Sunday, January 25, 2015

Want to come up and see my etchings?

Back in the dim and distant past whilst at college, I had the opportunity to do some etching. This is what I did: 
top basic etching, etchings plus watercolour
 below aquatint plate printed in black and red. Final image combined plates.
When I had my exhibition in December 2013, it was suggested that I should etch, but  I stored the idea until recently when I found a 1-on-1 workshop at Cuckoo Farm Studios with artist & etcher David Stone.
Plate 1 in the acid bath.

On a snowy morning, and starting with a 10x10cm ish piece of metal, I was shown how to apply a soft ground prior to copying a picture of oak leaves. After putting it in acid bath (8:1 solution) I then cleaned the plate off and... found that I hadn't pressed hard enough and there were very few lines etched. Take 2, soft ground prep by me, drawing (this time with a dead biro and a traditional pencil as opposed to the technical pencil I'd first used), acid, clean and...  there were lines. Yay!
Then, placing the plate carefully on tissue paper on the press, pre-soaked paper went next, more tissue, then the 3 blankets. After, winding it all through the press, it was a nervous moment to unveil my first print. Nothing stunning, but as this was a workshop it's about learning the process not the results.
1st print from plate 1

Then it was on to plate 2, to learn and use hard ground. This time I drew lines with an etching needle to make a print of trees. It was funny but I didn't spot the mistake until it was printed. David told me how I could correct the plate, but I chose not to. Both reference photos used were from recent dog walks and they had grabbed my attention as "could draw that" subjects.
After cleaning the plates (white spirit to remove ink), it was time to explore aquatint, which I had no recollection of doing at college until I saw the photo.  
Print from plate 2
Aquatint from plate 1
Aquatint is a powdered acid resistant material that was applied over the whole plate. The clean dry plate was put in the box (left) wearing a mask and gloves, then placed on the rack (right) and heated with a scary gas torch from underneath. Once cool, which took moments as I watched the falling snow through the window, I stopped out areas with straw-hat varnish that I didn't want effected. Then it was into the acid bath. Due to the temperature, the grey/time scale based on 24°c was redundant, and David made an educated guess. I built up several tones through stopping out more areas and dipping the plate in acid. The varnish and remaining aquatint were then removed from the plate (white spirit and meths), before it was back to the press... and I was very impressed with the improvement to my first plate (above). So I repeated the aquatint process with the other plate, but reducing the time in the acid bath to just 15 seconds per tone. Here is the result: 
I found the whole workshop inspiring and will soon do an induction in order to use the print facilities reguarly.

Have you tried etching? Or been inspired by a workshop? You are welcome to leave a link to your work in the comments below.

*NOTE: the expression is believed to be an Edwardian euphanism to encourage physical intimacy.

Monday, January 19, 2015

IF: Toy (attempt 1)

Watersoluble ink on A5 paper.
The Illustration Friday prompt for this week is Toy

Here is a drawing of my dog's chewed toy squirrel. What do you think?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Experimenting with Mixed Media

Before Christmas, I taught Sketching Fun in Sanctus, a charity for the homeless and vulnerable, and they were so pleased that on the 9th I heard that they had requested I teach them a mixed media course, starting just 10 days later.

as you know, I work in 2D and specialise in pen & ink, so I put a plea for help on facebook and twitter to gather ideas and plan a 7 week course with a buget of just $2 per person for the whole course. After reading several online articles, I started my first project. Below are the discovery stages and final result.
 Next up, collage, which I last did to cover my paper art folder in school... or was that decoupage? Help! Luckily, the start has been delayed a week and I have until Wednesday 28th to work this all out.

Any mixed media tips or ideas you'd like to share? Links to your mixed media work welcome! Just leave them in the comments. Thanks.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Just for fun.

Sketch 1, pencil in A5 sketchbook
I am NOT a portrait painter, but I'm starting the year with an experiment, working on something different, purely for me. I know this is not very good, but portrait painting is an area I'm exploring this year. I've lost the likeness, but like the advice I got from Jana Bouc to "not worry about likeness so much, go with the feeling and making it a "painting" rather than a "portrait"." It's supposed to be one of the homeless people I met recently. I did one session of sketches with her and took some photos. She didn't reappear for the next session, so I worked with what I had. 

Here are the WIP shots:

 The final painting:
Acrylic on A2 canvas
 Are you trying anything new this year? How's it going? Let me know in a comment below please.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014 in review and resolutions

One of my last sketches from Oman.

This is how I started the year 2014:

  1. I wish to be single-minded with my art by which I mean I will be selfish with my art time and not let people nor events cut into it. The obvious exception is Degas. 
  2. I still want to move Degas and I to Barcelona, so will continue to organise my finances, whilst helping my parents.
In order for these to be goals rather than wishes, I have an amount to achieve by October. Also, I am setting aside a minimum 8 hours each weekend for art production. Finally, I want to produce a minimum of 6 ink drawings within the year.
As many of you who regularly follow me know, my year did not go to plan neither personally nor professionally. It was also a year full of highs and lows and I am still struggling for the middle ground.
44th WWSketchCrawl, Portobello Road, London.
I made several trips back and forth between Oman and UK following the hospitalisation then death of my father in January. Then I took 3 months unpaid leave through the summer, to pack up my parents' house, whilst trying to keep my mother happy, and finally moved back to the UK full-time in September. A constant throughout the year has been my guardian angel, Degas, who flew to UK with me in June and loves it here.

What                       Result              Positive thought                           .
Finances?               No                    I do have a lot of air miles though!
Barcelona?              No                  I'm in Europe.
8 hours?                  No    
6 ink drawings?      NO

As you can see above, there are only 3 ink drawings, and 1 ink and watercolour experiment. The ink boat I have just had rescanned and am looking to add some colour to it as it is flat and lacks something, so that's 2 I'm pleased with.

As my resolutions didn't go to plan, what did go well this year?

April, I ran my fourth annual charity event and raised £434.50 both through collecting at the event and an online donation site. All the money went to UNICEF UK's Children of Syria appeal.
Mayor of Colchester looking at my drawing at the opening.
July, My drawing Into the Shadows was juried into the Colchester Art Society's Summer Show.

August, I attended the 5th Urban Sketchers Symposium in Paraty, Brazil. I wrote in my first after-trip post:
"... I am jealous of the sketching others have done in that beautiful country. Whilst I had a fabulous time... I am not very happy with my sketches... obviously workshop sketches are experimentations and are not expected to be great yet... it would be nice." 
I may not have been happy with my sketching, but the wonderful people at the symposium made up for it. I re-met sketcher friends and made new ones. One of my happiest memories is sketching with the Brazilians of the sketching group, Croquis Urbanos Curitiba, on the last day.
With Croquis Urbanos Curitiba.
November, I have been taken on as an art tutor for the charity WEA and had the pleasure of teaching a sector of society I normally would not associate with. I summed up the course in this post, Lessons learnt. I really enjoyed teaching the course, and look forward to teaching more soon.
 So that was my year, now what about 2015?

Art resolutions: 
  1. Produce a series of illustrations to be sold as greeting cards.
  2. Produce a minimum of 1 fine art piece a month (preferably 2/3 per month).
  3. Enter 4 open exhibitions throughout the year.
  4. Run 4 art workshops.
  5. Participate in a group or solo show.
Marketing & networking resolutions:
  1. Post daily on FB page,
  2. Blog every Saturday or Sunday.
  3. Attend 6 networking events.
  4. Look at feasability of art fairs.
There are a few other goals I have for my art business, but I won't share them here. Let's see what the year brings.

What about you? Have you reviewed your year or set resolutions? You are welcome to leave a comment or share the link to your post here.