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

Linoprint Workshops

Niamh's-linoprint workshop

Niamh’s linoprint ‘there was a crooked man’

I was first asked to do a Linoprint Workshop by a local Art Society early last year and, much to my surprise, I really enjoyed it.  Teaching a small group of adults who have chosen to come is an altogether different experience!  And also, it was quite affirming as I realised how much knowledge and expertise I have acquired, just from my own practice.  Most people  have not done linoprints since they were at school and they are really amazed at how sophisticated a technique it can be, whilst remaining accessible and manageable ‘on the kitchen table’ as it were.  Here are a few examples of some work done by my students.

The image on the right above was made by Niamh – simple design and really successful.  We tried it in a couple of colours but decided one colour was best.  I love it – it looks like an illustration from a fairytale.

Grace-linoprint workshop

Grace’s linoprint, ‘oranges and lemons’

The next one on the left is by Grace – completely different style but equally successful.  It would make a great card and, again, she tried a few different colour ways and felt this was her favourite.

christmas-card linoprint workshop

Karen linoprint ‘Snowy view’

 

 

Below right is a Christmas card made by Karen – a slightly more complicated design requiring two lino blocks, one on top of the other, but looks fab.  I feel like a proud mother!

 

 

Throughout the year I ended up doing quite a number of workshops for different organisations – usually no more than 6 people.  It is so exciting to see the anticipation as they peel back the paper to see what is revealed.  Chocolate biscuits seem to be essential to creativity – well I always knew that really! – and some excellent work was produced.  Now I am fully kitted up with the necessary sets of tools, rollers etc and I look forward to working with more students in 2016.  What larks!

A drawing a day – New Year resolution!

potato print drawing

Potato print with feathers

So…I decided in 2016 I would start by drawing every day…good discipline, improve my observational skills, blah blah, and I am proud to tell you that so far I haven’t done a single drawing!!  So already I am carrying guilt about failing so abysmally!  Why do we do it to ourselves?

potato print drawing

potato print with feathers – he looks so cross!

Apart from that I have a good feeling about 2016.  I am resolved to do some new stuff, broaden my horizons, take some risks.

Apart from not-drawing I have been fiddling around with making cards – it is fun and lightweight and provides me with bread and butter to finance the more serious stuff.  Looking in my accounts for last year I find that I sold as much in cards as I did in paintings and the cards have minimal outlay compared to framing and materials costs.  A bit of an eyeopener!  So I have just put together a new range of potato prints of birds which I think are quite cute – I have certainly had fun making them so now I must take them round a few outlets and see if I can widen my reach.

Last year I also started teaching and found, much to my surprise, that I really enjoyed it.  I gave lino printing workshops for small groups, and on an individual basis and people produced some great work.  I will get together a specific post and put some pics of their work once I have checked my students are happy for me to do so.

Meantime, Happy New Year to all.  Let’s make it a good one!