Australian Floral Emblems 2014 – a new linocut

I was away in the Southern Highlands and Batemans Bay visiting relatives & taking some on holidays for most of March – it was a lovely break & I even managed to sneak in a bit of art making.

Before I left I managed to complete this new design – Australian Floral Emblems 2014.AUSTRALIAN FLORAL EMBLEMS 2014 WEB SCAN SMALL

It was commissioned as a gift for Lismore City Council’s Sister City – Yamato-Takada – for the Lismore City Council Mayor and General Manager’s visit which is currently underway  and joins the previous purchase by Lismore City Council and Yamato-Takada 50th Anniversary of the first Sister City relationship program in August 2013. My linocut was presented yesterday by Mayor Jenny Dowell of Lismore City Council to Mayor Yoshida of Yamato-Takada Council.

Sister City Gift - Lismore City & Yamato Takada Councils April 2014

Australian Floral Emblems 2014 – a Fine Art Handpainted Linocut by Lynette Weir

This Fine Art Linocut Limited Edition Relief Print takes the Floral Emblems for each State or Territory of Australia and weaves them into a design held together by the Australian Floral Emblem – the Golden Wattle – Acacia pycnantha.

AUSTRALIAN FLORAL EMBLEMS 2014 Small Print File

Victoria – Common Heath – Epacris impressa
Tasmania – Tasmanian Blue Gum – Eucalyptus globulus
Australian Capital Territory – Royal Bluebell – Wahlenbergia gloriosa
South Australia – Sturts Desert Pea – Swainsona formosa
Western Australia – Mangles Kangaroo Paw – Anigosanthos manglesii
Northern Territory – Sturts Desert Rose – Gossypium sturtianum
Queensland – Cooktown Orchid – Dendrobium phalaenopsis
New South Wales – Waratah – Telopia speciosissima

The design begins as an idea in a small sketch, developed with a clear understanding of the structures of the wildflowers.

You can see the tiny thumbnail sketch showing the initial ideas sketch for the planning of this linocut in the top left hand corner of the image below. This little ideas sketch is then worked into drawings grounded in draughtsmanship.

Australian Floral Emblems 2014 Drawing medium SCAN

The work is designed into a linocut/linoblock print in the tradition of fine art relief printmaking creating a template to follow for carving.I photocopy the initial drawing and ink in the black areas which allows me a guide to follow for carving out the white areas. I used to bot do this & found I often made mistakes in the carving which meant re-starting the carving of a whole new lino block! So this way I have a guide, not to say that I don’t vary this as I go – sometimes I will rework areas by drawing on the lino block itself. Some of my long term followers may remember my initial false start of this design a few years ago about the time my shoulder was playing up & making carving difficult. The less said about that the better – let’s just say even with the template mistakes still happen!!

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The image from the template is transferred in reverse to the lino block for carving using carbon paper.

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A view from my srawing/carving/painting board out to the native banksias outside my studio window.

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I use a swivel table set at just the right height, strong lamp, specific reading glasses for close work & very sharp lino tools for the carving the lino block.

Australian Floral Emblems 2014 Linoblock

The completed fully carved linoblock!

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A roller is used to ink up a glass plate and then roll over the lino block to transfer the ink. It is important to get an even thin layer of ink to transfer the image to the paper.

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This is the lino block fully inked & ready to print. The more even & carefully applied the ink is to the block the better quality print you will achieve. Note that the design is carved in mirror reverse so that when it is inked and the paper placed on it fro the print it reverses and comes out the right way!! This is particularly important if you are using type or writing within your printmaking!!!

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The paper is placed on top of the lino block and a felt is placed over that to help distribute the weight of the press evenly & not damage the paper & lino block in the process. I use a small wind down book press which lowers a heavy plate onto the block.

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This is the very first print from the carved lino block. It is instantly gratifying to pull a lovely print the very first time. Sometimes the stars align!! But often they don’t! It may take numerous attempts before you get a good quality even print or edition.

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This is the first ‘working proof print’ that has some imperfections in the printing. I use this to work on the first handpainting.

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I use oil based ink for the printing & watercolours for the handcolouring. It is the old adage of ‘oil repels water’ so the watercolour is mostly contained within the oil printing. Although sometimes there will be the need to come back & remove some of the more opaque colours that may run onto the oil printed sections but it comes off easily without taking off the printed areas.

I have also made a little video which focuses on the handpainting of this linocut this time.

– Australian Floral Emblems 2014

Australian Floral Emblems 2014 – A Fine Art Linocut

Waratahs! Waratahs! Waratahs! – Waratah Tryptich – A Fine Art Linocut

Waratah Tryptich Fine Art LinocutWell anyone who has followed me on this blog for a while will know I LOVE Waratahs.

*Drawing Images-WARATAH 2 ILLUSTRATION 1 WEB

There is such a majesty & structural quality to these particular Australian wildflowers not withstanding their bright red colouring with deep green leaves & the fact the flowers occur on long stems coming up from the ground. They really can be ‘seen from afar’ as their name means.

Waratahs 41. Waratah

For a while now I have planned to do a Tryptich design using waratahs as a kind of companion print for my Flannel Flower Tryptich. This particular print was a commission for someone as a gift for his wife’s birthday. Did I mention I also LOVE flannel flowers too?

93 Flannel Flower tryptich

Last year after my shoulder surgery I found it really difficult to work at all for a few months which was most frustrating! I knew I had to slowly get back so I started with thinking through ideas for new designs & taking some photos.

Eventually I was able to at least draw so one of the first artworks I started on was my Waratah Triptych.

I already knew I wanted to make it into a triptych & I had taken some photos pf both red and white waratahs over the years so decided to incorporate both into this design.

WHITE WARATAH WEB

I worked as I usually do. First with the framework for the design, then trawling through the hundreds of images I have of waratahs and finding suitable ones for this particular artwork. This process is interesting for me as I gradually reduce the amount of images I want to work with so I refine the vision I have for this work. I ask questions like – is my point of view from below or above? do I want to abstract any of the images or stay more true to for? How simple do I want the work to be visually? How much black do I want to incorporate? DO I really want to keep the defining structure I started with or would I prefer to break out and change it a little? or a lot?

Eventually I end up with a series of images which I will use as the basis of the work. I then start the drawing.

SKETCHBOOK - Flannel Flower & Waratah Trytiches WEB

Drawing is a process I love and have always loved. I feel that all artists no matter their medium of choice a strong skill base in drawing will always hold them in good stead. It teaches you to look more closely and especially in my case where I like the get the wildflowers I use botanically correct. Even if in the carving of the wildflowers compromise is made as to how they are depicted due to the process of carving lino, I know that they have started as botanically correct.

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These are the final drawings of the three panels of the triptych.

SKETCHBOOK & DRAWINGS - Waratah Trytich WEB

When it comes to working the drawings into designs that can be carved I again work through creating black and white inked versions. This refines my designs and allows me to experiment with what I think I may be able to carve. These days after having to have shoulder surgery, I really value the ability to still be able to carve my linocuts so I guess for me if I have a clear template of what I want to carve it means I will hopefully will be able to a long time into the future.

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I then transfer these final designs onto the lino ready to carve.

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I must say after initially deciding to start small when starting back carving I just could not resist getting stuck into these three larger panels! It was weeks of carving and I must say did challenge my shoulder’s capacity to comply & caused a bit of pain. But I do have the most wonderful masseuse and physiotherapist who both help keep me on the straight and narrow & take away the pain!

And to printing!

For this particular design I decided to just do a colour rough using photoshop just to get an idea of the balance of the colour before handcolouring.

Waratah Tryptich - Colour Photoshop

Finally I get to print the designs and then handcolour them! Finally I get to see the original concept from a few years ago actually come to fruition. I am really pleased with the results.

Waratah Tryptich SCAN WEB

Seaside Wildflowers – The Development of a new Fine Art Linocut

Lynette Weir - Seaside Wildflowers - Oct 2013 WEB

SEASIDE WILDFLOWERS – CREATING A FINE ART LINOCUT

The centrepiece artwork for my new exhibition at the Northern Rivers Art Gallery is a new linocut – Seaside Wildflowers.
Back in February I was approached by the Northern Rivers Art Gallery Director Ingrid Hedgcock, to exhibit alongside an exhibition of the Master Woods Craftsman & his students. For me it came at a time when recently becoming an ’empty nester’ & my shoulder was looking like it was going to recover after surgery & allow me to work – carve – again. It was also when I really need to get my arts practice back on track after a few years of life being too hectic to gain a consistent approach to my work.

I made the decision that I would work on finally completing many works I had been developing over many years as well as creating the centrepiece for the exhibition a work based around the Wildflowers synonymous with Ballina.
I will talk more about the other works in the exhibition in future posts but will start with the Seaside Wildflowers & where it all began.

In the process of creating this work I took some video footage & sill photographs with the idea of creating an education video showing my process from the inspiration through to the completion of the artwork.
I have always loved the seaside – the beach, the rock formations, the sea, the wildlife & of course the Wildflowers or flora. Even though I grew up in Sydney we spent every holidays by the sea at my grandparents in Yamba. Woody Head was another favourite place where my great uncle & Aunt lived, it is a truly beautiful natural place. We also spent a lot of time over where I now live on the ‘plateau’ region behind Ballina with my other grandparents – not that far from the seaside. As kids we would spend many hours going to the beach but also exploring the surrounding landscapes. So I know this region really well.


I start this particular genre of my work with research – some of this is ‘formal’ – flora studies of regions, plant identification lists but also I go & spend some time wherever possible wandering around the region taking photos. I like to see the flora/Wildflowers I am going to be drawing & document that in my own photos. By taking my own photos it also give me the opportunity to explore the process of visualising each wildflower or plant & how & where that might be represented within the initial concept of the artwork exploring different images of the particular plant. I look at things like the structure, colour & overall impression of each.
As I have talked about before, my work starts with ‘flashes’ of ideas scribbled into small sketchbooks, on post it notes or on scraps of paper.

For Seaside Wildflowers it began as a quick sketch on a post it note which I have now stuck into one of my small sketchbooks with additional notes & ideas. For this artwork I have drawn on the flora lists of the region, the council guides for flora in the Ballina Shire, books of flora of the region, my own explorations of the Ballina seaside region, my own photographs of specific species & finally my memories of childhood holidays alongside living in this region for over 20 years.
One of my abiding memories of the flora or Wildflowers of this area is the stunning Pandanus – Pandanus tectorius or Screwpine.

These strong ‘structural’ small trees are integral to my childhood memories & they are such a strong presence along the seaside of this region. The fruit which starts as a small green ‘ball-like’ structure & slowly moves to yellow tones & finally a vibrant orange colour is the aspect most people would recognise. For me the depiction of the pandanus would need to include the fruit. Less obvious for many people are the flowers – many would not be aware of the flowers. So I made the decision to make the ‘wildflower’ front & centre for this piece. The flower starts as cream bracts inside which the flower heads develop but the slowly the whole long spike of flowers emerge with the female flowers ending in long spikes of cream flowers & bracts.


The long strap like leaves emerge in a spiral from a central point & form a cluster on the end of the rather tortuous trunk & limbs. I think the pandanus reflects the very nature of growing by the season it’s tough ‘wildness’ & so it was for me to become the pivotal image for this artwork.


I started with many possible flora species I could incorporate into the piece, more than I could actually use & so this is where after setting out the pandanus I explore the size, structure, colours etc of all the possibilities. I see this is the fine art aspect of developing my Linocuts – this is where my training, skill & inspiration as an artist rather than a craftsperson comes into being. I bring my drawing & compositional skills to this process & it can be both the most frustrating as well as enjoyable part of the developing of my artwork.
Once I finish the detailed drawing I work through further developing this drawing into a form that can be carved in Lino which is my chosen medium for this piece.

For me this involves inking the design into shape & spaces.

11 Seaside Wildflowers - TEMPLATE FINAL 1

I then carve this into Lino to be printed. For me these two further processes again involve choices & changes in the translations from drawing to final artwork.


Once the Lino is finished being carved I then print it in black ink & handcolour with watercolour the final artwork.

The hand colouring is not simply a ‘fill in the spaces’ it involves again skill & training in watercolour as a medium including colour, contrast, tone etc alongside the application of the paint.


I have taken some video footage of the processes which is a quick look at the whole process and it is now on youtube.

Music – ‘The Temperature of the Air on the Bow of the Kaleetan’

by Chris Zabriskie

Used with Permission

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/und…
http://chriszabriskie.com/

Wildflower Blue Mountains Linocut Carving 2

Well I have been steadily working on the linocut carving. Took a break for a day yesterday but back at it today.

Started with the final central waratah that needed carving. I have already carved the outline with a final linocut carving tool to start. I then use a v or u gouge tool to take out the centre of each of the sections outline. The carved out parts create the white spaces of the work which I can then handcolour of I choose to.

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I usually always turn the carving upside down or sideways to check the edges of the carving to make sure I have carved nice clean & neat lines so when printed I get a clean  finish to the edges of the design. You can see some of the areas that need to be cleaned up if you look closely.

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I am not the best at getting exact measurements so I took over an hour to make sure I had the panels in this piece as evenly mirror reversed as possible.

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I tend to get a bit freaked out at this point. I measure carefully but lino does not always cut straight up as it, unlike wood, has some flexibility in it. So I took my time and went slowly as possible to carefully cut these lines. I want the panel structure of this design to be as straight and even as possible to get the Deco Art influence and the mirror from that era reflected in the design as closely as possible.

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So finally the six lines are carefully finished. This particular design has stepped in panels so I need to cut different lines to create the edge of the work.

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I start be cutting a the edge of the work with a sharp blade (Stanley Knife) slicing several times to created a deeper cut. I then VERY carefully crack the rest of the lino. If you have carving up to the edge you need to do this VERY carefully. If you do not take things slowly you are likely to split the lino in the wrong place.

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I then turn over the lino block and carefully slit the hessian backing and remove the piece of lino.

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This process makes creating the edges easier but tends to leave them a bit rough and they need to be cleaned up.

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In my new linocut tools there is a lovely large flat blade which is perfect for running along the edges to clean them up.Did I mention I love my new linocutting tools. Mainly because they are so sharp and easy to use making it much easier on my shoulder for carving. They also help me achieve the image that I am looking for. The tools are simply a way to create the design in the lino, it is the final image that is the artwork. I do not see them any different to using brushes, computers, screens, knives, chisels or anything else an artist may use in order to create the final work of art. This is the set of tools I now have. My family bought them for me for Christmas and they make my life so much easier.

Pfeil Lino Cutting Tools

But for making a neat edge you can also use a sharp blade or a stanley knife.

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here is the cleaned up edge which means the final print artwork edges will be nice and clean as well.

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And FINALLY! The finished lino block ready for printing.

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New Designs – Wildflowers Blue Mountains

I must apologise for such a big break between posts. One of my dearest family members became very ill and passed away so I have been away several times in the past few months helping out. It has been a very sad time for me but I also very much valued the final time I had with him & the time I have with others in the family.

I have an exhibition coming up in December so it is now a matter of working solidly to complete the final couple of designs, get the designs I have completed carved & printed, get the handcolouring completed on those prints ready for framing, get them framed & then organise cards/posters to be commercially printed. Phew!! Not much really!!

One of the new designs I have been working on includes Wildflowers from the Blue Mountains, just outside Sydney to the west. It is a beautiful area with mountains, gullies and stunning wildflowers and wildlife. I always loved visiting this area when I lived in Sydney and still do when I can get a chance.

This is an old photo taken by my Godmother probably in the 1960’s or 1970’s of the famous ‘Three Sisters’ at Echo Point, Katoomba in the Blue Mountains.

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Blue Mtns Wildflowers Design 2Blue Mtns Wildflowers Design 1The area was very popular in the early 1900’s and many of the buildings and ‘the style’ of the buildings is from the Art Deco period. This is also one of my favourite periods of Australian art & architecture history so I decided to base this particular design using a familiar design ‘pattern’ of the time. In fact the concept for the development of this design came from an old mirror dating back to this time that had been my mother-in-law’s. I had just been scribbling a few ideas when I thought about this mirror which is in my studio. The silvering on the back needs repairing but I thought it was such a lovely old mirror with scalloped edges that I had put it away in my print studio until I can afford to do it up.

Blue Mtns Wildflowers Design 3From these initial ideas I then research and work through a species list of wildflowers from that area and go through my photo files to find out which species I actually have photos to work from.

As I work from my own photos for my designs it is important to me that I then go & find any missing species that I may need photos of to complete the design.

I will draw up a basic framework into which I will create the design. This may change & evolve as I work through what species I will use & how I arrange them.

For this particular design I decided for the first time to mirror reverse the side panels. It seemed to work much better to do this. Although I do know that in the carving process small variations will occur as it will be impossible to repeat exactly the design on both side due to the flexibility of the lino & just sheer human fallibility.

This is the final result of the designing. As you can see I have made notes about which species I have used within the design.

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From here I then photocopy the design & ink in the black areas.

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Until I have a final template to work on. This way I find I make far fewer mistakes in the carving as well as galvinising the design in the process of creating the black & white image I make adjustments as I go.

This is the final template. You can see some of the changes I make – this is particuarly evident in the Blue Mountains Gum leaves.

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Then to the carving!

I started the carving of this a couple of months ago before I was called away and have spent the last week working on it.

These are a series of images of the carving process.

Almost done! I should be able to finish this carving tomorrow and then to printing!

I can’t wait to see the final design printed and handcoloured.

 

 

I’m officially in love …. with my new linocutting tools!

I have been struggling on with my old speedball linocut tools for many years. Dutifully sharpening them but recently it has been more and more difficult to keep the blades sharp and has made carving clean neat lines very difficult.

It is difficult sometimes living in country NSW, to get access to good information and art supplies. As for printmaking and linocut supplies they can be sparse and inconsistent across art supplies stores with many shops only stocking basic beginner tools. I have over the years come across different linocut tools that I have bought and tried but I never found any really comfortable to use.

Recently on my twitter feed I saw a short post by UK illustrator Nick Morley who specialises in the most amazing linocuts, referring to his ‘trusty Swiss gouges’. Intrigued I looked up ‘swiss linocut tools’ and found them – they are made by Pfeil.

Nick Morley also has a blog – Linocutboy.

So after a bit of searching I found them at Carbo-Tec and they were on sale! They come individually or in sets and they were on sale until 12pm Saturday – just in time I rang and they were duly shipped arriving this afternoon.

I bought 2 – the 0.5 and 1mm to trial, and am now sorry I did not agree to an early birthday/mother’s day gift for the full set. Will have to wait now until I can afford them.

They are lovely and sooo sharp, am so wanting the full set.

This particular linoblock design is part of a new series of ‘Wildflorals’ – Australian Wildflower inspired pattern designs. I will post more about the soon. They are quite complex linocut works requiring lots of small carving work. I carve generally quite deeply for the type of style I work in, so it is essential the tools I use are really sharp especially given the RSI issue I struggle with in my shoulder in particular.

I think linocut carving tools and what you ‘like’ to use can very subjective depending on the effect you want, the style you work in and even down to the size of your hands. So if you are looking for yourself you may find you like the larger flat handled carving tools, I like these types that fit into the palm of your hand with straight blades. But after just a couple of hours with these new carving tools I am very happy, so far so good.

In the print studio … first proofs – averting problems with stray lino chips

Today I made it to the print studio to do some proof printing of my new design – ‘Postcards’ series – Sturt Desert Pea.

Here is the final carved lino block.

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.