Printmaking autumn blues

Does anybody else get a little dissatisfied – a little disappointed – I am struggling for the right word…at this time of the year? Feeling a little bit aimless, not sure where I am going or what is the actual point of all this? It is partly I think because, other than the odd Workshop, I don’t have any deadlines ahead. In an attempt to give myself a bit of an aiming point I have entered work into a couple of the national competitions – which also carries danger if you are feeling slightly fragile about your work, as rejection is more likely than acceptance! At least I recognise this as a cycle and more to do with the time of the year, the melancholy of heading into autumn and winter without having had a decent summer.
Well, so what have I been doing for the last couple of months artwise? It is a great weakness of mine that I get easily seduced into new skills and screenprinting has been my latest indulgence. I have kept to screenprinting with stencils as I don’t have the equipment necessary to get involved in photo sensitive screens just yet but I have absolutely loved working at this new medium.

Screenprint of fish

Helen Pakeman
Screenprint

screenprint Helen Pakeman

Screenprint Helen Pakeman


There is something delicious about the smoothness of finish you get from screenprint – it is so crisp an edge after the looseness of monoprint. Speaking of which I am revisiting the large portraits of refugees etc which I worked on a few years back. They were quite intense so I needed a break for a period but I do find them engrossing. In fact I have entered a couple of them in the Monoprinting Masters competition run by Royal Society of Painter Printmakers – wish me luck and I will let you know how I get on.

2017 – the year of the Cards

 

So, 2017 is a ‘taking stock’ year for me.  I have been looking at my accounts – one way of measuring what one has done – and find I took nearly as much money from my cards as I did from my pictures, carvings etc which is astonishing.  I do very much enjoy making cards and try to keep them all as original works rather than reproductions so that, at £2.50, they represent decent value for money.  So here are just a few examples:

Linocuts: I use linocut a lot for cards as it is a relatively quick way to reproduce an image, depending on how complicated you make it and how many colours you try and introduce.  Birds seem to work rather nicely so here are a couple  of examples:

Jenny Wren Card

Jenny Wren Card

Blue TIt Card

Blue Tit Card

I mount them on previously marbled paper which sets them off well I think.  Sometimes I use old music paper as the mount.

 

 

Potato prints: these I use to make a comedy range of ‘birds with attitude’ with a real feather :

Guinea Fowl Card

Guinea Fowl Card

BIrd with Attitude Card

Bird with Attitude Card

They are so much fun to make as they come out with a variety of expressions – but
mostly they seem to be quite grumpy which probably says a lot!  The Guinea Fowl on the right is part of a new range that I am designing for a wonderful garden in Clanfield called Friars Court (www.friarscourt.com).  They are opening their beautiful gardens to the public within the National Garden Scheme – the yellow book and wanted cards which would suit their venue.  Lovely commission! 

Complacent Cat Card

Complacent Cat Card

Playful Cat Card

Playful Cat Card

Collage: finally I was messing about the other day and put together these cat cards made from material – now these are time consuming!  But  I can cut them out in front of the TV.  I think I was rather missing Sid, my cat who was run over just after Christmas….although he was grey, not blue with white spots.

And finally I have agreed to take on Christmas and Greetings cards for Wells For India again after a break of a few years, but cant show you those yet as I haven’t started them. 

It seems as if cards are chosing me at the moment which actually suits me very well.  I know they are a bit ‘throw away’, but they reach to unexpected places and can give great joy – what’s not to like?

Projects and Workshops

Life seems to be unusually busy at the moment and I feel like I am splitting myself in several directions at once.  Projects, workshops and lampshades, I will explain…

I have an exciting project on the go which is a collaborative venture.  One of the biggest challenges with working as an artist is that it can be quite solitary, and unless you have a deadline, it is very easy to get sidetracked (into lampshades etc see below).  So, together with a friend, Naomi,  we have decided to work on a project together.  We are both very interested in the subject of ‘memory’.  Everyone can have a distinct memory of the same event and it be quite different, and although you think you remember clearly, actually there are often gaping holes.  Intriguing!  So that is our starting point; we are going to travel with it and see where we arrive.

Meantime I am embracing teaching as I have so much enjoyed it.  I have been asked by the Craft Barn in Lechlade to do a White Line Woodcut Workshop for them in April and hope to increase that side of things in 2017.  White Line Woodcut and Monoprint would be my favourite ways of working I think although I have booked up for a week learning Screenprinting at West Dean in January.  My treat to me!

At the same time I had a good idea (!) which involved using old embroidered tablecloths to make lampshades and/or quilts – I have started with lampshades as they are smaller  and they are, of necessity, a bit frilly but quite pretty I think – below a couple of examples – what do you think?  If I am going to run with this then I need to access cheap tablecloths – the irony is that everybody’s aunty has a shelf somewhere full of them, often teastained (which doesn’t matter to me) but how to get hold of them?  The second problem is how to access a market for them.  The trouble, as usual, is that I really like making things, and then lose interest a bit when it comes to trying to sell them.  What I need is an agent…or perhaps I should investigate Etsy?

 

 

 

 

National Print Exhibition Bankside London

pure white line woodblock

pure white line woodcut

Just a very quick post as I am a bit swamped with work but just wanted to let the world know that I have two pieces of work selected for the National Original Print Exhibition in Bankside, London.  I am really excited as I entered 4 prints for selection and had 2 accepted – competitions are such a lottery that one is always braced for rejection!  Both pieces are white line woodcut and maybe the novelty of that process helped – I feel like I am operating a one woman revival of white line woodcut!

This is one of the prints that was accepted and I rashly said I had an edition of 8 so when the print got in I had to speedily make the edition before I lost sight of the original.  Hey ho!  So, the Exhibition is on from 21 September til 2 October and is just below Tate Modern (next venue?) so if anyone is in London please do pop in and let me know what you think.

Meanwhile I am offering Workshops in White Line Woodcut – one in October in Faringdon so get in touch if you are interested.

Gotta go now…fish to carve, people to see…

 

White Line Woodblock Printing

Just before Christmas I discovered a form of printing that was quite new to me – White Line Woodblock.  I thought I would do a post about it because it is really low tech and could easily be done on the kitchen table which makes it beautifully accessible to anyone.

It was dreamed up in America in 1915 as a way of getting multi-coloured prints from a single woodblock, using watercolour.  There is a good explanation online at www.barenforum.org so I won’t go into too much detail, other than to say that they fix the paper with screws and I do it with masking tape (pic below): sorry it is a little indistinct but it is japanese paper, hence you can see the woodcut underneath and is attached on the left side.

demo to attach paper

demo to attach paper

Key top tips I have learned so far:

  1. damp the wood before applying the watercolour.
  2. Use a paper that is absorbent, not watercolour paper.  Blotting paper works really well, interestingly.
  3. apply thin layers of colour, working from light to dark.  Depending on the effect you want, let the paper dry in between applications.
  4. Plywood woodblocks are very adequate, and don’t forget you can use both sides (but not at once!)
  5. Because you are working on one section at a time you can apply as much colour as you like.  Go mad!

There are surprisingly few artists working in white colour woodblock.  I think it has huge possibilities especially if combined with monoprint for example.  I have attached a few of my effortsRefugee 1 just to give an idea of the kind of variety of effect that can be achieved.

 

pure white line woodblock

pure white line woodblock

tango in blue dress