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.