Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Plas Glynn Y Weddw

After the dire warnings of snow and ice, a lovely cold but bright day for a drive up to the Llyn. I had a meeting today with Mari at Plas Glynn Y Weddw, Llanbedrog about a post Australia exhibition.
I showed at the Plas years ago with my Llyn Coastal Path series but haven't really been back properly until now. Which is a shame as it's a beautiful old house set in lovely grounds with simply stunning views across Cardigan Bay.

Plas Glynn Y Weddw
The interior is all deep reds and carved woodwork, black and white beams and large ceiling bosses. It even has a huge stained glass window above the central staircase. What a perfect location to start the  exhibitions featuring my new project. This project will take the patterning inspiration from Australia and apply it to the birds and animals of Wales. It will also explore their place in Welsh folklore and mythic history and throw in a good dollop of medieval illustration for good measure. The result? A Modern Welsh Bestiary. ( Sort of)

Just magnificent. The main hall at Plas Glynn y Weddw
I very much enjoyed the birds and animals I drew in Australia and was of course hugely inspired by the  animals, and their place in indigenous life and culture, printed by the Torres Strait Islanders. Artists  Like Billy Missi, Brian Robinson and Joel Sam whom I met and worked with at the Djumbunji Press workshop.
My initial attempt to begin integrating pattern into picture began with a little sketch I had of the Ibis. In which the pattern is within the bird.

The Ibis of Ideas
In the next birdie attempt I experimented with the pattern as informative decoration and background to the birds. The patterns come from the local plants and animals: palm tree fronds, green ants and mangrove tree roots, etc. 

The three Ibis: Idea, Introspection & Doubt.

I got very involved when working on these prints and very excited to be doing something different, so when thinking about a new show it seemed straightforward to take this part of my Australian trip and apply it back home.

I am working on some outstanding prints at the moment but in the background the sketches are gathering for the Bestiary project. I'm getting a bit twitchy about starting this, which is always a very good sign.....

Next the tractor and birds I promised before, oh and a lighthouse..

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The first post antipodean Post.

Well, finally feel that I am getting back up to speed and getting on top of things after returning from Australia. It's only taken me about three months but the fact that I am actually managing to write in the blog must mean that:
a. I can ignore no longer the gaping hole that is my 'blog-o-presence and,
b. I've finally done some stuff so I have something to stick up here.

Australia was a wonderful and very inspirational experience and I shall be posting various excerpts, pictures and ideas from the sketchbook I religiously scribbled in while there. Modestly called 'the bible' I looked after it more obsessively than I did my young family.
As well as a diary of events, and a general sketchbook of the landscape, it contains over 60 new sketches, the bible also has loads of great new ideas and ways for me to produce prints. Loads and loads of new exciting stuff that should start making it's way into my work soon...

The five prints I produced while at Djumbunji, in which I tried to gain an understanding of the patterning used by the Torres Strait islands, will be posted soon with more explanation.

I have also produced my first prints post Australia, mainly to get some new work into the galleries as they seem to have sold everything while I was away, darn them! Also to start the process of integrating the ideas from the bible into my artistic practice. Gently at first, a little pattern here, brighter colour there, warming up to a big new project.

This first picture of 2013 is a waterfall sketch I have wanted to print for a while;

First colour layer

I remember for this sketch I took my boots off, rolled my trousers up above the knee and waded into the water to get to the right spot to draw. It was very cold and I got some strange looks from hikers walking past but I love doing stuff like that.  (Standing barefoot in cold mountain streams drawing, not standing semi-clothed being stared at by strangers. ) The main focus is the movement of the water coming down the hillside towards you, surrounding you with it's noise and pattern. I want to put the viewer right into the action, into the waterfall. Get them splashed artistically speaking.

I had in mind a colour scheme of cold blue for the water contrasting with quite a bright yellow for the vegetation. The blue was is so strong though that it needed quite a strong second layer to cover and not pick up the first layers colour too much. As is the way with water based inks.

Second colour layer

Not quite the light delicate yellow I had in mind though. I would usually pick out other areas of detail with the first colour. Other than a bit of 'sky' though I wanted the only blue to be the water to really concentrate attention onto the waterfall.

third colour layer

This was where it got interesting. Keep the boulders and background hillside dark to focus attention down the waterfall, tonal shadows in the water, what to do with the surrounding plants?
I got an urge. Try something new. One of the few 'rules' I have in my printing is that if I get an urge, an idea of something new, I have to try it out. This urge, more of a compulsion actually was to start using some of the bold patterning I had been working with in Australia straight away. Always give in to an urge I say. Here the curling leaf pattern represents the plants by the waters edge but also the rising forms suggest to me the sound of the water. The splashing, burbling and gurgling lifting up like natural music from the surface of the waterfall as it rushes between the stones.

Final print

Final layer, dark but not black, to separate out some of the stones and suggest texture and pattern as well as form. It also adds more patterning to the background to suggest brash and branches tangled together as you look upstream, up the hill and deeper into the forest. This final cutting also has the first hesitant steps on developing my own Welsh form of patterning, in this instance partly based on pine cones as well as the free form decorative stuff. Sounds interesting doesn't it?

Finally, I can't resist, here is a picture of some Welsh hills. The weather here has been so good after a cold dark winter that everyone has rushed out in the sunny cold to make the most of it. Me? I went mountain biking up Tarren Hendre with my good friend Shem and my dog.

Next. A picture of some birds following a tractor....