Tuesday 30 August 2011

Colour Sketchbook :: 7

I took my sketchbook away on holiday.
Up until now we've been working on stencilling, printing etc using images taken from close to home but working in our chosen colour - in my case, red, ignoring the local colour. By local colour, I mean the colour that we actually see e.g. sky is blue, grass is green etc.
So on holiday I took a different approach and I concentrated on the local colour and drew what I could see that was actually red.

I had a fairly limited range of materials - some drawing pencils, some watercolour pencil crayons and a paintbrush, yet I managed to capture some of the different reds ranging from scarlet to pink to magenta that could be seen in the beautiful gardens around our hotel.

These are not particularly skilled drawings but the point is to capture the shapes and the colours as best as possible to allow for further exploration on returning home.

So if you are still working along, take time this week to look around and see what you can actually find around the garden or the house in your chosen colour. And if you really can't see anything, compose a still life to draw. Try a collection of objects such as buttons, fruit, cups... anything you like.

Remermber, don't get bogged down with producing an accurate masterpiece - just think about the colour and the shapes... and fill up the page, go over the edges, have fun!

Saturday 27 August 2011

Back Home

We've been to Italy

We've eaten pizza on beautiful terraces
overlooking little piazzas

We stayed on the shores of Lake Garda
(not in the building above!)
where we swam in the warm lake every day.

We visited Verona,
that fair city where two star-cross'd lovers took their life.

and spent the evening at the most amazing Roman amphitheatre

where we saw an outdoor performance of Verdi's Nabucco.
I've never been to the opera before - it was an amazing spectacle.

But mostly we lazed around on the lakeside reading and relaxing.

I think I may have also eaten my body weight in ice cream over the week...

Although some people managed to drink their body weight in beer...
I was impressed because I couldn't even lift the glass!

It has been a wonderful relaxing holiday.
The boys looked after everything while we were away and the house was clean and tidy.
Jacob and his girlfriend even baked us a cake for our return.
Despite the laundry mountain, the autumnal weather and the rather desperate need to diet
it is good to be home!

Thursday 18 August 2011

Taking Flight

When I had to create a postcard for Lesley in our postcard swap I referred back to my summer sketchbook from last year and knew that this butterfly image would be the perfect starting point for Lesley's theme of Taking Flight

I played with several ideas but in the end I opted for a free machined version of the butterfly drawing stitched onto a paper background.

But given both mine and Lesley's love of hand made books I didn't stop there. As I was still in the middle of potato printing for this year's sketchbook I set about printing some suitable book pages.

Which were then given an all over wash of green ink to make the concertina pages of a book containing a butterly taking flight.

A postcard book...

That managed to contain my love of printing, paper cuts, books and embroidery!

This weekend sees the final round of postcard swaps. As I'm not around at the weekend, I have already received my card from Cathy and have posted about it here, and you can see all the other cards sent and receieved by checking the Postman's Knock blog over the weekend. I really has been brilliant fun so thank you Cathy and Lesley for organising it.

As for me,  I'm taking flight for a week too and we're off to sunnier climes. The freezer is fit to bursting with pizza and oven chips, the cupboards full of tins of spaghetti hoops and baked beans so I don't think the boys will starve while I'm gone.

See you when I get back!

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Colour Sketchbook :: 6

Another technique when monoprinting is to use resists. These can be anything such as torn strips of paper, cut paper shapes or one of my favourites - plant material or leaves. Ink up the plate as shown in the previous tutorial and lay your chosen resist on the surface. The red colour of these leaves led to me chosing them.

Lay a sheet of thin paper on the surface, covering the inked plate and your resist. With a clean roller, press hard all over the surface but without disturbing or moving the resist.

Carefully lift off the paper and you should have a dramatic silhouette print.

The next stage can only really be done successfullywith plant material/leaves with a distinct texture and markings - lift off the resist, re-ink the plate and lay down the resist again but this time inky side up.

Repeat the process with a sheet of paper and a clean roller and this time you should get a wonderful detailed print.

Of course by now you will have a stack of prints, some more successful than others and are probably wondering what to do with them, so I thought I would show you how some of mine have ended up in my sketchbook which I hope will give you some ideas.

This smudgy looking print from last time actually looks a lot better in the photograph (which I quite like) than in reality, where it is very indistict. Even with the addition of colour it is very murky... the photo was taken with it held up to a window and the light brightens it. On the page it looked dead and the colours didn't show at all.

So I added more colour, which made it darker still, added some bleach (there is a tutorial for this in last year's sketchbook posts) to lighten parts and finally some black pen to emphasise other areas.

The resulting image was cut and torn out and stuck in my sketchbook.

The ghost print from last time also didn't excite me very much... again it looks better in the photo than reality.

 So the addition of some colour emphasised the shapes

The print below was another where the actual print disappeared into the background making it look indistinct.

So this one was simply cut out and stuck down onto the white page which is a big improvement.

The print below is one of my favourites and has been simply enhanced with the addition of some carefully placed colour.

And this last one has been a combination of a couple of prints, both given a simple colour wash, cut out and overlaid and stuck down.

I think the point is to keep playing. Even if you don't like an image, add colour - I have used inks, water colour paints and water soluble pencils, add bleach, tear them up, cut them out, combine two or more images and stick them down... the ideas are only limited by your imagination and there is no right or wrong way of doing any of these things. Don't be afraid of making a mess or "spoiling" your work.

Monday 15 August 2011

Ingredients for a Barbecue

1. Chilled Rum Punch made to a secret recipe

2. A selection of tasty salads...

Vietnamese rice noodle salad

A chilli coleslaw and beetroot and orange salad

3. A couple of summery desserts to finish the meal

Slut red raspberries in chardonnay jelly... these would be made for their name alone whether they tasted divine or not (but they do!) and a stawberry pavlova.

4. And a man to grill some some sausages and kebabs...

... and take all the credit!

Sunday 14 August 2011

Colour Sketchbook : : 5

As promised, some monoprinting. For those new to the technique it is a simple method of producing a "one-off" print or image from an inked plate. Because it is necessary to work quickly the prints have a lovely textured, painterly quality. You will need to assemble some basic equipment and clear a space on your work surface.

  1. You will need a flat surface onto which you will apply the ink. Ideally this should be a sheet of glass or perspex, although you can achieve good results by using a plastic document wallet. This is your plate.
  2. You will need a printing ink or acrylic paint. For easy cleaning, water based media are best but they do tend to dry very quickly. If you are using acrylics you can buy a gel retarder which slows the drying time a little but the fact that everything dries quickly means it is necessary to work quickly which gives lovely spontaneous results.
  3. You will need a roller - this is essential.
  4. Finally you need a stack of thin paper. It is important that it is thin and I find cheap copier paper is fine.

Put a small amount of your print medium at the top of your plate. It is important not to use too much or you end up with a very splodgy print.

Using the roller, spread the ink into an even layer over the surface of the glass.

You will know it is ready when it sounds sticky (not easy to show in words and photos!). If the roller is sliding then the ink is not spread out thinly enough.  When it is ready you need to drop a sheet of paper onto the surface without applying any pressure. Finger marks will show up on your print!

Using something with a sharp point (I find a biro works really well), draw your design on the reverse of the paper without resting your hand on the paper. Only the tip of the pen should be making contact. This gives an element of "lack of control" which I think adds to the quality of the print. If you are not confident about drawing, you can trace around a photograph or simply make patterns or marks.

When you have finished gently lift the paper off the glass sheet and all being well you should have your first print. Sometimes they come out indistinct or a bit blotchy as a result of either too much ink or of being too heavy handed but with experience you can learn to gauge how much ink/pressure to use.

You then simply ink up your plate again... and make another print!

This shows how your print is the reverse of what you have drawn.

There is nothing to stop you adding a second colour ink to the plate if you want. Just remember to keep working quickly.

Sometimes, after taking a print and before re-inking the plate you can get a second "ghost print". After making the image above I quickly laid a second piece of paper onto the plate and gently rubbed over the surface with my hand.

And when I lifted it off I had a print of the marks made where the ink had lifted off the plate for the first print, creating a negative image. This doesn't always work as it depends on the amount of ink left on the plate.

You will get to the stage where everything starts to feel a bit sticky and the prints become very blotchy and this means the ink is getting too dry and you need to clean the plate and start again. The image below is one taken when the ink was a bit too dry.

But I rarely throw a print away and I've rescued this one with some added water colour once the print was dry. The beauty of this process is that for an hour or so working you end up with dozens of images which can be worked into, cut up, painted over with your chosen colours (I've not forgotten this is meant to be colour themed) and then stuck/collaged into your sketchbooks and I will be back with some ideas of how you might do this as well as some more monoprinting ideas.

And when it comes to cleaning up... baby wipes work a treat!

I am fairly certain that I will probably have left someone out... and I'm sorry but I'm starting to lose track of everyone who is taking part in this (If I knew what to do I could probably create a Flickr album for you to post your own photos... but I don't!)... but these are at least some people who are creating beautiful sketchbooks: