Wednesday, 30 July 2008

The Beano

Happy 70'th Birthday to the: My favourite comic when I was a madcap 7year-old. With Dennis the Menace and Beryl the Peril I learned that mischief was a lot more fun than being a goody-two-shoes like Horace!

My favourite character was Plug:

You live on, big Pal. He is still My Hero!

Monday, 28 July 2008

The Monoprint Monologues: Day#3

Beginning to get a degree of consistency, and you'll be glad to know this is the last of the black block-printing ink. Tomorrow I will try my luck will colour!
First print made by inking the glass plate, laying a clean sheet over it, and tracing over a previous drawing to pick up the ink where I have pressed with my hand. It looks like I've picked up too much ink (the measel dots were intentionally made with my fingertips) but of course you've no idea what you are going to get exactly till you peel the cartridge sheet away. I call this: "Wheesht!"

The second print was made in the same way but this time I have managed to get a cleaner print. Not quite sure why but at least the light areas are whiter and the scribbled background cleaner.
The joke is that I tried to sign the image while it was still on the plate and got the "s" back to front. Typical!
Third print is perhaps the cleanest yet, although I have no idea why!

It must have been because I didn't press too heavily and only picked up ink (mostly) where I overdrew with the lead pencil.

With a fair amount of ink left on the plate I took a final 'ghost' print of the session and instead of using my hand I used the back of a wooden spoon, as recommended in my printmaking handbook: 'Monoprinting' by Jackie Newell & Dee Whittington.

As you see, it might have worked for Dee, but it didn't work for Mee!

Anyway, even if it was taxing at times, and regardless of my doubts about it's efficacy, it is indeed fun to do. We'll see what delights colour brings to the party tomorrow!

Thursday, 24 July 2008

The Vagrant Monoprints: Day #2

Up to my elbows in printing ink, Day #2 starts with an image painted directly onto the plate with a brush (copied by eye from an existing painted image). Not too happy with the way the ink separates but lay a sheet of cartridge paper over it anyway and press down with my hand:

Sure enough - it's a bit what we would call in these parts "scabby"! I keep in mind it is all a learning experience, but I won't do that again, certainly not with this type of ink. Start again:

Now we're whistlin' Dixie! After inking the plate and placing a sheet of clean cartridge paper over it I re-draw over the top of a tracing of the original and use my fingers to press down where I think important. That's what the big dollopey blotches are. It's got a certain je ne sais quoi with measels! But a vast improvement on the previous ones. There's still so much ink left on the plate I make a "ghost" print:
Obviously less distinct but usable in the way I have read Degas used certain prints as a base for some of his pastels. We'll see. With that "success" I try again, this time working on the backside of my tracing which brings the image back to something like the original:

Oops, missed one line of the left arm but not bothered as it creates a bit of ambiguity which I like. Got some reservations, but I press on! I read somewhere else ( I do a lot of reading!) that Neocolours can be used effectively for monoprinting, and since these water-soluable pastels are a great favourite of mine I think I will give it a go. Having drawn my image directly onto the plate I immediately have misgivings: I don't believe the dry pastels will transfer adequately. So I spray some water over it then take a print:

The result is a ghostly image which I quite like probably because of the colour but it really isn't good or strong enough as an image. Perhaps this can be worked over with pastels to make a better image.

Which brings me to the BIG problem I am having niggling away at the back of my mind:


Why not just draw your image, in colour, onto a sheet of paper and be done with all this faffing about?

I'm sure you are about to tell me, so I am all ears!

Please note: There will be a two day hiatus while I go off and celebrate my 60th birthday (whatever happened to that callow youth with the skinny waist? I can hardly see my feet now!)

Back on Sunday with the next installment!

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Monoprinting Discoveries: Day #1

For those of you with a nervous disposition (for now I accept that I do in fact have more than one reader) LOOK AWAY NOW!!!

As though I didn't have enough to keep me amused I now launch the Good Ship Cornelius onto a new venture: MONOPRINTING.
I have threatened this for some time now and even spoke to Andrea about it when she visited these shores a few weeks ago (she is good at it and I have much to learn from her).

So here are my very first attempts at this type of imagemaking: Having bought a single tube of Daler Rowney Block Printing water-based ink my first attempt (shown above) was simply inking a 24x30cm sheet of plain glass with a rubber brayer which I already had in my possession, and drawing a design with an old felt pen through the ink. As you see it was an unmitigated failure!
Second attempt (shown below) is not a lot better, but I kinda like it. It was simply done when inking the plate and stopping mid roller when I saw the image as it was. I thought:"Hey, that looks interesting!":

Well maybe not!

Final image for the day was made after inking up the plate I dragged a wet sponge down the plate and thought:"Hey (again), not bad. I like it!" and "This is the kind of thing I see in the Glasgow Print Studio selling for a couple of hundred pounds", "If they can do it, then so can I!"

Don't worry, tomorrow it will get better, I assure you!

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Dancing Daisies

The weather is fine so I de-camp my studio out into the garden to continue my dance with these dancing Shasta Daisies. But to get to where I want to go (into some sort of abstraction) first I have to start at the very beginning with some expressive representation:

Ink and watercolour on paper, 28x40cm: "Dancing Daisies #1"; I let my pen dance around the flowerheads listening to the music and feeling for form. Which reminds me of a this dialogue I quote from the film "The Red Shoes" which I watched this afternoon (instead of painting - naughty boy!). The young composer says to the young ballet dancer:"When you hear the music, my music, you will be transformed!" She asks:"Transformed into what?" "Transformed into a...dancing flower!" is the reply. Well my hope is that I can be inspired to transform these daisies into something which captures their essence without labouring their appearance.

Ink and watercolour on paper, 28x40cm:"Dancing Daisies #2"; This is not the first drawing with watercolour added (#1) but a fresh drawing including blue watercolour. The idea is forming. The tempo is rising:
Ink and watercolour on paper, 30x43cm:"Dancing Daisies #3"; And now I am getting closer. This is the first one to capture the essence of their amazingly long stalks with frilly white flowerheads swaying around in the breeze. It is also beginning to take on an Abstract Expressionist feel which I am often searching for. I put this on hold for a moment while I regress to check out another idea. I wonder how it would be in landscape format:

Ink and watercolour on paper, 43x30cm:"Dancing Daisies #4"; There is definitely something here. But this isn't it. Yet. I try again:

Ink and watercolour on paper, 43x30cm:"Dancing Daisies #5"; And apart from #3 (which I will develop further) this is also closest to what I am looking for in terms of an image. All I need to do now is convert it into a finished painting and I'm well on my way to making my fortune! "Flowers for the lady, Sir?"

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Big Red Pepper

Right, just to give my reader a break from bloomin' Shasta Daisies (don't worry, my friend, I'll be back on them tomorrow!) I took a slight diversion at Albuquerque and painted this half pepper in oils to a much larger scale:

Oils on hardboard, 46x61cm: "Red Pepper"; The idea for this painting came out of a previous posting a few days ago when I was playing with watercolour in my own little moleskine sketchbook. I was musing with the notion that those small sketches would look terrific at a much larger scale, say 90cm by 1.4m. Now this is only a half step along that path but already I'm having misgivings. The problem I have is mostly related to sculpture when I see some sculptOrs thinking what a hoot it is to make some standard household object outsized and call it "art". Well that type of art always leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth and shaking my head in disbelief and sorrow. And here am I doing the same thing, Gotten Himmel! Well never again - this is the first and most definitely the last. In future it's back to the search for expressing emotions and Shasta Daisies. Roll on tomorrow I hear you say. And you will not be disappointed my sad friend!

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Feelings for Shastas

Still searching for that emotional response to these infuriating Shasta Daisies:

Oils on primed plywood, 46x30cm: "Feelings for Shastas"; A change of support to explore how oil paint works over the more open grain of plywood so that I am starting with a textured surface rather than having to generate it. Here I am digging deep down into my subconscious to find if in fact I have any feelings at all, and then how to express these visually with paint.

It's another step along the way but aint the Promised Land!

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Shasta Patch

The World Loves a Tryer - and I can be very trying!
Here's another experiment, this time in watercolour, trying to capture these damned elusive daisies:

Watercolour on rough paper, 50x32cm: "Shasta Patch"; What I'm trying to do is capture the feeling of these long thin stalks reaching for the sky and swaying in the breeze. I also have another image developing in oils but that's for another posting when I think I definitely can't do anything else with it. Meanwhile, I set up my travelling easel in the garden with a little side table to lay out my paintbox and waterpot and painted this while the daisies swayed about in the wind. I purposefully set the board at a very acute angle (-85deg) so that the applications of watercolour would streak downwards and just laid on bold brushstrokes heavy with colour.

I know I haven't yet achieved my objective but this is another step along the way and I had some fun doing it!

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Shasta Daisies

Still playing with this little moleskine sketchbook trying to see what else I can do with it and how the marks of different materials stand up. Felt pens seem to work wonders, skating over the smooth surface with marvelous unencumbered freedom (thinks: maybe I'll do Casey's Freedom theme with these pens?)

My other predilection at the moment are these wonderful perenial Shata Daisies, or Chrysanthemum maximum "Wirral Pride" as we call them in these parts:

Felt pens on moleskine paper, 2x 9x14cm: "Apart from the Crowd"; It's amazing how tall these stalks stand with their frilly white flowerheads without blowing over in the wind. Probably because they hang in there together as a clump giving each other physical if not moral support. But, as is my way, I like to set one apart from the crowd to give her/him/it individuality. The resulting image triggers an association with the work of Joan Mitchell and her colourful eight-foot high abstract expressionist "scribbles". I would give my right arm to paint like her, but then I wouldn't be able to hold the brush now would I?

Felt pens on moleskine paper, 2x9x14cm:"Shasta Cloud"; Without being too prescriptive trying to let my pens float across the pages the colours chosen by disengaging my mind (not too hard to do). Felt pens on moleskine paper, 2x9x14cm:"Shasta Starburst"; Like exploding skyrockets these two flowerheads burst out in all directions, the creation of whole new worlds from life's dark matter.

So I'm pleased with how felt pens work on the moleskine paper. Must try something new tomorrow.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Three Red Peppers

I've always avoided doing red peppers as a subject because I feel it has been done to death, but today when preparing a salad for lunch I could'nt resist the luscious image this pepper made when sliced in half. It was a good opportunity to try watercolours in my own new moleskine sketchbook without having to pass it on to someone else if it was a disaster!

Pencil and watercolour on Moley paper: "Red Pepper 1"; Free flowing pencil line then sloshing some strong watercolour on the smooth paper. Well the first thing I learned was that the paper isn't exactly absorbent and the colour skates about a bit before it finds somewhere comfortable to settle. So much for being inspired by Vivien's alternative moleskine exchange thinking I must try that too!
Pencil and watercolour on moleskine paper: "Red Pepper 2"; Getting more confident that I can control the colour but still not a lot different from the first attempt.

Pencil and watercolour on moleskine paper: "Red Pepper 3"; Getting the hang of this and in fact beginning to like the way the colour separates and settles where it will making for an exciting and unpredictable finish. Here are the three drawing/paintings together:

Pencil and watercolour on paper: "The Three Amigos"; Although they are each painted about 9x13.5cm I can just see them 90cm wide by 1.5m high. That's another project added to my list. When will I get round to doing them? Manyana!

Monday, 7 July 2008

Flowers to the Left Flowers to the Right...

I don't particularly see myself as a flower painter but at the moment there are flowers galore around our house. Now I am happy and that's a good thing but with so much proliferation I feel I have to paint as many as I can while they are there for me.
First up is a full blooming carnation which survives in glorious effusuion while all the other flowers in the bouquet, particularly the roses, are wilting and going brown:

Acrylics on paper, 30x40cm: "Bleeding Carnation"; This flower is so deep and powerful I felt my response had to be equally strong, so it had to be acrylics used very loosely and expressively to say how I felt about it.
Pleased, but somehow not quite there yet. Go deeper:

Acrylics on paper, 30x40cm:"Dark Carnation"; Very fluid washes of strong colour laid down with uncompromising strokes.

Working in the studio is fine when the rain is battering down outside but when the sun bursts out I grab what I think is necessary for an outdoor session - sketching easel, pot of water, tin palette with some freshly squeezed acrylic colour, A2 plywood board with a sheet of heavy cartridge paper, and my trusty Chinese caligraphy squirrel brush (large). These Shasta Daisies are constantly catching my attention as the grow at warp speed and reach for the sky:

Acrylics on paper, A2: "Shasta Sunburst"; Most are still just about to open but a couple have already spread themselves to reveal their bright yellow centre like big frilly fried eggs.

Acrylics on paper, A3: "Oh You Are Awful, But I like It!" If only we had more than two weeks of warm weather during the year!

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Jacqueline's Birthday Bouquet

Today is Jacqueline's birthday and for 20 days we are the same age (no, not a hundred and two!). So I made these two small pastel paintings of her birthday bouquet:

Both Neocolour II on paper, A5: "Yellow Roses and Blue Iris"; And dotted around with other small round white flowers. Looking down directly on top of them. But the Neocolours make an awfu' mess when you hold a full-length stick before it inevitably breaks in half with the pressure I put on them. Thankfully they are watersoluable but let's hope they are non-toxic as well otherwise I could be sprouting these flowers out the end of my fingers!

Neocolours II on flesh, 5x4cm: "Where Love and Life Collides"; My favourite colours together in the palm of my hand. Happy Birthday Jacqueline - I'll never wash them off for as long as I live, so they always remind me of you, my sugar-pie!

Friday, 4 July 2008

The Zen of Weeding

After the days work is done I often take my garden chair out front to my little circular lawn where I can catch the last rays of the setting sun. My next door neighbour was making use of the light nights also by doing a bit of weeding on her driveway - picking out each single weed individually. It struck me that this was very meditative: identify the weed, pluck it out, place it in a bag, identify the weed, pluck it out, place it in a bag. She worked like this for over half an hour by which time my glass was empty and the sun had dipped behind a roof further down the drive. Time to go in.
Pencil (5B) on paper, A5: "The Zen of Weeding"; Fascinating!

Pencil (5B) on paper, A5: "Zen of Weeding 2"; Total concentrated focus. None must get away!

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Last Post for the Poppy

The Poppies are finished now with this very last one dropping it's petals as I sit and draw it!

Pastels on paper, 33x29cm: "Last Poppy 1"; The petal flaps about vigorously in the gentlest of breezes seemingly desparate to break free and fly away. To capture the moment I often stare and stare then quickly shut my eyes like a camera shutter, then record my remembrance of it.

Pastel on paper, 33x29cm: "Last Poppy 2"; When I did this one I didn't imagine that it might look like a fashion model with bob hairstyle (like YSL's A/W2008 Collection) feather ruff and long Valentino red dress. All I need is to add a pair of skinny legs and platform shoe-boots to see this one strutting down the catwalk! (I must try that for a future post).

Pastels on paper, 33x29cm: "Last Poppy 3"; Now the wind is getting up and the petal can no longer hang on. A sharp gust and....FREEDOM! Off it went to the other side of the garden where it will disappear back into the earth. Goodbye red petal, it was nice seeing you. Let's meet again next June and we can share our stories of glory!

Pastels on paper, 33x29cm: "Last Poppy 4"; Where did that other petal come from? Who knows, but he's gone now never to be seen again! Sound the bugle and play a lament for what they gave me was hours of pleasure and now they are gone. Except I have got these images to remind me, and if anyone would like one too then just follow this link to Etsy: