Sunday, May 28, 2017

Considering calligraphy...

Well my head is really moving at the moment and after trialling the first of the letterpress and sorting what seems like a gazillion things; I started to wonder if I could do some complementary calligraphic works.

I started on BFK Rives paper and set out a 10cm x 10cm square. A friend had given me a sheet of this remarkable stencil sheeting - which is low-residue sticky and re-useable.

Not sure if anybody else has trouble sometimes masking off areas on printmaking paper - and having the fibres lift with the tape - but this stuff is amazing (so far - only one or two tests, but both worked really well).

My square

And the stencil stuff.

I dipped some balsa in watered down ink and made square lettering marks - I was aiming for something rigid, slightly illegible and squared off. Lots of lovely wet ink in these pics.

Whilst it dried I decided to make some more peace postcards as well, using a mix of writing styles.

The next day it was nice and dry and the paper had uncockled itself after getting wet with ink.

Quite a nice square resulted and the stencils lifted up like they had never even been there - brilliant! Altho that ragged right edge is a worry again...

The details are nice too.  Not sure if this is going to be a go-er or not - more pondering to do.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Thursday Thoughts...

“The secret to success is learning to go from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” 
 Winston S. Churchill

At first glance you might not think Winston Churchill was talking about art...but I think his words apply as much to art as to anything else in life.

Perhaps they just spoke that little bit louder to me of late as I am making my way forward, inching my way forward and making mistakes and having to start again, or at least revise the way forward!

I like that he focuses on the 'no loss of enthusiasm'. Enthusiasms is kind of code for passion, or belief, or desire to make the thing you want/need to make I guess. Maintaining your own enthusiasm for the process and for the work is really what gets you through. For me of late, it has been my inherent belief that there is good work be made, tantalisingly close if I can just keep with it and keep pushing through.

Mistakes...I've made a few...

At least when I look back at this I realise my typesetting skills are improving!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Progress happens slowly

I made progress on the weekend wth the prints for the Sydney Contemporary. By Saturday evening I had etched a new plate, inked it and printed it, and also done a proof of the letterpress over the top.

The revised plate before printing.

A small detail of the letterpress work.  After getting it all together, I printed, and found this rogue "u"! It was hiding in the tray of type, in the "u" section and it snuck in. So it was removed and replaced with the correct looking letter.

Don't worry about the messy double print - I proofed on the proofing press, then later on popped the type block into the Lightning Jobber and decided to just over print without ink to see how well try first attempt at registration worked - kind of sort, but not quite!

At first I had the test block left-aligned, leaving a ragged right edge.  Given the imagery is so graphic, a square within a square, the loose right edge worried me.

So it was back to the drawing board and I rearranged the type and the letters so that the text block was more fully justified. Interesting process, but it felt so much better.

The re-arragned type.

I did four proofs and got the registration pretty good on all of them - this was the worst; the type bled over the edge of the etching a bit. It still looked OK as a whole tho.

 By Saturday night I could look at the work as an image, and my heart sank.  After all that planning and work I thought I'd have to start all over again - it felt too obvious, and too flat.  There was no life in it, no interest.  Not much fun at all.

So it was back to the studio on Sunday desperately trying to work out how to rescue it - whilst doing things like fiddle with paper and write on garden stakes. I was hoping that sometimes things work out better if you distract yourself.

I needed another element, and Barry and I talked about embossing - where, what sort of imagery. how much, the same imagery for all four pieces or different for each one?  I had also been thinking about  a splash of red somehow - but again, where, how, why?

I could come up with three marks the would work for three images - they made sense, maintained the integrity of the pieces; and added to the story. But I was stumped by the fourth.

The one that stumped me was the one about gender equality. The etched imagery pretty much says it all so what could I add as a mark that made sense?

I was thinking about the female symbol - the circle with the down stroke and the cross (Venus). Let me tell you that looked way too obvious and jarring.

I wondered about a simple dot/circle and tried to see how I could make one well (and reproduce it). I think the top two are gouache within a template; the bottom ones are a rubber/eraser on the end of a pencil dipped in gouache.

But in the end it looked too ugly and distracting.

The idea I was pondering was gender neutrality - that by removing the Mars and Venus elements of the symbol, we find ourselves thinking about equality and not difference.  My sense was that the gender symbols are mostly outlines of circles (not filled in circles) and so I began to see if I could do that somehow.  I traced around the template with a brush - very wobbly - and then Barry suggested some plastic tubing.  I went to the drawer to find some and came across the perfect dipping tool - an ink cartridge for a parallel pen and dipped away. I was onto something.

And then I placed it on proof print and thought - Yes! That is the mark I want!

And so we have a way forward...

Sunday, May 21, 2017

A real mixed bag

The weekend was full of variety - and time to do all sort of things that needed doing.

I made some progress on my etching and letterpress work, I met with a fellow about a new book commission and got the details so I can start thinking about that and I managed to do some small arty type chores/projects.

A life of and with art is never simply about making - the talking about commissions, wrapping and packing, pricing, and preparing are all part and parcel of it.

Barry is involved with the Maleny Neighbourhood Centre and volunteered to paint some stakes for the vegetable garden (it is a massive community garden that offers so many people in need access to fresh fruit and vegetables).  He also volunteered that I could write the names on them!

So after the stakes were dry from painting I sat down to work out what was needed. I decided that there was NOT going to be any calligraphy - I was simply going to sit down and write the names on the 50 stakes.

Which is easier said than done of course.

The style of pen was up for debate and given the size/length of the stakes and the length of the words, I chose the simplest bullet-tip marker, with a narrower tip for the top writing.

Because the words differed in length, I wanted to try and keep the size of the lettering similar, it couldn't be exact but I wanted it to look rather regular or uniform.  So I devised an excellent template!

 You can see the gap where I would write. It was attached to the table and flipped back; I put a stake underneath, lined up the top and bottom and wrote in the gap.

 One tub full.

A second tub full

Four tubs full full!

In preparation for September at the Sydney Contemporary, I am continuing the quest to work out how to present unframed work.  I spent a few hours going though books and making some small mock-ups of possible options.

I want to have the unframed works on paper presented in 'something', to make them look special.  I shall attach them to foam core and wrap them in a cellophane bag, but then I want a little bit more...

Fun was had! But no decisions made.

And then I packed up some commissions ready to deliver to their new home!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thursday Thoughts...

“Wherever I am if I’ve got a book with me, I have a place I can go and be happy” 

 J.K. Rowling

I couldn't agree more heartily with Ms Rowling! I'm not quite sure what it is about having a book with me - but I find them so companionable, so friendly, so welcoming, so safe.  I definitely always feel that no matter where I am or what I am doing if I have a book within reach then all shall be well.

Would you agree?

I think it may explain my minor addiction to book bags of all shapes and sizes.  I recently cut up this skirt I made a few years ago, to make yet another bag in which I can easily carry a book or two...

Embellished with a beautiful, hand-stitched "imagine peace" pin made by Liz A - sharing peace around the world...

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A slow slog...and some great news!

I spent time on the weekend trying to put some type together, that would work with the images I have draft-printed.

I am trying to create a 10cm x 10cm type square and so I began with working out how many picas (that is the type measurement) that would mean. I had a lovely moment when my 10cm = 4 inches = 24 picas!

I thought it was a sign.

But perhaps not.

I worked out that using 18pt type that would mean 16 lines of type and for some obscure reason, I was up for it!  And off I went.

My first error was trying to use a tiny weeny font upon the 18pt typeface.  My second error was trying to just pull the letters out of a box of mixed type - it was really hard to find the letters when they hadn't been sorted. Whilst most were generally in the right spot; you can see they were a bit muddled and upside down and pretty tricky to find at times.

So I learnt another lesson - best to sort your type first; then use it. So I did. Another four or so hours were spent sorting the type.

I then looked at what I had achieved and decided that there was probably no way that I could really keep going with such a tricky small type anyway - and now that I had sorted it; I doubted I would have enough letters to complete the square anyway.

Such is life.

And it was back to the drawing board and looking around the studio to see which 24pt typefaces I had that might work.  Barry brought me over a cup of coffee and together we talked about the kind of type I had and how it might work for the jobs I was doing. We went this way and that; and came up with these four typefaces - all upright, no italics, and one a bit difficult to read. And then Barry went back to his own work!

Despite having planned to have the etched or lino print in side the square of type, whilst sitting quietly the other day I thought oh - it would look better hanging out slightly!  And so I played around with my paper templates and tested how it might look if it was hanging out by 1 cm or 2 cm.

I am pretty sure I've mentioned before just what a cut and paste kind of gal I am.

And then I sat down with some 24pt type, and the timber block Barry had cut me to represent the etched/lino print and then slowly put together a square of type, finishing with spacers to show where the etching/lino might sit.

Still nothing much to show for all that work; but it was nonetheless a real sense of achievement.  I flipped the photo and printed it off the computer and have decided that I need to change a few words here and there before proofing. But we have begun.

And to what end?

I am proud to be represented by Good to Print Studio at the Paper Contemporary, part of the Sydney Contemporary Art Fair. This prestigious event has over 90 exhibitors and in 2015, 32,000 people passed through the doors over the weekend. It is a massive undertaking and I am excited, proud, scared and all the rest of it!

The Paper Contemporary showcases 16 international print studios and galleries, so I really am honoured to be part of it.

See here for days and times and other news...

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Etching away

During the week I got to etch the wee aluminium plates I prepared last weekend.

They are only small - 5cm x 5cm each so didn't really require much etching solution!

I am an intermittent printmaker; and often times forget the things that would be second nature to real printmakers.  Like I started wondering if the Sharpie that I had sketched the designs on with would end up acting as a mask for the etching solution.  I took a bet each way and removed it (after another conversation with myself about what might remove it - I ended up with turps) mostly...

In some places the shellac had gone over it and it couldn't be removed; but with the multi line one I decided to leave a bit on around the edges to see if my mask theory was correct.

And then into the copper sulphate solution. I always love the muck that emerges!

And out they came and I was pretty happy with the results. I will need to re-do one of them tho - not so happy with it.

My mask theory was right - you can see how some of the Sharpie worked to resist the etching solution not he edges here.

And then I printed them. I loved the blackness of the first run; but also enjoyed the softness of the second run; the grey and slightly washed out look is a bit softer perhaps.

A direct comparison between black and grey!

So I now have the dilemma of choosing between the looseness of the etch above; or the sharpness of the lino below. And then between the black and the grey. And which typeface to use for the words. And what size typeface to use. And then the layout of the image to the words. And then...