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.

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?

 

 

 

 

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!