Thursday 31 October 2013

Loving Printmaking!

I feel I've lost a little bit of momentum this week.  Other activities have crowded in on my time and I've found it difficult to paint.  I was thinking about embarking on a BIG PICTURE ...I would like to do this....but so far haven't done it - haven't even started one. Instead I went into the studio yesterday to do some drawing. As I was intending to go into Edinburgh Printmakers today I thought I should devote a little time beforehand to preparation (not something I'm good at). So I drew 3 pictures on different pieces of film and then decided I could use two of them as the basis for printmaking. That took me all day!

The picture I started with was a little beach image. Still thinking about Harris and the sand patterns and the outlook to the North Harris hills, I drew this out in ink, and today I've etched it on a polymer plate and done a print.
It's quite small and I think it looks quite good set within a large white sheet. When I drew it I was trying to make use of the effects I could achieve on the MMR film - I find that drawing with ink on film is a bit like drawing with charcoal and rubbing out .... you can get quite pleasing loose effects.

The other image I worked on was based on an Applecross view - a little rocky island that you see on the way to the coral beaches in South Applecross. I had done some quick sketches of this (and had pictures in my head). This is how it came out in today's print.
Again with this drawing I was attempting to make the most of the effects on the film.

I have to confess that I felt quite pleased with the prints that I turned out today. But, early days....I'll see what I think of them when I go back and collect them when they're dry! It did feel good to be in the Printmakers workshop again..and now I'm becoming a member! Brill!

Monday 21 October 2013

Open Studios Week Activities

Back in Edinburgh last week after an amazing weekend at Inchnadamph. I tried to continue my momentum in the studio, but I was a bit distracted by all the activities in St Margaret's House - it was 'Open Week'.  Thanks to all of you who looked in to see me and my studio - always good to chat.

I did manage to do a little work.  I thought I should have a go at continuing with the beeswax to create encaustic paintings, following up from the course in August.  The smaller one - a morning view at Luskentyre was based on this acrylic painting.

I had a nice purple pigment and thought this picture presented a lot of potential for exploiting the colour. The start I had made was a bit rough and ready - too textural, I thought.
 I carried on working into it and it ended up like this - a little smoother and more intense colour.  I've decided to leave it now, for the moment. I THINK it may be finished...

I tried another Harris painting, focusing on the view of the North Harris hills, really based on this painting.

I had changed the composition a bit in order to fit with the piece of hardboard I was using. I had left it looking like this. Again a bit too textural, I thought.

Again I worked into it further and introduced more colour, more enriched.  I left it looking like this. I'm not sure if this composition works quite as well.
I have set it aside for the moment - not sure if it's finished yet.

My other main activity this week was a session at Edinburgh Printmakers (had to close my studio that day!). I wanted to make a new plate after my 6 week absence, but I've been thinking so much in colour recently that I found it very difficult to settle down to doing any meaningful drawing.  However, I had some 'MMR' (plastic film) and I finally managed on Wednesday to do a few drawings.  I was intending to make a copper plate etching, but I realised that there was quite a lot of tonal variation in the drawings. So I was persuaded to buy some (expensive) 'Toyobo' and use this instead.  I ended up doing two etchings - and I was really pleased that I remembered most of what I was supposed to do (using my notes) although I did get a bit confused over exposure times.
The first is a view similar to my Crannog view (based on Loch Assynt). It turned out like this.

The second was a drawing based on my Aberdour tree.
These are kind of interesting. I'll need to consider how much better they would be if I had reduced the exposure time. I did enjoy doing the drawing - I used some special pens that were left to me years ago.  I've never really found a proper use for these pens over the years and so I was pleased finally to use them productively this week.

Anyway - open studios week has now ended, so there are really no excuses now for not getting on with more work - but I'm sure I'll think of something.

Monday 7 October 2013

Harris Paintings Emerging

Continuing to work up north despite missing my studio in Edinburgh. I managed to rearrange one of the rooms as my temporary studio so this helped to put me in the right frame of mind.
I was trying to continue the approach I had started to takewith the 'Two Beaches' painting (previous blog post), focusing hard on not overworking my pictures. I'm really aiming to try and find that freshness and looseness that I manage to capture in sketches. Much more difficult to achieve in finished pictures. I know I have to be a bit bolder about when to stop.

I also decided to focus on beach patterns. Because we had been staying so close to Luskentyre Beach, we had walked there a lot – early morning, daytime and evening – so had seen it in different lights. In the past I have shied away from attempting to paint something like an expanse of beach, but I do remember Matt tutoring us to attempt difficult things – not to avoid them – otherwise how will we ever paint these difficult subjects. So with this resolve I focused on a view looking south from Luskentyre.

I made a start with a square format and a view looking south from Luskentyre. Started in pencil and random gouache, then a little light acrylic wash.
I was thinking of early morning colours - pale blues and purples. Added more wash - sparingly.
Now I realised that I needed to get rid of some of the brighter gouache, and think about the sand patterns.
I was still a bit worried that this was too bright - lacking the subtelty which I wanted. So I had to knock it back in places without spoiling the freshness. This was the tricky bit. Here's how it has ended up.
OK I think. The yellow is interesting. I had seen a piece of yellow plastic floating in the sea the first morning - perhaps that inspired this...

I thought I'd try another scene - similar to the first picture but in landscape format and even colder colours - no yellow.  Still trying to get those subtle sand patterns.

And I had a go at a picture based on some other interesting patterns in the sand. Colours are a bit warmer in this. It's hard to get the colour of the sand at Luskentyre.

Also went back to an unfinished painting. I had left it like this a few days ago, looking a bit dead and uninteresting.  Well, it didn't excite me. This was based very closely on a sketch. Was I trying too hard to reproduce the sketch?

I decided to try and 'improve' it with my new techniques.  I added some conte to the sky and some white gouache and improved the sand colour. This is as far as I've taken it.
I think it's a bit more interesting now. More dramatic too.

But these pictures were all done using acrylic as the main medium. I have some pigments etc with me, and wanted to have a go with some of the things I'd learned with Jill at Lookand Draw. So I tried out that first picture again in encaustic. This is a very small picture. I quite like it.

Maybe it's a bit 'knobbly'. But I like the colours. Much more vibrant than the acrylic.

Then I had a go at another encaustic, a larger pic, based on a scene of the North Harris Hills. It's less successful – probably needs more work.
 What to do next? So many ideas - for printmaking and little pics. Or should I try more acrylics? Time is running out up here...Must get busy tomorrow.