It's been a really busy couple of months! It only seems like yesterday since I wrote my last blog - but I seem to have managed to have worked my way through a few of the fairs I had listed, and Warwickshire Open Studios is now only a week away!
I'll add a collection of photos below of what I've been up to - The Fairy Tale and Fantasy exhibition at Slate Gallery was great - the dodos were very well liked, and Wren and Great Tit found new homes!
I've had two outings to Love Handmade Fairs in Warwick - both have been very sunny days, and I have done my biggest fair yet to date - the Earlsdon Festival. The sun shone and we baked a little under the canopy of the stall, but it was a marvellous day - lots of cards and digital prints flew away to new homes.
I've made some new card designs - both linocut and hand carved stamped cards - and got some new digital cards printed too. I've also finally got my White-tailed Eagle framed - but I'm going to reveal him when he's up on the wall at Open Studios next week!
Last night we attended the launch of Open Studios for this year, which was also lots of fun. This year they have the Temperance bar in Leamington Spa as the Open Studios hub - you can pick up lots of different information there about the venues as well as there being an exhibition of different artists' work - you can find another one of my Wrens in the window.
So in a week's time we will be open! It will have been a year since I started my art business adventure! You can find the links, and our flyer, on the front page. This year there will be four of us at our venue; Hillary Poole whose lovely house and glass and ceramics studio we are inhabiting for the two weeks, Sue Barclay a contemporary jeweller, Athina Bastien, who is also a ceramicist, and then me obviously! I have EVERY linocut framed for it, and I am hoping to get some more drawing done while I am there - I am aiming to fill all of Hillary's walls! It looks like it's going to be a fun few weeks!
I'll leave a little gallery below of my new designs and some images from the fairs and arty adventures I've been on.
Today I've also re-stocked my etsy shop an listed all of my new cards on there too. If you have a gander around the website you should hopefully notice a few changes here and there as well! You can find a link to my etsy shop HERE or on the 'buy' tab too.
You shouldn't have to wait quite so long for the next blog!
And so it begins..... the art fair season is upon us! I've been slowly starting to fill up my diary with art fairs, open studios and different events. I am really looking forward to them all - there will be lots of new experiences, and I'm looking forward to meeting lots of different people and artists along the way!
I've been continually updating my 'about' page with where I can be found over the next couple of months, but thought it might be worth a blog too, so you can pop some of the dates in your diary if you fancy coming to see some of my work 'for real' and to say hello of course!
I'll try and keep the front page updated with next events too - and I'm always updating my facebook art page, twitter and instagram with things as I go along. I'll pop some links below too - please come and find me and give me a follow to keep up with information and new projects and products!
OK.... here we go; I've added links to event website and facebook pages as I've gone along - please go and find them too to follow what's going on.
6th April - 26th April:
FAIRY TALE AND FANTASY EXHIBITION at Slate Art Gallery, Leamington Spa.
Opening night is Friday 6th April from 6.30 - 9 pm.
Please see the link HERE if you fancy coming along - all are welcome, please just reply via the facebook page.
Exhibition runs Tuesday to Saturday 11am - 5pm.
I will have some of my original drawings and limited edition linocut prints in the exhibition, they are currently with Rich at WreckedAngle framing - really looking forward to seeing them framed up!
LOVE HANDMADE FAIR: 10am - 4pm, St Nic's Church, Warwick.
A great collection of artists, artisans and craftspeople, and I hear they have really good cake too! You can find out more on the website HERE or on the facebook page HERE.
7th May (Monday)
EARLSDON FESTIVAL: 10.30am - 4pm
The 40th anniversary event! The fair takes over the High Street in Earlsdon, Coventry. Lots of different stalls and a fabulous carnival atmosphere. More info HERE on their facebook page.
16th June - 1st July
WARWICKSHIRE OPEN STUDIOS
I will be exhibiting and selling work alongside Hilary Poole (glass and ceramic artist) and Sue Barclay (contemporary silver jewelry) in Balsall Common at Hilary's house and studio. A fabulous event with artists' studios open all over Coventry, Warwickshire and beyond!
We will be open Thursdays and Fridays 2-5pm and Saturdays and Sundays 10am - 5pm. You can find more information about where I am HERE (and links to Hilary's and Sue's pages) and my artist page HERE. Information about the Warwickshire Open Studios including all of the different artists who are exhibiting, and a handy planner to help you find them all HERE.
Warwickshire Open Studios facebook page is HERE
4th and 5th August
ART IN THE PARK: Jephson Gardens, Leamington Spa. 10am - 6pm
A weekend festival or art, craft, music, dance and food and drink! The festival fills the park and is an excellent day out mooching about enjoying the vibe and all of the different art work on display. I have everything crossed for a sunny weekend. This year's theme is trees (and birds)! Hooray! You can find my artist profile for the festival HERE.
More information can be found on their website HERE or facebook page HERE.
And there will be more dates to come for later in the year!
Hopefully I will get to see some of you there - all of the events are free to attend, and it's a great way of supporting local artists.
(The two drawings below are originals that will be for sale at the Slate Art Gallery in April)
It's always a little surreal when I start a blog (incidentally this is the second time I've started this - I've just lost my previous start to the blog *sob*) and look back over the photos of the different stages that have gone into making a print. #projectdodo has been a head scratcher and has involved some long carving and printing sessions. It's definitely been one of my more intensive linocuts!
It all started at the end of February when hubby and I visited London along with my parents as our collective Christmas present day out! We'd headed down for the Modigliani exhibition at the Tate Modern initially and then London was our oyster! We had a good play on the swings in the Turbine Hall, got to watch the snow falling over central London from the top of the new extension, and then after a visit to Intaglio Printmaker (which is not far from Tate Modern - when we entered there were only a few flakes of snow falling - but 15 minutes later we walked out into a carpet of snow over the pavement!) we decided to visit the Natural History Museum.
The building itself was stunning and I was as intrigued by it as I was the exhibits - we saw the whale of course, and the dinosaurs, and then we *had* to go and see the birds. I have a weird thing about taxidermy birds - I find them intriguing but also quite odd; especially if done badly! I think it's because it's a close as you can actually get to them to look at them - apart from when bird ringing of course - but that's a story for another time..... and that's where I saw the Dodo. I've popped a photo of it at the bottom.
Back in Coventry, I curled myself up on the sofa in the back room, sketchbook in hand, snow falling outside, the open fire lit (one of my favourite places) and started drawing Dodo. It took a couple of sessions, and it wasn't until I'd finished (and realised how tricky it was going to be to get the drawing out of the sketchbook due to some over-zealous gluing by whoever bound my sketchbook!) that I decided it would become a print.
And that is where the head scratching started. Initially I was going to do it as a one layer 'normal' print. However it became clear after my first test print that it wasn't going to work as a one layer print. I had two choices - start again and create a reduction linocut or create a two layer print. I decided on the latter. This meant a lot more carving but it saved the part I'd already done. Dave gave me some words of encouragement when I was very close to packing it in - something along the lines of "Well what would you say to the kids in your class if it was them at school..." The shame. ;-) It *was* worth persevering with; I did do a *lot* of just sitting and looking and thinking. It's as much and just as big a part of the process as the actual carving. Once I'd got in my head how I could move forwards it was fine. It just took a bit to get there!
It was a labour of love transferring the image over - twice - onto the print blocks. I repeatedly printed the head as I went along, checking I'd got the highlights right on the bottom block - anything I carved away on this layer would stay white - and also to line up the top block to make sure it helped to create the areas where shadows were needed on the bottom layer, as well as making sure I kept the highlighted areas clear so they would stay white - especially where outlines of areas were involved. I was really pleased with how the initial carvings were going, but I really did need to keep checking and re-printing until I knew I'd got the technique and patterns right. It was quite good to keep swapping between the blocks though as it gave a bit of respite and meant the brain kept working and the carving stayed fresh.
Once I'd got the heads sorted on both blocks I just kept going and didn't test print again until they'd both been carved. I used my water based inks and did a quick (and very rough) test print in grey and black and was relieved to see it actually seemed to have worked! I decided I needed to use some colour in the print while I was doing the initial head test prints as the black and grey were too close - initial ideas were to use a colour and then print grey over the top - but test prints of doing this showed that using the same colours over the top (but a different shade) worked much better and the images 'popped' a lot more.
I mixed the base colours of pink, blue and grey using my Cranfield Caligo safewash inks - the lovely linseed oil based ones - and they mixed together well when I used a nice wide spatula. My new roller came in very useful too! I'd decided on a white background, so there was a lot of very careful inking done, although I have got the inevitable little bit that got away here or there thanks to the joy that is hand printing. It gives them individual character!
Two days after the first layer it was time to print the second - and I had a long day printing the fifteen images again. The top layer was harder work than the bottom! I've done the print as a varied edition - currently I have five grey, five pink and five blue based prints - including some with a grey rather than a same colour overlay. I'm thinking it will be a limited print run of 30 dodos in total - and I'm still thinking of experimenting with some other colours. If anyone has any requests, let me know and I'll have a go at printing them up - I'm toying with the idea of an orange and yellow or orange and grey dodo.... or maybe some purple! Thoughts?
Right, I think that is enough for today! Two of my dodos will be heading to Wrecked Angle framing on Monday for some framing joy from Rich (I am very excited to see what he suggests!) and then they will be heading to the Fairy Tale and Fantasy exhibition at The Slate Art Gallery in Leamington Spa. The exhibition opens on the 6th April. I'll also have a Wren print there and some original drawings too.
My next blog will be all about the different fairs and exhibitions I have coming up -but if you can't wait until then, they're listed on my 'About' tab.
OK - time for some photos!
Not quite your usual Valentine's Day subject I suppose - birds of prey... However as it's chucking it down with rain outside I might as well blog! I'd been wanting to turn my sketchbook drawing of my Sea Eagle into a linocut print ever since I finished it. I completed the drawing when the sea was calm enough to allow me to draw on our trip to Norway back in October where we were fortunate to see many of these exquisite birds.
It's my most complex, in terms of detail, linocut to date, and I have thoroughly enjoyed making it. There was a lot more texture to create on the linocut, having to look at the marks I was making as their own form of shading as I wanted to create it as a monoprint. It has involved spending a lot of time 'looking' and staring at the block and the initial test prints!
I started off by blowing up my sketch to fit the size of the Japanese Vinyl I wanted to use - this is also my largest linocut to date! Then I transferred the image in stages using several pieces of tracing paper. I couldn't do it all in one go as otherwise I'd have been rubbing the image off while carving. This was a new experience too - I'd carve some and then transfer over a bit more of the image.
I didn't do my first print until I'd done most of the carving - there were some areas - towards the top of the beak - where I was really unsure of how to carve them to create the correct detail and depth to the print. Once I'd done this first print however it really helped with knowing what to do.
Thanks to instagram (that should be a link!) and putting my work in progress pictures on there, I can see that I started the print on the 22nd January - so it's not taken me as long as I thought it had done in my head! I've been quite good at making sure I work during the times when Dave is out at Dog's Trust, although I have to make sure I've got the dogs nice and tired first so they don't get under my feet if I'm downstairs, or making a kerfuffle if I'm trying to work upstairs!!
The print block itself is about A3 in size, so I also needed some much bigger paper for printing on - I turned to my trusty linocut bible: Linocut by the marvelous Nick Morley - as well as a couple of other online blogs to see what papers people recommended. I decided on trying Zerkall paper, which I ordered from Jackson's Art Supplies.... it is beautiful! I ordered two different types of 120gsm paper - each sheet was 76 x 53 cm - the smooth and the rough, however I'm not quite sure which way round they are! The smooth (I think!) has a 'wave' running through it which creates an interesting texture with the print, whereas the rough is more of an even finish on the paper, and it prints up beautifully! I will definitely be getting some more of it for larger prints. I decided to stick to the 'rough' paper for my print run.
I have decided to limit the print run to 5 prints - it takes a good while to get these printed, about an hour in total to print each individual print, so I have printed three out of the five so far, as well as having my Artist's Proof printed - so still two to go! The black background took a lot of work to get it how I wanted it to be on each print. One was (metaphorically) binned as I got an unacceptable blob on the corner! I did finish printing it though, so I might tinker with it as an experiment in the future. I also tried an 'alternative' background as a separate proof print, but it may not ever see the public light of day - it uses colour (!)..... although it is something to experiment with in the future I think. I am really pleased with it the finished print and like the texture created from the printing method in the background of the prints too - they're not a completely uniform matt black and you can see some of the spoon marks, which really makes each print individual - and I am looking forward to getting one framed soon! Dave took a video of me printing too - I'll have to see if there is a way of uploading it. I am looking particularly good in my vintage printing pinny (it was my Great Aunt's) and slippers!!
In other news, I'm now all signed up for Warwickshire Open Studios in June and also for Art In The Park in Leamington Spa on the 4th and 5th August. There's details about both events on my 'About' page on here. I've also tweaked the pictures on my front page of the website too.
Plus - this weekend is the final weekend of 'The Art of Design' at Slate Art Gallery in Leamington Spa. (More details on my front page). I've had some lovely feedback from people about it, so if you've not got over yet it's running until the 22nd February 11am-5pm, Tuesday to Saturday.
Picture time! I'm going for the gallery approach again....
Friday night was the opening night of 'The Art of Design' exhibition at The Slate Gallery in Leamington Spa. It was not only my first opening night visit to a gallery, but also the very first time my work has been part of a 'proper' exhibition too! Thought I'd add in the photo with me on it; I don't look very happy to be there ;-) What do you think?? ;-)
I'd picked my framed linocut prints up from Rich at WreckedAngle on the Tuesday, and was so pleased with the framing - they looked great. (Rich also made the mirror you can see in the photo above). I was going to take some photos of them (I know I put that at the end of my last blog), but as they'd been wrapped to protect the frames I didn't want to take it off! Thursday was delivery day and I dropped them over at the gallery and made the most of the time by having a good look around the exhibition that was still on at the gallery at the time.
Eventually it was time to head over on the Friday. We managed to get a spot right by the gallery to park the car, and the gallery had a lovely glow coming from it! I managed to spot Tess and Sarah who were in there already, although it took a bit to get to them as it was busy - there was a really good buzz in there. They met me with hugs and great excitement telling me to go and look at Frog - I'd not even located my prints yet - and there is was, a red dot! Sold! I might have grinned and *squeeeeed* a bit - very exciting! I had been the second sale of the night so far, the first being a picture Tess had bought! (not one of mine!) Some of my prints were hung together - Black Kite, Peregrine, Bittern and Frog; Siskin was in the second room, and Phoebe was in the window! This has made me think of the song 'How much is that doggy in the window?' ever since!
Kate had curated the exhibition beautifully - there is a lovely flow around the room of the different pieces and the colours in the order of the works all complement each other. There are so many different things to see in there; drawings, collages, paintings, jewellery, mirrors, printed cushions..... it is well worth a visit.
More lovely friends turned up and my lovely parents, and we had a great time nattering and looking at the different pictures and artwork on display. The pride of place is taken by the clock - a wooden clock with an exposed mechanism and the piece that gave Kate the idea for the exhibition. I will have to find out who made it (I've forgotten!) and let you know.... it is stunning.
The time seemed to fly by and eventually it was time to head to the pub for a celebratory drink with James and Andrea!
We visited the exhibition again today to take some photographs of the prints in their frames, and it was great to see it in the daylight too. I am feeling very proud to be a part of it.
The exhibition runs until the 22nd February, and the gallery is open from 11 am - 5 pm, Tuesday to Saturday.
Time to add some photos - I've only taken ones of my work - you'll have to go for a visit to the gallery if you want to see the other people's work! Or check out the gallery facebook page (that should be a link) where Kate has added a video tour of the exhibition too, as well as some photos.... The first mention of the gallery in the first paragraph is also a link to the website.
I hope you get the time to get over and see it if you are local.
As I said - photo time! I'm going for a 'gallery' approach rather than a slideshow to see if that works better as a mobile phone format..... here goes.....
It's been a busy start to 2018, I can't quite believe that it's about two thirds of the way through January! I'm still aware that I need to do a bit of an end of the year update from last year with sharing some of the work I'd done, but I have exciting news to share first...
From 2nd - 22nd February I will be part of 'The Art of Design' exhibition at The Slate Gallery in Leamington Spa. (That should be a lovely link to take you there!) There will be seven of my lino cut prints there, which is why Siskin (the *final* limited print is up for sale!) and Bittern have made another appearance in the blog header, as they are two of the prints that will be exhibited, along with Frog who is also up there in the header. My prints are currently with Richard who runs WreckedAngle Framing (another linky thing) and I am very excited about picking them up next week and seeing how they look before the show. It's been a bit of a learning curve for me, and both Kate, who is the director of The Slate Gallery, and Rich have been really helpful. I am very excited about it. You can find out more information about the Slate Gallery on their website, or there is also a facebook page as they organise many other events as well as being a gallery. The Gallery will be open Tuesday to Saturday 11am - 5pm. If you like their facebook page you might get details to the opening evening on the Friday too...
Other than that I have got a few more bits and bobs done. I have finally finished my Great Tit drawing which I started a while ago and should have got finished much sooner, I've started another bird drawing, a Redwing, as they are common winter visitors over here, and have also started my biggest linocut to date, turning my White Tailed Eagle drawing into a print.... I'll pop some photos underneath.
I've also had a website overhaul - changing the gallery section so it works better on mobile phones, as well as the 'about' tab and also removing my original linocuts from the shop on the website and putting them under a separate tab above - if you are interested in any of them, please contact me for prices, and I have a great place to get them framed too now.
The other thing I have done (I've got more done than I thought this month so far ;-)) is to set up an Etsy shop. If you click here it will take you there - it has the same range of greetings cards and digital prints that I sell on this website, but can ship abroad..... I'm about to pop a Valentine's card on there and it will appear on the web store here too....
Quick question to finish on before I add a couple of pictures; for those of you who read my 'process' blogs about how I make my linocuts I am aware that the slideshows at the bottom showing the processes don't work well on mobiles. Do people either look at them or not, or if I kept doing them (which I'd like to do as I think it helps with learning about how linocut works) do you think it would work better to link them onto a separate page with a link to it under the blog so people can head there to look at them if they wish? This should help blog loading time too...
I will be back with another blog just before the exhibition opens to show you my framed pictures! *excited squeeee*
It's hard to believe that a little over two years after doing the linocut course at Birmingham Printmakers I am sitting here blogging as a full time artist! I renewed my Car Insurance the other day and had to give 'artist' as my profession as I suppose that is what I am, It makes me smile, although it is also quite scary. There's still a long way to go until it could actually pay my way in life!! Still, never say never!
I haven't actually done a review of the year as a linocut or a drawing (idea for next year?) - but the collection above comes from my instagram feed (if you click on the picture it should take you there) where you can get your most popular pictures from the year pulled through to make a lovely montage! It is missing one of my favourite from the year though - my White Tailed Eagle from our Norway trip, so I'll probably add him at the bottom. It's a lovely reminder of some of the different things I've done this year - although you will notice that #projectBlueTit makes another appearance! It does make me smile that #projectMagpie One appears too - I really must check to see if it has actually dried yet!!!
(I've tried to be a clever Trevor and have linked things to other blogs where you can go and read more about them if you are interested.... any links should turn your cursor into a little pointy hand when you hover over them and they will open in a new window when you click them....)
It's been a busy year and one of big changes in the Almond household..... I finally knuckled down and signed up to Warwickshire Open Studios in January, and from then on it was kind of "well then, it looks like I need to start getting lots done". If you remember back to my January blog, it was actually a quote on my cereal packet in the morning that got me to just do it.... "If it scares you a little, then it might just be worth doing."
The lovely Hilary offered me a space in her house for Open Studios who I found via the Lonely Arts Column - then I needed things to sell! I found a great chap to print up some of my drawings professionally as cards and prints (Rennison Publications in Earlsdon, Coventry) and started making more prints as well as framing some of my original drawings and prints. The tiny bedroom at our house has also been changed from 'general storage dumping room' to a little art studio - the light in there in the morning is just lovely. It is great to have a space to work in that doesn't turn the rest of the house into a place of chaos - although I am still doing my printing in the kitchen.
I loved doing Open Studios and met lots of great people through it. It also gave me confidence that I was 'OK at this thing'. I will be signing up again in January for 2018.
The biggest change came at the end of July when I left my job as an Assistant Head. Hubby and I had made a decision back in January that we were both going to take some time out from work. It was actually quite hard to start off with making myself sit down and actually do art stuff. All of a sudden (after a lovely holiday and a 50 mile race in the Lake District) I had all of this time that hadn't been there before...... Dave finished at the end of August and then we had a bit more time away trying to switch off!
In between being away I was contacted by The Herbert Art Gallery who asked if I wanted to take part in a ceramics and print fair they were hosting; this kind of sped up the next part of the artiness happenings as I decided I needed to get my website sorted and a web store set up too (#projectOnlineShop)..... there was a lots of time spent in front of the computer sorting stuff out, (including a trial product of selling my husband for a penny to see if it worked - it turned out a penny was too cheap and I had to buy 100 of him!) and then finally in the middle of November it went live! In October I spoke to the lovely Jenny at Badgers Tea Room at Brandon Marsh Wildlife Centre and offered to frame some of my art for her to hang on the walls there; it was lovely to take mum and dad over just after Christmas to show them, as well as having a mighty fine cuppa and a great wander around the nature reserve in the snow - I do love going there, well worth a visit.
I have had a couple of commissions for lovely people which I have loved doing (I've added #projectPoppy and also my latest commission - #projectDipper - below too, I will do another blog about more recent work in the New Year), as well as enjoying turning some of my other drawings into prints. The plan for the next month or so is to focus more on drawing, I have some ideas of some creatures (feathered and non-feathered!) I'd like to do, and then I will turn back to the printing - I have my next idea for a reduction linocut sorted already. Knowing how things work though, I'll probably end up multitasking! If you have any requests for any creatures - feathered or furry, or scaly, let me know. And of course I will keep on blogging - is there anything else you would like to see? Would a page in starting up in printmaking and the equipment you would need be handy?
Next steps for the beginning of 2018 are to get an etsy store up a running - although I have the website shop it would be good to have another marketplace set up to be able to get a few more folk seeing my artwork. I also have somewhere that I will be taking my cards and digital prints to sell too - more info when they are actually there! And then it will be finding more art fairs to be able to visit and sell my wares. I know I've asked before, but if you wouldn't mind sharing any of my links you do see via facebook etc, that would be marvellous. You can find my facebook page here. (Clicking on the here will work!!) or my twitter feed is here. Thank you.
OK, all that is left if for me to say a HUGE thank you for your support over the year, here's to an exciting 2018!
Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year.
The Waxwings have left their Coventry nest, so it is time for the annual Christmas card blog! (Apologies if this is a spoiler for you...) The thought process for my Christmas card started a little earlier this year, I had decided on doing a Waxwing at some point earlier in the year and the thought simmered away for a bit. They are one of my favourite birds - I was fortunate enough to see a big flock on a trip to Suffolk earlier on in the year (March) as part of last year's Christmas present from Dave, they are such fabulous birds :-)
I knew I wanted to get some colour into the cards as well, as they have such distinct markings on their wings - the red 'blobs' are the reason the Waxwings have their name, and such beautiful yellow markings on their wings and tail ends too, although with my Waxwing, the yellow is folded underneath so you can't see it. They're well worth a google to see more photos of them 'in the feather' so to speak. We also follow waxwings UK on twitter, and they are currently returning to the UK, so I hope I get to see them again next year too if I am lucky.
This print meant trying something new again - hand colouring onto the card after printing, and it took a little while to find a suitable pen that coloured satisfactorily onto the brown card, which in itself matches (almost, in an artistic way) the main colour of the Waxing. I finally settled on trying Posca pens, which I wasn't disappointed with and am pleased with the way the colour comes through on the card. They are almost like a 'paint pen' and have also been used for other things already - the white is particularly useful! The only gripe I have against them is the tip on the pen is a bit scratchy - but that is because I had to get a fine tip, the larger tips are meant to be more like felt tips I think. The printing wasn't actually too bad - with other prints I have made onto the cards previously there is a much bigger area of black, which is much harder to get printing well with my trusty spoon! I've included some pictures below in the slideshow as usual to show the process. I had to print in two batches to get them all done. The first set were printed at the some time as #projectFrog, and the second batch a couple of days later.
As well as the Waxwing cards I also made some Penguin cards this year, trying out a soft cut rubber (Speedball Easy Carve) rather than lino or vinyl which makes for a very quick cut and stamps well using an ink pad, which I made to sell at 'Making Merrier' at the Hebert Art Gallery evening in early December. It was lovely having people talk to me about where the cards were going that they had bought; one for a penguin mad daughter, another was bought as a wedding card for someone's sister (this version would make a good Valentine's card too - I'll get some on the website for next year!!!) and someone else bought a Phoebe card that was being sent abroad to her mum as it also looked like their dog. I do like hearing the stories of where my art stuff ends up :-) I also had a very funny game of 'Guess the bird' with a couple of folk during the evening :-)
There's been another commission too (which I'll add to the page once I know they've got it), and I've also completed a couple of mini-original drawings which I will get on the website at some point - a robin and a wren. You might be able to spot them in the pictures I've added of my stall at Making Merrier below!
I had another bit of excitement after I'd randomly tweeted Maryanne Hobbs from Radio6Music as part of the #artiseverywhere in relation to her morning radio show from the Turner Prize in Hull (side note - HOORAY FOR COVENTRY CITY OF CULTURE 2021!) when I was not only retweeted by her, but also had Edwyn Collins (he of the singing fame and also an excellent bird artist) comment underneath - he recognised what I had drawn (phew!) - but it wins as my highest ever looked at tweet - just shy of 5,000 so far!
I have had some lovely feedback about my webstore and speed of delivery for Coventry based orders, I'm faster than Amazon Prime allegedly, and the lady in the post office is getting to know me. So.... if you get any Christmas money and fancy a print or something, go and have a gander.... ;-)
Finally, I'd just like to wish you a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful (or not peaceful, depending on what you're into!) New Year, and to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who has supported me over the year; the kind comments both in type and in person have really boosted my confidence to carry on with this and I am really excited and hopeful about where my art might go next. Please, if you can and you don't mind, help by sharing posts and links you might see from me on 'tinterweb, it'd be much appreciated to help get my art out there for more eyes to see. Here's to a marvelous 2018....
(If you click on the pictures in the gallery below, they should grow to full size!)
I seem to be getting into the swing of spending a lot more time doing this art thing, and I am really enjoying it. I'd been thinking about turning my frog drawing into a linocut print for a while, and as it was getting closer to Christmas and I needed to get some Christmas cards done, so of course I leapt at the chance to procrastinate and do something totally different instead!
Starting off #projectfrog was a bit of a headache - the detail on his skin made it an 'interesting' carve, and also deciding which detail to leave in and which to miss out, as there were some aspects and details on the drawing that I was unable to replicate with carving. I am really enjoying being up in my little art room (the tiniest bedroom in the house) although when I have music on and I am beavering away at stuff I have no idea how quick the time is going! It keeps me quiet ;-)
Once I'd got him carved, I had a bit of a ponder about what to do with the background - I tried printing him with a black background and no carving in it, but it looked too dark. So I cut him out and tried him (I don't know why I'm saying he!!) on different backgrounds - in the photo I think you can just see the bittern's beak poking up! I decided I'd probably go for a white background, but also knew that I needed some colour too, so set about carving a second block for printing first with colour, and then overlaying the block with detail.
I'd been doing some reading on the wonderful world of the interweb about mixing colours, and armed with my handy old AA card and a plastic spatula type thing I was pleased with the mix, although it took a while for the colours to blend. My original green was far too vivid, but with the addition of a little black it was much more 'frog like'. I think I've mentioned before what a fabulous thing my big sheet of glass is for rolling out and printing on - I can add ink mixing to the list as well now.... ;-) I decided on a first print run of 12; one I didn't wait to dry and printed the detailed frog plate straight on the top to see how he would look. The overlap of the black background (I'd not carved the background out yet) next to the green looked OK, but printing a large section of black is quite tricky to get uniform with a spoon, so this cemented the need to carve away the lino from the detailed frog so I got a white background. I was really pleased with the way the detail of the frog sat on the green frog background.
The green frogs were left to dry for a couple of days before I then printed the black over the top. It was a definite labour of love, as I kept needing to carve more away of the background as I was printing due to the roller catching bits where I hadn't quite carved enough away. However, in my reading about all things ink, I also found I had been cleaning my inks up all wrong. I use Cranfield Caligo Safe Wash ink, which although oil based uses linseed oil rather than chemically stuff and advertises itself as being able to be washed up with soap and water rather than white spirit (no nasty chemicals, or horrible smells and it's made in the UK too: win, win, win!).... turns out if you squeeze soap onto the inky bits and leave it for a bit then it really does just rise off! Using soap and water together to try and wash it does not. I have never cleaned up so quickly!! It also means I only need to use a little vegetable oil at the end just to get a few stubborn bits off.
#projectfrog has been printed onto A3 paper, with the print towards the bottom of the paper, however to frame him I've cut him down a bit and popped him into an A4 frame, which you can see in the slideshow. It's now time for the merciless plug, as you can now also find #projectfrog in my online shop! Woop! (I've made a 'New Prints' section to be able to add him to for now.
I've enjoyed doing the multi-layer prints, but I think I will return to a reduction linocut for my next printing project.
There's been other things going on too - I have another art fair this Friday at the Herbert Art Gallery again (details on the front page - plug, plug!) and I've turned another one of my inktober drawings into a Christmas card to sell there - two penguins - using some easy carve that I bought to try. This is second time I've used it, it was easier than the first go, but it is just so different to cutting the vinyl or lino that I am used to as it is so much softer. I've also been drawing some 'mini-originals' which I have framed to sell at the fair too. Images coming soon - please get in touch if you have a particular drawing request I could help with...
#projectchristmascard has it's second print run to be completed today (I MUST do this!) and I have another print on the go, both of which will be revealed soon.
OK - time for the slideshow! I also tried doing a little 'reveal video' of my frog print, which I'll see if I can upload - if not, I'll pop it onto instagram or my art facebook page later.
cheers me dears,
Yesterday evening I delivered my very first commission to it's new home! Poppy is the dog of two of our very good friends, and her lovely owners had asked me (during our overlapping holidays in The Lakes) if I could do a lino print of her. Poppy is a Westie cross Schnauzer, and as you can see from the drawing on the left, she is dark coloured! This was going to be a new printing adventure for me as I'd not worked from such a dark subject before! I started in the way I start all of my prints, by drawing! John and Julie sent me lots of photos of Poppy; I eventually picked one that I wanted to work from (it was the ears and eyes that did it!), and the sketching started - initially while we were still away on holiday. The first one Did Not Work. I had the proportions all wrong and eyes in the wrong place, also working in pencil crayons just didn't do her any justice. I got a bit frustrated, left it for a while and then went back to it. This time I was sitting in my favourite place to draw; in the back room on an evening with the fire lit; cosy and relaxed. I know Poppy quite well too, so as cheesy as it sounds, thinking of some of her mannerisms and how she sits and looks at you really helped alongside working from the photos. I really enjoyed drawing her this time. I only had one eye drama - her face just wasn't quite right, but I couldn't put my finger on it..... rubbed out an eye, moved it about 5mm down and bingo! Phew! The finished picture is the one above - completed after an initial pencil sketch, in fine liners (uni pin to be precise!) Once the drawing was done I was excited to move on to the lino print. Working out how to get the lines to create the correct way of producing her fur in the drawing really helped with thinking about the cutting lines I needed to make when creating the print, it was just a matter of making sure I could create the depth in her face. It was also a matter of reversing what I had done in the drawing. In the drawing I was creating dark lines, when I was carving the lino, I was carving away the 'highlights'.
It took two carving sittings and printing sessions for me to get her right; I worked from the drawing and the photograph to help with the details. The first test print helped me to see what I needed to alter (eyes and her hairy muzzle highlights!), and I spent a good while sitting and staring at the test print too. It really helped seeing John and Julie part way through the process to get their feedback on it, and what they wanted for the background as well. I have to say, a white background is really hard when you are as OCD as I am with making sure there aren't any blips! The final print took a good few 'pulls' for me to be happy with the ink consistency and to make sure that the background was really clear of any little inky bits that would randomly get pulled through, even though I swore I was 'printing clean' every time! I think Dave was very relieved when I'd finally got one I was happy with too! I've included some of the process images below, as always, in a slideshow.
I really enjoyed the process of creating something for someone, they now have the original drawing and the final print. I loved packaging them up ready to take over to them and watching them unwrap them :-) They will be the only ones in the world too :-) I've had their permission to share the images on here. (Sorry social media.....! #notsorryreally!!!)
I'm going to start up another page on my website with unique images and prints that I have created for different people - there's a print of my brother's bulldog I did for him and my parents two Christmases ago. If you do fancy a unique print or drawing please drop me an e-mail.
December is here.... that means #projectchristmascard2017 is on the way too..... and there'll be a #projectfrog update soon too! It's been a busy couple of weeks in my little art room! And while you're on the website, go and have a gander in my shop as well..... there's some nice bits and bobs in there you know ;-)
Here they are side by side..... drawing and lino print.
Here we go...
The ramblings of a linocut printmaker.... and other artistic adventures!