Saturday, March 8, 2014

Becoming an orphan.

Well, life changed for me on the 4th February.  Sadly my father passed away and I am now coping with the aftermath of this awful event.  I am so glad that I got to spend the last five years with him. 

Many of you know about all the form filling and horribleness that you have to deal with, but it's a first for me and yes, I do feel sorry for myself at times.  I am an only child and therefore it is all falling on my shoulders.  

Here is a sweet photo of me and my Dad chatting as I painted in my makeshift studio in his house.  

He was my rock and I miss him so much.

To restore my sanity, after three weeks I finally made it back to University and got back to printmaking.  The deadline for my final project is mid May and I am now panicking a little!  All this on top of all that form filling!  The last words Dad really said to me was you must finish your MA and that's what I am trying to do.  

Sorry to those who have already heard this, but many of you just get my blog and not the Facebook page.  

So this is what I have been up to.    Two etchings, all part of my big final project.

Stream - Soft ground, sugar lift aquatint - 22 x 15 cm - in progress I think.

Titanus giganteus - Hard ground etching - 22 x 15 cm
Thank goodness the daffodils are finally coming out.  

Monday, January 27, 2014

Catching up!

It's almost the end of January!  I can't believe it.  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!   

After spending Christmas with my Dad and Aunt, I drove down to Gloucestershire to spend a lovely creative New Year with my friend Annie.  I think I have mentioned before that she has a charming dog called Eddie.  It's always good to go on long walks with him and Norman, Eddie's little friend, who is equally charming, if somewhat mischievous.  Not that you would think so looking at his photo!
In December I had volunteered to help some young school children, who attend a Saturday morning art club.  They were coming into the Anglia Ruskin University printroom to do some relief printing.  They inspired me so much with their wonderful images, I thought... hmmm, I think I will have to have another go at this.  Whilst I am by no means an expert, I have had so much fun and below are some of my attempts, cut up and collaged to make some cards.  

Of course, I did a little painting too.  I do find that doing the printmaking has really loosened up my painting.  I think the two definitely feed each other.  Does anyone else experience this?

Near Annie's ii 6  x 6 " Oil/Panel
Near Annie's i 5 x 7" Oil/Panel

Finally,  last but not least, today we hung our latest Printmaking exhibit.  Some alumni and final year MA Printmakers are having an exhibition in Cambridge.   It opens tomorrow, with a Private View on Wednesday, 29th January, 2014, 6 - 9.  Details are below.  Please come along if you can.  We would love to see you there.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Paul Klee, Mira Schendal, new etchings and my 60th Birthday!

Hello everyone,

Last week I entered my seventh decade and feel somewhat relieved that it has arrived and I can stop worrying about it!  My eldest daughter texted me to say that she had taken annual leave in order to help me get my free bus pass! 

On the Wednesday I enjoyed a birthday lunch at the pub with my peers from University and then drove off to London for more fun.  My wonderful children had organised some lovely birthday treats and surprises and I spent five days in London relaxing, having dinner with friends, family and going to Tate Modern.  There was lots of cake and presents and I was very very spoilt!
What an amazing cake!
The Paul Klee exhibition was large.  He was so prolific and innovative.  Just marvellous.  I fell in love with 'Gaze of Silence'.  I can't explain it really.  It is not necessarily something I would normally like so much, but the colours were so rich yet subtle and I was smitten.   Like so many paintings,  it has to be seen in the flesh in order to be fully appreciated.

                                "Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible"
                                                     Paul Klee, Creative Confession and other 1920. Tate Publishing

Gaze of Silence - Oil on burlap  56.6 x 70.5 cm  1932

The other treat of the day was Mira Schendal's exhibition.  I was particularly taken by two rooms,  (for lots more you can go here as this blog has many photographs.)

The two rooms which I liked the most consisted of multiple images on Japanese paper hung between perspex.  The first space included images similar to the image below.   The second room consisted of off white writings in acrylic on Japanese paper.  The words were barely visible but hung collectively it was so effective.  I loved it.  Oh! to be able to construct something so subtle and lovely yet so powerful. 

Graphic Object 1967 by Mira Schendel, a the Tate Modern. Photograph: Mira Schendel Estate (sourced from The Guardian)
The best photo I could find to describe the rooms is below, sourced from this blog

I have also been working away at my etchings and here are a few of the latest prints.
Musk Beetle front view - Hardground etching & aquatint.
Dragonfly on Water - Soft ground, hard ground, aquatint etching.

Stag beetle - hard ground etching, sugarlift aquatint.
Finally, I played with some drafting film the other day and then exposed the drawing onto a solar plate.  Lots of fun and potential.  

Automaton beetle - solar plate etching from drawing on drafting film.

That's all for now. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Etching, etching, and more etching!

Tiny hard ground etching 2

I have been trying very hard lately to improve my hard ground etching skills.  Just when I think I have got it right, I go and over bite it and it gets too dark, or I get too much foul bite. Hopefully, I will get there in the end!  For inspiration and education,  I have been looking at Rembrandt's etchings and this is a wonderful site for being able to really focus in.  What a treat it is to be able to look at his work so closely.

Tiny hard ground etching 3
I have also been working on an etchings of a pinned beetles  This is the second one, the first one wasn't so good.   I think they are taking on a rather sinister feel.  What do you think?  Please feel free to comment.. just hit the comment button at the bottom of the posting.   I get a lot of people emailing me directly, but it's always nice to be able to show your comments on the blog too.  Thank you.

Hard ground etching
Last Thursday I went to the Natural History Museum (Angela Marmont Centre) to draw for the day.  What a lovely bunch of people they are there.  It was such a wonderful day, I hope to go back again soon.

Finally, I used one of those scary exposure units in the screen printing room last week and produced this solar plate etching.  So much fun!  I used one of my dragonfly photographs, cropped it and made it grey scale and the result is below.  So much potential.. what next?!

Solar plate etching of a dragonfly's wing.

Two colour solar plate etching

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The research goes on...

Three trips to Margate in a month and now Pushing Print is over.  It was a good show, lots of interesting work and getting to meet other artists was lovely.  I also got some good entomology suggestions too, so the beetle project is developing. 

Unfortunately the Zoology Museum in Cambridge is closed for renovations,  however,  I was kindly allowed a morning's access to a few beetles last week.  Can you imagine the work it is going to involve packing up all those insects, birds and shells, etc?    

It is such an amazing experience going into these more scientific/academic 'zones', which are obviously so different from the messy, yet controlled hubbub of a print room.  I was given a desk in a quiet corner with a magnifiying table light and I sat quietly drawing all morning.  I am intrigued by all the entomological equipment, the perspex boxes, the pins, the little platforms of styrofoam,  where cork or something similar was used before... (note to self - check this out!). 

Musk Beetle
I have produced so far a few beetle etchings.  I am trying out different methods, hard ground, soft ground and sugar lift aquatint to see what I think works the best.  Here are a few to begin with.

An assortment of beetle etchings in progress and sketch of Darwin's Beetle box.

Hister Beetle - Sugar lift Aquatint, hard ground and burnishing.

Rhinoceros beetle -  Hard ground etching.

In addition, I have just finished a  Nuthatch painting.   Now to finish my tax return.... that's no fun at all!

Nuthatch on a branch - 10 x 10 in Oil/Panel

Monday, October 7, 2013

Back to school.

These last few weeks have been amazing.  My travels to Cornwall were so inspirational and I am now translating some of the rock drawings into monoprints and etchings.   It is wonderful to be back in the print room.

I also got accepted into the Pushing Print exhibition in Margate and had to deliver my prints and then return the following weekend for the Private View. My good friend,  Jim, lives nearby, so not only did I get to see him, and deliver my work, but also spent time on Botany bay beach, which I love.   This time I paid attention to the tide times and enjoyed the high tide with the water lapping around the rocks which I normally walk amongst.  I posted a little video here.  I also walked all the way along to the arch at low tide which is near Broadstairs.  I hope you enjoy some of my photographs, including a few from the Pushing Print Festival.

My friend Jane with my prints.
Giant Monoprinting

Giant Monoprinting.
Botany Bay
Me amongst the rocks, drawing as usual.
Arch, a short distance from Broadstairs and Kingsgate.
Soft and hardground etching

Etching in progress.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Being afraid.

I am down in Cornwall at the moment.  I just couldn't wait to sit by the sea.  I was particularly looking for some big rocks and yesterday I found myself at Mullion Cove.  What a wonderful place.  I sat at the end of one of piers and drew. (Someone kindly took this photo of me for me!)

I noticed some people on a beach on the other side of the pier, but I couldn't see how they had got there.  High cliffs behind and no visible way down.  I enquired later in the afternoon and was told that access was via a cave from the harbour area that had been created by the waves over time.  Being Mrs. Sensible, I also enquired about the tides.  I had about half an hour to navigate the cave before the tide turned.  The cave was very very dark, but I could see light in the distance.  To be honest, the cave wasn't that long,  but I was alone and feeling cautious!  The last thing I wanted was to be airlifted off the beach, which I was told has happened a few times.  I got half way down the cave and completely lost my nerve.  Then another couple came along and in lemming style, I followed!  Unfortunately, the lady, who was not wearing sensible shoes, fell quite badly and they turned back, but by this stage, I was having a conversation with myself about the commonly quoted expression by Eleanor Roosevelt, "Do one thing ever day that scares you". 

All was well, but I have to say I was quite unnerved by the whole situation.  I look back and think how ridiculous, and I am so glad I persevered! 

The cave really doesn't look that scary here, but I can assure you that it was much darker than this photo indicates! 
This is more like it, but looking down from the pier.

The resulting loveliness was worth it and I plan to return when I have more time to spend drawing on this little beach.

I particularly loved this cave.

Mullion Cove harbour from the cliffs

Sadly, the sky clouded up and the wind start to blow as I perched on some rocks, seen in the distance.  At about 6 pm I decided to call it a day and started to pack up, at which point, my drawing blew away!  Luckily it was trapped amongst some rocks, but I did have to carefully climb along the rocks to retrieve it! 

Here are some more drawings from my lovely day.

I included this one because you can see, it was done in great haste to beat the tide.

I decided to end my day at a more tranquil spot on Poldhu Cove, just around from Mullion Cove. The most scary thing that happened was that I got my feet wet!

Poldhu Cove, Cornwall