Monday, 30 May 2011

Next colour for the Heron.

Back to the studio to face the first layer with the new inks that furred up the surface of my Hodomura paper.

Decided the new ink was just too much of an unknown quantity to continue with after the first layer was just so awkward. ~went back to my tried and tested Graphic Chemical water based inks for the next colour.

Here I have rolled out the graduation for the next layer..

The ink seemed to go over the top okay and the colour/tone mix works quite well, I was particularly pleased with the feel of the heron flying low over the lake. it has a nice look of space around it, like it really is floating through the air in that languid way that herons fly.

Gave me the enthusiasm to carry on. Cutting detail out of the mountain, Tryfan, and cross hatching the clouds to break up their tone.

Then to the black:

Print turned out okay but had a lot of problems with this print, even once I had swapped back to my original inks. I shall just copy in the comments from my notebook made during printing;

"Over printing the Graphic CVhemical (GC) needed to be much darker than expected to cover (The Schmincke) realised the inks absorb differently. Looks like the GC is beinbg absorbed through the Schmincke (S) resulting in a ridge as the compression of printing pushes the second layer of inbk through the first.

Black ink, GC, not going on very well. Almost impossible to get the dark saturated colour I use the black for. Some signs of paper damage also. is it because it is going over the original layer of S? Or has the S ink damaged the surface of the paper?

None of the colours have been particularly flat or saturated.

Almost over inking the block to get sufficient coverage, but then almost pulling the paper surface off when pull the print.  Have to pull the paper incredibly slowly and gingerly to avoid damage"

Same inks I always use, same rollers and same paper. Except it is a brand new batch. Slightly different Hodomura paper causing the problem? Starting to get paranoid and obsessively stroking the surface of the paper to feel if it has a different texture to previous Hodomura.

Tune in next time to read the thrilling solution to the mystery of "When prints go bad"

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

More lakes - With Heron!

I have already done a picture of Llyn Idwal, the one with the curse that prevented any bird flying across its dark waters and the heron that was oblivious to that curse. However the previous image was a woodcut and I wanted to have another go at that scene with lino but not do a straight repeat. Luckily I had another view of Llyn Idwal from a slightly different angle as I followed the Heron across the lake in my sketches.

Again wasn't really sure where I was going with this so did a bit more colouring in of the tracing to get more of a feel for the contrast, chiaroscuro etc..

From this colouring I realised it was important to keep the depth of view between the foreground rock, lake, the moraine at the head of the lake, and looming above Tryfan. So the rock had to be pale and the mass of Tryfan quite dark but with some detailing. I really couldn't decide what colour to do the lake so left it blank to be 'filled in later'. But then sitting across the studio and staring at the drawing for a while (Important part of an artists practice, staring) it came to me that it needed to be very pale and flat. 

For this print I decided to experiment with a new set of inks I had bought as I was unable to get hold of a yellow in the inks I currently use. Problems at the manufacturing end apparently and as all these water soluble inks are not cross compatible I had to buy a complete new set in which included a yellow. I went for a Schmincke set of inks as the colours looked good and another very fine linocut artist I know call Robert Gilmor uses them, with stunning results.

Their consistency is much more liquid and thinner than my previous inks and it seemed harder to get a good graduated mix without it almost seeming too runny and the roller skidding over the ink. Once on the block that thinness meant the ink didn't seem to cover very well. Almost as if was drying as I applied it. The first print seemed okay until I tried to peel the paper of the block, where it felt as if the ink had dried as I was printing and the paper was almost stuck to the lino! It took very careful peeling to remove the paper without leaving half of it behind.

 Too much pressure? not enough ink? too much white ink? I kept going but had to re-mix more ink for each image, so seemed to be using a lot more than usual but then it looked as if there was not enough ink on the paper once I had printed. The colour, what there was of it, was really nice on the paper, it held a very accurate edge on even the finest cutting but just seemed too thin. Oh and of course nearly took the paper apart getting it off. Wrong paper?

Looks okay though. Some nice elements where the ink is so thin it shows the baren marks, which I always like. Bit dispirited by the whole thing really so I left it at that and went home...

Most excellent exhibition

I was lucky enough to have received an invitation to the Clive Hicks-Jenkins retrospective which opened at the National Library of Wales last Saturday, the 7th, and it was fantastic. Such a wide breadth of expressive, contemplative, beautiful paintings. They were introduced as if the gallery had become a church and indeed while being completely modern the paintings felt as if they belonged on a medieval alter.

Have a look at Clive's website and if you are within a 100 miles of Aberystwyth and the National Library and you get the chance do visit.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Back to the Llynoedd (Lakes)

I was very pleased with this sketch from the shore of Llyn Ogwen ( The image above is the A2 tracing done from the original drawing). It is my first A3 sized sketch rather than the more usual A4 and done with a drawing felt pen rather than my usual pencil. After drawing the scene in my normal A5 sketchbook it looked cramped and squished in. So I drew it again in my bigger sketchbook I had taken along for just such an eventuality. The landscape around the foothills of Snowdon being so expansive.

However once ready to print I realised that I didn't really know where I was going with it. Being determined to 'do something special' can be quite inhibiting. There was a vague feeling that I wanted to do something to follow on from and develop further the previous A4 two colour wave prints. But how?

To make matters worse I had decided to experiment with a completely new non Japanese paper. No pressure than. 

The paper is BFK Rives which is a lovely strong, bright white, four deckled edges paper but with a slightly rough surface. After printing the first print of the first colour I realised the surface was just a bit to rough to get a good smooth take up of ink printing by hand. So I turned it over and printed on the back. Has a slight laid pattern on the reverse which does add to the print.

It was only when I coloured in the tracing, and was quite strict in keeping to only two colours and black that I started to get somewhere. It also had to be quite bold colours, almost a pure yellow/ yellow ochre and a strong slate blue!

I also wanted to keep it as rough and loose as the original sketch with very strong cutting and patterns so kept more to the original drawing. Without the usual additional colours to help distinguish different areas in this print I decided to use more expressive cutting and really enjoyed getting a bit carried away. I also haven't used black for the final colour for a while now, finding it too heavy and dark against the lighter palette of colours I have been using. In this instance though it had to be black to get the most out of the contrast and the hopefully expressive cutting.

The paper worked very well and has taken the colour and the most delicate lines well. There is a slight misting or graininess to the black where it is not the completely saturated colour you expect. That may be down to the paper simply being a bit to thick to hand print, or to the plate getting a bit greasy while cutting because the intricacy of the drawing results in more chinagraph pencil being on the lino. As you cut the wax of the chinagraph line is rubbed across the plate creating a slight resist to the water based inks?
Very happy with the print and the overlay of colour, pattern and cutting. Just not sure how it fits in with the other prints. Next: