Wednesday, 24 October 2012

D.Day 19 Green Ants and Mangrove

Friday 19th

Day before yesterday on the walk from the bus stop to Djumbunji I saw the Mangrove trees in the lake by the side of the road. Quick sketch then and I realised this morning, looking though my sketchbook, I had the next part of the Three Ibis puzzle.

Mangrove drawn and cut, water patterned, small turtle I had sketched out the night before dropped. I'm on fire, now what?

Smaller version of the mangrove pattern to represent the grass bank the Ibis are standing in. Just need something to finish it off along the bottom.

Everywhere you go outside here are large feisty Green Ants. Every time I'm drawing I'll suddenly notice them running around. So I wanted to have them in this print.

I made a linear pattern of Green ants nose to nose, or antenna to antenna, and abdomen to abdomen. Cut them running along the top of the grass.

Cutting finished, time for a proof print.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

D.Day 16. Granite Gorge.

Tuesday the 9th.

The sketching trip went so well yesterday, apart from the small matter of the bee sting. So thought I would get out to the outback today as a contrast to the tropical jungle.

Drove for an hour or so west to a place called Granite Gorge I had seen on a flyer.

Starts of cute enough, small Wallaby's coming up for food, then a couple of huge boulders over a small creek are quite interesting. Got a couple of good sketches.

Then you wander over another creek, come out of the trees and are suddenly in Star Trek land! Or to those of us a certain age and persuasion, Blakes 7. The bit in any episode when they had to go down to the 'Alien planet' and it always looked a bit like a quarry near Worksop.

Well they should have come here instead. Though with 70's TV budgets probably Worksop was more do-able.

It was an amazing landscape of huge, massive smooth slabs of granite. On top of which were piled vast boulders and pillars of stone. The scale of the water which must flow over these rocks is astounding.

I wandered down the course of the river buried under the stones with sketchbook in hand and didn't draw a thing. The scale was simply to big. Too smooth.

On the return journey the track takes you out of the gorge and into the bush.

This was more like it. The temp rose a couple of degrees into the upper thirties and the landscape became old and dry and intimidating. Huge erratic boulders lurked amongst the spindly burnt trees. Everywhere I looked I could see a picture and, thanks to both Elizabeth and Brian's obsession, a lot of the big boulders seemed to suggest human skulls.

Got a lot of photo's and a lot of sketches before the heat started getting to me. Back in the nice air conditioned car for the drive back to Cairns.

Oh did I mention the Wallaby's?

Monday, 15 October 2012

D.Day 15 Crystal Cascades.

Monday the 8th.

Brain a bit full now of patterns, concepts and artness. Need to get out and stretch my legs and my drawing muscles to get some primary research.
I.e go for a walk and draw stuff. 14 km west of Cairns into the hills are the Crystal Cascades. A series of small, in the dry season, waterfalls linking swimming holes I have visited with the kids.

They are great. Huge boulders tumbled around small deep pools. Waterfalls rushing over dark rocks against a rainforest backdrop.

As usual the best place to sketch tended to be perched precariously on a rock or knee deep in the middle of the creek.
Managed nearly ten good sketches in a couple of hours.
Though wandering around the bank in bare feet, after wading around, proved a mistake in the rainforest. Got stung by a bee on the foot. Luckily I saw it was a bee and managed to pull the sting out before I started panicking it was something more serious.

Best cure for bee sting. A refreshing swim in a freshwater creek with electric blue Ulysses butterflies floating overhead.

D.Day 20 Djumbunji Workshop

Saturday October 12th.

A full house at Djumbunji press today for a Lino colour reduction workshop.

Was a real luxury to be working in a fully equipped studio with back up. I had help cutting the paper and Lino to size, preparing the tables etc. Well when I say had help I mean I wandered about while other people did all the work getting everything ready for me.

There were 10 people all together and having three sheets of glass to mix on, spare rollers and huge drying racks made a real difference to the flow of the workshop.

As usual there was a great range of work produced and everyone seemed happy with their final print.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

D.Day 18 testing the 'Three Ibis'

Thursday 11th

Spent most of the day cutting the pattern on the Three Ibis.

Once finished the upper part of the picture I did a test print to see how it looked. Interesting and better than the first Stoney Creek picture.

Thanks to Brian's influence I have done the unthinkable. Started cutting out part of the print before I know what I am doing with the rest of the print.

Better start thinking!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

D.Day 12 Finishing the Creek

Wednesday the 3rd.

Just got on with printing up the Creek today. Happy with some bits not so with others areas.

Like my 'foliage pattern' as a starting point. Though it looks a bit too much like actual palm fronds rather than general foliage. Also prefer the two colour pattern rather than the final black.

Water works okay and did have some registration issues as the press actually stretched either the paper or the Lino itself. This meant just the bottom section was out of registration but the rest of the print was fine.

The white stuff on one of the finished prints in the photo's below is talcum powder. Another suggestion of Elizabeth. Sprinkled on sections of the print after inking it prevents the ink in the sprinkled areas printing. So you see the underlying layer. Gives a nice effect but was a bit of an afterthought on this print. Think it will work better if it is planned in from the beginning.

Need to get back down to Stoney Creek get some more drawing done. Elizabeth tells me there are more swimming holes further up the track.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

D.Day 11 A quiet day at the press

Tuesday the 2nd ,

Pretty quiet day at Djumbunji, no one else in, so I'm just getting on with cutting the Stoney Creek to print the next colour.

After a while Billy Missy comes in to have another go at a reduction print. This time I'm going to demonstrate with the first print and Billy will do the rest of the edition himself.

It's a lovely little print of a Torres Strait Pigeon sitting in a fruit bush.

It didn't go completely to plan, registration issues, but still had a lot of character.

I also managed to finish cutting the creek picture so can print that tomorrow.

Friday, 28 September 2012

D.Day 10 Cutting the Creek

Another day chatting with Brian and watching him work. He has such an infectious enthusiasm for his work. Like a child playing he has a constant philosophy of "What happens if I do this, what about this, could I cut this out and..."

It's very educational in that you start thinking along similar lines. What if I did this, why Don't I try that.
My sketchbook is filling up with things to work on when I come back.

Finished cutting the white on Stoney Creek and printed the first colour. It's the biggest print I've done so far, twice the size of any previous print. I got to play with a true whopper of a roller though which cut the printing time down considerably.
Did the first layer a lot darker than usual so we'll see what happens with the second colour.

D.Day 9. Drawing up the Creek

Thursday the 27th. Kacey the Studio Manager finally got control of the wayward computer. This allowed me to scan my Stoney Creek sketch, enlarge and print out the sheets. I then had a pleasant morning chatting with Brian about pattern, identity and sponge bob square pants.
Had some great ideas for the future.

Once Brian left I had the studio to myself to draw up the sketch and work out what I was going to do with it.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

D.Day 6. Waiting for Billy

Monday the 24th. I am supposed to be working with Billy Missy today. He has some ideas for a reduction print he wants to work through with me.

Unfortunately it turns put he is ill so won't be coming in, means I get the day to finish off my 'Ibis of Ideas' before he comes in tomorrow.

I changed my mind while printing the ibis about using the embossing. I just used the colour layers to give some visual depth.

It's what we call a Variable Edition. I.e there is quite a lot of variety in the edition. In some I printed white feathers on the back but the others I did varying strengths of blue or brown, as well as a black and white version.
Spot the difference!

D.Day 8 Finally Billy Missy

Wednesday September 26th After all the waiting I had a day working with the Torres Strait Islander Billy Missy today.

He'd got an image he's had on Lino for a while and as we doing a reduction test print thought he would finally get a use from it.

The idea was that I would teach Billy reduction and then he would be able to do it himself! I think having worked with editioning printmakers like Elizabeth, who do all the printing work, Billy saw me as the guy who printed.

So we chatted about his ideas, I advised, he cut and I mixed colours, inked up and printed.

Together we came up with a lovely little print and I tried out some colours I had been thinking of for my Stoney Creek print.
The first proof, to check the pressure of the press, was printed on the back of an old print of Billy's. The old design slightly showing through the new proof gave me a couple of ideas.

I think he was happy. He's talking about some bigger prints next time.

D.Day 7 Stoney Creek

Tuesday the 25th. I'm expecting Billy again today if he is not ill. Unlike yesterday though I've nothing to do in the studio if I have to wait all day to find out if he is coming in or not. I finished the Ibis yesterday and haven't been out drawing yet. At about 10.00 we phone Billy. He'd forgotten he has a teachers conference today. In tomorrow. I print up the Yarrabah shark for Elizabeth then go to pick up the family for a trip to Stoney Creek swimming holes.
While the kids play in the shallow water I explore up river. It's a hot prehistoric landscape of trickling streams amidst huge boulders.
It's Immediately apparent that in the wet season there must be a really dramatic torrent through here to pile stones this huge into such random collections. I got off a little sketch that has some potential.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

D.Day 3 Yarrabah

Had a really interesting trip up to Yarrabah, an aboriginal community situated on the headland across the bay from Cairns.

Really good drive down the coast south for about half an hour then it's across the bottom of the bay and back up for another half an hour.

Pretty ramshackle area and pretty ramshackle school. We were followed in by a police can. Turned out it was CSI as there had been a break in. Wire cut glass smashed, blood everywhere. All to steal some condoms they give away free anyway.

One child arrived then left. Elizabeth, senior printer at Djumbunji, went and got a teacher who rounded up some more. Four kids arrived and reluctantly wandered in to the classroom. Then wandered out again. Sat down, got up, cut a bit of lino. Elizabeth did very well trying to get them to stay but it was like herding cats.

Thing was when they actual gave us a piece of vinyl to print it was usually something really interesting. As soon as it was printed they lost interest. "do you want to cut some more?"
"You finished"

The picture belongs to one of the school children. We took the vinyl back to Djumbunji to print up on the proper press. Elizabeth was busy so I printed it up this Monday the 24th.

Looks pretty good. The drive back was equally spectacular. Snatched glimpses through the trees of yellow sandy beaches fringed by palm trees. Stripes of turquoise sea. Views across the bay to Cairns. Starting to get a bit if an itch to get out drawing.

Tomorrow, Thursday my first meeting with Brian Robinson.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Djumbunji Day 2.

Got a lift in this morning from Elizabeth the senior printer. I think they were worried I would go walkabout again and wanted to make sure I turned up this time. As I was waiting for Billy Missy to arrive I wanted to start doing something. I had a nice little itty bitty sketch of an Ibis from my Monday morning walk through the Botanical Gardens which face Djumbunji. That will do.

Managed to scan in, enlarge and print out my Ibis while all the Kickarts staff had a meeting discussing the forthcoming budget cuts to the arts. It sounded horribly familiar.

I was surprisingly nervous waiting for Billy to arrive. I felt he wanted me to turn out a perfect exhibition ready print first time with strange inks on a huge press while showing him how to do a reduction print with cross graduation. Probably made worse the anticipation of not knowing exactly when he was arriving. I spent the whole day watching the door and the clock while playing with my Ibis. As it was he didn't show up at all and I had a great idea for the Ibis.

It is a black and white bird which I though would work well as a print. Where the black parts are I'm going to do a bit of a repeat pattern of my own. Based on the thorns running along the edge of palm tree fronds. A bit of a pale blue/brown shadow along the belly and then the white back something special. A little bit of embossing. I'll cut a delicate feather pattern, offset print it onto a zinc plate, stop it out with tar, bite the plate then pass the Lino through the press with the zinc plate in position. It should then emboss the pattern into the paper to give a delicate white on white feathered look to the bird. Exciting.

Billy is coming back on Monday. I think I walk before I can run. We'll do an experimental hand printed picture first before we get onto the big boys prints and the big boy press.

Tomorrow a trip to an Aboriginal community school at Yarrabah for some Lino.

First days at Djumbunji

I've done two days at the Djumbunji print workshop now. The first day I just sat around chatting, getting used to the space and scribbling in my sketchbook trying to look like not just an artist/printmaker of international standing but a busy international artist.

I was a bit late on Monday. Having got dropped of too early to go in to the press I thought 'I know I'll have a bit of a stroll down to that art shop I saw on Sunday to buy a new sketchbook.How far can it be?'

Well three sweaty hours, a bottle of water and two blisters later I turned up at Djumbunji to hear they were about to send out a search party. I'd missed loads of artists who had turned up unscheduled to see the Welsh boy. The only one left was an artist called Billy Missy. Billy currently adds colour by hand tinting and is quite interested in adding colour reduction to his skills.

We had a bit of a chat and discussed his idea for a print. I then got a lift from Beverley, the General Manager at Kick Arts the Centre that runs the Djumbunji Press, to see the Brian Robinson exhibition at the main Kick Arts Gallery.

Very interesting mix of Traditional printmaking with contemporary references. The Hokusai wave being a particular favourite of mine, of course. I liked the in inclusion of a Nautilus as Jules Verne has a section where Captain Nemo runs aground in the Torres Strait. I'll be working with Brian on Thursday.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Off to Australia.

After all the organising, producing work for two exhibitions, finishing as much of the Work on our house renovation as possible before I go it's time.

I am currently relaxing in Green Park before ambling off to the Piccadilly line for the tube to Heathrow.

I am flying to Cairns for a six week print residency working with the wonderful Lino cut artists of the Djumbunji print workshop. Both Aborigjnal and Torres Strait Islands artist are going to show me what, why and how they do what they do. In return I am going to be demonstrating the colour reduction method I use. There will be a lot of chatting about print, printing and wandering about the exotic landscape of northern Queensland with a sketchbook.
I'm hoping to keep this blog more up to date and immediate, freed as I am from the daily grind.
Right off to catch my tube.

Oh the next picture in the oystercatcher series I printed with my newly covered Baren turned out okay.

Re-covering that *+%* Baren

I was long overdue recovering my baren. So long overdue in fact that I had bought three more of them to avoid having to recover each one as it wore out. So I am now the proud owner of four worn out barens.
I did have a first go a while ago and it took me over three hours and about 6 replacement skins to end up with, well it wasn't pretty but it did the job.

With thanks to Andy Bull from his website The Barenforum for the notes on how to recover your baren and other general print related info.

This is halfway through the attempt;

Cut, trimmed and wrapped each side, folded the edges over, twisted the two arms tight and then knotted it together.

Not particularly too neat on the back but looks okay on the business side:

Well it did look okay until it mans up with one of the original Barens. Then it is painfully obvious just how shoddy my wrapping and tying off really is. The important thing though is that it does the job.

But even that one, as it was a bit loose on the tying off, hasn't lasted that long. So time for attempt number two.

I have a selection of bamboo skins which have to be sorted out to find one lacking any rips, making sure it's not too thin or too thick. This has to then be soaked under a running tap until it is soft and pliable. Then wrapped in a towel and, I kid you not, huffed over. Apparently the warm breath huffing down the tube of wrapped skin and towel further warms and softens the skin. Which allows you, apparently, to lay it on your board and stretch it. This is the bit where it is really easy to rip it. I lost about four the first time round. This time only the one went. Then it's trim one of the arms out and start the really hard bit;

I found I didn't have enough fingers to fold, pinch, hold and twist at the same time as keeping the pressure on the whole thing.

I did manage to pull the arms tight and tie them both off. Last time I didn't get this far and just knotted the two strands together. Doesn't look to hard but is one of the most dexterously difficult things I have attempted. The little Japanese fella who knocks these out must have fingers like steel bars.

Tidied up by cutting off the excess from the arms. The idea then is that as it dries out it pulls taut like a drum Again doesn't look to bad, especially when it is compared to my first attempt. Again though it starts looking a bit shoddy when you put one of the original 'properly' done barens in there. Still the important thing is that it works and I have printed with it since the end of May, which includes two courses and another four or five of my own prints. It may of helped that as I went to put a small  amount of camellia oil on the face of the baren, the whole lid came off and nearly half the pot glurped over the baren, the wooden board and the table. Did the chopping board a world of good as well.

Now I have a new-ish baren time to get on with the next print. Here goes.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

May course inspiration...

After printing my Oystercatcher 1 and meeting my new paper love while printing the Robin it's back to the real world of my once monthly linocut workshops. This time we had Tracey a Motion Designer/Animator and Nick a retired teacher of teachers. I always get a bit nervous having teachers on the course. Not sure why, perhaps I feel they will be mentally marking my teacher methods, or lack there of, and maybe even slip out the odd tutting noise at my lack of 'proper' teaching technique. Of course they are all far too polite to do such I thing but what if they find out I'm not a teacher after all but merely an artist taking a workshop! Detention for a million years, then extra homework.

As usual for all those that come on the courses they get straight down to listening to my ramblings, drawing up idea and producing a blizzard of lino shavings as they began to cut their black and white. Tracey, perhaps as an art professional was very confident, even a bit gung-ho and her great attitude was summed up in the phrase; " lets give it a go." Which she said to pretty much all of my suggestions.
She had some lovely images of Durdle door and we looked at old woodcuts for ideas of patterns to use then she was off cutting away and managing to use just about all of them. I think this is a really strong richly patterned, atmospheric print and, as I always do, feel quite inspired to actually do a black and white print of my own. Rather than just telling other people to do them.

Tracey Aston - Durdle Door

After the success of the B/W we decided to use the same drawing for the colour print to see the difference strengths and otherwise between B/W and colour. Again Tracey was quite confident and tried cutting a two toned pattern in her sky to suggest clouds and then got all carried away again over the cutting of the pebbles. That I understand, I love spending hours cutting the pebbles on a beach, after a while it gets really Zen.

As with the B/W a really lovely strong print. The yellow sky to blue works really well and as I mixed the colours I feel okay about stealing this particular combination for a future print. I did admit to Nick and Tracey that one of the main reasons I have the courses, other than to maintain some semblance of social contact with people, is to be exposed to new ideas, inspirations and ways of looking at the world that I can then steal for my own work. I think they thought I was joking.

Nick as an obviously very competent teacher teacher was much more cautious, deliberate and thoughtful over his print than Tracey. Though it was a bit of a Tortoise and the Hare, as they pretty much finished at the same time - ish.

Nick had an interesting print of a Cotswold cottage which didn't immediately shout out as an effective subject for a lino. With a bit of tweaking, we thought, it may work. Nick was also labouring under the obvious handicap of having no cricket to listen to while working and having me hurrying him on while being showered by a cascade of lino shavings from Tracey across the table. His black and white, while it did work strongly as a print had areas he wasn't totally happy with. We also used the same drawing for the colour to show the comparison and allow Nick to work on those areas he wasn't happy with. Nick also had a bit of a concern, as a lot of people on the course do, over the use of colour. So I initially told him we would choose a simple ochre like colour and just darken it down for each layer to show how the layering worked in reduction without stressing about choosing colours. I sort of lied.

After using the same initial colour as Tracey, a warm golden brown, I informed Nick he would be using the same selection as Tracey. To demystify colour he wouldn't even get to choose/agonise over his own, we would use Traceys cast-offs as he called them, to show how effective apparently random colours can be.
 Also I think the idea of using golden brown, blue ( teal?) and then a deep purple would have been a bit worrying. Here is Nicks colour print, which I think you will agree is absolutely lovely. It has a great variety of texture, depth and really feels like a scene from a story. I want to see the rest of the book from which it appears this print has been lifted!
The stone wall in the foreground works very well and has a real weight and presence to it that sets the tone for the rest of the print and contrasts well with the lighter cutting further in to the print.

Well done both, and I look forward to seeing new work from both of them in the future. Oh and Nick was very complimentary about my teaching technique, even when he didn't do any homework!

Course over it's back to my own prints, and Oystercatcher 2 which I transfered to the lino and then with course suggestions still in my  head I coloured in all the white areas directly on the lino. Something I suggest to coursees  to help see how the white section of the print will look and where to print. As there is so much white on this print it does help and I quite like colouring direct onto the lino.

Really happy with my little beach bound Oystercatcher. More on them and the progress of this print soon. Next blog though something I tried a while ago and had to have another go at Friday gone before I can print this picture, or any other.

Yes I can put it of no longer, I have to recover my Baren. HELP......

April course inspiration

Did I mentioned that the sky in my first Oystercatcher print, see previous post, was inspired by the American woodcut artist J.J Lankes after Robert, Bob, on the April course used his sky as a background for his colour print. I think I did. I also said I would post the pictures from the course later. Well here is later.

As a consequence of showing the work of old J.J to Bob for his inspiration I had another good look at the fella myself. The more you look the more subtlety you see and I like the silvery tonal quality he achieves in his black and white scenes of midwest america.

I did tell Bob that it was highly likely I would steal his idea to be inspired by JJ and use something similar in my next print. Luckily he seemed quite relaxed by the idea.

Here is Bob's bird with the linear background suggested by Mr Lankes:

Of course rather than a black and white we dropped a graduation over the background, but it lightens the colour in a really nice way. The other person on the course, Sarah, also did a bird but with a completely different, decorative feel:

There is a wonderful simplicity in the design and limited colour which shows of the strengths of linocut very well. It is such a graphic image I can see it as wrapping paper, a card, a fabric print even a rich exotic wallpaper. Direct all enquiries to me and I will pass them on. As always I am impress and gratified by the quality of prints produced by beginners in a couple of days. So well done to both Sarah and Bob for working hard and coming up with two very effective and attractive prints.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Robin and Rosie

Had a double date today with Rosie, and printed the Robins red breast as an insert patch with my smallest roller. After cutting out the red breast and the growing tips of the stump.  I then mixed up a dark brown with blue and red for the remaining layer. As the red was only on the cut away part of the print I didn't need to wait for the layer to dry so I could move on to what could become the final layer.

As I mentioned in the previous post, with all the cutting on the Robin and the background I wanted to avoid over cutting the stump as well. So when inking up I varied the ink on the roller and the print to allow some of the background to show through. I also used the very complicated technical trick of wiping some of the ink off with a damp rag to give a bit of highlight in slightly random places.

As usual for an artist, my favourite part of the print is a tiny bit hidden away somewhere, unnoticed by all other viewers. This print is no different. The two small stumps in the immediate foreground on this print are my bits du jour. Dark tipped shapes paling to a lighter fading base, lovely. What do you mean you didn't notice them??

Not quite sure this is dark enough as I was going to do a final black, especially for the little fella's eyes and beaks. Those beady bright black eyes are a signature of the robin, and while I'm quite relaxed about the rest of the print, I'm not so sure I can get away without those black eyes. Any thoughts?

Paper? Well it took the ink well, slight issue with the impressions having a tidal mark but as before that is more of an issue with over liquid inks due to the water soluble vehicle and perhaps a bit of over zealous pressure on my part with the baren. As with any new partner you cannot act with the old ways you have to grow together in a new partnership, find new ways of working together... mmm perhaps taking this tortured metaphor a bit too far. I just got a bit carried away because, as fellow expert printmaker Sherrie York mentioned, the search for the perfect print paper is always there. So when you think you have found it, especially after previous disappointment, it's very easy to get a bit carried away and get a bit gushy!

The paper is...drum roll please...mould made Fabriano Rosaspina. 285gsm two deckled edges of soft well sized printmaking pleasure. Enjoy.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Second paper date.

Second layer on the Robin a warm brown to cover the blue, which it only just does, and to bring the bird and stump forward of the background. ( I printed the first blue a bit too dark ) There is a lot of cutting in this print so I am thinking about using a bit of tonal printing with the roller for the foreground stump to give it a bit of form and pattern rather than cutting too much into it. I used broken printing at the base which allows the blue first layer to show through. 

Now how did my lovely new paper do, I here you all cry? Well the above picture is the one on the new paper, It took the ink very well, though I need to work on the pressure. As the paper is so soft the pressure of the baren embosses the print into the paper, which works well as long as there is not too much ink on the block or that the ink is to liquid due to the addition of a water soluble vehicle. When it is a bit too runny it catches on the lip of the embossed area and leaves a slight tide line of ink. Not my papers fault, really, it's all my fault. I just need to get to know her better. She has come all the way from Italy after all.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

A little bit of Kacho-Ga

After showing the crashing wave oystercatcher picture as my next piece I am having a small intermission.

As previously mentioned in my list of 'Things I want to try with prints' one was what the japanese call Kacho-Ga. Prints of Flora and Fauna. I had this lovely sketch of a robin that came to sit on my picnic bench at Tan y Coed and obligingly stayed still for plenty of sketches and photo's. So I thought rather than sitting and staring at it from time to time I would try and get it drawn up and printed before the end of the week.

I transfered the robin on to the lino and then started thinking about where he was going to sit.......

On my courses I stress over and over again the importance of settling on your composition before you transfer the image to lino and here I was breaking my own rule. I didn't have a clue what to do around/behind this robin. I looked at reference for different trees and habitats, looked at other artists renderings of birds. Even, when wandering back from the post office, stopped to stare up through the branches of a suitable tree on the pavement much to the bemusement of passersby.

I then saw these new indian ink permanent markers I had bought to trial drawing with lying innocently on the table, and mused that one of the other things I wanted to try was drawing directly on the lino to keep a more fluid natural line...

First option. It was really nice to put the colour directly on the lino to give a sense of where the emphasis would lie. Drawing straight on with quite a large marker keeps the fluid spontaneity that is lost with the tracing and redrawing. The next task is to make sure I keep that quality of line when I cut.

Wasn't quite sure about the blue background branches here, like some of the marks but felt a bit to chaotic and distracting from the foreground and the important bit. Got a bit carried away being fluid and  didn't stop when I should have done.

So just thought I would go a bit cutty and tonal, so I scribbled over everything below the stump. Felt very nice to be able to start cutting directly after drawing so loosely on the block. No tracing and drawing over. Tried to cut close and keep to the drawn quality, then got all cutty for the tonal background..

It's quite dark for a first colour when I have a light brown, a dark brown and most important a robin red breast to go in there somewhere. As usual it will lighten up as the colours progress.

Now something I always try to do when ordering paper is get a couple of sheets of something I haven't tried before. This Robin is being printed on papers I am very familiar with: A BFK Rives mould made deckle edge 210 gsm, ( A good beginners paper for the courses ) a BFK Rives mould made deckle edge 250gsm, ( currently my paper of choice, and the one I printed the previous oystercatchers print on ) and a Zerkall extra smooth 250 gsm. Then I thought I'd try a new sheet of something I had received in a TN Lawrence order recently.

Well! I may only have found my perfect paper. So far on the admittedly meagre evidence of one colour on two sheets ( It looked so good on the half sheet I used that I immediately dragged out the other half and whacked some ink on that to. ) It looks and feels very good quality, has a slight woven texture, is a bright white, is actually 285gsm ( normally far to heavy and thick to print by hand satisfactorily but is so soft I needed to use less pressure than when printing with the 250 gsm Rives ). Picks up the colour and fine cutting very well. I am in love. As much as you can be with a 60% rag mould made italian paper.

I won't mention the name, as it's early days and as we have both been disappointed before we are taking it slow. I need to see how she reacts to a second layer, maybe even a third before we go public.

We've got another date tomorrow and I'll let you know how we get on.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Last colour for the Oystercatchers

Put the final colour, black, on the Oystercatchers number 1 today. As usual I immediately start wondering if I should have left it pre-black, three colour, as I feel the black is a bit heavy. I did need the black though for the plumage of the birds and it does give a nice contrast with the white in the foreground. As previously mentioned it does make the background colours a lot paler by comparison which helps with the sense of depth in the print.

Final black layer

Cutting the sky in a halftone does make it paler and less green than the sea when it's the same layer and colour. Again was a bit worried with the colour of the sea initially thinking it was a bit too green. Actually very happy with the final hue. Like the style of the cutting in the sky as a first experiment, needs a bit more playing with to see what I can get out of it.

Next is the Oystercatchers number 2. There be no playing with the sky in this print as there isn't one. Just one of the best crashing wave seas I've seen and managed to catch on my wanderings.

In the foreground a small group of bemused Oystercatchers watching the waves crashing on the beach and thinking "I'll give that a miss".