Sunday, 12 June 2016

Drawing baggage

Here's the beginning of my baggage drawings. There will be more yet.

My next theme for drawing is:
"Write twenty nouns on paper scraps and put them in a cup. Drawn one out and draw it; pull out another and put it in the same drawing. Repeat with at least five items."

Okaay... sounds interesting. Five things chosen semi-randomly in the same drawing.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Drawing marginalia

I've been sick, I've been travelling and then I was enormously busy. So much for drawing every week! But these things always happen, with this kind of project.

I did manage to draw some marginalia, though, in between all that stuff. I found I couldn't draw in a book - some things are just too ingrained. So I chose an old copy of a magazine called sturgeon from 2015. It contained an article about The Telepathy Project, a Melbourne-based duo of Sean Peoples and Veronica Kent. They are interested in the possibility of alternative kinds of communication, like telepathy and dreams and they carried out a dream project with Julie Rrap, a Sydney artist.

I found this quirky and interesting, and my marginalia reflects some of the elements of the dream diaries that Sean and Veronica kept during the project.



What did I discover from this exercise? Well, marginalia is hard. The scale is tiny, of course. The magazine has a wider margin than I'd have found in most books, but it was still quite small to draw something in. I think something abstract, pattern-related, would be much easier than trying to draw little images.

Next time, I'm not using the random generator. I need to do some drawings for a project I'm working on, so my theme is going to be baggage. Not mystical emotional baggage but drawings of the bags people all over the world use to transport their essentials of life.

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.

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


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!