Now autumn is pretty much done and dusted I think it is time to crack out the x word. Christmas is coming and I am working on a new card. Last year was a squirrel, previous year was a wee deer, this year I am going arctic with a polar bear or two. I had a vision of the bears in the night on the ice but thought it was too dark and then cut round the bears to make an outline. Now I am worried I have made a mistake and should go back to the dark image.
I blame autumn watch! At this time of year I find myself sketching we animals and woodlands. Aha, I will do a badger I said to myself, how cute, how lovely. How wrong, difficult wee beasties to draw, esp. if you are aiming for an adorable 'Don't cull me' look. I tried for about a week and seemed to end up with a series of fairly horrible bears with face paint.
Thankfully perseverance paid off and I ended up with an image that works. I have decided to stick with the colours and collage effect used for the stag. So I am creating a series of animals using the gold/silver tissue paper with the animal outlined in black and highlighted in white. This combo seems to capture the twilighty autumnness of the atmosphere I wanted for my creatures.
The hare image came relatively quickly, I wanted a sketchy illustration of a hare about to bound off into the distance.
Next up a hedgehog but he is proving nearly as tricky as the badger...
The Exhibition opened on Saturday during the Open day. As always the open day was fantastic. I was busy helping the public create their very own Mono-prints. There were some beautiful images created by people of all ages using leaves, feathers and stencils. It was the first time I have used Gelatin as a printing surface and it works so well. The gelatin releases the ink to the paper with the slightest touch so no need for a press. I will definitely be doing this again.
My friend Andrea created the yellow and silver prints above.
As I kept reminding my daughter during her early years, sharing is a nice thing to do. So here I am, skillsharing merrily with 5 lovely, local, would be printers.The remit was to create a Christmas card using one lino block and chine collé. We had 3 hours to cut and print. Everyone was a novice relief printer and I was really impressed at how quickly everyone adapted their designs and produced the cards.
First up we see Barb creating a christmas elf being squashed by a bauble. Hurrah!
Then Sasha did a cute wee robin.
Sarah did a partridge with Matisse overtones. Her lovely assistants are Orianna and Tilly.
Here is Emily's take on the partridge.
Libby also went for a cute wee robin but then she does like cute wee Robins.
I can't believe it is a whole year since the fridge of indecision last made it onto my blog. It is vital part of my design process. On these dark evenings sitting in front of the fire watching Autumn Watch on the telly my mind wanders to woodlands and the creatures that live there. Last year I created a series woodland creatures mini prints. This year I decided to concentrate on the creatures themselves. Starting with a stag I decided to create a few monoprints help the design process along.
These were lovely to do, there is something lovely about messing about with ink on perspex
The yellow, red and blue colourway was a pretty strong contender before I started proofing the prints and applying them to the fridge door.
But you know I am a sucker for shiny shiny paper and the gold and silver tissue paper really strike the right note at this time of year. I may return to the yellow and red theme in spring but for now my stag prints are silver and gold.
So here is my print of Fidden Bay, with extra sheep!
I am very pleased with it. The break seems to have done me good. I was delighted to be back up at the printmakers with the smell of the ink and the roar of the presses! (well not so much roar as creaks and groans). Once I started the print I was kicking myself for staying away so long. As I was a bit nervous about losing my printing mojo I really took my time over the layers and cutting, hopefully it shows.
First cut I used a brown on the bottom half to pick out the sheep and a pale blue on the sky. I cut out the right hand part of the sea to try and catch the dazzling sparkle you get on the scottish sea.
Next I layered some light green on the foreground and another pale blue on the sky. Previously i have really struggled with sky. Relief printing can be unforgiving when attempting subtlety however I was pleased with this effect, it looks harsher in the above picture than it is.
At this point I was really pleased with my wee sheep emerging in the foreground.
Next came the dark blue of the sea, I decided to use the blue on the foreground to give the next layer depth and to highlight the grass. If you look closely you will also see I had a bit of the mid-print crisis and added some ill-advised teasels and other flora to the foreground. Fortunately I came to my senses and changed it.
Choosing a green when doing a Scottish landscape is tricky, too green and it can look lurid but Mull really is that green. I think the dark blue underneath saved the green from its greenness. I used a grey to pick out the rocks.
To be honest at this point I considered just leaving it
but the rocks on the near beach were blending unhappily with the more distant bay.
The dark brown gives a sense of distance and recession and of course the wee sheep benefited too!
So it has been an age since I last blogged. I had a opportunity to do some contract work at the start of the year and the lure of hard cash was hard to refuse. And I could keep printing I assured myself. I didn't keep printing of course and, nice as my new bathroom is, I really missed printmaking. The contract was followed by school holidays during which I had a thoroughly nice time but again did not print.
Happily, rolling around Scotland and France in the campervan was an inspiration to get sketching. While the rest of Britain mopped around in the rain this summer NW Scotland was rather sunny and even drought stricken in places.
We went back to Cambusdarach which is just paradise. Admittedly it did start to rain in the middle of this sketch .
Most of my sketches are in pastel or watercolour but I get fed up with carting loads of stuff round and inevitably not using it due to the faff factor. Inspired by Grayson Perry I invested in some brush style felt tips. They are light and easy to use on the move.
Here is a sketch of Cheverny,or as it is known in my house Captain Haddocks house.
I love the speed and also the limited colours force me to be ruthless and give a better defined sketch. Here is a less successful sketch of Honfleur (in my defence it started to rain again)
Anyway back to printmaking! At the end of the summer we visited Mull and stayed at Fidden Bay
I played with the idea of doing a stark rocks on the beach style print and sketched the rocks over and over again. The rocks print may happen later but I decided on a long landscape. I really wanted to create an image that captured the Ross of Mull. So sea, rocks, sky and of course sheep.