Sunday, May 28, 2006


Yesterday I went to a workshop on collagraphs using carborundum. Carborundum is used in lithography and is fine pumice dust.

In collagraphs it's used to create wonderful darks, where the carborundum grips the ink and creates intense colour.

This is one of my favourite methods of printmaking - I love the painterly qualities you can achieve with it. It won't make as many prints as an etching but enough for me.

The printing plate (shown left with traces of ink left on them) is made with Daler Rowney mountcard. Simple lines cut in with a craft knife will print as thin line, for thicker lines 2 cuts are made and the top layer of the paper between them is peeled away. Areas of darkness are created by peeling away the top layer, light areas are created by painting with wood glue and the very darkest areas are created by painting with wood glue and covering with carborundum.

When the glue is dry, the whole plate is sealed with shellac varnish (brushes cleaned in methylated spirit).

When this is dry the plate can be inked up with printing inks and printed in a printing press. Because it's an intaglio proces - the inks being in the incised lines and not only on the surface as with relief methods like lino - a press is essential.

The image is developed from sketches done at the beach as the sun set and darkness fell. There were wonderful patches catching the last of the light and silhouetted shapes.

It's a long time since I'd done a collagraph until the recent trees, which I haven't had time to work on further yet, and being in a workshop was a great reminder on techniques and problems.
I managed to get 10 coloured prints done (5 from each plate) and some monochrome ones. Because of the way that the plates are inked up it isn't possible to use many colours - these were done with scarlet and prussian blue, the terracottas and browns happening where I mixed these when rubbing the ink into the plate.

Here are some of the prints. They all want a little more working on but I'm pleased so far. Unlike etching where each print is the same, these will be quite different, depending on the inking up and the work done when they are dry.

Sometimes, depending on how much ink was applied, it is possible to get a second print before re-inking and get a paler print, often with a really nice feel, very different from the more intense version. These show a print from each plate - a first print from one and a second print from the other.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

visits and sketches

Yesterday I went on a coach trip with a group I belong to, to see the Van Gogh exhibition at Compton Verney, a stately home with a large art gallery and lovely grounds, then on to Warwick University to see some conceptual art.

The Van Gogh exhibition contained some of his early works and it was so reassuring to see how not-really-very-good they were :) Later works and drawings were wonderful. I especially liked one large painting - the subject was simply a patch of grass with butterflies.

At Warwick University we saw an exhibition of a huge piece by Tomoko Takahashi, filling a large gallery space. The handouts included copies of 2 reviews - one slating her work and the other praising. I'd gone determined to keep an open mind but, to be honest, thinking I may not like it - but it was really very interesting. She'd visited all departments of the vast university and spoken to staff and students and collected stuff that was being thrown away. This varied from huge items like scaffolding and furniture to smaller stuff like lots of ?lost pairs of glasses and keys, heaps of ancient computers, most switched on. The items were arranged in drifts and piles, the shapes and colours flowing, creating a visual variety of quiet and busy areas, flowing lines and 'dots' of item. There was the message about recycling but it was also visually very interesting with the gallery dimly lit and small lights arranged to light elements, creating great shapes and drama. I would have loved to sketch there - but large drawings, taking time, not just quick sketches.

At the end of the exhibition all the elements will be given away to the public.

While we waited to meet up with the group before leaving I did these very very quick sketches of people in the cafe.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Last weekend I took part in an exhibition with friends

I meet up with 9 friends once a month and we talk about painting, crit our work, have people come to talk about their work, go out sketching (in smaller groups) and occasionally put on an exhibition.

Last weekend we put up an exhibition in a local village hall. This is part of my section.

We all work very differently.

I took mainly canvasses - so much easier to transport and hang than framed work behind glass :).

These range from 3ft 6in high to about 4ft 6in

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

further paintings in the Harlequin series

Some more paintings in the Harlequin series (small paintings this time)

12in square

10in square


12 in square

- all oil on canvas. These are in a show starting next week along with the original larger canvasses.