Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas Card 2012

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you who take the time to read this blog, your support is very encouraging.

'Tree 2012'
Etching with gold leaf

Happy Printing, Drawing and Blogging in 2013

Sunday, 16 December 2012

2000 year old Limes

Last week BBC's Countryfile programme filmed a 'momentous event' , the coppicing of the 2000 year old Limes at Westonbirt Arboretum...

This process of cutting back the stems shooting from the original clump happens once every 20years or so; we now won't see the Limes in full growth for some time. Follow this Westonbirt link to find out more:

Today I was able to go to the Arboretum and was amazed to see all the cut branches lying around the old stumps - what a dramatic sight/site! Unfortunately I didn't have my sketchbook, but sketched with my camera instead. The light was low and bright describing lines and angles in sharp relief.

Westonbirt are now looking for a sculptor to propose a sculpture to sit on this site using the cut branches, while the tree regrows. The open submission closes on 11th January, it's going to be fascinating to see how this space develops.

To see the Countryfile programmefollow this link :

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Pushing the possibilties - Burnishing

Pushing the possibilities of the little Hepworth plates just a bit further with aquatint...

...and scraping/burnishing

Its been great fun just seeing what I can get from these two images. There's a depth to them now, they're not so one dimensional, an there seems to be more movement; the images are a little truer to the spirit of the original sketches. How much further can they go?!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

More from the Hepworth Etchings

The two little Hepworth inspired etchings had a lovely deep open bite to them which suggested the potential to take colour really well. I wasn't happy with the grey/lilac from the previous post about these plates, and have since experimented with some other colour schemes... not always worth blog space!

Here's the most successful...

and a flirtation with viscosity inking...

Its fun to have some plates to play around with, 'no pressure' plates.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

A charcoal revelation

The lovely people at Pegasus Arts showed me this fantastic 'new' product - compressed charcoal made by Nitram.
I've given it a go and it works brilliantly. This is starting to sound like an advert, sorry, its not intended to be! I was just so taken with the revelatory performance that I felt it was right to share.

Its easy to work on a large scale, marks are quick to lay down and build up. the charcoal rubs out successfully with plastic and putty rubbers, and achieves a good range of marks and tones.

The best thing about this charcoal is the lack of dust and mess, even your hands stay relatively clean.
I also loved the fine points I was able to get and the way that the rubber could cut through the blacks.
The draw back is the cost - prepare yourselves, but it does last very well, I've barely touched the large stick.

Could this be the start of a series of charcoal drawings... I've got so many ideas on the go, I think I will have to stand back and take stock, and not try any more new products!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Etching Hepworth

Since finishing the MA at UWE I've been without the facilities to etch copper - its been like losing a chunk of my character, etching had become part of who I was in quite a significant way during those 3 years. But all is now rectified as I have joined a local print making co-operative. Its so exciting to making plates and printing again.

To start me off I used the back of an old plate cut into smaller pieces. This is a 'no pressure' way of getting going because the copper isn't precious, and sometimes there are some juicy marks already on the plate that add to the new image.

First stages of small prints based on the sketch book drawings from my last post, 'Inspirational Hepworth'. The shapes are wonderful to work with.
There is a beautiful surface to Barbara Hepworth's sculptures and the subtle colour varies depending on the material she uses. Whilst colour is usually a scary prospect for me I decided to try some top rolls of (subtle) colour.

I'm not sure the grey/lilac works, but it was exciting to see the white flashes that appeared where my open bite had etched really deeply.
They could stay like this... but I'm going to try some other colour ways, and maybe a burnished aquatint in the background.
I'll keep you posted.

Its great to be etching again!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Inspirational Hepworth

I was fortunate enough to be able to visit the 'Hepworth Wakefield' with my half term Study Visit.

This stunning building was nominated for the recent Stirling Prize. It is built into a weir, and generates all its heating from the water rushing past its foundations. The structure and forms are very unusual - I suspect Hepworth may have had something to say about it! The play of light and shadow is very effective.

View of the river running past the gallery, and below, the weir from inside the gallery
The Gallery spaces are large and light and purpose built to show off working maquettes and finished Hepworth sculptures

The sculptures were crying out to be drawn, and proved to be very inspirational forms

Combined inspiration from an exhibition in Leeds, and a Hepworth sculpture
The first two pages are currently being translated into etchings, hope to show you on the next post.
My visits to galleries in the Northern Cities was a real eye opener, the architecture is stunning and the exhibitions are hard to beat. We will return to see more.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The First Cut - Manchester Art Gallery

Last weekend I took a group of Sixth Form students on a tour of galleries in Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool. We had quite an itinerary and saw some truly amazing shows. The galleries in this area have clearly benefited from large investments, and have employed outstanding curation teams.

Manchester Art Gallery's 'The First Cut' was such an exciting and inspiring show that I would urge everyone to somehow go there and see it. Most of these photos are from the main gallery space on the top floor, but pieces are displayed throughout the gallery. Further pieces are also on display at the Museum of Costume. We were blown away...

The works shown portrayed the best of radically innovative and imaginative creativity that exists in the contemporary art world.

Andy Singleton

The scale of some of the pieces was just astonishing, the piece, above, was the full height of the gallery space.

Mia Perlman

The hours and hours of commitment behind the pieces was awe inspiring, we had huge respect for the craftsmanship behind the creation of such beautiful work.

Nicola Dale

All made from paper and books.

The creative hanging meant that you can wander through this copse of gently rotating 'trees'.

Manabu Hangai

Go, soak up the beauty, be inspired.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

October Walk

My new altered book project is providing the opportunity to follow up ideas, marks and themes tentatively explored in the past



Thinking as drawing, exploring and experimenting, thinking out on the page.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Sketchbook - a familiar place

I didn't do too badly with my 'sketch a day' challenge. I limited the challenge to the school holiday, knowing that with the best will in the world I would not get out every day once the organised chaos of the school year started. Over the 6 week hols I missed just two days, and only twice had to take shelter from the rain to draw, although some days I had to time my drawing quite carefully!

As the days went by I found myself returning to a couple of spots to draw more than once. It became an intriguing thing to do, what would I look for on each occasion?

This is a familiar place that I drew 4 times, the sketches are starting to provide a much fuller picture than my photographs can...


focal point

Changes in light and mood, the influence of the weather, building memory. Building blocks for future work.


Sunday, 2 September 2012

Altered Map Book

I've been invited to join an Altered Book group; a lovely way to broaden ideas.
My book has been made out of old ordnance survey maps ... an 'Altered Map' maybe... there's another idea there...

front cover details

page 1
page 1 - detail

mark making,
making marks,
leaving marks
page 2 - purely experimental

layering marks,
creating marks,
page 2 - detail

This book is on its way to the next artist, can't wait to see what I get to work on next...

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Cornish sketchbook - Rock structures

When I am on the coast I am drawn mostly to the rocks, the intricate ways in which the sea worn stone fits together and the way that the stone forms shapes against and within the cliff faces.

When I went to Cornwall this time I had just read a snippet about
deciding what you want to draw before you start.
It sounds so obvious, but deciding that the seam in the rock leading to this little 'cave'
was what I wanted to focus on let me concentrate on the key forms without adding too
much unnecessary detail and shading.

All these sketches were made on Kennack Sands, where the dog was allowed...

Sometimes its easier to settle to a drawing if you're comfortable,
a chair does mean you can get your angle right,
and there is somewhere to hang your coat in the changeable August weather!
I wonder if makers of this chair realise that their drink holder
 on the arm makes a perfect artists pencil holder...