Saturday, 23 July 2011

Art in Action visit

On Thursday we took a trip over to Art in Action at Waterperry Gardens near Oxford (
We had a great day, the event is bigger than I expected. If you haven’t been before it is a large event showing artists and their work. Many of the artists demonstrate and all are happy to talk about their work and their techniques. There are classes and talks and a Market.
A couple of chums were there, Sue ( was demonstrating/selling her amazing bird collagraphs in the lovely Nature in Art area, and Sharon ( was selling her metal work and jewellery in the Market.
I took a camera but unfortunately didn’t think to use it, but the web addresses will hopefully illustrate it for you.

I was particularly impressed by the drawing tent. It was very quiet in there but there were some very talented people who were clearly forging their own path, and so it was one of the least commercialised of all the tents.
I had a lovely chat to Julia Polonski ( who does wonderful large scale work based on the human figure, with compressed charcoal and pencil. The work appears to have large elements of frottage incorporated, but in fact it is all drawn. She is very inspired by renaissance artists, and some of the patterns come from a study of these paintings, but she gives her work an incredible contemporary twist by the way she uses these ancient images. I hope you enjoy looking at her website, she really inspired me.

I was also very impressed by Sarah Morpeth ( We went to visit her on Sue’s recommendation and I came away with a gorgeous small scale seabird book.

If you weren’t able to go this year, make a date for next July, and I hope you enjoy looking up some of these links.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

An experimental etching

The Nags Head brook

I spent a while in this meadow at a place with the wonderful name of Nags Head taking photos exploring, sitting and looking. I also did some sketches. Sketching fixes a place in my mind - I can still feel the weak sun on my back, and taste the tea that I took with me.

sketchbook - a morning at Nags Head

The plate that I made in response to this place was very experimental, as you can see there are a number of different mark making techniques employed: brushing, sponging, drawing through with a brush end, and finally dripping, with a bit of splashing!

'washed out' stage 1

I also put a hard ground on and drew in the tree shape and branches. Then using white spirit and a fine brush I drew the spirit on where I wanted the tree trunk to be and where I wanted a suggestion of trees on the horizon.

'washed out' stage 2

For the final proof I mixed sepia with the black ink. The result has warmed the image a little, just as a spring sun had warmed me when I visited this location.

Monday, 4 July 2011

More Laser Wood Engraving

For my second attempt at Laser engraving I found a lovely arched piece of wood which led me to think of all the photos I had taken of trees meeting over a path.

I had a look through my sketch books and was reminded of the footpath to the west of the village that leads away from Woodstock lane.

In looking through photographs of this walk I found the downhill view offered better tree shapes and a nice turn at the occlusion point; the point where the path turns out of view.

I made a drawing which fitted the shape of the wood exactly. Having done the previous laser engraving I was much more aware of the sorts of marks that the laser translated well – lines, tone when next to an area of white, areas of strong contrast and the close tonal differences that were more difficult to translate.

I then created a visual of the, hopefully, final effect on photoshop. Then the image was uploaded and the laser cutter went into action.

The result, below, is a different effect to the previous engraving because of the different types of wood. I used Ash this time, initially because it is a paler wood, but of course it burns very effectively, hence its name and therefore the marks did not have quite the same tonal range.

The laser engraved deeply into the surface, which gave a beautiful 3 dimensional quality to some areas, particularly the top branches reaching across the path to meet the trees the other side. Some of the cutting on this area was achieved on quite a rounded section of the wood, and on an unprepared surface, but the marks have retained their focus and sharpness.

The watercolour splashes that I had left on the surface of the lane in the drawing translated very effectively. A friend pointed out to me - such an intriguing paradox, the heat of the laser using burning to create a watery mark! Water from fire... something to mull over...

I now have to decide how much further I go with this, but the potential for turning drawing into something entirely different is intriguing and tempting.