Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The unintentional mark

Creating a new shellac plate with tiny marks, rather like the traditional way of transferring an embroidery design with chalk.  It's a SLOW process but I enjoy the repetition & the rhythm of push, move a little, push, move a little....  On completion I found that I'd actually pushed a little too hard & managed to pierce the plate completely, leaving lovely unintentional marks on the paper below,

which got me thinking about accidental or unintentional marks, a theme for the future I think.

I'm not completely happy with the way the plate printed, I really need to run it through a press but I do like the way the ink has pooled in certain places & the piercings now resemble unpicked stitches which is what I'd hoped -

Monday, 28 November 2011

Giving Thanks in San Francisco

I've just been lucky enough to spend 4 days in San Francisco over the Thanksgiving holiday.  I managed to escape the madness of the city for a couple of hours & wander around MOMA which had an interesting exhibition of the drawings of sculptor Richard Serra...

There is a beauty in the simplicity of graphite on paper & strength in repetition...

The visual power of repeated forms is something I've been investigating in my own work as I struggle to create large art pieces.  I realise that often this means my work suffers in exhibitions when hung alongside larger works so I'm exploring the idea of repetition & have a few ideas I want to play with. 

I was also excited to see a piece by Agnes Martin, I've been looking at her work alot lately, seduced by the apparent simplicity of her line.  The work has wonderful texture & again the quality of mark making is beautiful.

Agnes Martin was quite a philospher too & I have this quote on my studio wall to keep me on my own path -

'Don't worry what others think, just make what you have to, what's calling to be made. You will find your voice this way.'

Monday, 21 November 2011

Little Things

Trials & tests ....

using ideas of 'reveal & conceal' with the small silk prints

Thursday, 10 November 2011

From Sketch to Print

My printmaking course doesn't resume until after Christmas so I'm spending some time evaluating what I've learnt & assessing how I can use these new skills in my own practice.

I often work outdoors, I love to take my sketchbook & camera for a walk, stopping from time to time to draw, collect and simply observe.  Sometimes I leave all art materials behind and challenge myself to use only what I find around me - mud for paint, sticks & feathers for brush, discarded envelopes, plastics or even tree bark for paper.  It's one of the ways I connect with my local environment but this has been hard in America since everywhere is kept so clean, tidy & landscaped!  

This page from my sketchbook is a collection of tiny drawings made in the field with a fine liner, berry juice & mud. 

I prepared some small shellac plates, etching my usual wirey drawings onto the surface with various sharp tools ...

In the printmaking studio we use oil based inks but this doesn't sit well with my environmental concerns so I tried acrylic paint - it's all I have on hand anyway!  I tried to wipe away as much of the surface paint as possible so that the print was clean but that's much harder with acrylics, the paint dries too quickly. 

The results vary....I added a retarder to the paint which helped, water colour paper gave crisper results.  A bit of creative thinking turned my pasta maker into a make shift roller printer! 

Printing on parchment paper gives a suggestion of possible layering -

I then tried printing directly on to silk,  I like the delicacy of these...

What I really love is the used shellac plates & the way the black paint has filled the etched lines, funny how our tools become just as beautiful as the work created...

I can now see where some of my lines were not deep enough so I'll work further on these and have another print session when I've purchased some water based inks.

Not sure how I'm going to mix this work with my textiles yet but I like the quality of line that this technique provides so I shall continue with my samples & I'll probably use the best of the prints to make some cards.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Looking for Connections

It's been a long time since I've blogged so it feels good to be back in the world wide web.  The last 6 months have seen big changes for me & my family - at the end of July we moved to the Pacific Northwest of America so my Shared Threads Studio has been packed, shipped & finally reinstated in a spare bedroom of our new home. 

I've spent the first 3 months of our adventure feeling rather disconnected, struggling to find any meaningful relationship with this huge country.  I'm determined to return home with new skills so I've been doing a printmaking course this last 8 weeks which has been great fun & has helped me connect with fellow artists.

I've done rudimentary printmaking before, but always as a method of applying surface pattern to cloth rather than as an art form in itself so it's been great to learn some new techniques such as intaglio & paper lithography.  We started off with monoprinting, using found objects on a plexi plate -

You can't see from the photos but after running the plate through the press the paper became really embossed which adds a third dimension to the print. 

We also did collographs which I loved, this is a detail of one of the plates, the rough texture in the corner is egg shell....

and a detail of the print....

Of course it's having the large etching press which allows you to pick up so much detail - I really want a press now! 

The course has been an interesting exercise for me, it's helped cement some  ideas for my textile work and has given me another mark making tool.  The most valuable part was actually trying techniques which just didn't work for me because they don't suit my way of viewing the world - reductive lino prints was one.  My brain just could not cope with working backwards & having to plan which bits of the lino to cut first!  So much as I would love to be the next Angie Lewin, 'it ain't gonna happen!'  That's probably why I'm so attracted to her work (and Mark Herald's for that matter) - I know I could never produce anything even close to it, it's just not how I 'see' things.  I'm much more spontaneous & free in my mark making so I need to use techniques which capture that.  I also found that using the lino tools aggravated an old tendon injury in my hand so I'll just have to buy one of these beautiful prints........Angie Lewin at her best,

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