Monday, May 21, 2012

Mellow yellow

The oil seed rape made an overwhelmingly yellow landscape as I drove over the Lambourn Downs the other day.  The snaps were taken from the car.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Auction and experiment

I've sent off my square for the SAQA Benefit Auction - Just dancin'.  It is part of a design which derived from the envelope in which my Surface Design magazine used to come.  It used to be covered - yes, covered in bright stamps from Hong Kong, direct from the printer.  The design shows how I felt when such envelopes arrived.
Meanwhile I am juggling blocks of time and mind between printmaking and stitching.  The areas are further broadened by my initial small researches into the world of tapestry weaving.  I have just read a beautiful book published by the excellent Black Dog (I have recently read The mechanical hand, a printmaking title)- Tapestry: a woven narrative. (I was delighted to find a splendid offer for the book in the current issue of Embroidery magazine.) This is another area of textiles I've been interested in for some years, and now I have the time to explore.  But I shall be spending more time stitching during the day as the tennis season is in full flow - no need to feel guilty while watching tv in daytime!
In printmaking I have been devoting this half term at least to exploring more painterly ways of creating marks.  The above image is another early example with blocks of Liquitex sand medium on one perspex sheet, and a drypoint line on another plate with chine colle using printed tissue paper from Paperchase.
I have also been mixing carborundum grains with PVA and with Liquitex heavy body in four alternative mixes, and have painted each mix onto perspex.  I shall print those perspex plates tomorrow, and will let you see the results next week.  Nothing is instant in printmaking!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

More printmaking experiments

I have no idea if anything will come of what I'm doing, but I am certainly enjoying the journey.  Here is an image of one of the polyester litho prints I was talking about in the last post.
What is occupying me at present is the technique of carborundum printing.  I have been trying to find out as much as possible on the Internet about this technique.  I love the effect, and have so often been attracted to images which are described as carborundum prints, or using carborundum.
Before using carborundum itself, I have started by using material I already have: a Liquitex medium mixed with sand painted onto acrylic to make a plate.  Well, one plate, and also another drypoint plate to combine line with the texture.  Below is an example of the first quick plate,

and a close-up to show some of the kind of texture I'm beginning to explore.
What is interesting, and perhaps worrying, is that each time I clean the plate, some of the medium comes off.  This makes the subsequent print more textural and less dense, but eventually the plate will be ruined.  All part of the experiments, of course.
I was initially inspired by the wondrous effects Howard Hodgkin achieves in his prints.  (Click on What are Prints in this link to read a bit more.)  Another artist whose work I admire in this field is Henrietta Corbett.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Grids, ... well, loosely

For some time now the idea of working with grids has been floating around in my mind.  One could say that as I work with the quilt form, that would in some senses be inevitable, I suppose.  I very much respond to the juxtaposition of the formal with the informal - such as seeing a lush planting of a loose, 'unruly' plant spilling out of a neat border of box hedging.
Dry stone walls appeal to me in the same sort of way.  I like the way that they fall down too.
This one was outside the boathouse where we were staying on Skye, and had once gone right down to the loch at the left, but was now falling down gradually. On our way cross country as we came homewards we saw some beautiful new drystone walls which had neat sticking out lines - two: one towards the top, and one towards the bottom.  (Please forgive the lack of technical terms.  I am totally ignorant about the subject, and have not yet been able to track down anything similar on the Internet.  I did find this website, however, which is full of interesting information.)
As luck turned out there is an exhibition of Sean Scully paintings on at mima which I wanted to cross the country to see.  (At this point we were at a narrow part of England, and could cross with no great trouble, and still be -sort of- on the way home. And on our way across we saw the walls mentioned above.)
Although Sean Scully is also interested in dry stone walls, his work, and these paintings on display are of a tightly disciplined griddy nature.  These are not anything I would strive to achieve, but I love them, and what really makes them beautiful for me is the use of colour.
I found it to be an excellent exhibition, which not only attracted me, but reinforced my thinking about the countryside I had been looking at for the past week or so.  Scully has said that “People tend to think of abstraction and abstract. But nothing is abstract: it’s a self-portrait. A portrait of one’s condition” in describing his work. This has loosened up my thinking about how to relax about using elements of what I see and what I feel without having to reproduce the source of those elements.  This is probably obvious, but I have found it difficult to realise within my creative practice.
Printmaking has been very helpful to me, even in my clumsy elementary forays into the craft.   Another great input during this holiday has been my finding a great book (yes, I bought yet another book!): Wildlife in printmaking.  The quality of the printmakers is wondrous, the reproductions look superb, and the printmakers very generously describe their techniques.
So this holiday has been a supremely stimulating time, and I am happy to say that my first day back in the print studio today was a gloriously productive one.  I am taking further the loose gridmaking approach which I used with the monotypes I made in the final session of last term - using a roller laying of of ink, vertically and horizontally on a polyester litho plate which has a figurative, and non-grid image.
I can't show you how the prints look as they are now drying on the rack.  My purpose is not to keep them as prints, but to use them as elements in the design of a large piece of textile work.