Cake, More Cake And A Head

2 Aug

alan head

Such a busy day. Putting up the new exhibition at Swansea Print Workshop this morning. It’s a gorgeous show of miniature prints from all over the world called Leftovers V. Then Husb and I went down for a much needed session on the allotment, loads of work to do but some harvesting too – potatoes, mint, chard, rhubarb, plums and cooking apples. Fresh food for some days to come. And on top of that, baking cakes for the exhibition tomorrow. We’re opening early evening with a traditional Welsh tea with bara brith, Victoria Sandwich, Welsh cakes and for the first time, I made a gluten-free vegan carrot cake. I’m caked out!

No time for sketching so I’m putting up one of the drawings I did at our life drawing group at Swansea Print Workshop on Thursday. This older male model has a very distinctive face that lends itself to bold mark-making with black and white conte crayon onto a rough brown parcel paper.

The Acme Gizmo

1 Aug

Frida 2 small

Today I went on a short course to Swansea Hackspace to learn how to turn a drawing into a rubber stamp. It’s something I’ve been wanting to try out for ages. I learned loads and got the chance to use some very advanced technology (well it seemed so to me). We started by learning how to vectorise an image in a programme new to me, Inkscape, and then, when the image was ready, transferred it to a laptop connected to the Acme Laser Cutting Gizmo (probably not its real name). This cut the image into a shiny blue acrylic sheet to form a solid backing for the rubber; this way the image is also on the back. I used a photograph I had made of a silkscreen print I did recently of Frida Kahlo. The photo above shows Frida cut into the acrylic; it’s very reflective.

Frida 1 small

Then the acrylic was taken out and a special rubber sheet put in and the stamp was cut. It’s very exciting, with sparks. I like the continuity it gives to my work, from drawing to screenprint to stamp. I’ll be experimenting with it, using different types of paper and inks and there might even be some scope in taking a block print off the acrylic image. The machine can also cut wood, so woodblocks are a possibility in future.


The Acme Laser Cutting Gizmo

Colour Reflected

31 Jul

front and back

I did a series of life drawings a while back, doing linework with Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens and using my box of Winsor & Newton half pan artist watercolours to overlay colour washes in a choppy style. I posted one a couple of blogs ago and some people asked to see more. So here you are. There are some large mirrors at Swansea Print Workshop which is great for doing quite extensive drawings with reflections.

A Sculptural Head

30 Jul



Just back from life drawing at Swansea Print Workshop, working with one of our elder models who has a fantastic, expressive face, full of character and experience. I prepared my sketchbook with some ripped brown parcel paper, stuck in with a Pritt stick and drew firstly in a mid grey graphite stick to get the basic proportions right and then worked into it with white conté crayon and dark grey graphite stick. I was quite free and spontaneous with the mark making and I like the result, I think it’s sculptural. This drawing took about 25 minutes.

Watercolour Nude

29 Jul

back view

I don’t often work with paint but now and again I get out my rather lovely box of Winsor & Newton half pan artist watercolours and use them with my Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens, to create colour washes with the line work. I don’t use the watercolours entirely in a ‘traditional’ way, but I tend to use them very choppily, maybe a bit more like gouache.


A Speedy Head

28 Jul


I has a few minutes left at the end of life drawing at Swansea Print Workshop last week so I scribbled the model’s head very quickly on my Samsung Galaxy Tablet Note 8 with the free Markers app.

Working Flat Out

27 Jul

day 1

I’m working flat out for the group exhibition I’m in next month at Oriel Ceri Richards, with Sylvie Evans, collagist and Graham Parker, painter. We’re part of a collective called 15 Hundred Lives and as well as exhibiting together, we do a monthly public access event at the Creative Bubble artspace where we open the doors to anyone who wants to come in and see what it is that artists do all day. It’s our second anniversary at Creative Bubble in August so as well as the exhibition, we’re also putting on a big arty birthday bash. That’s why I’m working flat out!

I’m doing a drawing using the manier noir technique. It’s French for ‘in the dark manner’ but I like to call it Drawing Darkly. Here’s some information about it :)

Faces From The Dark

26 Jul


I have some lovely vintage papers and I’m trying out different ways of using them. I used a silkscreen squeegee to randomly coat a few sheets with acrylic paint, firstly in black and when that was dry, overlaid with a translucent bronze. Then I sat and looked at a sheet with a piece of willow charcoal in my hand. I had no idea what to do, I sketched a few lines, rubbed them out with a wetwipe (the acrylic surface wipes clean) and then lightly sketched some ellipses. I picked up a piece of chalk and then the faces began to emerge out of the dark without my bidding.

I don’t normally work from my imagination, usually directly from life, from my sketchbooks and occasionally from photographs, so it’s interesting what emerges without any references. The preparation of the paper and the method of random drawing without a stimulus is a bit like some of the techniques of automatic drawing used by Surrealists to develop their creativity. The painter, Gerhard Richter, also used a squeegee extensively in his work, to apply paint. I like using the squeegee, it’s so random.

Ecstasy And Male Pattern Baldness

25 Jul

male pattern

Husb and I went off to Cardiff last night to the cinema to see Julien Temple‘s new film, The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson, a truly amazing film about the legendary Doctor Feelgood guitarist. Extraordinary. We arrived a bit early so I did some scribbling in the auditorium. There were a lot of men with not much hair so I decided to concentrate on drawing male pattern baldness. Why not, eh? I drew into my leather steampunk sketchbook with a Faber Castell Pitt drawing pen, size F.

A Night At Life Drawing

23 Jul


Just back from life drawing at Swansea Print Workshop, the regular Thursday night group and I am shattered, so just a quick blog from me. I focussed on the model’s face, drawing with my Samsung Galaxy Note 8, using a free Markers app. I saved the drawing regularly and put it into the slideshow below to demonstrate the different stages of the drawing.

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And now, goodnight zzzzzzzzzzzzzz


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