Sunday, 1 May 2016

Drawing left-handed

I was struck down by an evil lurgy, so I've done nothing creative for a fortnight. Sigh.

But I have drawn some animals with my left hand, the last drawing challenge before it all went south.

First, a Hairy Eary Thing, as a warm up exercise:

Every part of this was with the left hand, including the shade-and erase on the creature's back. Using an eraser with the left hand is harder than using a pencil!

Then I drew a frog-like creature, as inspired by a frog drawing from my god-daughter many years ago. (She'd be surprised at what I keep!)

I suspect her five-year-old drawing of a frog was more frog-like than mine! Pen drawing is scary. I tend to go for simple outlines, because I'm scared of doing texture with pen lines. Something new to overcome.

Then I decided to stop fooling around and try to draw a frog left-handed from a photo (not having any pet frogs, I couldn't draw from life).

I'm actually quite pleased with that. I'm not sure I could draw it any better with my right hand! Though you'll notice I didn't draw it in ink...

Next week's challenge?
Draw marginalia in an old book
 
OK, this is going to be a real challenge.
I don't draw in books.
I don't do altered books.
I just don't.
Waah!


Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Printmaking again

I made some prints on the theme of fa├žade as preliminary thinking for the 2016 ATASDA Palm House exhibition. They didn't take me where I wanted to go but I learnt some stuff.
This print is Permaset printing inks on cartridge paper, as a test for what the plate looked like. Although it's not a great print, I like the feel of it.
 

This one was made with the same medium really wet and I love it. It's all moody and mysterious, which was not actually what I wanted for my particular part of the collaborative work but would have been fine alone, if it were a bigger print (it's A5).

Then there was this one on fabric. Same medium on off-white quilters' muslin. It's a three colour print, using deep pink, cream and emerald green. I was trying to create depth and shadows, to get the light falling strongly from above and to see whether repeat prints would give a better colour on cloth than I was getting with single prints.


It was one of those prints when everything just goes right. The registration method worked wonderfully. The fabric was nicely controlled by ironing freezer paper on the back, so it was more like paper to handle. The consistency of the medium was fine and it didn't dry out too much, something that has been happening with my Permaset inks over summer. The colour is more subtle than I 'd hoped, so it wouldn't work for the collaborative piece, and the small scale makes the fairly fine thread count of the cloth more of an element that I'm used to seeing.

But it made me go, "ah, I really like that", and that's exactly why we do this stuff, isn't it?

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Imaginary creatures

The next theme generated in my personal drawing challenge was

Draw an imaginary creature
 
Themes like this always feel  such a doddle to me. It's just doodling, isn't  it? Which is just as well, because I didn't have a lot of drawing time or the energy for it this week. But I want a mix of quick, don't think too much drawings
 
In the end, I made three drawings. I deliberately kept them quick, because last week's one  was so careful and trying to be accurate.
 
I thought, what if rocks came to life, coalesced and walked away? So here is my rock monster.
 
He's a bit tidier than I wanted and not quite as massive. But distinctly rock-like.
 
Then I just doodled a sea monster. I've done a lot of sea monster drawings and doodles so this was a bit of a cop-out.
 
I really like my last one, because, in drawing really quickly, I seem to have captured a mood.  It was a left handed drawing too - sometimes that gives really interesting results.
 He looks terribly pleased with himself, doesn't he?
I thought I'd share my themes ahead of time, so anyone can jump in and draw along with me. Just send me a link in the comments, so I can come and look. My theme for next week is: -

Draw any animal with your left hand

(Darn, could have saved up my third one for a rainy day...)

Monday, 11 April 2016

Drawing

I really struggle with drawing, so I've decided to try to do it more often in the hope I'll get a bit better. If I want to keep working in the way I am, I need better drawing skills.

The most difficult issue is always deciding what to draw. I'm bored with still life drawings - I've been around long enough to have drawn a full dinner set of cups and plates and the entire fruit bowl several times over! I checked out some of those websites that suggest topics for you and most left me uninspired. So I decided to compile my own personal list, though there might be some overlap). I'm using my random number generator app to decide which one to draw, so I don't just stay with safe options.

Today's theme was Draw a statue. So I did.

This statue is on the tomb of Harry Houdini. I must admit I tried to make her more like a human being than a statue, because this pose interests me for a work I want to make one day. I may not end up using it that way but that's why I even know what the statue on Harry Houdini's tomb looks like!

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Printmaking #1

This year seems to be flying past, without me finding/making time to blog about what I'm doing. I have a long list of things to blog about!

First, some practical stuff. I'm always interested in finding new ways to make marks on fabric, so I've been really interested the prints that some artists are getting, using PVC foam board as their printing plate. Most aren't printing on fabric, though, and I think many are using oil-based printing media.

So I wanted to see how well a foam board printing plate would print with my water-based medium, and how it printed on fabric.

First, what am I actually talking about? It's not foam core, which has a paper surface (though I did call it that when I first used it back here). It's not polystyrene sheet, like you get in packaging around large appliances or in fruit and vegetable boxes. This is compressed PVC sheet, which is quite a rigid sheet. It's gradually replacing corflute in advertising signs and it's also used as an insulating sheet in buildings. These days, you can buy it in fine thicknesses and small sizes at art shops, as it's often used in mounting work, but that's the expensive method. I bought mine as a 1200 x 600 x 6mm sheet from a hardware chain, after a lot of walking to and fro and asking people. Sometimes it's with MDF board, sometimes with corflute, sometimes off by itself in a dark corner. I think that size should be plenty for sampling, don't you?

Why use this medium? It carves nicely but blunts tools in short order, so be prepared to sharpen and resharpen, if you plan to cut it like lino. However, it impresses beautifully, so I use different tools completely. My favourite is a set of tools for working polymer clay..

...supplemented by a set of ball point scribers.

If you wanted to keep it cheap, you could probably begin with an old biro or two, maybe with thicker and finer points.

My first plate was a little reference sheet for the first set of tools - only about 15cm x 7.5cm (6in x 3in). I won't show you the samples, but I wanted to see what kinds of lines I could get from each kind of tool and how useful it was for this process. Then I turned the plate over and drew a freehand design on the back, using the different tools in the ways I thought would be most effective.

My first prints were simple relief ones; basically just inking the plate with a roller and Permaset inks and printing onto dry cartridge paper with my baren.




I was happy with these - there's some good detail and reasonably good coverage.


Some of the lines on the plate were very deep, and over time ink built up in those incisions. As I needed to clean the plate anyway, I wondered if I could lift out that colour by changing the medium's texture. I sprayed the plate with water and printed the results.


All are really ghost prints, as I didn't add any more medium.

How interesting! This is a different look entirely. I was still using my baren and this is much better results than I've ever had from this technique without a press.

I experimented with damp paper but the results weren't markedly different. I think it would probably make a difference if I added more colour in a thicker medium over the top, as spritzing the plate tends to make relief prints spotty.

I always print while I'm cleaning the plate because I usually get interesting results. This time, the results blew me away.

This looks almost like a watercolour painting.

 
I wondered, can I add colour more specifically, rubbing it into the plate, wiping back and adding more colour, spritzing and then printing?
 
Yes, it looks like I can have a lot of control  over colour. The trade-off is in loss of fine detail and colour intensity.

Hmm, I think this approach offers a lot of possibilities!

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Missing in action...

Ever have one of those times when you just go, go, go? Yep, that's the story of the last three moths. A combination of visitors, the untethered Group exhibition, a quick trip to Yass and Canberra, and a lot of admin for various part s of my creative life all pushed blogging to the bottom of my list.

However, now things have settled down, I can take a minute to show you my work hanging in the ATASDA untethered Group's exhibition, out of hand, last November.

Wanton, 60cm x 102cm
"Back in the nineteenth century, out of hand girls were labelled “wanton” and sent to reformatory schools. They never escaped that label; it followed them throughout their lives. These days, the concept of someone being wanton seems laughable. Society’s ideas have changed so much. But public labels like this are damaging in any age - degenerate, communist, terrorist, slut – and so many of them apply only to women. They’re used to marginalise and silence people and we shouldn’t meekly accept them.
I’ve loved printmaking since I was a young woman, and I come back to it again and again as a way of expressing ideas and emotions. Recently, I’ve been combining printed cloth with hand stitching. I love the way that hand embroidery becomes part of the cloth, while printing inks sit on the top. The relationship adds a depth and texture to my work. I find printmaking exciting and challenging but hand stitching is meditative and emotionally satisfying."

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

A twist on an oldie...

Remember when we were kids and, to transfer an image, we used to scribble pencil on the back and draw around it? Easy, eh? I was reading Drawn to Stitch by Gwen Hedley the other day and she used a similar kind of thing to make marks on paper.

Instead of a layer of graphite pencil, she uses a layer of light-coloured chalk pastels with another layer of coloured wax crayons over the top. When you lay a fresh sheet of paper on top and draw on the back with pen, colour transfers to the other sheet.

My first attempt was a tree. (What a surprise!)

Here's the pen drawing side...

...and this is the transfer side. The result, if all goes well, is a positive-negative effect.

However, I learnt there are a few tricks involved. First is not to layer the colour too thickly. What happens is you get transfer but you can't see where it's disappeared from the coloured surface.

I also learnt that you need a distinct difference in tonal value between the chalk pastels and the crayons. My second one (above) had colours that were similar in tone, so the result was fairly ordinary. I think the best results come from using very light chalk pastels and stronger coloured wax crayons.

I'm not sure how useful this technique will be for me, since I don't do much on paper. I wonder whether the same technique would work with fabric crayons and cloth. An experiment for another day!