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.