Sunday, 28 February 2010

stencils and the world

today's been in good part been spent by 'doing a quick photoshop edit' for the next layer of my current printing project. hahaha.... shouldn't i have known better... loud tantrums variably directed at myself or the computer or the world ensued. for much of the afternoon.

thanks to some technical support it's done now. i am finally getting a bit more used to ps again, after having downsized to elements (not great fun) during the last year.

this is the stencil for a linocut. to go on top of a monotype.

Stencil for lino cut, 50x20cm

after it all was done i caught up on the news. googled concepcion and realised that my current print project sits right bang in the middle of chile's earthquake epicentre: the fields around the panamericana between victoria and talca, south of santiago.

Monday, 22 February 2010

4 days in london by way of animation

unfortunately, my favourite isn't online. so a link to some stills has to suffice:
bethan huws, singing for the sea

luckily, a close second is available for full viewing pleasure.
edwina ashton, mr panz at lake leman, on this site of animate projects

i also delighted in john stezaker's show at the approach: film still by cut out. there is so much power in the sparseness of a cut out.

my attempt at a full list of 4 days art in london is over here.

now i will go and ponder a bit more how these are all films or photography. how british contemporary art is good at words. and how curating is such interesting practice.

exhibition listings. london

i managed to go and see a lot of art, exhibitions and galleries while i was in london over the last few days. there are plenty of notes in my sketchbook about the various shows, artists and curating examples.

i thought i'd start with a list here, and amend and expand as i go along. so, what did i see? in chronological order.

1. jerwood space, inscription: drawing - making - thinking
2. tate modern
- arshile gorky, retrospective
- barnett newman, adam and eve
- nicolas de stael, composition 1950
- victor passmore: etchings
- fischli and weiss, untitled (tate)
- arte povera
- theo van duisburg
3. british museum: revolution on paper, mexican printmaking
4. the approach: john stezaker
5. the drawing room: shudder. drawing and animation
6. tate britain
- bethan huws, singing for the sea, 1993
- andy holden
- david hockney, bigger trees near warter
- melanie klein, six steps to abstraction
- chris ofili

my favourites: bethan huws, a couple of the animation films at shudder and john stezaker. plenty of thoughts and comments on the others too. the biggest let down? exhibition number one.

go to paint and pastel for a link to edwina ashton's mr panz at lake leman, my favourite animation at shudder.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Monotype playtime

i'm learning... by marking up a perspex plate with various knife marks, removing some ink, collecting ink in other places. so, on the last assignment for the printmaking, i am finally back with monoprinting and am having a good time with it.

this is a byproduct of my project of monoprint+linocut. there's more on the way, and i've written up some more about the process and the planning of discovery in my study blog.

Monotype, Fields Victoria, WIP 20x20cm

Monotype, Fields Victoria, WIP 20x20cm

Planning discoveries

I am currently working on the final assignment for the printmaking course. The project involves a monoprint plus relief print.

Part of the instructions reads as follows:

Begin by preparing several sketches and ideas in your sketchbook where you combine colour schemes, line drawings and designs. These will help you establish and decide on a final idea. Good preparation is always essential when preparing a new project. Do not be afraid to try different colour schemes using watercolours, inks or coloured pens and pencils. [OCA, Printmaking 1, p. 172]

Most of my print designs have originated so far from sketches done here and elsewhere, ideas captured as I come across and later referred back to. So, yes, there is a definite use for the sketchbook. But as far as the printmaking process is concerned, I have a hunch that the use of drawing media becomes somewhat limited. I think what I'm trying to grapple with is the sentence that

Good preparation is always essential when preparing a new project.

I fully agree. Agree on the basis that this is true when preparation is understood to be wider than the use of drawings in sketchbooks. Thus, preparation for the printmaking involves: printmaking. The making of a variety of marks, colour schemes, overprinting, wiping out on paper, different formats and different pressures when pulling the print.

To me it seems that the use of colour schemes is also limited when explored in sketchbooks. The property of the printing inks cannot be replicated through w/c, coloured pencils or acrylic ink; so, any sketchbook work is very preliminary.

For this project, I decided to prepare practically - by printmaking - rather than other media sketching/drawing. And in doing so, working my way through the various stages and its design/material/composition decisions that it required and how these related to the idea of an image I had in mind.

Starting point: The image in mind is one of a a series of very ripe cornfields in a late summer sun, somewhere along the Ruta 5, south of Santiago, Chile. A series of rather minimalist lines of the field patterns and some photos I took have been calling me persistently to do something with and the monotype seems a perfect opportunity.

Stage one: Preparing a ground for a monotype. I'm after a high chroma orange background to set the tone of the overall print. I'd like it to be densely build-up itself, before I begin with the monoprint itself. My first idea is to use a board of polystyrene and ink it up: first in hansa yellow, then in hansa yellow with a tiny bit of naphtol red. These two layers are done quickly. They dry with a heavy bumpy texture and form the base for more overprinting.

Stage two: Orange lines. I am experimenting with a darker orange/ red to overprint; trying out if I can cover the previous printing fully, partially, lightly. At some point I begin to scratch marks into in to: lifting ink with the palette knife.

Monotype, two layers polystyrene, one perspex plate, 20x20cm

And, I am ending up with beautifully thin lines. The plate, despite vigirous rubbing doesn't transfer strongly at all (probably because of the strong texture off the polystyrene layer), thus, the distinction between covered/uncovered orange areas is hardly discernible. What is however visible are these long, rather elegant lines where the ink assembled on the plate.

I think I have my lines for the monotype. I am unsure about the polystyrene effect though. It seems rather strong. It's very intriguing in itself, but possibly not for the design.

Planning: a process of experimentation and discovery. This can be done in a planned, systematic way. But I know that for my own working process, it needs to be step-by-step. Now, I may go back to the sketchbook to continue with the next stage.

There are some more prints that followed on from this discovery over at my other blog.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

work spaces

the weekend before last i went to the glasgow print studio to do a course on etching. i had never used traditional etching methods before - all i could remember was a rather hideous line drawing done in dry point on copper plate (here you actually mark the plate itself, whereas when you're etching with an acid bath, you apply ground onto the plate, this is marked and the plate is exposed and subsequently etched in the acid solution). - my excuse: done in school.

- and while my clumsy process writing does not may give much of a clue: i was pretty quickly hooked on the process-driven aspects of the etching. i was also hooked by the various glimpses into 'all else you can do' which we were offered generously during a far too short two days.

so, with very brief intros into three basic processes - transfer etching through tracing paper onto soft ground, marking the plate on hard ground, and applying tone through aqua tint, we worked our way through the weekend and the etching workspaces of the print studio.

and while watching the clock closely for my acid baths of 30 sec, 1 min 30 sec and so on, i marvelled at the workspace itself. my workspace over the last few months has largely been my flat and coffee shops. the office and its desk have firmly receded into the background. i also haven't been to the saturday classes. and while i do not miss the former i sorely miss the latter.

i hadn't really thought about it before the course but i think i have found a new 'office', at least on a frequent part-time basis. hah... offices with presses and acid baths and various burnishers, marking tools and much more. now... there's something in me thinking that some transferal of these tools to the old office would offer some advantages...

the weekend also marked the start of going back to the white room. in line etching and subsequent aquatint. only thing is: it's no longer white...

White room, etching and aquatint on Somerset, 25x18 cm

Thursday, 4 February 2010

bliss in three bags yellow to crunchy

raisins, dates and crunchy caramelised nuts on my kitchen counter via jerusalem's old town
thank you!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

bliss in three bottles purple

pickled beetroot with horseradish

1.4 kg beetroot
4 tbs fresh diced horseradish
1 tbs black pepper
1 tbs caraway seeds
3-6 whole cloves
1 bay leave
0.7 l white wine vinegar
125ml water
80-100g brown sugar
1 tsp salt

wash beetroot, cover in cold water and bring to boil for 25-45min, depending on size. peel and slice or dice. fill while still warm into sterilised jars (this lot made 3x 500ml jars), alongside horseradish and spices. boil vinegar, water, sugar and salt. fill jars with the liquid and seal immediately. it keeps for a minimum of six months; i had some of them for well over a year or two; great with olive oil and parmesan. the recipe asks for fresh horseradish but any strong horseradish sauce works as well (cream in sauce doesn't seem to spoil the pickle).