The current design I am working on is one based around Grevillearhyolitica – or the Deua Grevillea which is a grevillea endemic to south-eastern NSW. this has long been a favourite Grevillea of mine to photograph especially when visiting the Eurobodalla Botanic Gardens near Batemans Bay NSW. It has beautiful delicate falling red flowers.
In my more recent work I have been pushing my drawings and interest in Australian wildflowers into design/patternwork. Taking my drawings and simplifying and expanding them, I have been playing with various ideas for Grevillea rhyolitca for about 12 months now. In this particular work I am playing with positive & negative spaces and imagining ways to play on the shapes and patterns of the original plant & the photographs I have taken of them over many years.
I am hoping to revive this blog using some of my Instagram posts. In recent busy & more demanding times I have found it hard to keep up with this blog in amongst everything else. But Instagram has been a more immediate media to display my work and inspiration. I also value the platform as a way to connect to others & in particular to other artists & printmakers.
This image shows my template for the linocut which I have traced alongside the new piece of lino which I will transfer the design to using tracing paper. Oh & one of my photographs I have taken as inspiration for this this particular artwork.
It has been a long while since I posted on this studio diary. This is for many reasons including the ease at which Instagram & Twitter allow you to make quick updates & post images. So if you follow on Instagram or Twitter then you will see I am still working – drawing, designing, photographing & looking for inspiration every day.
I have also been working on small drawings & design works which I have been working up into larger works. I have not been able to carve in recent months due to ongoing issues post wisdom teeth surgery which I am still struggling with including issues with my vision. I have just got some new glasses which will help with that issue – I hope! Ongoing pain & nerve issues may take a bit or lot longer.
I have had to work in shorter bursts & in smaller & different ways
So lots of ideas, small sketchbooks, small drawings, designs, using my computer to develop larger works. This has meant a new way of thinking & working which I am quite enjoying.
I have also still been caring for family fairly closely for the past 2 years including extended periods of time away from home recently. It means I need to be fairly mobile with my artwork!
I have plans (and a venue with lots of support) for an exhibition in September 2017 & so I am now working towards a range of work to exhibit & expand my work.
I will be away again for a few weeks but have plenty of work & ideas to take with me!
Before I go I have been attempting a little carving which I haven’t been able to do for nearly 12 months & I realise how much I love this process & carving.
This piece is one of a set of 6 designs which are large & complex to carve in lino but I am looking forward to the challenge. Still have to figure out a plan to print them – need a much larger press than my little book press. Guess I’ll cross that issue when I get to it!
I was asked a little while ago about my the ‘series’ or ‘collections’ of works that I like to create, which got me thinking more about why I like working this way. My main motivation at face value was pretty simple – I like to create several smaller works that can be hung or presented together so they can be seen individually or as part of a larger multi-work artwork but I think there is perhaps a little more to it than that simple explanation.
When I was beginning my exploration of the linocut/relief printing medium for my artwork I was very conscious of what I see as the strong influence of Margaret Preston in the medium of linocut/woodcut & wildflowers. She created a vision for linocuts & wildflowers which has had a profound impact & influence on many artists working in the medium of linocuts. Many linocut artists have continued to work within the influence of still-life or wildflowers in vases but I made a conscious choice to not take this path. So I deliberately put away any images I had of Margaret Preston’s work, and in fact any images of other linocut artists particularly those who used Wildflowers as their subject matter. I wanted to explore & develop my own vision. I have a deep love of wildflowers in particular & they are my passion within my artwork. I love to explore not only the endless variety of Australian flora but also explore different ways two represent them within my artwork.
I have always worked hard at my drawing skills which underpins my linocuts, and I made a deliberate decision to study drawing alongside watercolours with some traditional water colourists.
I spent a few years attending workshops including with the wonderful artist & teacher Tom Offord. He was a regular tutor at the Grafton Artsfest & I attended several of his workshops, alongside other tutors – Jenny Macnaughton (watercolours), Jocelyn Maughan (drawing), Robin Norling (drawing) & Gillian Scott (botanical art). I wanted to develop & refine not just my own vision as an artist but also my skills base particularly in drawing & working with watercolours. It is interesting that watercolours was never taught at my art college back on the 1980’s & was frowned upon as ‘too traditional’ which is a great shame. I have however used the skills I gained with watercolour classes & workshops within the handpainting of my linocuts and within my drawing/illustration work.
I find I like to at times set myself a challenge within my arts practice – to work within a particular ‘frame’ or design/layout for a particular work or set/collection of works. I often explore what I think of as ‘windows’ – windows both of design & vision for exploring & representing wildflowers in particular. So I create these ‘frames’ and then set a challenge to explore how I can capture some essential essence of the wildflower (or wildlife) within that frame for window.
I push the parameters of the actual frames so that the wildflower is both contained & breaks out of the ‘frames, you can see above. An example of pushing the image beyond the frames can be seen in these two rainforest images of a Golden Penda and Firewheel Tree.
I also use ‘series’ of prints to create images for my wildflowers cards.
In some of my new work which I hope to move into in 2014, I am pushing some of the limits of these frames & my passion for wildflowers into new areas of visual exploration.
Well I have been a bit laid up for the past couple of weeks due to shoulder surgery. It was the best outcome from the surgery I could expect with the shoulder now all repaired. There is still a while to go before it gets back to ‘normal’ and may still have some difficulties but essentially it will be much better than it was. It will be some time before I test it out with linocutting so will need to occupy myself with other endeavours until then! Must admit I am slightly bored at this point in time but do recognise the need to be sensible. All I can say is … sigh …
One of the curses of printmakers is dirt and lino chip particles that get mixed with the ink and end up on the block creating horrid little circles of missed ink in the final print. I have discussed it here.
After you have finished carving a linoblock you usually have small chips of lino still within the carved sections. These small chips are the ones that can cause the problem. So how to avoid it?
You can start by using a soft brush and gently brushing the chips out.
Then I lightly drop the block onto a clean table allowing the chips to fall out.
So you can see on my dark printing table the fine chips (and some larger ones) that potentially could ruin a print for you – costing you money because as you know the acid free rag paper is not cheap! There is nothing more frustrating than lifting the print back off the linobock to find one of those white rings indicating a lino chip or piece of dirt!
So after I have dealt with making the linoblock as clean of lino chips as possible I will set out the ink to begin printing.
With this cooler weather the ink often becomes quite cold and thick. So I will generally put the tube of ink onto a metal surface in the sun to let it warn whilst I set up for printing. Sometimes when there is no sun I will lightly put it near a heater – but not too long as it will then be too thin. It is an oil based ink.
There is something quite exciting about inking the block for the first time and seeing the design come to life.
And of course the first print off the block – exciting but also a bit nerve wracking hoping the image you designed and carved translates to what you wanted in the final print.
Print is now drying – hopefully will get to handcolour the first proofs tomorrow.
I have recently been working on preparing a couple of my linocut design images for licensing. I usually always scan at 300dpi and keep these large images. I then reduce these to a much smaller 72dpi for web use. I keep all these scans on an external hardrive – backed up with another external and occasionally I burn them onto gold discs for storage. For a variety of reasons including ‘life interfering with art’, my filing and storage systems are a tad disorganised (well let’s face it more than a tad disorganised) so I have been making the effort recently of going back and refiling these images. So when I was asked to provide the 300dpi images for these design I thought ‘no worries’.
Wrong … not only could I not find the original 300dpi image there were numerous 72dpi’s indicating I probably saved over the original image with the smaller resolution … sigh number one.
Well that’s not really a huge deal I will simply go and find the original proof that always keep filed away in my ‘dry cupboard’ for safe keeping.
Wrong … I had this really big clean out and rearrangement of all my cupboards and filing systems for my prints last year … so is that little print there .. .no … sigh number two.
Well this is inconvenient but not again not really a huge problem I will simply reprint the proof and repaint it.
Wrong a third time … the particular lino I had used was a very soft red/brown lino that I had used as the Silkcut lino I usually use was not available locally at the time and it was in the midst of Silkcut revamping the colour (and consistency) of their lino. When I reprinted the design it simply would not print cleanly and in fact the lino seemed to have become ‘gluey’ so cleaning out the carving simply did not work … no longer sighing but seriously huffing!!
Was it the paper, ink, lino or just me?
So I tried again after attempting to clean up the linoblock with the lino carving tool.
Definitely the lino.
This change in the lino could be related to many factors including the humidity of where I live – I am not really sure why this has happened and have never had it happen before.
So the only thing to do was to re-carve the design with the lovely grey silkcut lino I love working with. Below are the two lino blocks. In fact when I can now compare the two the silkcut has more ‘body’ to it and is better able to hold the shape of the carving and allow for finer carving.
So how does the carving between the two different types of lino compare when printed?
This is the red linoblock after handcolouring – the smaller images show the ‘rough’ edges where the lino has not printed clean lines – especially annoying give the time I take to make sure the edges are as clean and sharp as possible.
Definitely not good enough for commercial printing for me.
So the results of taking the time to re-carve the linocut design? I think they speak for themselves.