Friday, 6 December 2013

GPC Affordable Art Fair

Gloucestershire Print Co-operative has its very own Affordable Art Fair in full swing in our dedicated gallery space at Griffin Mill, Stroud.

There is a lovely variety of work available all under £100, much of it well under!

If you are coming along to look, please note that it is only officially open on Saturdays.
See you soon!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

RWA 161st Open Exhibition

Yesterday I was thrilled to be able to go down to the RWA to see one of my prints, 'Weather beaten track' included in this year's annual open exhibition.

Its fascinating to see which images are selected for shows like this. For some people this was the less obvious choice of the images I submitted, but it is the one that is looser in the drawing and handling of resists - therefore more adventurous for an etching? Perhaps this is what the selectors saw in it.

The print/drawing room had a lot of good quality work by some of my favourites of this show, including Fiona Robinson, Ros Ford and Laurie Steen and I felt honoured to be hanging right next to David Carpanini's atmospheric etchings inspired by Welsh villages.

Etchings by David Carpanini - beautiful sooty blacks

It was also good to see lots of representatives of UWE's MA Print course, and of the Gloucestershire Printmaking Co-op.

Its a good show, worth a visit if you're in the Bristol area.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Charcoal drawing - May Path

I've been making a few large scale sketches to work out images that have possibilities for etching.

This is the most recent image to be transferred into etching, drawn from sketchbook studies and photos taken back in May when the new growth was starting to fill out and when the sun was quite high.

By late summer it became almost impossible to make out the floor of this path, so I had to revert to photos to finish the drawing.

adaptions to the foreground and shadows 

There's a lot of new work underway at the moment for the exhibition at New Brewery Arts in January, but not a lot finished... back to the drawing board for me then.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Charcoal drawing - viewpoint

I wondered if a different viewpoint would produce an interesting piece.


I noticed this minor path made by animals when I was doing a photographic recce at the end of the summer. The scale of the leaves and the dark leading to the light intrigued me.
The drawing challenged me, and there was more interpretation on the drawing board than I expected.

This earlier stage shows how the tonal balance and shaping changed as the drawing progressed. The process of bringing a drawing from the paper continues to be both challenging and endlessly fascinating.

Monday, 28 October 2013


Inspiration comes from a variety of sources - reading is a lovely supplement to the visual.
I received these two books as a birthday present, and have enjoyed thumbing through them over the summer.
Holloway is a treasure of a book, not least because of Stanley Donwood's beautiful drawings.
The Old Ways is full of Robert Macfarlane's beautiful prose describing his walking adventures and musings.
" Ahead of me lay more days on foot, and the path insinuating eastwards - in the old and innocent sense of the verb, from the Latin insinuare, 'to bend in subtle windings, to curve'."
Robert Macfarlane

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Inside my sketchbook - free to invent

Over the summer I have revisited places that I know really well and I have drawn and redrawn them a number of times. Sometimes this is quite meditative, its usually relaxing, and often provides surprisingly varied results.

 By standing in a different place, or drawing at a different time of the day the place can appear quite different.

Taking a different starting point or looking at the place with a different focus can also lead to an interesting drawing.

I had pondered on this process, and then heard a talk given at the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath on Henry Moore. The speaker quoted Moore:

"The vital thing for an artist is to have a subject that allows him to try out all kinds of formal ideas - things that he doesn't yet know about for certain but wants to experiment with ... within the subject that you've done a dozen times before you are free to invent a completely new form or idea."

What a wonderful justification, and how true. I can now enjoy going back to certain places time after time knowing that when I am there I am 'free to invent'

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Weather beaten track

I've been working on keeping things loose as the scale of the print develops. Working from photographs can impose too much detail, so this print is made by working only from sketches completed on location.

There's something immensely satisfying in seeing a number of prints lined up
 - the magic of multiples 
'Weather beaten track' etching 40 x 20cm
I made my sketches of this track back in March when the weather was changeable. This section is quite exposed and I got hailed on one day as I sat there, and then caught a snow flurry the next time I drew. It was always late in the day as I took the dog for his afternoon walk and it seemed a bleak place. Hence the blackness of the trees in the distance, the rough bare track and the title of the etching.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Charcoal puddles

When I previously posted about the fascinating puddles that I found in a local lane I decided to rework a similar view to see if I could get closer to my ideal of this place. I also wanted to deal with the foreground more effectively.

I was much happier with this reworking, the looser foreground brings the viewer into the image and I feel happier with the contrast of tonal values between foreground and background.

Cropping images makes for interesting results, this brings the focal point to the centre, and visually gives us more background. So should I tear the original down, or use the crop as a starting point for an etching?

Sunday, 1 September 2013

New shoots

An update on a man initiated/natural process which has fascinated me -
The 2000 year old coppiced lime tree at Westonbirt Arboretum has begun to show very positive signs of life again. It seemed as though the cutting back of this tree last year was done with an edge of nervousness, but here it is bursting forth with luscious lime green shoots:

The tree is now a number of small offshoots from the original trunk, sprouting into what look like shrubs, protected at the moment from the deer that roam the arboretum. Rising amongst these shoots is the land sculpture to celebrate the coppicing.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

where did I get to?

A philosophical as well as a rhetorical question maybe!

It's been a busy summer including a wedding in the family, a truly fabulous occasion, and we've squeezed in a brilliantly relaxing holiday. Now its back to work time...

...and where did I get to? This week has been about finishing things off and tying loose ends.

'winding steps' etching  9 x 9cm
This mini print was almost finished, just needed the spit bite and here it is, printed, ready for a frame. It's good to back in the print room

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Charcoal - fascinating puddles

When the weather was very wet, not so long ago, I took loads of photos and made sketches. I found the shapes and light changes created by the puddles fascinating. Drawing them took some thinking through... but I am now getting happier with some scaled up charcoal versions.

Here's a starting point

Good distance, pleased with the soft trees and hedgerows in the distance, but how much detail to put in the foreground?

 Oh, oh! this is too much, the grass has turned into a heavy block, dragging the image in weird directions.
Puddles, Steps Lane 2 charcoal 70 x 35cm

Much better - balance is restored, I love the flexibility of charcoal, being able to draw it in, and then take it out again.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Ancient lime reborn

Back in December I posted the coppicing of the 2000 year old lime at Westonbirt  (link here)
Since then the coppiced stems have spent a couple of months waiting for environmental sculptor Richard Harris to transform them. The results a couple of months after completion are beautiful. Westonbirt and Harris have created a sublime place; peaceful and contemplatory on the inside, full of vigour and promise on the outside. The branches stretch to the sky, their twigs reaching for the light.

The narrow entrance enhances the feeling of solitude inside the sculpture, and the outside sounds feel closed off.

The signs of new growth are clearly visible on the structure of the sculpture and on the old stumps. It will be beautiful to watch this sculpture grow with its surroundings.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Spread your wings

Cheltenham Open studios started today
I popped along to see pal Sue Brown and fellow altered booker Sharon McSwiney ...and Wow!

If you're in the Cheltenham area and want to see very high quality, highly desirable contemporary art in a working studio setting, and how to make the very best use of your sitting room as a gallery space then spread your wings and fly over to this open studio.

Links below:

image borrowed from Sue's blog


Sunday, 12 May 2013

Stepping out

The mini print show is ticking along nicely, the team at the Co-operative have notched up 10 sales on the first weekend, not bad given the current retail climate. I invigilated for a few hours last weekend and it was great to hear how interested people were in technique as well as subject matter.

Overwhelmingly the visitors were drawn to the most colourful prints that the Printmaking Co-operative were showing, or those featuring animals and insects.

So flying in the face of any thought of popular preferences I have gone on to complete my set of black and white, landscape mini prints!  - the thing is we can only enjoy making what we ourselves love, and be glad we are all different.

Two more views along Steps Lane...

'Step up'

'Step out'

Monday, 6 May 2013

Mini Print is open!

Gloucestershire Printmaking Co-operative launched the 'Printmakers Gallery' officially on Friday evening with the start of the Mini Print exhibition.

The Printmakers Gallery is up the steps, on the same floor as the screenprinting area,
downstairs are the etching and relief printing areas.

The banners are out the prints are dry and framed.

The gallery is a bright, white space which shows the work off really well
A fabulous selection of high quality work

and an eclectic mix of styles ... something for everyone ...

... my two little framed prints hanging on a section featuring monochrome work

If you're in the Gloucestershire area, we'd love to see you, and if you know anyone who may be interested , please pass this along. The gallery is open at weekends, throughout May.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Mini Print Exhibition

Mini Print opens this Friday.

Here's my favourite little print that I've made for this show

'Snowy steps' etching 10 x 10 cm
I'm fond of this print because I captured the scene in just two 'takes' and because there is something of the essence of the place:
'Likeness can be obtained by shapes without spirit, but when truth is revealed, spirit and substance are both fully expressed'
(from a story about the Chinese artist Ching Hao)
It's what we all aspire to.
Mini Print is open throughout May, in conjunction with Stroud's major Site Festival

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Has the water finally settled on this path?

A little while ago I showed the development of my print 'water pooled path' (link)

We left it with white margins, and some pencil scribble to see if it might be better with extra dark textures in the side areas.

I printed a short 'stage 1' edition and then with more trepidation than I thought I would feel, back it went into the Ferric. Now I'm so glad I took the risk:

'water pooled path'
- a little path that leads away from the Maple collection at Westonbirt Arboretum

Now the puddles are the focus, and the reflections speak for themselves. The viewers gaze is drawn up through the image rather than roaming side to side. This was a risk which paid off (and that doesn't always happen!)

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Getting organised for Mini Print

I'm underway on making a series of mini prints for an exhibition at the Printmakers Gallery at Gloucestershire Printmaking Co-operative.

Over the last 6 months or so I've been doing a lot of sketches in a lane above the village, and I've decided this is the lane for the mini prints. Its called Steps Lane, a great name for all sorts of wordplay opportunities. Each print has to be a maximum of 10 x 10 cm, here's the first completed one:

'steps ahead' Etching 10 x 10cm

I've been really pleased with the sketchbook feel to these little plates - I've been getting freedom in the marks which I'm very happy with.

I recently read this by Brett Whiteley, "a great drawing is either confirming beautifully what is commonplace, or probing authoritatively the unknown."

I'm not so confident about the 'confirming beautifully', but I love the idea of aiming for it by drawing the commonplace, which in my case are the everyday views I share with lots of other people in the village. Allowing the freedom in the marks is definitely probing the unknown, I'm never completely sure if I've quite got what I hope for.

I'm sure there are going to be lots of interesting little prints, please make a diary date for:

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Sennen sketchbook

We've had a lovely few days at Sennen Cove in Cornwall. The weather stayed dry and we were able to walk on the beach every day - who could ask for more?

We even saw a fair bit of sun, the photograph above looks like it was taken on a mid summer day rather than the end of March. It was roughly the spot where I chose to sit and draw each day.

It was however a bit more difficult to draw because of the freezing cold wind. The wind doesn't show in the photographs we took, but it showed in my drawing...

This was a particularly blowy 10 minutes, stormy water and the waves rushing into where I was perched.

The weather was gloomier the next day, same view but visibility was poor, however the air was a lot calmer, and I had more feeling in my fingers.

The final drawing is the same view, slightly different angle, and a much brighter day. there was some warmth in the sun and I could sit for longer.

Drawing the same view is fascinating, its an illuminating and addictive process. The weather played a stronger role in these drawings than I expected. The rougher the weather the more vigorous my drawing; the calmer weather produced a more considered drawing, with gentler mark making. The rough weather drawing has a good energy, I may have to brave the gales again!

I miss the view now I'm home, but I have found another rather charming corner in the lane behind the house..