Archive | January, 2012

Come Up And See My Etching [female nude]

31 Jan

I spent today at Swansea Print Workshop learning how to do three-colour separation drypoint, which is similar to etching. You transfer a drawing to three separate, identically-sized paper drypoint plates. You use a drypoint needle to scratch your drawings into the plates, using your original drawing as a guide. Each plate is inked up with a different colour – Process Yellow, Process Red and Process Blue.

Three colour drypoint plates.


Starting with the yellow plate, a print is taken onto damp paper, we used Snowdon today. This is then overprinted with the red plate and finally the blue. I did a proof print today which I’m reasonably pleased with and I’ll do more work on the plates tomorrow with the drypoint needle, take another proof and hopefully I’ll do an edition on Saturday.

Printing the yellow, red and blue plates.

A Man Ablaze With Energy [male nude]

30 Jan

Monotype: Purple Hair.


One of my favourite methods of printmaking is the three-colour separation monotype, which is quite involved. I explain the process on my website if you want to read more about it. This image [printed onto A1 BFK Rives paper] started as a life drawing of a male nude model; he is of Asian heritage and had purple hair at the time. The pose and the model’s personality inspired me to be very free with the drawn elements, the mark-making of the process and the resulting piece is probably far more abstract than most of my work, but I like it. He has a very Egon Schiele type of body so I cropped the image at the legs and head as Schiele often did with his figures.

Mauled By Ming The Merciless

29 Jan

Ink sketch: relaxing with Ming the Merciless.


Ming The Merciless is a small fluffy tortoiseshell [calico] cat who tolerates us and shares her home with us. Because she is so fluffy, she needs to be combed, especially at this time of year when the kitties are moulting off their winter coat. Honestly, you’d think we were murdering her. It took husb and myself and a giant bath towel, a lot of courage and sheer foolhardiness to tackle her. I know that people say that if you train cats to be combed since they were kittens, they’ll be OK but I’ve never found this to be true and I’ve had five longhaired cats over the years. They all turned into psychokitties at the sight of a comb. We managed to comb her all over but very little fur came out with the comb. It manages to appear all over the house, enough to knit into a jumper, but after all that effort – and injury – we only had a few wisps off her. And then we had to put up with her being in a huff all day. And the puncture wounds. Ouch.

She looked lovely and sleek though, but she went storming off to the kitchen and deliberately scratched herself all over to scruff up her fur – just to spite us! This is her last night, snuggled up to my slipper on the footstool. My feet were perched on the edge while she hogged the stool and the blanket. This is the way of the world when you share your life with cats.


I’ll Scribble Anywhere, Me.

28 Jan

Sketchbook drawing: queueing at the Empire State.

I know I bang on about artists getting out in public and be seen doing art, but that’s because I feel really strongly about it. The visual arts have been getting a bad press in recent years. They’re seen, often justifiably, as elitist and obscure and this is because a small number of artists who are very good at self-promotion hog the media limelight while too many of the rest of us work our alchemy behind closed doors. I think that artists should be out there in the world, showing people how we work and de-mystifying what we do. I was terribly embarrassed when I first started sketching in public, which was only 5 years ago. I felt like I was standing in the street in nothing but a skimpy bikini – I couldn’t have felt more exposed. But once I started concentrating on the sketching, I stopped noticing what was going on around me and relaxed into it. Most people are really chuffed to see me working and are respectfully interested.

Husb and I were visiting NYC are standing in an enormous queue at the Empire State Building, estimated an hour long. Time to sketch I thought. I did quite a few drawings in that queue – here’s one above. Afterwards, we strolled over to the Chelsea area. We’re of an age to remember The Chelsea Hotel as a cultural icon and we wanted to look in the art galleries in the district. We saw this homeless man sleeping on a park bench. It was late morning and it was FREEZING! I hadn’t ever been so cold and didn’t experience cold like that until I went to Berlin in Winter a couple of years later. It was very sad. His belongings were in black bin bags underneath the bench.  It was so cold my fingers hardly worked, but I wanted to record this moment to remind me how fortunate I am and how people can easily fall on hard times even in wealthy, developed countries.

Sketchbook drawing: man in Chelsea Park.

27 Jan

Today has been bonkers and hasn’t stopped yet [it’s nearly 7pm] and I’ve got to go out and probably won’t be back until tomorrow, so I thought I’d reblog this from last Summer, some pieces of work which travelled to a fring arts event at the Venice Biennale. I was so chuffed to get them in and they’re quite a departure from the work I had been doing. Hope you don’t mind me rreposting – I promise to do a mega lovely blog tomorrow 🙂


Had a week off and back to the studio today. Strangely I worked better this morning; I’m usually at my best after lunch. I’m a bit tired because we spent most of last week travelling, entertaining, running and digging and now it’s catching up with me. I spent my time finishing my entries for the ‘100 artists’ installation at the Venice Arts Biennale Fringe. It’s a chance to get two tiny artworks into vending machines situated in galleries in Venice. The work will be put into little plastic spheres [smaller than 10 centimetres] and collectors will have to take a chance on what they get for their money.

I’ve made two drawing / print constructions based on a traditional children’s game. ‘Pathogen’ is drawn from dangerous bacteria and viruses that attack the human animal. With the population of the planet increasing to huge numbers it becomes more likely that our…

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My Long Suffering…….

26 Jan

Sketchbook drawing.

Because I sketch so much I’m always looking for things to draw and my poor, long-suffering husband fits the bill a lot of the time. It’s easier for me because wherever we are I can just tell him to keep still ….. and he does! Brilliant. You can’t usually do that with strangers. Here he is on the London underground with someone else’s arm in the foreground. He’s quite tall so when I’m sitting down and he’s standing I get some nice foreshortening out of him as well. I think of it as one of his marital duties 🙂

I understand that Lucien Freud exploited his family for his art too, so I’m in good company. This is drawn in Faber Castell Pitt pen into an A6 sketchbook.


Posing at Grand Central Station

25 Jan

Sketchbook drawing. Posing at Grand Central.


I take my sketchbook travelling with me. I haven’t always done so, I used to take photos but I ended up with loads of images that I never looked at, especially after I started using a digital camera. Sketching takes me longer than snapping so I have to stop and immerse myself in the moment. It’s more of a communion with what’s going on around me than taking a photograph, which I’ve always found to be a bit detached.I also get a more rounded and vivid memory when I look at my travel sketches; the act of remembrance is much more intense and I often get memories of smells and sounds and action as well.

I’ve been to New York City a few times and Grand Central Station is one of my favourite place – it’s in the film Madagascar which I love! My husb took some terrific black and white photos of this scene while I scribbled it – very film noir – and I noticed a woman posing in the foreground. I don’t know if she spotted us but it seemed so. It’s a very quick sketch, just a couple of minutes, but I spent quite a lot of time sitting in the dining concourse, which is beautiful,  sketching people at length.


Keep That Line Going

24 Jan

Sketchbook cat.


There’s really no excuse for not drawing, but I find it almost impossible to draw everyday, I’m just too lazy. Also there’s only so much you can draw the husband, the cats, the chair and the feet without getting totally bored. I was feeling a bit guilty today as I haven’t drawn for a couple of days [I’ve been cutting blocks for prints so I’ve been doing something arty]. I was sitting in one of our little art deco chairs and Sparta our tortoiseshell [calico] cat came and sat on the arm right up close to me. I grabbed a sketchbook [I’m never far from one] and started scribbling away with a biro. Although she was fairly still, she kept moving her head so I just went with it and kept the line going over and over the ones below.

I think it’s important not to try to get the ‘perfect’ drawing all the time, because you can end up with work that looks rather lifeless and also because it can be inhibiting – and time consuming. Although these drawings are nowhere near perfect and won’t be appearing in any exhibitions, they are quite lively; they captured that little moment of quiet with my kitty; and they got me off my backside to do some sketchbook drawings [although I was sitting on it lol. In my little art deco chair].

Sitting Scribbling Spying

23 Jan

Ink sketches.

I shared a few thoughts about the artist as voyeur a couple of blogs back and looking through my sketchbooks, I realise that I spend a lot of time spying on people and drawing them. One of my favourite places is a first floor cafe in Waterstone;s bookshop which has a large window overlooking the street and a seating area opposite. I try and find time to get there, not as often as I’d like, to sit, spy and sketch. What is it about we artists? Are we professional curtain twitchers? 🙂

Rocking’ The Arts And Goodbye The Brunz!

22 Jan

Today, husb and I took down our last exhibition at The Brunswick after three and a half years of curating! It seems like just a few months ago that we were putting up our first one with Mike Mainwaring and Kara Seaman. I looked through the list of artists who have exhibited during that time – 40 of us [plus a Lifelong Learning group show] and I thought ‘That’s a damn fine group of artists there!’ It’s been a blast working with them all and having the privilege of showing such a wide diversity of work, showcasing so much talent. It’s also been a pleasure to work with Allan, Helen and the staff at The Brunswick pub, who are genuinely interested in art and who put in a lot of behind-the-scenes work to make it happen. We think it’s Wales first, maybe only, serious art pub [there’s also fab real ale and home cooked food, live music and a pub quiz].

I took over the gig from artist Bruce Risdon, which makes it an amazing SEVEN years of exhibitions at The Brunz. When he first started it up, there were very few places for artists to exhibit in Swansea, unless they were very established or fitted in with the very narrow requirements of the few private local galleries. Now The Brunz, along with Elysium and Llysglas, Framework and Oriel Bach, Ex One Zero and Supersaurus, Artawe and Swansea Print Workshop are showing what it’s possible to achieve when artists take the lead and do it for ourselves.

I’ve handed The Brunz gig over to Tim and Lucy Kelly who will be continuing to showcase contemporary artists with original artwork and are keeping on the tradition of cake-fuelled opening parties! If you’re in the South Wales area this coming Wednesday [that’s South Wales U.K. not Australia lol], the opening party for Tim and Lucy’s first curated exhibition is on from 7pm – with cake!!!! I’ll be concentrating on making and exhibiting my own work now that I have finally taken the plunge to go back into the arts and have my own studio with Elysium Gallery Studios. It’s only 32 years since I graduated! I’m obviously a slow burner.
The poster is from the show we took down today, our last one. I put in some ‘skull attack’ block prints and a set of oil paintings of nudes. I rarely paint but when I took over my studio in May last year, I decided to do a series of technical exercises to bring my standards up to scratch and that included forcing myself to do some painting. This is one that I exhibited over Xmas.

Oil painting: The Yellow Towel.

 I’m lucky to be living in Swansea which is such a rocking place for art [and music, drama and writing].  There’s been a lot of debate in the professional arts press about how artists can survive during the recession and I think what’s happening in Swansea is an indication of hope for the future of the arts, with artists banding together and doing things collectively, with little or no public funding and bypassing the conventional gallery system. All power to us I say 🙂

Block print: Skull Attack.

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