Another new technique for me. I went to a one day workshop at Ardington School of Craft run by Beth Jenkins on the American technique of white line woodblock printing. It was intended to be a simplified form of Japanese woodblock, requiring just one block for the whole image, using watercolour and gouache as the print medium. It is really also closely related to mosaic and stained glass techniques.
Each area of colour is outlined by a gouged groove, the white lines, and then the area flooded with watercolour and the image transferred to thin paper by hand burnishing. Only a small area can be done at one time, so the paper and block need to be kept in register the whole time. Only one print at a time can be produced, and all will be different in colour. You can have indefinite print runs.
My first block, based on a photo I took off razor bills at St Abbs Head. The block itself is beautiful at the end.
I’m working on a second print in my studio. A roosting kittiwake I sketched at Dunbar. Still working out the best colour scheme.
I haven’t printed for a while, so decided to have a go at creating a print from one of the sketches I did out on the Bass Rock.
I redrew the selected part of the sketch, adding a bit here and there. Then transferred this in reverse to a lime wood block and started carving a basic key block drawing. I’ve had this lime for years and wanted to use it. Lovely to work in, but a tendency for unintended bits to chip out.
I took a couple of proofs onto cartridge paper, and coloured it up to get an idea of the finished work. I decided to cut out the hatched shading. Not sure now that was the best idea.
I cut two more blocks for head and pebble colours and shading. I used lino simply because I didn’t have any more lime. I’ve proofed the three blocks onto Somerset paper. Quite pleased with the outcome, but the are several tweaks to the carving needed before I do a final edition. I think I’ll run off about 10.
This has been months in the making and I don’t know if it has been worth it. Last summer I caught a glimpse of a landscape as I drove through Wiltshire. A single bent tree on a horizon of ploughed fields, with sun lit masses of cloud either side. I must have seen it for less than two seconds, but I have been trying to recreate it ever since. Final layer of colour on it today, but I am unconvinced. I may tackle it again one day.
Just over two years ago I produced one of my favourite drawings at a life class. I called her Neuroscience because she actually was a neuroscientist, taking a gap, working at an art centre between finishing her bachelor’s degree and starting her master’s.
I love the relaxed pose and the thoughtful expression. I’ve put her into an exhibition and was relieved that she didn’t sell. I don’t really want to part with her.
I’ve based more works on this image than any other I have done. The first was a mixed media work, with rectangles of handmade paper pasted onto a canvas and then over-painted with acrylic.
There was no plan to this image, I had no idea what I was going to do, but I loved the outcome. With a great imaginative flair, I called her Neuroscience 2. She hangs in our bathroom, which seems appropriate for a nude.
Next I tried a pastel on pastel board. Quite a different effect and I love the colour, but it’s not my favourite of the series. Yes, Neuroscience 3…
After that I discovered relief printing for the first time, and a version of my girl was one of my first linocuts, and still one of my favourites. I’ve tried her in various colours and with modifications to the block, which is one of the pleasures of printing. Yup, Neuroscience 4.
I let her lie for a long while after that, but recently she returned, in a very grand way. I’ve become obsessed with graphite pencil drawing over the last few weeks. After a variety of still lifes and copies of photos and paintings, I thought it was time to give my girl another outing. This time I thought I would exploit the potential of pencil for intricate detail to give her a complete figure and some sort of context. It all got a bit out of hand because you can keep modifying pencil if you use good paper. I added and subtracted all sorts of elements, including a large Indian bronze bowl, which eventually bit the dust.
Below is the finished image, with some of the development work below. I needed a new title, so I think she is now the Queen of the Nudists. She’s hanging over my drawing board.
I haven’t done much printing recently, despite building a new hydraulic jack press, but I have done some. First, this year’s Christmas card, a lino print of a festive tufted duck. The red was dabbed onto the print with a stencil.
Then I went to a Dry point engraving workshop, run by Beth Jenkins at Ardington School Of Crafts. The engraving itself, based on a photo I took last summer, didn’t look all that special, but when I rollered on coloured inks over the intaglio engraving, the whole thing suddenly came to life. More a monotype than an engraving.
I’ve just completed an excellent two day workshop at Ardington School Of Crafts run by Laura Boswell. An introduction to Japanese woodblock printing. An art form I love but I have never tackled before.
I started with an image of pine trees falling into the sea on the end of Furzey Island in Poole Harbour. I photographed it last week and even did a sketch of it in charcoal whilst sitting cross legged on the roof of my boat.
Laura took us through the stages of breaking the design down into blocks which would build up the image. These are carved on both sides of the wood block and coloured using horse hair brushes, watercolour paint and rice paste.
The blocks are printed onto damp paper, using a baren to burnish the back. I produced several multicoloured images and a final, fairly rushed one just in blue, which is very traditional.
It’s a fascinating technique. These results aren’t that great, but they are a starting point. Hokusai, here I come…
I have been working on a series of prints called Confident Women. So often images of women have either demurely downcast eyes, or a raised heavenward gaze. I want my girls to just be looking at the world as it is. The two below are the best so far, a blue lino cut and a red wood cut.
I have also finally got around to setting up an Etsy shop to try and shift some of these prints that are piling up. It is called JEGSart and you can find it here