Painting Ashdown Forest

Painting in Ashdown Forest today. Early clouds cleared, but the strong wind made it too cold to get out of the car. These were all painted from the front seat, sketchpad resting on the steering wheel.



B2026 near Chuck Hatch, looking south.



Near Old Lodge, looking north.



From Chuck Hatch, looking north-east.

Each watercolour and ink on paper, approx 30 x 23 cm.

SGFA exhibition

The Society of Graphic Fine Art exhibition is at the Menier Gallery, London until 13 October 2011.
I've four prints in the exhibition, including my Sissinghurst print, which won "The Award for a Highly Commended Print".

Sketching in Surrey

We've been out with the sketchbooks again, at last. On the way to Denbies to collect the pictures at the end of the Croydon Art Society exhibition, we stopped at Polesden Lacey, a National Trust country house in the Surrey Hills.



Ink and watercolour on paper, 28 x 9 cm.

Even in mid-September, there were still roses in bloom. A few too many people pretending not to look at my drawing as they walked past, so I found another spot hidden by thick hedges.


Ink and watercolour on paper, 28 x 9 cm.

As the sky got darker and threatened rain, the visitors started to disappear, so I was able to find a bench closer to the house, and drew undisturbed.



Ink and watercolour on paper, 28 x 9 cm.

After we'd collected the pictures from Denbies, we drove back over Box Hill. At last, the sun came out, and so one more sketch of the view looking south completed the day.



Ink and watercolour on paper, 28 x 9 cm.

Linocuts: Lewes castle and Bull House



Lewes castle from the Paddock.




Bull House, Lewes: Between 1768 and 1774, it was the home of revolutionary writer Tom Paine.

Each: Three block linocut, 10 x 10 cm.

Linocut: A26, Lewes

Not just squares.



Three block linocut, 13 x 10 cm.
This is the view from the steep road up to Lewes Golf Club, looking south down the A26 towards the coast.

Linocut: The Round House, Lewes

This print is of the Round House in Lewes.





Three plate linocut, 10 x 10 cm.
The Round House was the base of a windmill built in 1801, and then turned into a house somewhere around 1900. In 1919, Virginia Woolf bought it, but never lived there, preferring to move to Monk's House at Rodmell instead.

Lewes: The Ouse from Cliffe Bridge

And another print of Lewes. Like the previous one, it's a view from Cliffe Bridge; this time looking in the other direction, south, past the old warehouses, towards the Linklater Pavilion.




Three plate linocut, 10 x 10cm. Edition of 5.

Struggling a bit here with the multiple plate technique, which I've not done much of before. Working on such a small scale makes any errors much more visible. You can see the black layer overlaps at the left edge -- if this was a 50cm square, that would be hardly noticeable, but on a 10cm square it stands out. Need to cut the blocks much more accurately, and sort out the registration method.

Linocut: Harvey's Brewery

Another "buildings of Lewes" print: the rooftops and chimneys of Harvey's Brewery from Cliffe Bridge.




Three plate linocut, 10 x 10 cm. Edition of 5.

Linocut: Rotten Row, Lewes

It's been quite here recently. I've been busy working on a set of prints of Lewes, trying out a new style and technique. I've been concentrating using multiple plates (instead of reduction prints), and, inspired by my wood engraving course, on black-and-white images -- yet trying to include some colour as well, just to brighten them up.

Here's the first print in the set, of one my favourite buildings in Lewes, on the corner of Rotten Row.



Rotten Row, Lewes. Linocut. 10 x 10 cm. Edition of 5. 

Keeping busy

And another exhibition: The Croydon Art Society exhibition at Denbies Vineyard in Surrey starts on Monday 3 September, and is open every day until 4pm on Sunday 16 September.

Lewes Artwave 2012

I'll be exhibiting in this year's Lewes Artwave Festival at 19 Mill Road, Lewes.


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August: Sat 25th, Sun 26th, Mon 27th
September: Sat 1st, Sun 2nd, Sat 8th, Sun 9th
12.00-17.00

More information

Wood engraving

I spent last weekend at bip-art Printmaking Workshop in Brighton on a wood engraving course with Chris Daunt, and produced this print of the walled garden at Wakehurst:


Wakehurst. Wood engraving, 7.5 x 10 cm.

It's carved -- more like, scratched -- into a block of lemonwood, and then printed in black ink by hand-burnishing. The challenge was expressing everything in black or white -- no greys, let alone colour -- everything is there or not there; every mark is a decision that can't be changed.

The City, London: Reduction linocut

A dark layer on the boats and trees, and the print is finished at last.



9 stage reduction linocut, 30 x 24cm.

This is the view from Waterloo Bridge, looking east along the Embankment to the City of London.

Reduction linocut, stage 8

The green on the previous layer worked so well, I decided to do some more.



That's the trees finished now. Next stage: complete the boats, and we're done.

Reduction linocut, stage 5

All the light tones are in place, so it's time to move towards the mid-tones. A layer of blue establishes the main shapes.



Sorry about the blurred photo!

Reduction linocut, stage 3: Red challenge

A challenging stage.

I needed to add some details to the boats at some stage. Because they're small and mid-toned, I would usually put them on a later layer -- if they'd been any other colour than red. However, I find red the most difficult colour to work with because it's so transparent. If I leave the red to a later layer, it won't print well (all the earlier layers will show through, and it won't look bright red). So it's better to print when there are only light colours on the print.

But the other problem with red is that it's difficult to print on top of: when it's dry, its surface is more resistant to other ink on top.



Solution: I used an acetate stencil and printed the red just on the boats (and put some brown on some of the distant buildings). Now the red is exactly where I want it. I can cut away those areas from the block, and not have to worry about them again.

Reduction linocut, stage 2

This layer has just slightly darker versions of the colours that are on the previous layer.



That's the sky finished, at least. So far, so good. But it always looks good at this stage!

Starting a new print

And we're off again: a new print starts.



I've cut out the pure whites, and printed a pale blue to pale brown gradient. (It's actually paler than it looks in this photo.) Even at this stage, the subject matter might be recognisable: can you tell what it is yet?

Havana, Cuba: Reduction linocut

A few details in black on the tenth(!) layer completes the print.



Havana, Cuba. Reduction linocut, 30 x 24cm.

Reduction linocut, stage 9

Dark blue over the entire picture consolidates the earlier layers.



Nearly there... One more layer to go.

Reduction linocut, stage 8

The trees still aren't right, so I added another still darker layer just to those bits.

 

 (Stage 8?! How did that happen? Can this print get any slower? My next print will be of a tortoise on a glacier: that might move faster.)

David Gentleman at work

The publication of a new book of drawings by David Gentleman gives me an excuse to write about one of my favourite artists.

David Gentleman is reckoned to be the artist whose work has been reproduced more times than any other artist. Even if you don't know his name, you've almost certainly seen his work. If you've ever been to Charing Cross station on the London Underground (Northern Line), you've seen his work:

 

(more images)

If you've ever been to a National Trust property in England, you've seen his work:

 

If you've ever bought a stamp in the UK, you've probably seen his work. He's designed more stamps for Royal Mail than anyone else has.

 

But the work that makes him the most reproduced artist is in the corner of that stamp: the little silhouette of the Queen. It's been used on every British commemorative stamp for nearly fifty years, and on numerous Commonwealth stamps too, adding up to hundreds of millions of reproductions.


Here's a short, but fascinating video of David Gentleman at work on a drawing for the new book:

 


Interview with David Gentleman: http://mikedempsey.typepad.com/graphic_journey_blog/2010/02/david-gentleman-stamp-of-approval.html

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Gentleman

Reduction linocut, stage 7

I was hoping that the mid-dark blue that I put on the shadows of the building in the previous layer would also read as the shadows on the trees. But I don't think it's going to work convincingly, so I've added some darker green just to the trees.



(Bad photo: the dark blue looks lighter in this photo that it did in the previous one. But of course it's exactly the same.)

Reduction linocut, stage 6

Darker layer of blue.



Now we're getting somewhere, and about time too. Stage 6, and I reckon there's still about three more to go.

Reduction linocut, stage 4

Back on track today.

I needed to start adding some colour to the trees, but I didn't want the green to leak into the surrounding areas. So I made a mask and just printed those green bits.



Progress on this print is turning out to be painfully slow!

Reduction linocut, stage 3

Pale blue over the entire block joins all the elements together, and the picture starts to make more sense. Still a long way to go yet though.

Reduction linocut, stage 2

Another layer: a bit darker blue, and a bit darker orange. Still not much to see.

Here we go again

The start of another reduction linocut. Not much to see yet, but I've put a very pale blue-grey across the sky, and some orange for some rooftops.

Stamping out prints

This week's printmaking class was all about picture making. Keeping the technique to a minimum and using the most basic materials -- plastic erasers and stamp pads -- the emphasis was on using your imagination to create a print. Here are some pictures of how my students got on. We started with the erasers in their natural state: using all sides and edges to print from, and then enhancing the image with pencil and pen lines.




Then we started to carve the erasers with craft knives and linocut tools. Unlike previous sessions where we use a single block to create multiple images, this time we used multiple blocks to create a single image.





Finally we took this further, creating patterns from tiny bits of eraser. (Each of the sixteen little squares that make up these patterns is about half an inch square.)