Saturday, December 1, 2012

Streamlining Technology

I've been on blogger for a long time and after a small break, I decided to restart this blog.  The break was a good time to think through my online presence and how I wanted my website, studio diary (blog), facebook page and twitter account to work together.  I started looking at wordpress as an alternative home for my studio diary and how it could interface with my website.

I'd say I'm probably in that middle generation that has an understanding of computers and programs but not as wired up as my son!  So, I've managed to work through wordpress over the last two weeks and can link my website to my studio diary and more importantly, link back from my studio diary to my website.  Facebook and Twitter are also connected, so now I only need to post a diary entry and it will appear on my facebook page too!  There's hope that this will reduce the amount of time on the computer and leave more time for art.

So, if you want to carry on following my blog, aka studio diary, click here.  Hope to hear from you on the new site - if you find me, please leave a comment to let me know.  Thanks Jean

Oh, and one more thing.  I'm leaving this blog here until the end of this year (2011) and then I'll be deleting it.  I've transferred all the posts over to Wordpress so you can still see them.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Using Your Own Reference Material

I've been a bit remiss lately about taking my camera with me whenever I go for a walk.  I got into the habit of always having it with me either in the car, walking the dog, or just nearby in the house in case little creatures appeared like this robin.

I much prefer to make prints using my own reference material, then I know there is no issue with copyright should I choose to sell a print.  Artists are renowned for using lots of reference material from all sorts of places as a trigger or starting point for drawing and painting.  If you slavishly copy someone else's photo then its not your own work and you will be infringing the other artists/photographer's copyright and that only spells trouble.

So, stick to your own images and then you won't have any problems.  This little robin visited out garden a number of times throughout the winter of 2010/2011 and I was able to get some fantastic photos of him.  I've used this photo as the starting point for my Christmas card linoprint which is in production on my studio table as I type.  I'd forgotten how much fun a small, simple print can be to produce and really enjoyed spending a very wintry day indoors doing this.

So, off to print some more.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lest We Forget - Art as a record

On Remembrance Sunday, we always take time to observe the 2 minute silence and reflect on the loss inflicted in the name of war.  I find this all very moving (my son always teases me about my glassy eyes).  We took our son to France in 2010 on a Battlefield Holiday and although the title isn't great, it was our annual holiday.

We wanted to show our son, who has a fascination with war and battles, that there is a human side to conflict.  At one of the museums we visited I saw these small postcard pictures of an individual's first hand account of life in a concentration camp.  Although he may no longer be with us, his record gives us a window into a very cruel world.  

Cutting the Template

I've Started to cut away at the lino to leave my print design.  This is probably the most labour intensive part of the process as you tend to spend a long time doing this, hunched over the lino.  I always need to take plenty of breaks otherwise my neck and shoulders hurt after a while.  

I've also started messing around with colours for the background, trying to achieve some sort of dawn or dusk state.  I love mixing colours from the tubes, very rarely do I use them in their pure form.  It's great to play around and see the change as you add slightly more of one colour and then maybe add a third. 

I've bought only a small number of colours as I like to mix them.  So I stick to a range of the primary colours in both warm and cool - this gives me six.  Then I add some staples like burnt umber, yellow ochre and raw sienna.  Finally, I have two blacks, a rich bright black and then a dull black.  

I didn't get much colour experiments done today as I left it late and then the darkness came.  I now realise that I really do need to get more organised.  I only have a small amount of time available and less so now that the winter has come.  So, off to plan next week to make sure there's lots of printing time available.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thinking about bird silhouettes

I've started thinking about my next print.  I've got so many photos which show birds against a sky backdrop.  Mainly because the photo has been taken by a small person, me, looking high up at the top of hedgerows, catching birds surveying their surroundings.

So, I've taken one of these photos and quickly sketched out an outline to work from.  The aim is to produce a silhouette print with a sunrise or sunset background.  I'm planning a print size of 30 cm x 20 cm.

Now to transfer the outline to the lino!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Clovely Print - A View from the Beach

The prints are finally dry and now I can take them down, edition them and mount ready for framing.

One of the benefits of using the printmaking process is that you can produce a number of prints - they aren't always identical and its these subtle differences that add to the overall process.  This is called an edition.

An edition can be as few as 2 or can run into the hundreds, but if you are going to produce this many it hardly seems like a "limited" edition!  Most artists tend to produce a maximum edition of 50.  

Editions of prints are numbered, sometimes named, and signed by the artist, usually in pencil.  This is to let the viewer know how many prints are in the edition.  It also confirms that no more will be printed. 

At the beginning of the printing process proofs will be taken to check the colour of the ink and the quality of the print.  An artist can sell up to 3 proofs with the edition.  Instead of seeing the numbers in the bottom left hand corner of the print, the initials AP will appear (which stands for artist's proof).  

The whole edition doesn't have to be printed in one go, but as soon as the full edition has been produced, it is standard to destroy the original lino block by either cutting a hole or damaging mark into them so that the edition cannot be continued.  You don't need to do this with a reduction print as each stage of the process is distructive so there is no way of increasing the edition size.

Here is the final editioned and signed print.  The colour of the paper has been washed out in the scanning process - the real colour is the same as the top picture in this post.

Next job to is to get them mounted and framed.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Drying Line

You don't need lots of expensive equipment to do printmaking - many printmakers prefer to do everything by hand.  All you need is a space to do your work uninterrupted by the rest of the family for a few hours each week.  

This is my drying line, a piece of thick string hung between two bookcases in my studio.  The string is held in place by a couple of magazine boxes filled with previous copies of Wildlife magazine and Country Walking.  (Both fantastic magazines). I've used tiny pegs, the kind you see on the front of handmade greeting cards, to attach my prints to the string.  This is slightly restrictive drying line as I can only fit 7 A4 prints on it this way.  I'm going to have to get more ingenious if I want to make bigger prints and a larger number of copies.  

Here are my Clovely prints, pegged up to let the oil-based ink to dry.  I'm keeping this edition small as this print is more about getting back into the process of printmaking than producing a large edition.  It's such a great feeling, seeing prints drying on the rack, a real sense of achievement for all the thinking, sketching, cutting out, and finally printing.

When it's dry I'll scan one in to show you.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

New Supplies & Accessories

I was lucky enough to have an abundant supply of ink at college and now I'm having to find my way through the myriad of choices available.  I enjoy working with oil-based inks as I feel the coverage is better so I have bought a new tin of oil-based black ink from Gerstaecker.   The only draw back to using oil-based ink is that you have to use solvents to clean your equipment and the lino.  I use low odour white spirit, but this can still be smelt around the house for a fair few hours after I've cleaned up for the day.  So, I've decided to experiment with a water based ink too.  This is much easier to clean up after use, but I’d like to compare the ink finish.  I think I’ll produce something small just to be able to compare like for like. 

I’ve also bought a new baren, rather than plastic I’ve opted for a Japanese hand rubber baren.  I’m used to using a printing press but I don’t have the luxury of one at home, so for the time being I’ll be using a lot of ‘elbow grease’ to burnish my prints by hand. I'm on the look out for a press and am currently saving for one, burnishing by hand is a longer process than using the presss and as my time is restricted, I want to make the best use of it.

So, with time constraints on my mind, I’m off to draw and design my next print.


Saturday, October 20, 2012


Every year I tidy out our loft.  It's my way of making sure that we don't keep hold of old junk for too long.  I keep all my old photo boxes in the loft and I always take the opportunity to leaf through really old photos that haven't been scanned onto the computer.  Too mammoth a task to contemplate when there is so much Art to do!

I found some old photos that I took on a holiday to Cornwall back in '93.  We had a great holiday that year, but I remember coming home with a chest infection from staying in a holiday chalet that was very damp.  That'll teach me to rough it.

Clovelly used to be a fishing village and is a cluster of wattle and daub cottages.   What I remember most about the village was how steep it was, it descends 400 feet to the pier and because of this no vehicles are allowed.

It's a very quaint village and I really enjoyed the view back toward the village from the end of the pier.
So, with my fond memories still very clear in my mind I decided to use my photo (which isn't this one, I borrowed this from the official Clovelly website) as a guide to producing a linocut.

Sketchbook at the ready, I scribbled out an outline of the print I want to produce.  I decided to keep the print quite small so have used an A5 piece of lino.  I transferred the picture using a pencil.  I found this quite effective as the pencil lines are a reflective silver colour so easy to see.  I used my, recently purchased, set of Gerstaecker lino cutters from Great Art, to cut out the picture on the lino.  These have been a big improvement on my cheap cutters.  

I've produced a proof to review and can already see where I can make some improvements, but generally I am happy with this.  I've decided to purchase some oil based relief ink to use and as soon as this arrives I'll get to work on the printing.  I'm not sure how big an edition it will be so I'll wait to see how it turns out.

So, off to order my ink, and then I get started on printing.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

And the story continues ...

The last time I posted on my blog I had just set up a new website and thought that I would put everything in one place.  It seemed like a logical thing to do so that I wouldn't be wasting time that should be devoted to making art.  However, I found that over the last 10 months I have missed my blog.  I've tried to have a blog on the website itself, but found I didn't like that.  I also set up a Facebook page and Twitter account but still feel I am missing the narrative that you get with a blog.  I also found that I was taking less photographs which I used to like sharing through "farflungsky".

So, I have returned.

I hope that you will rejoin my journey as I develop my skills as an artist.  In the last year I have developed a passion for printmaking and so I have set up a small studio at home to continue this now that I have finished my year at Strode College.

I had such a great time doing my Foundation Diploma in Art & Design and had I been given the choice, I am sure that I would not have returned to corporate land.  However, I have a plan!  I hope to develop my arts skills sufficiently over the next 3 years to be able to have some income from my labour and just maybe my 5-9pm job might become something more.

It's taken ages to get the blog set up again and to connect it to my website, facebook page, twitter account  - need I go on.  I thought I was quite good with computers but clearly not.

So, the sketchbook awaits and I'm off to enjoy myself.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

A New Year - A New Blog - A New Website -

Well, it's been a busy year for me already.  More sketching, walking and printmaking but most importantly, I've been busy building myself a website.

So, my long and happy presence on Blogger will be coming to an end this weekend as my website went live today.

I hope you like it.  Feel free to take a look and let me know what you think.  All I've got to do now is produce lots of work to show on there.

I chose to go with ClikPic as they had such great templates for artists and the process was so simple.  I'm looking forward to the year ahead; developing further techniques in printmaking and painting and completing the Foundation Diploma in June.

So, if you want to keep following me, and I hope you will, you'll find me at

Here is a sneak peak at the homepage on the website.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Daily Drawings

Doodles in the Moleskine.
Remembering Strictly Come Dancing.

Derwent Inktense pencils.