I have always like Mondrian's tree painting. I like the sense of light and the almost abstract patterns of the branches. I wanted to get a sense of light coming from behind the tree and illuminating it with joy ( Ok a bit too over the top there). Anyway, I could not think how to get the darkness of the tree using the reduction method of white, through light to dark. My friend and one of our tutors, Ian, suggested turning it on its head and starting with a print of a tile that had no indentations made in it and using black in. So, that's what I did. I covered my polystyrene tile, pre-cut to my preferred size in solid black ink and printed it. I then washed off the ink and started to indent what I wanted to stay black. This meant I had much less to indent and could enjoy making the lines in a slightly abstract pattern. I again used a pencil to indent the tile (I love this way of working - it is so quick and simple compared to lino cutting - although I do think I would like to do that next). Then I inked the tile with the pale blue ink (mixing blue with lots of white - both from the starter pack I had bought) and printed it. I then washed the tile again and indented around the tree. Ian had warned me not to mix the cuts up with the actual tree or it would look messy so I tried to avoid that. I was now too excited and working too fast so there was still water on my tile. I inked it with the pale yellow ( using white with a tiny touch of yellow from the starter pack). The water made the yellow spot onto the print, which I rather like, actually. The pictures below show my inspiration - Mondrian and my finished print.
Yesterday A friend and I looked at reduction printing and, using the approach shared by Ian - see earlier blog, we enjoyed a creative time. The first two images are what we used as stimulus and the next two our four colour prints.
Happy New Year!
New year resolution - draw more, paint more, enjoy colour more, just more... even on lazy days
OK back to portrait, which incidently, I may never finish! But I am enjoying the learning. Today I focussed on colour mixing and melding colours on the canvas to try to define more subtly, light and shade.
I used the following colours:- alizarin crimson, titanium buff, raw sienna, burnt sienna, titanium white, naples yellow and yellow pale hue. I studied my painting as it was and then mixed white, raw sienna and a tiny touch of alizerin crimson to create a slightly darker tone for some of the slighter shadows. I added it in rough blocks and then emptied my brush of paint and melded the colour at the edges
I repeated the process where I wanted slightly darker tones near to the lightest current tones. The last image is where it is when I left it this afternoon.... what next...?
Another process that is really fun; thanks again to Ian who shared his expertise. So the process for this is as follows.
1. You will need
- a tile of polystyrene cut to the size you want your print to be. We used 15cm squares which are relatively easy to manage and quick to complete. You can get tiles for £0.99 at Homecraft and many other stores. These can make 4 of the size we used.
- a few basic colours of water-based printing inks. Being water-based makes it easy to wash off.
- things to make marks with - you could use a range of objects but a simple sharp pencil is as useful as anything else and that's what we used.
- two rollers, one wide one for pressing the tile onto the print and one narrow one for applying the ink to the tile.
- a piece of persex to put the ink into so that you can roll it out and onto the roller.
- prepared paper to print on. We used watercolour paper with the 15cm square drawn onto it and the word'TOP' written above the top. Ian explained that if you then also write the word , 'top' onto the top of the tile at the back, you will always align the print and tile correctly when printing.
You will also need an idea or source material to help you plan. My print design was based on a painting by Vlaminck called, Houses on the Banks of the Seine at Chatou and Ian's on an abstract painting by Jorn Asger, called, 'Dead Drunk Danes' - now there's a title.
Now to describe the layers approach - the reason why it's called 'Reduction Printing'
1.Very important to first decide what four colours you will use (with white making the fifth) going from light to dark. I went for yellow, red, blue and black (the light blue happened later - I didn't start off by planning it)
2. Decide what you want to leave white - and then dig marks into the tile where the white will be. So far, so good. Then prep a small amount of the first colour (yellow for me) on the piece of perspex and with the smaller roller cover the tile with ink. Lift the tile carefully at the edges, align the top with the top of the 15cm taped off square on the watercolour paper and press the ink side down carefully. Use the wider roller to press the tile onto the paper, making sure to keep the tile still. Wash the perspex, the tile and the roller ready for the next colour.
3. So, you now have a print on the paper all in yellow with some areas left white. Then you decide which bits of your design or picture will stay yellow and dig out the shapes with your pencil. Always take care not to go all the way through the tile as this will weaken it.
4. Once you have marked out where the yellow will stay, prep your next colour, (in my case, red) and do exactly the same as before, prepping the ink onto the roller, applying carefully to the tile and then printing it with the help of the wider roller. You now have a print all in read with some yellow bits and some white areas.
5. Ian now explained how to allow one colour to 'shimmer' through the next layer which is great for water or a sky effect. Basically you decide which bits you want to leave red (same process as before) and mark those areas and then, when you ink the tile again, with the next colour (blue for me) do it thinly so that when you print onto the red print, the darker colour allows the red to come through in a shimmer effect. (see my water which has red shimmering through the blue).
6. Now a change of plan on my print. I wanted the sky to look different to the water, so Ian suggested mixing a paler blue, cutting the tile where the sky meets the sea and doing the last print in two parts, so I did. I printed a lighter blue for the sky, having marked out those bits I wanted to leave darker blue. I then inked the lower part of the tile with black after digging out almost the whole area because I only weanted a touch of black to deepen the image. So that last part took the longest to prep the tile otherwise I would have had too much black on the finished print.
Thank you Ian, this was great fun and I will definitely take this further.
If you would like to have ago at this, Ian is offering a week of tutored support at ARTLIMOUSIN in 2017. Look at the dates page for more details. Email me if you would like to know more. I have to say he is brilliant at supporting you through the process.
.Yesterday I had a go at making my own paper, following the process with one of Artlimousin's tutors, Ian. It was good fun and clearly has lots of potential for different kinds of paper that you could then write and or draw/ paint on. So this is the process.
You will need:
- any different kinds of soft paper (glossy magazine paper won't work) - newsprint is easily acquired - you can buy unused newsprint quality paper cheap at Staples, Boyes or similar (Staples sells 50 sheets for £5.99) -or you can rip up old newspapers but be aware the ink will tint the paper. You can use tissue paper but you don't want too much of this as it is very soft
- some gauze - again v cheap by the metre at Boyes, for example.
- a frame to stretch the gauze across. Ian achieves this by buying the prepared canvasses in the Works and cutting out the canvas
- a wall stapler to attached the gauze to the frame with
- a bucket to soak paper in
- something to help you mush the soaked paper, e.g. blender etc. I use a hand held soup blender as I already have one to hand
- a deep tray that is deeper and bigger than the screen you are using - a roasting tin does the job for the small frame we used.
- old towels and some J Cloths
1. Stretch some gauze over your frame. Keep the tension firm and staple both sides in the middle of opposite sides first maintaining tension. Then work rest as opposites, keeping tension throughout. The bigger the screen you use, the bigger your peice of paper will be.
2. Rip up paper, fairly small, and soak in plenty of water in the bucket for at least one hour. You can add food colouring to tint the paper or add a touch of white vinegar to create a whiter result
3. When well soaked use blender to much the paper completely - add warm water to the paper that you have scooped out of the bucket so that you have about half water to paper. You want a smooth pulp with no flakes of paper left
4. Fill the tray (e.g. roasting tin) with water and add some pulp. The more pulp, the thicker the paper so not too much. (Handy tip - if you add liquid starch at this point, the resulting paper will be better to write or paint on as it won't absorb so much of the ink or paint and you will get a clearer line or image.
5.Place frame in the tray with the pulp and water and allow some of the mixture into the frame. Move it backwards and forwards gently until you have an even spread of pulp. At this point you can add fun stuff, wool, bits of coloured tissue, sequins, cruched up autumn leaves etc to add interest. Experiment.
6. Slowly bring the frame out of the tray and continue to gently let pulp settle and water drain off.
Put the frame with the pulp in it carefully onto an old towel and use a J cloth (folded into neat layers, not scrunched up) to dab an evan pressure on the paper to remove some of the moisture
7. When the paper is beginning to dry, carefully ease the edge away from the frame in one corner, get knife blade under paper and gently lift off - be paptient here - paper will still be fairly wet and you dont want to scrunch it up)
8. Finally, leave it to dry on a towel or speed dry with hairdryer and enjoy.
As mentioned before, I am very interested in glazing with oils, originally from studying old paintings like vermeer and I have a plan to learn how to achieve something similar in the new year, may even be my New Year's Resolution - we'll see. Anyway, I cam across a good glazing guide in Artists and Illustrators, one of my favourite art magazines, how advertised Artlimousin last year for me. The web address below is well worth a visit. I love the idea that a transparent galze affects the way we see the original colour of a painting. I read a book about an art forgery where the original painter was Degas and apparently he used loads of layers to achieve the colours in his work.
Daily life. I am using Linseed oil to make beautiful a toybox for our newest grandson - see picture. Also, I have entered the SAA postcard competition - get those entries in if you want to enter as it closes at end of December. Its a simple but great idea. You paint half and ask a painting partner to paint the other half. I have done one with Paul and one with Lynn, thank you to them both - great fun. If you want a go visit community.saa.co.uk and search for postcard partners.
Christmas is coming. Time seems elastic and yet each day disappears into the ether before I have completed, or, let's be honest, started, to action my grand plans for the day. I have been enjoying the winter skies and the colours when sun is followed by threatening rainclouds and the whole imbued with a sort of internal light. Although summer is wonderful there is something special about winter light. So, today's 10 minute challenge follows a conversation when out for coffee at Burton Agnes where the sky was really interesting. We talked about using watercolour and exaggerating colour. I tried wet in wet because of the time factor and quite like the effect.
As the nights really do start to draw in, I can feel my usual response of needing to bake, or knit or read,or draw or paint all of it in the warmth of a cosy cottage and not needing so much the tennis or walking that I am supposed to keep going.
Anyway, I did get into the studio yesterday and worked on the portrait. I almost don't want to show it in its current state as I am not pleased with the work at the moment. However, I always find the mistakes as useful in the long run as the successes, so will briefly talk through what I tried to do and why I think it went wrong. Hopefully, my next blog will show an improvement....
I wanted to blend the tones on the skin more gently so I re-worked most of the face with a lighter mix of raw sienna, white and cadmium yellow with the tiniest touch of red. I left the nose alone as I was feeling OK about that, and also the highlighted forehead. The result is too bland and does not show the shadows enough. I did then try a little shadowing at the side of the face which is in the original image but it looks like he has a smudge of dirt on his face. When I go back to it, I think I need to add the darks more confidently. Watch this space for whether I succeed. Any ideas or comments, gratefully received, by the way. I compounded the problem by using payne's grey to outline the eyes and define the mouth and smile lines so that an almost cartoonish look is now there, drat it.. I cheered myself up with a bit of work on my cards, also shown here. Happy Hollowe'en!
Can't believe it is ten days since last post. Time flying etc... Anyway, life first. All well with new life in that Toby thrives and parents dealing well with challenges. I enjoyed Private Eye Dumb Britain where question is : Jeremy Corbyn is the leader of which political party? The answer is : Conservatives. Well some way to go there then. Also good meal least evening with good friends providing new material for Facebook page - all good. Only cloud on the horizon is the tax bill at end of January - keep saving!
I have been continuing to work on the portrait and have finished the pieces for the local art club to choose from for their Hornsea exhibition. Thoroughly enjoying both. I am also trying to do the ten minute drawing a day activity which I will share despite it not being v good to date.
I have worked on the forehead tones and am pleased with the highlighted area. I used the method described earlier of building up tones from lightest to darkest and then adding the highlights. I also like the nose which is beginning to look right. Here I just keep looking at the original image and concentrating on where the light falls. Much else is still to be improved on the tonal quality of the face. I have begun to work on eyes and T shirt and background, all just really colouring in which I admit to really enjoying.
Work for art club
The finished products are evident below; hopefully one will be acceptable. The photography piece is inspired by the Hockney collages. The painting is my first attempt to use glazing (which I am currently really into) and the middle piece is just playing with the original image.
Having had a momentous couple of weeks away while my daughter gave birth to her first child, Toby, it feels good to be back in the studio. I have completed another stage of my portrait. As you can see in the image below, there is more work to be done on the facial skin tones and I can see that the one cheek line is wrong. However, I am pleased to have started on the eyes and mouth and can begin to see how they might work out, fingers crossed. I have used a simple colouring in for the eyes at the moment combined with an outline in raw sienna to help with definition. The mouth is again a block colour with stronger definition used for the middle and the lines on the face caused by the smile. I will keep working on these features, the skin tone and the hair over the next couple of days.
I am also working on a picture for my art club. We each had to consider a square on the map of Hornsea and produce an image of that area. I am working on two ideas, one with photos creating a panorama up, down and around and one of a paining of the 'ditch' or beck to use a more romantic title. It is not a picturesque area but I love the greens and tones that the photo shows.