Sunday, 6 December 2015

20:20 Box of delights 2015

Its a wonderful thing to receive a box of prints from fellow printmakers across the country. This year's 20:20 print exchange event hosted by Hot Bed Press in Manchester has brought me a lovely selection of techniques and approaches.

My box of delightful prints fell into 2 main categories...

Pattern -

and Landscape -

Am I allowed favourites? Here they are ... 
I love the etching 'Estuary' by Lynne Thirkell and Kate Thornton's circular screenprint. 
Thank you also to June McHenry for the terracotta seaside, Alison Craig for the jade 'Dyfi Pools and Jade Emma Ellis for 'Population 139,403' the potopolymer intaglio.

Thank you to Hot Bed Press for hosting, Looking forward to next year.
Follow this link to see 20:20 prints from all over the UK

Thursday, 5 November 2015

20:20 hot off the press

I left this print needing more tonal variety. The last stage was therefore a spit bite aquatint. I stopped out with all the usual varnishes but also used a chinagraph pencil in the bottom left corner to add the suggestion of tractor tyre marks, below

One quite well organised (for me) day later and I had the edition printed. Pre-soaking paper makes the world of difference on editioning days.

Multiple happiness - all 25 prints plus a few to ensure consistency

Signed, numbered and ready to be packed off to the lovely people at Hot Bed Press in Salford

'Tug of war' etching, 10 x 10cm on 20 x 20cm paper

The final print - The title had always been there, not a tug between the telegraph poles, nor a remembrance of a war zone. Not even a farmers battle with current economic pressures - although all these interpretations are quite satisfying - but, more prosaically, I was talking to my brother on the phone while I did the original sketch. He told me about winning a tug of war competition - I always think of that when I look at this sketch. I'll leave it up to you which interpretation you want to go with...

Monday, 26 October 2015

20:20 time!

I've been preparing my plate for the great 20:20 print exchange organised by the lovely people at Hot Bed Press.

This year I decided to try a slight variation on the sort of image I often make - I've gone for a more open view. Those who know my work well will hardly see any difference but, for me, it is moving forward.

I always start with sketches, drawn on location 10 mins walk from my village

First a quickie, then one to firm up some details and tone

The first etch, - hard ground line, allowed me to get a fairly accurate drawing

The next etch - open bite through thinned stop out, is all about tone....

Not bad, I've got some structure as well, but its going to need a softer use of tone to create distance and properly describe the foreground. I'll want some atmosphere too, a lot to ask of a small 10 x10cm plate, but a good chance to explore new ground.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Countryside sketchbook update

I've begun scanning and up loading some sketches from earlier this year, good memories of the weather turning warmer...

... a taste of 4 new sketches on the Countryside page.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Thank you RWA...

...for this fab photo on both their facebook and twitter pages which shows my print in the background.
Image can be seen @GemmaRWA

Other images are drawings by Debbie Locke and Fiona Robinson. The visitor is looking at a great etching by Ian Chamberlain.

Coast update

Lots more coastal sketches on my 'Sketchbook -Coast' page from Cornwall and a few from Pembrokeshire.

A taster...

Sunday, 4 October 2015

RWA 163 Annual Open Exhbition

I was delighted to see my print 'Weathered and worn' on the walls of the 163 Annual Open Exhibition at the RWA in Bristol.

Its a treat to be part of this prestigious exhibition and to be hung in the print and drawing room, so beautifully put together by artist and writer Fiona Robinson.
I was felt very proud to be shown on the same wall space as the intriguing drawing machine work by Debbie Locke, below:

Debbie's piece is called 'Retracing steps', and my piece was set in Steps Lane, the selectors didn't kow this from my title but its a delicious co-incidence.

RWA 163 Annual Open Exhbition Opens October 4th - November 29th.
Royal West of England Academy, Queens Road, Bristol, BS81PX

Monday, 17 August 2015


I've just had a wondefully relaxing break on the Greek island of Kefalonia. There was the opportunity for a little drawing

and time for lots of swimming and reading. There's a couple of my favourite sketches posted under the 'Sketchbook - Coast' page...

Monday, 27 July 2015

Etching - below the surface

The surface of one of the lanes I walk regularly has gone through some rough treatment this last year or so. There are loads more lumps, bumps, ruts, puddles and often rivulets of water to negotiate. (Even now in July!) The surface has been excavated in places, stones have appeared and channels have been eroded.

Fascinating drawing fodder. This sketch provided the impetus for the etching below.

'Surface layers' - etching 40 x 20 cm

The top half stays true to the sketch while the lower half of the plate allowed me to explore the whole notion of surface.

This close up shows a dramatic aquatint intervention which tries to convey the idea of lower layers under the surface becoming exposed.
Fun to move beyond the sketch.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

etchings with an edge

A couple of weeks ago I caught this wonderful exhibition of Jason Hicklin's etchings at Eames Fine Art in London. These moody etchings evoke the brooding power of nature; the markmaking draw the eye across sweeping stretches of water and threatening skies.

They are full of foreboding yet mesmerising beauty.

The techniques used make the viewer feel that the prints exist on the edge of the possibilities of etching. The surface of the plates are deeply bitten, the image is worn into the plate adding to the illusion of depth and distance.

An inspiring exhibition visit.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Re-purposed prints

I've been having a sort out; loads (and I mean loads!) of old prints. What to do with them?

I've got a great book about Barbara Rae's printmaking. In it, she describes cutting up old/experimental prints and collaging them back together to create new ideas.

A bit of mono-screenprint helped to kick start things,

cutting and experimenting,

playing with wash backgrounds... and discarding elements, cutting up more prints...

'Spring Woodland' 30x30cm, intaglio and screenprint collage

...and then this woodland fell into place.

Wotton Gallery had an open submission exhibition coming up and I sent this off. How lovely to now hear its going to be included in their 30x30 Exhbition, opening very soon.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Open gardens

Avening village had an open gardens afternoon on Sunday - what a treat it was to see the beautiful spaces people create - some of them gave Chelsea a run for its money...

Always a privilege to see the gardens at Avening Court opened for the day...

Time to wander home after the enjoying the shady wisteria at the Highwayman's cottage.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

a minor gale and a sketchbook

Last weekend I left the house in some very undecided weather conditions - black clouds against blue skies and a gusty breeze. As I got to my drawing spot the breeze had turned into a horizontal gale accompanied by very brisk drizzle.
I sheltered under a tree and the dog huddled by the wall and I promised him I would do a quick sketch.

A few minutes later - Its intriguing just how much weather conditions can affect drawing. I have to admit that I didn't purposely draw all of these marks. The minor gale did its work in lifting and buffeting my sketchbook against my pencil.

The wind 'drew' some lovely free lines which descibed the view very well!

A mark-making treat, but I won't be wishing for more bad weather.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Sketchbook - wave watching

We've just had a fabulous week in Cornwall, couldn't have asked for better weather - great sketching time!

One sunny, but windy, day on Constantine Beach the surf was really up and the waves were crashing into the rocks. The 15 feet high 'splashes' cried out to be drawn; something I hadn't attempted before.

It was great fun to draw. Amazing how the wave rhythm became somewhat predictable - I could concentrate on splash patterns. In fact so much fun I had another go...

...sitting closer this time! Of course the waves weren't so big for the rest of the week but I'll look out for big waves again.

I've added a new sketchbook page which will build over the next few weeks. You'll find a couple more Cornwall drawings there.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Etching process - Weathered effects

Here we go... my biggest plate yet! From sketches made on the spot to the final print..

Some of the sketches used as reference -
sketches provide the feel and the memory as well as a record of details such as the pitch and tilt of this lane.
Photographic reference shows the location but was not very helpful in seeing the undulations of the weathered, worn away surface. My amateur photography can flatten a view and disguise the original interest in a place.
Proof stage 4
Successive layers of open bite sugar lift and stop out resist provide structure and shape.

Its good to see I could go bigger than this plate!

The following close-ups show details - the plate has had a few more dips in the ferric. Further stop out washes and some combination aquatint and spit bite aquatint dips. All in the name of definition. Aquatints have been kept to a minimum to maintain a crispness in the final image.

Layers of open bite textures give the ground its worn, trampled and rain channeled surface. The multiple layers aim to hint at years of exposure and time worn impact on the lane.

Proof stage 6 - the plate looks much richer
Weathered and worn etching 66 x 44 cm
The final print achieves much of what I was hoping for, I'm really pleased that the layers of sugar lift allow each mark to survive each bite, and build up a sense of time having passed on this lane's surface. The print is now on show at 'Alchemy', Museum in The Park, Stroud.