Archive | January, 2014

Nudity, Misery, Curry…..

31 Jan

31 natieI had a good session at life drawing group last night and tried out different media and papers throughout the evening. Here’s one I did in willow charcoal, compressed charcoal and chalk onto a lightweight textured paper; I don’t know the make as it was given to me and doesn’t have a watermark, but it’s obviously mould-pressed. The drawing is about size A3 and using charcoal really pushed me. I normally work with charcoal on a much larger scale, this was tight! The final result is a bit German Expressionist, which is fine by me, although I didn’t have that in mind while I was drawing. I guess that shows how much a piece of artwork can be influenced by materials. Our model is great, she holds a pose for ever….almost.

Today I’ve been a proper misery – horrible weather and loads of non-creative stuff to do which is sapping my will to live. So Husb’s going to take me for a curry at The Vojon to cheer me up.Lovely model. Lovely Husb. And lovely curry house.:D

hmmm….lamb shashlik or handi lamb polongwala?


Practice and Photobomb!

30 Jan

30 natie 1

I did some portrait drawings this afternoon, working with friend and fellow artist Natie. I’m preparing for a major piece of work later this year and need to bring my portrait drawing up to scratch, so Natie dropped by to help me out and I did some drawings in charcoal and chalk onto newspaper.

30 natie 2

I find portraiture difficult and it takes quite a few drawings before I get an accurate likeness in a style I like. But that’s par for the course. Art is mostly practice in my experience and there are a lot of failures along the way. The first one is not a bad likeness, but nowhere near as pretty as she actually is and I’m not keen on the drawing technique I’ve used. The second is less like her but I prefer the style, it’s more scribbly.

30 natie 3

And here she is, photobombing! The drawing continues, I’m off for the Thursday night life drawing session at Swansea Print Workshop now in a minute. I made a Victoria Sandwich to take along, filled with spiced plum jam.

Adele Dwff Dwff…….

30 Jan

Adele Dwff Dwff…….. from Notsogreatdictator Smith, who also makes hilarious sort films as well as his rib-tickling comedy writing


29 Jan

29 video

OOOFFF!!! Another day without drawing because I’ve been slogging away at this film editing lark. I’ve never done it before and this is my third day at it. I had a mixture of moving shots and stills from my artist residency at Wingtip Press in Boise, Idaho last year and the follow-up work I did with artists at Swansea Print Workshop after I came back. I have to make sense of it all and put it together so it’s simple and coherent and it’s been a challenge.

I just finished today’s stint a few minutes ago; it’s 10.30 pm here. But I’ve edited all the shots together and put in the titles and subtitles. On Friday, Husb is going to help me lay down a soundtrack. Nothing fancy, just a voiceover and hopefully we can upload it to YouTube on Saturday. I’m using Adobe Premier Pro and it’s been very straightforward so far.

Tomorrow I am going to DRAW!!!!! I’ve planned in some drawing time in the afternoon and there’s life drawing at Swansea Print Workshop in the evening. I’m going to draw til I drop!



Hare Pair

28 Jan


Today I finished cutting the small lino block of a hare that I started a couple of days ago. When it was completed, I liked the idea of cutting a mirror image to make a pair of hares. They’re similar, not identical and I cut them with my set of Flexcut tools, using a Flexcut Slipstrop to sharpen the gouges every 4 or 5 cuts. If you let the tools get blunt, it’s a real hassle to resharpen them, much easier to keep them sharpened as you work. And they’re pretty sharp – I managed to draw blood on 2 of my fingers, despite using a bench hook to cut on.

It’s good to get back to a simple technique like block cutting. I’m a huge fan of paleolithic art and one of the earliest art forms was rock carvings, or petroglyphs. Carving into lino or wood blocks is a similar process and although there’s no evidence that prints were taken off petroglyphs, it’s a small step to carving onto wood and using pigments to make prints. Fabric printing from blocks is thousands of years old and I feel this continuity of the practice whenever I carve a new block.

Next step is to do a proof print from each block to see if the image is complete or if I need to do any more cutting.

New Skills

27 Jan

27 new skills

No drawing today because I’ve been learning something new; I’ve been editing my first video. Last Spring, I went to Wingtip Press in Boise, Idaho to do an artist residency. While I was there I accumulated some simple film footage on my little Sony Cyber-shot and it’s been waiting 8 months for me to get round to editing it into a short video.

So I’ve been slaving in front of a hot computer all day, working on Adobe Premier Pro, cutting the footage together. I’ve done a rough cut and this evening I’ve been writing the commentary. The filming was completely unplanned and there’s no coherent soundtrack so I’m going to do a voiceover with subtitles. Husb has set me up with a YouTube channel and I hope to upload my very first film later this week.

Hare Cuts

26 Jan

26 print progress

*Groan*, another bad hare pun! I’m using some of the wildlife sketches I’ve done to develop some very simple lino blocks that will be printed up into smallish editions in the next few weeks. I’ve just made a start on the first one. I’ve hand drawn the hare onto the lino, using my original sketch as a guide and I’ve started cutting around the outer edge with a small gouge.

You can see my ‘slipstrop’ in the picture; it’s a leather sharpening block which uses a yellow polishing compound on its surface. I give my tools a couple of strokes on the strop after every 4 or 5 cuts to keep them sharp. Underneath is my bench hook; that’s what I cut the blocks on as they can be held firmly while I cut into them. The sharp tools can give nasty cuts if they slip, so a bench hook is a vital piece of equipment.




Tube And Tate

25 Jan

25 tube

Just back from a day trip to London to see the Paul Klee exhibition at Tate Modern. I had a bit of a scribble on the London Underground before the show. It’s difficult to look at someone like Klee with fresh eyes because he was so influential that his legacy is all around us in illustration, textile design, advertising, and I find it hard to see past that and appreciate how truly innovative he was at the time. He was one of the artists that the Nazis labelled as degenerate, but now his work is mainstream.

I thought the show was very well curated and took visitors through the development of his life and work with a vast collection of pieces. We also had the chance to go to the Tate Members’ Lounge as guests of our friends, so we sat on the roof terrace overlooking London in the crisp sunshine hobnobbing with the privileged! And me a scruffy urchin from a council estate 😀


24 Jan

24 badgers

I’ve had enough of hares and I’ve moved onto badgers. I very rarely draw animals, except cats, so it takes a while to get used to alien anatomy. Here are the first two sketches, trying to get to grips with the proportions and where different bits go. They have blocky little legs.

24 badger

By the third sketch, I was relaxing and getting used to the little beasties and had a bit more fun with the mark making. Drawing from photographs isn’t satisfactory because it’s surprising how much detail simply isn’t there. “The camera doesn’t lie”, they used to say. No, but it misses out an awful lot. I shall have to search out some taxidermy at the local museum. Drawn into my little A6 spotty sketchbook with Derwent pencils in B and 3B.

Head Shot

23 Jan

23 alan

Just got back from life drawing group at Swansea Print Workshop where I concentrated on doing a portrait. I’ve been doing life drawing and studying anatomy for decades but I don’t think I get enough practice with faces, so I’m going to focus on heads for a bit. This is a pretty good likeness.

I used a recycled piece of Somerset printmaking paper, approximately size A3 that I’d prepared with a grey ink wash applied with a sponge. I’d also done another drawing on it some months ago, but it didn’t work out so I drew over it. I think that added richness and depth to the final piece. I used compressed charcoal and white chalk, with white oil pastel for the highlights.

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