Sunday, 29 May 2011

Open Access Day

On Friday I was booked to do an open access day at the Curwen; after the somewhat frustrating day on Tuesday with my wren prints I was looking forward to making progress with the aerial view. I cut away parts of the lino key block to allow the 2nd colour to print on it's own, rather than over the 1st colour. Normally, the key block would be the darkest colour, printed last. I did it the other way round.

I had intended to print the 1st colour as a lime green with the 2nd colour as red, the third a blue. Instead I mixed a lovely grey as the main colour with red as the 2nd. I like the grey and red together.

I then overprinted the blue, with a transparent ink that I mixed. I don't like the colours particularly, but was thinking the sky and river should be blue! I didn't ink up evenly enough, finding that the transparent ink behaves differently from the opaque inks. So a bit of an experiment and a lot learnt!

Of course the beauty of the key block system is that I have the 3 blocks to play with, using different colour combinations; so lots of fun ahead!

Week 4

Another exciting printing day at the Curwen arrived! I was going to do some etching but changed my mind and thought I'd print some of my wren image, which is a wood cut (the only one I've done). To pass Stage 3 of this course you need to produce an edition of 5 of a print, which is not as easy as it sounds! It proved really difficult inking up each print consistently in order to get images exactly the same, as the wood is quite thick and slightly uneven. I pulled 20 prints and have probably got my 5; I felt a bit exhausted and haven't examined them closely yet; a job for this week.

My dear little wren took all morning, I then worked on cutting and printing trials of my aerial view. The cutting is taking ages and making my hand ache! The blocks for 2 more colours are now ready.

More later on progress of this print, as I am off to a party -The Green party; which is the little lane in my village where we used to live. It's a party for residents past and present, families and friends so should be fun!

Friday, 20 May 2011

Week 3

Thankyou to Gina for getting me started with my blog - a whole new world! Also thanks for looking in and your comments.
Another busy day at the Curwen with all 8 of us back together, which was lovely (we have worked in 2 smaller groups for some of the processes). I had intended to do some more etching but in the end got carried away with printing some lino cuts I'm working on. I have always been interested in maps (must be from taking Geography A level all those years ago!!) and have been experimenting a bit. This one is one from Mapping series 1, a lino cut with chine colle. This one is with my framer at the moment, I'm looking forward to seeing it!!

I'm finding printing so exciting, as the possibilities are endless... much more exciting than botanical water colours, which I started painting 2 years ago when I went on a course with Valerie Oxley at The Farncombe Centre near Broadway in the Cotswolds. They do lots of fabulous courses. I then printed several of my current 'aerial view' which was quite complex to cut. This is the original block.

I love the blocks almost as much as the prints, they seem to become part of you!! I like this lime green one.

I am now going to use this block as the key block to print the design in 3 colours, which is taking some working out in my head, as I haven't done this before. This is the block I plan to print in red initially, so I'm cutting away to leave only parts I want to be red. As you see I've a long way to go!

Then I'll cut another block, leaving parts I want to print the 3rd colour, hopefully will manage this over the weekend.
You can achieve a lot in one day, this is the day's work drying on my studio floor!

 Tomorrow I have a stall at Guilden Morden Garden Event, from 11 to 2 at the Village Hall. This is the 2nd year they have organised this. Lots of stalls with a gardening theme - plants, alpaca manure etc!!! I will take prints, water colours and a range of cards. I'm teaching at Guilden School this afternoon (I do some supply work - it helps fund my printing habit!!), then playing tennis, then out to supper at Cotto in Cambridge this evening with my lovely family - a busy day!!
I'll leave you with my lovely shoes!!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Week 2

As it's week 3 of my Curwen course tomorrow, I'll bring you up to date on Week 2, which was more etching, this time learning about sugar lift and aquatint. Again, time consuming processes which I barely got my head round!! Luckily we have a clear set of instructions to follow if we want to do some more of this. I enjoyed the day as it wasn't as frenetic as some days are (I'm remembering the first screen printing day!!). The slower pace was good for me and we had time to go and look at The Asthma Fair stalls which was on at Chilford Hall, while we waited for plates to dry. Etching takes time and obviously lots of practice, as with any new skill and I'm a real beginner!! I etched a lion, from a photograph of a statue I saw in the centre of Aylesbury recently. Below is the finished zinc plate.

The fun part was the inking up and trying different colours. This is the first lion print in black. The background was a bit messy - the acid had broken through the hard ground apparently!

My lion in a different colour.

I like this purple one best. I also had time to print my asparagus in a different colour. I think it looks good in the purple. It also tasted very good!!

So week 3 tomorrow, which is a personal development day. I may attempt a bigger lion just using hard and soft ground but also have more lino prints on my mapping theme that I want to do....decisions!! But certainly more fun than teaching a class of 34 children!!

Sunday, 15 May 2011


A good day - played tennis with my son William which is good fun, started this blog (I think I'm getting the hang of it!!) and it was my daughter's birthday. 30 odd years ago I was in Royston Cottage Hospital recovering from the birth of my first baby - she didn't have a name for a week! Emily, Eleanor, Alice and Amy were all rejected and then we chose Louise. Luckily for me that she and Mark and baby Barney live nearby. I went round to share the present opening.

Week 1

I am currently taking the Advanced Printmaking course at The Curwen Print Study Centre following successfully completing the Certificate course last term; along with 7 other people. It is a super place to work with talented tutors. We have all continued this term and are a lovely group, even though I say it myself!! This term is 10 weeks long and the first 2 weeks were traditional etching with Valerie Sims BA; a completely new process for me - and a highly complicated one!!

The 1st week was learning about etching onto a zinc plate using hard and soft ground, the preparation of which took a long time, working through the stages with Valerie's guidance. The previous evening I drew some asparagus before I ate it - I used the sketch as my starting point. By the middle of the afternoon I had printed my very first ever etching - of asparagus using hard ground.

I then stopped out the spears, applied soft ground to the background, put it though the press with some tissue paper on top, then back into the acid.  I like the mottled background. I'm quite proud of the finished result, which you can see below.

 Etching is an interesting process and I have enormous respect for artists producing beautiful etchings. The photo below shows me getting  a workout on the etching press!!

The next photo shows the zinc plate I produced.