A good day’s work

Spent an enjoyable day at the print studio on Friday. I’m still scratching around a bit to find a new direction for my work, but I turned up an old sketch and a monoprint, and reworked them as solar plate etchings. I was asked where my imagery comes from. Often it’s a found photo, as in the case of the ‘leopard man’, which was a newspaper photo illustrating an opera review.  I clip this stuff without archiving properly, so can no longer remember what the opera was, I know I’ve had the photo for some years.leopard man etching


This next image originated in a random monoprint, possibly meant to be a cat. It was one of those things that you think hasn’t worked, but I kept it and gradually started to appreciate it for what it was, rather than whatever it was meant to be.strange cat etching

The drawings applied to the plates were in india ink and watercolour crayon. The etching process reproduces the textures quite accurately, but adds the richness of etching blacks and some tonal qualities of its own when printed. Coincidentally, the ‘cat’ acquired a more leopardy look in the translation from one medium to the other.

Picking up the threads

It’s a long time since I posted here – sometimes life gets in the way of art. A recent discussion at Blue Monkey Network caused me to look back on some pieces that never quite went anywhere. I am working again, and these themes, from the Family Photos series, will be followed up in new work. Lots of ideas – must make the time. Once again these are not great quality phortos, but the ideas are there,  and I’ll follow up in due time.




Family portrait continued

Among the early work in this series was a simple watercolour crayon drawing of a single figure – my grandmother on my father’s side. There is something appealing about the pose and the lack of definition in an ageing face. It seems this one will also lend itself to clay modelling, and I’m halfway through a clay version. This drawing is A4 size.


This led to using the image as a repeat – almost a pattern element. Throughout my work there is a recurring theme of seated figures in rows. The group of three uses watercolour crayon and watercolour washes, and is approximately 14 ins (35 cm) square.misc grannies

Slow progress

Since the last post I have continued work on the family portrait shown in the last blog. Not easy. There are four colour drawings that failed to go beyond the original image (the photo). Unusually for me, it felt like the identification of the figures mattered, that their actual features refused to give up a more personal – to me – interpretation of the group portrait. I almost abandoned the project. But I allowed one more try using a watercolour crayon technique that has helped me before.2014-11-04 12.07.52-2

This more abstract effect seemed closer to what I had been working towards, but it’s now a jumping off point – the direction of the next painting is clear. At the same time, I have been creating a clay low relief sculpture of the group. It’s taken longer than expected and again, so far it’s a rather straight re-creation of the pose. 2014-11-04 12.38.46-2The image in my mind relates to the style of the ‘post-impressionist’ sculptor Medardo Rosso – very grateful to google for lots of lovely examples. So there is a way to go on this one and also, this version is quite small – about the same size as the A4 drawing above. It may be that the looser 3D effect in my mind’s eye does need a more expansive scale.


Trial and error

When I started blogging, I presumed I would add something at least weekly, so am somewhat daunted to find it’s over a month since my last post. I have been quite busy with random non-art activities, but also quietly progressing some new ideas. So I’m making a random post, to include a bit of non-art together with things I’m currently working on. If I wait till they are finished, it could be months.

This is a piece of party decoration that took up a lot of my time last week. I was quite happy with the way it worked out. Three different people had parties, and I made some giant letters of their names, plus a message for one of them who is leaving us, made of hand-cut paper lettering. The large letters are paper collage on mountboard.Photo0177










The drawing is first of what may be a new series, working title Everyone Who has been in my Paintings. It’s oil pastel and watercolour.everyone who 1

I am also making some small cardboard figures. One set are drawings on thin card, the others are thick card with fabric collage. I have an idea for these that I’ll explain at a later date, and it’s also the start of moving (tentatively) into 3D.select card figsselect fabric mummies

And I’ll be grateful if anyone can tell me why I have never taken a decent photo with a digital camera. Convenient it is, quality – not so much.



Still exploring

There’s a section of the painting in the previous post that I particularly liked, both for the content and technique. It’s the row of figures drawn in watercolour crayon with a gouache wash giving lightweight colour.Photo0131This technique gives a sense of liveliness because the drawing seems to carry more detail than is actually there.

I have since done two versions, in the second the paint colour deliberately overtakes the drawn marks, however the weight of the colour obliterates a vaguely ethereal effect that was was due to the pale wash.Photo0136Photo0133From here I want to work on a larger version in letterbox format putting the figures into a row rather than two tiers. The increased scale also means working in acrylic, which I’m not sure about because its ‘plastic’ finish will create very different surface qualities, and I like the softness of the gouache. So it may be that I will use acrylic washes, returning to the  more transparent effect of the original detail.

I’m finding the technical elements of WordPress more difficult to work with now as the differences of scale are not apparent with all three the same size within the blog post, but using the first image smaller disrupted the text. You can see I didn’t quite solve that when resizing it. More to learn, but I’d rather be painting than wrestling with the computer.



Plenty going on

It’s a long time since the last post on this blog. That’s not because nothing was happening, but I had nothing for a while that I wanted to share. The painting here is number six of a sequence, at some point I may post the whole evolution of the image but for now I just want to show this one. The figures and faces originate from newspaper photos, by now much changed, the painting is watercolour, gouache and watercolour crayon. The paper size is 11 x 15 in (27 x 38 cm)????????????

Meantime, I also made a short trip to Barcelona and was particularly impressed with the Tapies Foundation, as expected, and the Picasso museum, rather more unexpectedly. I particularly liked the pigeon paintings, which appear to have been a recreational moment during the intensity of the Las Meninas series.