Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Book play

Ok, so why do two different print processes that I thought I'd nailed when experimenting stop working when I try to apply them to make a thing?

I was confident enough to print 'plates' at different sizes to make two meander books. One using gum arabic and the other for gelli plate.

I used exactly the same methods as last time but neither worked properly. Some of the text and image printed but it was patchy and not clear enough for making a book. The same happened with both techniques.

The only common variables that I can think of are the weather, it had got hotter (but I don't see why this should affect the oil based method) and the laser prints.

The cartridge empty light has been on for several weeks now (it carries on printing for a good while when this happens) and although the prints look dense enough I'm wondering if it's not actually laying down enough toner for making printing plates

The problem is I'm actually bored with this book and at the moment I don't seem to be able to summon up the enthusiasm to try again.

So I gave myself an afternoon's play instead.
And for the NWBA challenge 'Collection' I made five five cm square books that fit in a five cm square box, each book a different structure. The only materials and tools used were an old book, an Amazon box, knife, ruler, cutting mat and glue stick.

On a different note while playing arround with a new header for the blog I noticed that it had set comments to members only. No idea why. I've set them back to normal now. I'm sorry if you've been struggling to leave a message but normal service should now be ressumed. Please try again.

Friday, 26 June 2020


Having had a dabble with some paint I went back to the Chessmen.

I decided that part of the problem was the binding I was trying to use.

I liked the square motif that the binding strips left but was struggling with the way they cut into the text. So rethink, keep the squares and ditch the binding.

I used text I'd already written out and the charcoal drawings to make a tiny mock up of a meander book.

I think this works so much better than the original book structure. I've already redone the extra lettering I need, resized and cropped the images and have made printing plates on the laser printer.

I'm going to try using acrylic and see if I can apply some of the colour mixing from last week.

Monday, 22 June 2020

Oh Joy

It's been a funny sort of a week. Having decided to slim down the number of things that I am working on I found I was lacking direction with all of them.

Obvioussolution, add another project into the mix.

I heard about Louise Fletcher's free week-long painting course 'Find your Joy' which was starting last Sunday so I thought I'd give it a try.I was impressed with the quality of the material, the aims (to become less self conscious of what you think others may think of your work and be open to exploring what you enjoy in your art) and the structure of the course.

It is aimed at painters but I thought a change of emphasis for a week couldn't hurt. I did the preliminary extra exercise, and the colour mixing exercise,and the main painting exercises one and two. I was part way through exercise three when it struck me that I was starting each of these tasks trying to think in paint but part way through each, to keep me motivated to finish it, I was starting to try and work out how to turn it into a book, or how to turn the task so that it could be done in print.

So I've decided I'll keep the notes in case I want to come back to it in the future but at the moment I'm bowing out at exercise three.It wasn't the course and I've learned some valuable colour mixing stuff that's definitely a transferable skill. As a freebie I was very impressed with it and would recommend it to painters.

But I think I found out my Joy isn't in paint. It is in print and books.

Saturday, 13 June 2020

More Monoprints

Just a small selection of the results from the experiments I've been trying this week.

I've been doing some more with acrylics
And with printing ink, using gum arabic transfer for the details.
These are a bit gaudy. The strong colour and the mis alignment in registration reminds me of old school readers from the 1960's.

I rather like the more subtle colours that offset onto the laser print which I used for the liner work
Not sure where I'm going next.

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Acrylic monoprints

Book making and monoprinting, I'm finding my way into this at last
I scanned and laser printed some of the tonal drawings and had a go at printing them in acrylic using a gelli plate. It worked. This time I made sure I wrote notes on how to do it.
I kept the paint covered laser prints to use for collage but decided to make a book with them instead. I re did the Claire van Vliet binding from a few weeks ago. I thought the squares that the binding strips make echoed the chess board.
I liked it so much I decided to make another one using the monoprints.
This time, to make them a different weight, I used thin card to make the covers.
I don't know if I'll stick with this structure but it works well to bind the experiments.

Saturday, 30 May 2020

A start

I had a set of photos of the Lewis Chessmen that I'd taken several years ago and meant to do something with. I thought they would work as a starting point.

I've been drawing individual pieces trying to get a feel for the style and detail (I've noticed I do tend to gravitate towards linear work) and have started experimenting with mixed media,trying to get away from a single figure suspended in space.

I'm taking words from Caxton's 'The game and playe of chesse'.
It's moving slowly, I'm going through a phase where I'm finding it difficult to get motivated, but it is progressing.

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Time to reset

This is a wordy post while I reset what I’m doing, so apologies in advance.

I’m sure everybody gets them. The project that just won’t gel, that you really aren’t enjoying.
Mine at the moment is ‘Break’. I’ve thought about embossing and collagraph, I’ve tried drypoint and monoprint (not good - I’m not showing the results). I can’t make the artwork and then digitally print because it needs to be lined up perfectly on both sides of the paper and I can’t make my printer do that accurately.

Sometimes you just have to give up and move on. 

And deciding to do that made me consider the rest of the work I was struggling with.

I think part of the problem is that at the beginning of this new normal I grabbed at loads of projects to keep myself busy. Deadlines made me go and do in the studio (I’ve upgraded the back bedroom!).

The trouble is I’ve started to work back to front. Grabbing at a theme or title, deciding on a structure and how an end product should look and just heading straight for it. For some things this works but as a general way of working it has left me feeling stale and uninspired.

So I’ve decided I need to slow down, play and explore materials and imagery more, and let the artwork dictate what the end product will be. I also need to select and set manageable goals for some of the things I had lined up and let the rest go. I’ve chosen four.

I’ll carry on with ‘Isolation,’ eventually, although it is suffering from the same problem as ‘Break’. I’ll leave it alone for a week or two and then I’ll rethink but I’m considering the idea of the medieval garden, an enclosed place of beauty, order and sanctuary surrounded by the wildness of the surrounding forest. 

‘Making your mark’ is a long term project aimed at a group popup exhibition when gatherings are allowed.  I think I’m going to go back to the idea of the theatre, responding loosely to the work of Laura Knight, for this. But for the time being I’m going to settle for selecting a sensible number of photos, from the very many we’ve collected of drama group productions, that I can use for reference material.

‘An inch a mile’, a NWBA group project, needs blocking out to show when the ships were at sea, by various coasts or on land, so that’s some rereading of notes and stitching markers onto the rolls of fabric for later use. That will make a good counterpoint to the exploratory play that I want to do.

And the final project I’m going to carry on with is ‘Collect’. This is the one to start experimenting with. I’m going to use museum collections as a springboard (though it might morph into working from collections of objects from round the house if I want to work from life). I have images that I’ve taken over the years in various museums that I can work from. At least if I can’t go out it’s a good excuse for working from photos.

I’ve been reading Shelly Rhodes Sketchbook Explorations which has inspired me, although I won’t actually be using a sketchbook. I find new books inhibiting and a book with a few good pieces in it even more so. I also like to spread things out and be able to see different things side by side as they develop. But I will begin by working on standard sized paper (I’m starting on A5) with a view to possibly binding them after the fact. I’ll give myself a fortnight to focus mainly on this project and then see where I am.
 A new start?

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Not much to show

I've been playing with ideas this week so some research and a lot of pondering. A lot of scribbles and rough notes but not much that's visually interesting.

Revisiting old panto photos as a possible way into 'Making your mark' since we don't have rehearsals at the moment.

Trying to make drawings for 'Break' and get away from the idea of embossing the image.

Thinking about 'Isolation'. I like the structure l've come up with but it needs printing on both sides of the paper which ideally also needs to be about 60cm long. I can't do that at home. And I don't want to join shorter sections because it will make the whole thing very bulky (and push me over into parcel post rates when I send it out).

Inspired by Annick from Zot van letters I've been using scrap papers to explore Claire van Vliet's book Woven and Interlocking Book Structures, hoping that might help solve the problem.

Not so far, but I have learned two new forms that I want to use in the future.

Monday, 4 May 2020

Mock ups

I started work on two new books this week. One is for are the ‘you book enough’ challenge. This month’s theme is ‘Break’. I wasn’t going to do one this month but while I was fiddling with ideas for the other book I had an idea.
‘Break in/Breakout’ a sort of dos a dos book. Unfortunately at the moment I envisage it bound in white leather with gold tooling and heavy embossed paper on the inside. This isn’t going to happen.  I haven’t got the skills. A less sumptuous version hopefully will eventually arrive.

The other book is for Artists Collaborative Book 3.0 #22 Isolation. I fiddled with various sizes and arrangements of cells and the final mock up with the figure just arrived.
 Usually I have some idea of how I want a book to look when I get to this stage but I’m not sure at all with this one. I’ll experiment and see what happens. At the moment, because the paper needs to be double sided, I’m thinking monoprint. 
But here is another complication. Normally for a concertina like this I’d  print the pieces in two sheets but I can’t get to Hot Bed at the moment and my press at home is only small so I’m going to have to consider joins which makes the inking/construction more difficult.
And it also has to be editioned.  I usually do about 10 for this group so I need to keep the process fairly streamlined.

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside

'Bathing Machine' is finished just in time for the end of April deadline.

I didn’t want to go down the route of cogs and engines so decided to base my contribution on Victorian Bathing Machines which were designed to preserve the modesty of well brought up Victorian ladies at the beach.

For the artwork I used a palette of the process colours, cyan, magenta and yellow, with the addition of white. It’s bright and cheerful which works with the stylized figures. I was aiming for a children’s illustration type of feel.

The book is digitally printed and assembled as a simple concertina which fits into the wheelbase of the bathing machine to hold it shut.