Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Hydrangea in Blue

Another experiment with one of my painted paper backgrounds.  Instead of drawing my subject on the paper, I decided to make some foam stamps of the hydrangea blooms and print these onto the background with white gesso.  It was then a case of using fluid acrylics, watercolour pencil and both negative and positive painting to bring the flowers out of the background.

Randomly painted background on Hahnemuhle bamboo paper

Handmade foam stamps, fluid acrylics and watercolour pencil

Hydrangea in Blue
Image size 5" x 13"

Saturday, 10 March 2018

March Sketch Outing

Our planned sketch outing for 3rd March was cancelled due to a reasonably heavy snowfall.  The venue - Swindon Museum and Art Gallery - is at the top of a steep hill, so even attempting the journey by foot would have been difficult.  In any event, the Gallery decided to close its doors for both the Friday and Saturday.  So, our meet-up was reorganised for today, with at least four new members turning up.

Two or three of the rooms were closed as exhibits were being changed, but there were still plenty of opportunities for sketching.  I ended up in the small Egyptian room on the top floor - the main exhibit being the coffin and mummy of a teenage boy, named Hatemiu. The coffin was discovered near the town of Akhmim, Upper Egypt, on the east bank of the Nile.  It was purchased by an English collector in 1886 who gave it to the Museum in Devizes, Wiltshire - they later sold it to the Swindon Museum.

I was fascinated by the intricately detailed decoration on the mummy and attempted to capture this in my sketch, as well as give an indication of the colours used.

Pen sketch on Hahnemuele Grey paper with Inktense pencils

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Urban Sketchers

"Drawing Attention" is the online newsletter of the worldwide Urban Sketchers group.  I was surprised to see a report on our Swindon group in the March issue (see pages 14/15), even more delighted to see one of my sketches included.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Handy printing press

I had this Xcut Xpress dye cutting and embossing machine on my Christmas list, but they had proved so popular that the local Hobbycraft store had sold out.  Finally, last month they were back in stock and I was lucky enough to get the last one in store. Its intended use is for card crafters, but it has become sought after by printmakers looking for a small, portable printing press.

I normally hand print my lino cuts, but thought this would be handy for multiple runs and for collagraphs which I would like to have a go at.

The best demonstration of this little machine's use can be found on Colin Blanchard's blog - he gives detailed information about his printing experiments (starting way back in January 2017) and has produced a 3 part video to accompany his comments (see his 26 Dec 2017 entry).  I found his instructions and comments invaluable as the press itself only comes with instructions for die-cutting and embossing using store-bought dies - nothing about printing.

The machine comes with three plates - a thick base plate (which is the one to use for printing), a cutting pad (when die cutting paper and card ) and a metal plate (when die cutting fabric).

For my trial run I started with Daler Rowney black block printing ink - this is water soluble and I don't often use it on its own as I often work over my prints with watercolour or acrylics.  Halfway through my trial prints I added white Golden Open acrylic and this seemed to work OK.  On this occasion I didn't bother to set up any registration system, I was just itching to see how it would work.

I haven't yet got a felt blanket, but improvised with a sheet of craft foam.  I made about about 20 prints using masa paper, book pages and pre-painted cartridge paper - it was surprisingly easy and they all came out very well (any imperfections are entirely due to my inking up process which definitely needs fine-tuning).

PS:  Another useful link about this machine -

The Xcut open and ready for use.

Base plate plus a sandwich of inked lino block, book page, tissue and foam
(obviously to be lined up before printing)

In the closed position and portable (weighs about 14 lbs)

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Yellow background experiment

I often randomly paint sheets of paper to use for my handmade books.  On this occasion I chose a large sheet of Hahnemuhle mixed media bamboo paper, thoroughly wetting the surface then allowing inks to blend together.  My favoured colours are pinks, blues or greens, but for a change I decided that yellow would be the dominant colour.  Once dry, I overprinted with white and tinted gesso using home-made foam stamps, then splattered with gold ink.

A portion of the background paper

I thought this might prove an interesting background for a painting.  I cut out a 9" square and  drew out my subject with a watercolour pencil, glazing with fluid acrylics, both negatively and positively, to render the roses and background.  I am not sure about pink printed dots, but definitely a technique worth further exploration.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Brooklyn Sketchbook Library

Time is racing by and our Swindon Urban Sketchers entry is due to be posted within the next couple or so weeks.  We still have a few pages to fill and I have added a 4th sketch which can be glued into the book if contributions are still short.

Wayland's Smithy, on the Ridgeway Long Distance Path
Watercolour, gouache, pen and white crayon on Hahnemuhle grey paper

The Ridgeway is a prehistoric travellers' route, stretching 87 miles from West Kennet in Wiltshire to Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire and is very popular with leisure walkers to this day.  

Wayland's Smithy is a Neolithic long barrow situated on the path a few miles from the Wiltshire border.  There are many legends about the site, dating back over a thousand years, and this was recorded in 1738 by the antiquary, Francis Wise: -
'At this place lived formerly an Invisible Smith, and if a traveller's Horse had lost a Shoe upon the road, he had no more to do than to bring the Horse to this place with a piece of money, and leaving both there for some little time, he might come again and find the money gone, but the Horse new shod'.