I’m really pleased to say that I have several pieces of work
on show in the Winter Tales exhibition at the Chapel Gallery in Ormskirk.
On a more bizare note, it’s dress rehearsal for the panto tomorrow, followed by the
tech on Monday and four performances at the end of the week so all creative stuff
this past couple of weeks has been spent desperately trying to get props and scenery
Have you ever made a chicken wearing
a tutu with a light bulb in its mouth?
finished the prints for the 20:20 print exchange, just waiting for signing and
numbering. I have to deliver them to the
press for the deadline on Monday.
moment I’m working on a new book for the book exchange group I work with. I
enjoy having projects with parameters and deadlines that have to be kept to. I
find it helps generate ideas for other things and there’s the added bonus of exiting
books arriving in the post every three months or so.
We’ve had to
move from the original host site at ‘artist books 3.0’ as it was shutting down
so we now ‘meet’ through a new blog Collaborative Artists Books. We’re still
finding our way communicating on the new platform but come over and see what we
The new title
is ‘Endings and Beginnings’. It seemed appropriate in the circumstances but I
think mine has morphed more into beginnings and endings.
I have been
working on fairy story related images recently. ‘Once upon a time’ and ‘they
all lived happily ever after‘ seemed a good starting point. After playing with
the characters that seem to go in between I came to the conclusion that the majority
of them are quite interchangeable; the baby/child, the good girl (princess or
serving maid), the evil stepmother/queen. I decided to use silhouettes to emphasise
the interchangeability (is that a word) of the characters.
At this point
I started to explore structural and layout ideas.
here was awkward and the whole piece seemed a bit empty.
Better, but I
didn’t like cutting into the pattern to make the silhouettes float. More importantly I realised that this image had
grown to 84cm (the same size as A1 paper – not leaving any wriggle room for
printing if I want to use collagraph). If I wanted to keep the text at the sides
I needed to lose some characters. I came to the conclusion (due to the lack of
images I made while I was doodling) that the hero/prince and stepfather/king
probably don’t interest me so they were the ones to go.
Think so far
this is what I’ll work up.
Next step is
to draw up my own silhouettes (you may have noticed the presence of Queen Elizabeth in the mock ups) and work out the border pattern
I came across a post on Painting Speech which said “Claire Van
Vliet and Elizabeth Steiner have made their 2002 book Woven and
Interlocking Book Structures freely available in a variety of formats
(PDF, EPUB, Kindle, etc.) at the Internet Archive. Published in 2002 and no
longer in print, this book is a self-teaching manual with directions for making
basic models of 16 book structures designed for Janus, Steiner, and Gefn Press
publications. You can find it here at
archive.org; download options are listed as links on the right.
If you follow Claire’s recommendation to print the PDF 2-sided and bind it
in a 3-ring binder as a bench top manual, it will take 76 sheets of letter-size
I’ve been trying to get a library or a reasonably priced second hand copy for ages with no success. So I’d like to say thank you to Claire and
Elizabeth for their generosity in sharing.
that trying to edition a set of identical Snow White prints was one step too
far so I thought I'd make a variable edition and explore different inks and colour
plate has been a fight right from the start and so it continued.I printed it today and only managed 4 prints
before the block started to feel spongy around the queen’s eyes. I cleaned it
up and I think the shellac has started to lift, not off the sellotape sections,
where I would expect it, but over the mount board part of the sleeves and the
masking tape trees. Both materials normally hold onto the varnish and stay
stable with no problem. I’m going to let it dry and then decide whether to give
it another coat or risk continuing without.
Of the four
prints, the first was a bit pale, as I’d expect, but it gave me an idea of
which areas need extra attention when wiping.
The second, prussian blue,
and the third, a combination of prussian blue and burnt umber,
are OK . But the fourth
which I think is the best colour off all three, a combination of burnt umber and burnt sienna, has done something odd.
face, and only the face, has printed twice. Not smudged as though it has shifted
during printing, just printed twice, slightly offset and clearly defined.
what happens next week when I print it again but I’m not optimistic.
The first block
was almost finished when I managed to stick tape right across the bodice ,
which needs to be a flat pale colour in the print, and completely lifted the
smooth top surface.
the scene inside the skirt in the second attempt and then realised that I hadn’t
reversed the image. There is no text but the image needs to be read left to
right, ‘mirror, mirror’ followed by the poisoned apple.
lucky? I’m not sure. The varnish looks uneven and I’ve a horrible feeling that
it might show on the print. But I’m not sure how to try fixing it without making it worse so I’ll have a go with
the ink and hope I don’t’ have to deal with it.
I’ve been busy this week. I decided it was time to finish the Four Seasons Perspective
book using the etched image.
I had thought of inking each section in a different colour to
reflect the different seasons but after trying it as a mock up (altering
the colours on the computer) decided that the different blocks of colour broke up the unity of the image too much. So I printed a set of 10 using a burnt umber ink. I may
make another set using a Prussian blue later.
When I made the mock up I made it with rectangular covers but this spoilt
the optical illusion at the ends of the book so I decided to go with a trapezium
to reflect the folded shapes. This does make the image read better.
The uniformity of colour does mean that it isn’t as obvious
that the same room is going through changes as the season changes though so I
have re-titled it “Homage to Patrick Hughes”.
I am considering developing the image in watercolour to
emphasise the four seasons narrative and make a companion book. This week I bought a light pad so that I could work directly
onto watercolour paper and not need to trace the image in graphite first. It is
wonderful, thin enough to work with on my work table and bright. So much more
comfortable than working with images taped to the window, and I can work at
I haven’t started the watercolour yet but it is making the
drawing and redrawing of my next collagraph print so much easier.
scraped and burnished the body and wings I first tried soft ground etching to
give the detail but after 5 minutes in the copper sulphate it had only bitten
in odd spots. I think there was too much residual grease from the ground on the
plate. It did however break up the too even polished surface of the wings.
So I decided
to degrease thoroughly and try with a hard ground. Much better bite.
repeat print in the same ink (a mix of Prussian blue and burnt sienna - it
gives a lovely steely grey) with a rollover of white mixed with a trace of
burnt sienna. They are only slightly different but the rollover has warmed the
completely happy, I should have burnished back the antenna to make them white
rather than etching them, they are rather lost against the background, but I
think it’s time to try out what I’ve learned on a new image.
different note it’s panto time again (oh no it isn’t, etc, etc)
Trying to be
organised this year I decided to try and get the publicity artwork done early.
This is the painting for the 4 foot banner that will go outside the hall to (hopefully)
drum up an audience.
Not the most thrilling image but it does have
to incorporate a lot of text and be readable from passing cars.
When I downloaded
the entry form for the West Lancs Open from the Chapel Gallery I noticed a call for entries for their Christmas exhibition from
artists who work with stories – fable, myth and personal narratives.
I sent off
my CV and some photos and I’ve been accepted!
images I sent were the Taylor Brothers. I got the prints out of the drawer this
week to check they were OK and I realised I’d printed them all on off white or
cream paper, which I wasn’t too keen on in retrospect. So I reprinted them on smooth white this week.
I went to Hot Bed Press to print on Friday fully intending to redo the
perspective book as a soft ground etching but when I looked more closely at the
first plate and the test prints I decided that most of the problems were down
to wiping not biting so I’m going to think about book covers and paper weight then
try printing it again later.
So having nothing else prepared I decided to have another go
at gum arabic transfer for resist.
I still over cooked it in the solution but the resist took
much better than last time.
The raggedness of the text I think was due to me jiggling
the bath while the plate was biting. Not an intentional effect but one I will
bear in mind for the future.
I also tried adding gum arabic transfer on top of the
And reprinting the etching plate on top of that.
and a trip to Ormskirk where the opening of the West Lancs Open Exhibition was
taking place in the Chapel Gallery. I’m please to say that both Rapunzelle and
Concession Pereptuelle were accepted
finished the etching that I wanted to use for the perspective book but I think I managed to get grease on some areas of the plate while I was working on the tones so it hasn't bitten evenly in a couple of places. Having proofed it and worked into the more obvious blots and problems I'm still not sure about it.
I have another plate so I think I'll redo the image but this time I'll try a soft ground for the line etch just to see how the two compare. If I'm still not happy I can always revert to pen, watercolour and digital.
fiddling, experimenting and several strops I finally came to the conclusion
that trying to print a 6 x 84cm image wasn’t going to work as a 4 colour
separation gum arabic print. I’m not really sure why I thought it could in the
decided that digital was going to be the way forward it meant accepting that I
was working with cartridge paper.
various closures and ways of attaching the scroll to dowel then realised the
paper height was the right size to fit in the jar I use to mix my gum arabic
in. Given the subject matter it seemed to make perfect sense.So I bound the short edges with copper to
finish them off and made a belly band with the image extending over it to hold
the scroll shut.
intended as a comment on the practice of killing for collecting, such as big
game hunting, birds egg collecting etc, rather than on the serious academic study
of butterflies and moths. Not at all
what I thought it was going to be when I started but I’m still pleased with it.