successful screen prints

Unique Screenprint

Unique Screenprint part of a series on migration

I have always found entering some of the many Open Competitions to be a good way of giving myself a goal. And to make myself finish work if I am being a bit diletttante. It provides a new audience and who knows what might come of it.

So, this autumn I entered some pieces of work for various competitions including Bristol West of England Academy, Royal Society of Printmakers The Masters, and Oxford Art Society. And guess what – I got pieces accepted by all three. I must be on a roll.

As we all know, entering Open Competitions is a bit like playing the Lottery. There are so many factors governing the choice of work which have nothing to do with the quality of your entry. Does it fit with the other choices ie how will the hang look overall? How many entries were there? What percentage of new and emerging artists do they want? And, as with all art, it often comes down simply to the taste of the Curating Artist.

Knowing this does not stop it being desperately depressing when another kind rejection email pops into the box. Thus I was braced for disappointment but determined to give it a go. I felt my latest series of work had merit so time to get it out there. Imagine my delight when it was accepted by all three. Happy days!

Migration screenprint

Unique screen print part of series on Migration

Screenprints for the spring

I found myself hugely enthused by the Winter Olympics this year, particularly the Big Air and other snowboarding events. The mid air acrobatics were awe inspiring so I set up my camera in front of the Tv and then used some of the photos to create Screenprints. I am screenprinting in the old fashioned way: I reduce my photo to three or four tones, then cut a paper stencil for each of the colours. The tricky part is making the four screens register perfectly on top of each other – just a few mms out and it is spoiled. I have found making them quite compulsive and once I started I found I couldn’t stop! I have Open Studios (known in this part of the world as Oxfordshire Artweeks) coming up in May where I am exhibiting in Littleworth, just outside Faringdon so it will be nice to have a completely new set of work to put on display. I have attempted to set up a new Gallery in My Gallery called Screenprints to show off the new pieces – so far without success, but hopefully I will crack it in the end. Technology heh! I will add a couple of the pics here as a teaser while I sort myself out! Happy Easter!

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.

Review of Truth and Memory at The Imperial War Museum

This is a fascinating exhibition featuring some of the most famous images from British war artists in World War I. The pictures so much inform our idea of how trench warfare was that it is difficult to imagine how shocking they must have been to their first audience. Futurism with its subtext of ‘humanity subsumed by the machinery of war’ [IWM text] produced pictures which vibrate with anger and despair and their titles punctuate that purpose with an exclamation mark! Nash’s desolate landscape entitled ‘We are making a bright new world’ or Nevinson’s bleak painting of dead soldiers, ‘Paths of Glory’, are raw with emotion and were even occasionally banned by the ministry as unhelpful propaganda. The relationship between war artists and government has to be an uneasy one – that would make a fascinating dissertation topic…which is a particularly interesting point in the context of the exhibition, which separates in different rooms works of ‘truth’ and works of ‘memory’. I preferred the ‘Truth’ section as it felt more directly from the experience of war but how much is my taste governed by the fact that our contemporary culture values the instant, the immediate rather than the mature and considered reflection of ‘memory’?

I absolutely recommend a visit if you get a chance. It raises all kinds of questions and, as with the best exhibitions, doesn’t provide any of the answers. Personal favourites were a series called ‘Dance of Death’ by Percy Delf Smith. Finishes 8 March.

 

Venice – la Serenissima

Grateful thanks to my very dear friend Shelley in Seattle who clearly has a hotline to  the Almighty as the sun has come out at last, and what a difference it makes to the colours.  The sea sparkles, the lovely earthy ochres and bricky reds of the buildings sing out, and of course everybody smiles, because the sun is shining.

A few highlights: top of the list would be a visit to the opera held in a private palazzo.  This was intimate opera with only three characters and a four piece chamber group, and you moved rooms for each act.  It was very special, and I cried… surreptiously obviously because I am British and have a certain reputation to retain.  It was La Traviata and if you are curious look up their website www.musicapalazzo.com.

Another memorable visit would have to be to the island of Torcello which is about an hour from Venice in a series of boats, but worth the effort.  Venice was founded there apparently and then moved to where it is now when it outgrew the tiny island.  There is a large church there which is gently crumbling away but which has two entire walls of the most beautiful mosaics, mostly showing a huge Byzantine influence so with that wonderful stylised flow to the garments.  Wonderful!  And finally, did I mention that I have totally fallen in love with Bellini – beautiful sad madonnas.  I shall have to do some research when I get back.  There is so much fizzing round in my head now that I can’t wait to start work.

On a count down now which is sad, but it will be lovely to get home and see Randal again so not all bad!