happy with print but need to decide which version works best for my intended series.

Print 4 – Improvements: All one dark colour, happy with print but need to decide which version works best for my intended series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Climate Change Landscape:

Print 1 - Improvements: Happy with colours, more dark over the cloud texture, more consistent pressure when printing, ice caps need more ice blue as the texture describes the shapes, sea needs to a distinct colour from the foreground, trees need more solidity and definition to their edges - simplify, define with consistent pressure

Print 1 – Improvements: Happy with colours, more dark over the cloud texture, more consistent pressure when printing, ice caps need more ice blue as the texture describes the shapes, sea needs to a distinct colour from the foreground, trees need more solidity and definition to their edges – simplify, define with consistent pressure

Print 2 - Improvements: compared to print 1, the background is too dark, make paler and graduate dark down to foreground, here icecaps are more successful for being simpler, dark water line works in both, distant water is too dark and should mirror the sky, the foreground needs even more colour contrast to water

Print 2 – Improvements: compared to print 1, the background is too dark, make paler and graduate dark down to foreground, here icecaps are more successful for being simpler, dark water line works in both, distant water is too dark and should mirror the sky, the foreground needs even more colour contrast to water

Print 3 - Improvements: Very close, more solidity on the tree trunks achieved now need more in the foreground, try to obtain more variation in the sea colour/tone and definition around the ice caps again as in print 2

Print 3 – Improvements: Very close, more solidity on the tree trunks achieved now need more in the foreground, try to obtain more variation in the sea colour/tone and definition around the ice caps again as in print 2

Print 4 - I think I have achieved the best I can although the right hand tree is a little less defined, this does, however, give it a more rotted appearance

Print 4 – I think I have achieved the best I can although the right hand tree is a little less defined, this does, however, give it a more rotted appearance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, from these twelve prints I must choose the best from each set to complete my series of three. After completing all of these, they were hung on their drying line so that I could view them from a distance as a group. My choices will be explained and shown within my critical statement for Assignment 4.

 

Project 11: Making a Test Collage Block

Project 11: Making a Test Collage Block

19-26/04/17

To make your test collage block  you will be using a different material in each of the 16 sections you have marked out. 

My first challenge was to source PVA glue on the island – from the blank faces it was evident that this does not exist here. Luckily, during my abstract classes, we create collages as “sketchbook” work and we use a rough equivalent called Alkyd Sellador which is sold in DIY shops here. It is an acrylic sealant for walls etc but can be used neat as a glue or diluted and tinted as a glaze etc. It pretty much smells like PVA and is perfect for my purpose.

I have already collected many bits and bobs for collage although, I haven’t used many in anger as yet. I also noted that items such as pins and nails had been used in the course book example so went on the hunt for more everyday items to include.

Using a piece of mount board, (the natural wastage of the aperture centre from mounting paintings) as my block, I marked out 16 sections and covered it with Sellador. To make the sections obvious I placed strips of string to demarcate the borders. The items I decided to use as my textures were:

  1. Double stripped fabric trim
  2. Textured knitting yarn
  3. Wide gauge embroidery mesh
  4. Gauze bandage
  5. Ribbon
  6. Bubble wrap
  7. Netting from supermarket fruit
  8. Torn handmade paper with frayed edges
  9. Random buttons
  10. Dress making pins
  11. Strips of dried spaghetti
  12. Porridge oats
  13. Long grain rice
  14. Florists’ Winter Fauna
  15. Gardeners’ potting grit
  16. Broken egg shells

Once these were stuck down in the sections, I applied two coats of sealant (diluted Sellador) and left it to thoroughly dry.

I used heavy weight, hot pressed water-colour paper, torn to size, soaked and blotted as my print paper. Having already decided to try both relief and intaglio type printing from researching contemporary printmakers such as Ruth Barrett-Danes, I made two prints of each kind in both monotone and multi colour ways.

 

The first set of four prints, were taken with black oil based ink (Sakura Oil Printing Colour), two as a relief print and the other two with the block inked all over and wiping off most of the ink from raised collage.

 

The second set of prints was taken after cleaning off the most of the black ink, letting the remainder dry and then resealing. These prints were multi-coloured. The first was mainly different colours on each section with a couple having a mixture and was a combination of relief and intaglio. With the second, I reused the same block and ink but tried to unify the entire block by dabbing a dark blue wavy line of ink across all sections. The third print, again reused the previous inking with an additional lighter blue, but unfortunately, the paper moved during printing and a “double vision” effect occurred. With the fourth print, most of the previous ink was wiped off and then stripes of different colours were dabbed horizontally across the entire block to again unify the sections and return to a relief type print.

 

With the use of the same test block, many different looking prints have been produced by rollering, wiping, dab printing and using black and coloured inks in different ways. This has been a fun and informative exercise for future projects.  The hardest part for me, was having the patience to wait between layers of sealant and glue to dry but this was rewarded by the results. I am looking forward to more experimentation and applying what I have learnt to finished piece of work.

When it comes to submitting my assignment, I think I would choose the following two prints to put forward – at the moment!

The print where the block has a deeper covering of ink with it wiped off from the collage items appears to have more tone and depth and, to me, is more solid.

Second attempt at intaglio printing with the test block thoroughly inked and wiped - sharper print

Second attempt at intaglio printing with the test block thoroughly inked and wiped – sharper print

 

The coloured print, where each section is separated, is cleaner and has a mixture of relief and wiped methods, therefore, I think it shows more of the versatility of the process. It was a tough decision though, as I did like the attempts at unifying the sections with colour too.

Mix of relief and intaglio printing in multi colours from test block

Mix of relief and intaglio printing in multi colours from test block

 

Research Point: Collagraphs/Collatypes

18/04/17

Research Point: Collagraphs/Collatypes

Before you embark on this interesting project, take look at what others have achieved using a relief collage as a starting point. Trawl through some examples of collagraphs/collatypes (same thing) online, pick out some favourites and write about them in your learning log.

As I have very limited knowledge of the technique and process of collagraphs, I decided to research some artists first and then move to their work. This way I have learnt how they created their images as well as just viewing them.

Stefan Barton http://www.collagraphs.com/

Stefan is a German artist who now resides in the USA.

From his website, I am intrigued by the “other worldly” appearance he has achieved in many of his prints. the layers of colour and the textures are mesmerising. They make me think of Dr Who type science fiction sets. I like the way different prints from the same block each have their own identity depending on the colours used and the way some are more defined than others because of the colours. I can see how both relief and intaglio techniques have been brought together in one print.

Sue Brown http://suebrownprintmaker.blogspot.com.es/p/gallery_31.html

Looking through Sue’s blog and website, she produces totally different images of birds and animals but retains texture and painterly effect for the backgrounds. The main subjects themselves though, have a clarity and detail that is impressive. She also prints successfully on fabric to make many items including cushions and lampshades, demonstrating the versatility of print.

Tessa Horrocks http://www.tessahorrocks.com/Print_pages/mr_frog.html

Again, like Sue, the themes seem to reflect around the natural world. From clean, precise studies of pebbles in differing colourways to micro-organism influenced images. I personally prefer the more monochrome, textured and tonal abstract prints. there is more depth to them and they stand many repeat viewings. I find they are more emotive and pleasing to me eg Little Worlds, and the And Breathe series.

On the whole, I am beginning to move to preferring the more abstract images, rather than those that are purely representational as the textures, shapes and reproduction techniques lend themselves well to being more obscure. This may well be also because of the abstract painting lessons I have been attending over the last few weeks, in that I am seeing things differently and feeling more connection to a piece of work that I like.

Life Classes – 14 December 2016 to 7 March 2017

Life Classes

14/12/16 17.00-19.00

The challenge this week was two models, one male and one female. This gave us an opportunity to explore the differences between muscular and angular and rounded and soft with various media and mark making. Our male model was tall and slim, not unlike Egon Schiele, so I tried to use definite line with felt tip pen in our short poses to achieve strong shapes and almost branch-like limbs.
On the other hand, our female model was voluptuous and curvy, so I changed to the softer medium of conte stick and used more sweeping marks to define her.
Drawing the two models together illustrated the differences even with using the same medium. In the final long pose of 20 minutes, I could use John’s back as the background for more of a portrait of our female model which worked well from the viewpoint I had.

 

20 minute pose - black conte stick on paper

20 minute pose – black conte stick on paper

 

10/01/17 17.00-19.00

This week we had a treat of longer poses to enable us to work into our drawings more. As we have our classes in the sculpture studio, there were several half-finished or rejected cast figures lying around. For the 25 minute pose, our model John was positioned with a child figure, which although incomplete, made quite a touching image. We had to decide whether to make the figure look real or as it was, made of plaster. Although, this was not my intention as such, the boy looks fairly real and had the same treatment as John.

The 40 minute pose was really interesting as, again, a cast figure was included. It was of a woman, about to dive into the sea, however, when laid down on its side looked as if it was reclining. John then draped himself over the figure and as the light was fading, a lamp was shone on them to offer more highlights. For this one, I decided to use brown paper as a mid tone and black conte and white chalk for the darks and lights.

 

40 minute pose black conte stick and white chalk on brown paper

40 minute pose black conte stick and white chalk on brown paper

17/01/17 17.00-19.00

We had a female model this week, Sally was six months pregnant, so a lovely subject to draw. To avoid her having to pose in different positions, this week, the model stayed still and the students moved around her. We found our starting viewpoint and then sketched for 30 seconds and moved on to another view. This really got us warmed up and then we were able to make informed decisions where to stand for the longer poses. Moving up to the three-minute drawings we made more choices of view to decide our 10 minutes posed drawing, up to 15 minutes.

 

15 minute drawing - conte on paper

15 minute drawing – conte on paper

31/01/17 17.00-19.00

We had a new model this week, Reuben. He was able to achieve some quite dynamic shapes for a while, so we could explore more expressive poses. We had the traditional short warm ups and then a couple of longer ones at 15 and 20 minutes.

 

20 minute pose - charcoal, white chalk and putty rubber on charcoal tinted paper

20 minute pose – charcoal, white chalk and putty rubber on charcoal tinted paper

 

07/02/17 17.00-19.00

This week we had Reuben again. Always using our studio location to our advantage, some large geometric shaped pieces of hard board that were lying around made interesting props for our model to use.

The combination of dynamic poses and the geometric shapes made some fantastic short sketches possible. I mostly used black conte on paper but switched to sepia ink on water-colour paper after the break. Although, fun to use, these were not so successful, however, I enjoy trying different media and pushing myself. My favourites of this week were the 1 minute poses.

15 minute pose - sepia ink on watercolour paper

15 minute pose – sepia ink on watercolour paper

21/02/17 17.00-19.00

This week, inspired by the BBC Big Painting Challenge program, we were presented with long bamboo sticks and easels. These were limited in number so we took it in turns to use them, some more cheerfully than others, I have to say. Sticking with charcoal on paper until my turn, then switching to some jumbo, really black charcoal just before to get the feel of it. Once this was taped to the end of the bamboo stick, which was around 2 feet long, it was quite unwieldy to apply it to the paper. However, once I got the measure of distance and pressure, it was good fun and very expressive to use. It also gave me the chance to see both the model, Caroline, and paper at the same time without moving my head. I think this helped with proportions as they were directly comparable. Because of this, I used the stick to map out my composition for the long pose even though I switched to soft pastel to add colour.

25 minute pose - soft pastel on green pastel paper

25 minute pose – soft pastel on green pastel paper

 

28/02/17 17.00-19.00

Our treat this week was one long pose in whatever media we wanted to use. I broke out the oil paints and canvas in anticipation. Of course, we weren’t going to get away with it that easily, another BBC Big Painting Challenge exercise awaiting us first. On scraps of paper with ink and a big brush, we were to follow the rule of looking for 90 seconds and painting for 30. We had a few runs at this and it loosened us up for the long pose, I have no pictures of these as they were left behind. I made a couple of sketches to work out my composition before painting having previously coloured my 24×30″ canvas with a mix of burnt sienna, ultra marine blue and white acrylic to have a neutral ground both in tone and temperature on which to work.

A few reworks at the beginning to get the lean of the pose and positioning and then I was away. However, due to not being to get too far back from the canvas I noted that the proportions were slightly askew when the session came to its end. At home, I made adjustments with charcoal when the bent leg was too long, the forward foot a little misshapen and the head too large,  The head, I realised, because of the carnival mask the model was wearing, had been elongated from the forehead to its top and can be fairly easily rectified. The photo below shows the charcoal reworking and once adjusted in paint will be photographed and posted.

 

07/03/17 17.00-19.00

Our model this week was John. Our main projects were to be a 20 minute portrait and a 40 minute standing pose where John would be hanging on to a wire cable from the ceiling. First of course, a warm up exercise! Using whetted paper, a large brush and diluted ink, we were to paint a series of poses on one sheet. These were quick 1 minute poses where the main lines and gestures should be recorded. It was interesting to see the ink disperse on the wet paper, along with the colours that appeared at the fuzzy edges of the marks, in my case a blue/purple and yellow.

For the portrait I used soft pastels and a buff tinted pastel paper and for the standing pose, soft pastels and a aqua/green tinted paper. Initially, for the portrait, we tried a quick ink sketch in the same method as the warm-up, which was really effective and denoting light and dark areas of the composition.

20 minute portrait - soft pastel on buff tinted pastel paper

20 minute portrait – soft pastel on buff tinted pastel paper

40 minute pose hanging on to cable suspended from the ceiling - soft pastel on aqua/green paper

40 minute pose hanging on to cable suspended from the ceiling – soft pastel on aqua/green paper