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The Hands!!!

19 Jul

This is the 30 minute pose from last week’s life drawing at Swansea Print Workshop. Because of Covid19 restrictions, we have designated spaces in the drawing studio so we stick to one spot, no moving around to get different vantage points. I was stationed to one side of our model but I didn’t mind though as these side views can be quite dynamic. I got a bit preoccupied with his hands and ended up with them being different sizes, but I like them that way. I used a sanguine conte crayons and vintage paper.

A Chance To Own One Of My Artworks

I have some small screenprints for sale, inspired by my drawings of the taxidermy collection at Swansea Museum. I have given these antique artifacts a modern twist by combining them with images of rubbish – old fruit nets, bubble wrap and plastic – highlighting the problem of human pollution and how it affects wildlife.

To buy my work on the Swansea Print Workshop site please click the image to the left and to see the complete image.

20 percent of the cost of each screenprint sold goes to support Swansea Print Workshop, which receives no public funding.

Talking About Red

27 Jan
A linocut Sparta Puss in red

Here’s my second podcast. It’s about the colour red and is mostly based on the book Colour: Travels Through the Paintbox by Victoria Finlay

I hope you enjoy listening to it but if you’d prefer to read, here’s a transcript of the podcast.

Hello, Rosie Scribblah here. Welcome to my second Podcast. It’s been a while since my first one but there’s a pandemic going on so things go a bit pear shaped sometimes. I’ve been having a think about what to podcast about and I fancied doing something about Red. That’s the colour Red.

I read this amazing book a while back by Victoria Finlay, called Colour: Travels Through The Paintbox. She’s a really good storyteller so I thought I’d share some of her adventures. 

Red

Sooo – Red. Well, it’s a fundamental colour.  It’s the colour of blood.  It’s the colour of lust and rage and love and power and any kind of heightened emotion. In the Comanche language the same word is used for colour, circle and red, which shows how important it is to them. And of course it’s the colour of the dragon of Wales. 

But making red for paints and dyes isn’t an easy business. Blood is obviously red but once spilled it quickly turns to a murky brown so it’s no use as a permanent dye.  The search for something which matches the richness of blood that can also be used for painting pictures and dying fabrics is almost as old as history itself.

Chemical pigments

Before chemical pigments were invented by the Victorians, colours came from nature, from animals, plants and minerals and elements.

And for thousands of years the most popular red in what we now call the Western world came from an insect called the Kermes, which comes from the Mediterranean and lives on the Kermes oak trees. They were crushed up and used by the ancient Greeks and Romans as a very expensive red dye. And from this Kermes we get the words crimson and carmine, which are both types of red. 

Another very expensive red was vermilion, which the Ancients called cinnabar. The Roman author Pliny wrote that is was the blood spilled from battles between elephants and dragons. But it’s a deadly mixture of sulphur and mercury, which is really poisonous. The Romans loved it so much that they used it in paintings, in frescos on their walls and in lipstick even though they knew it was so dangerous. But then these days people have Botox, a well-known deadly toxin injected into their faces, so who are we to judge?

The cochineal bug

Meanwhile, in the Americas they had a much richer red. The cochineal bug grows on prickly pear plants. Cultivating it is a delicate balance because left to their own devices the cochineal bugs will completely destroy the cacti.

To get at the pigment, cacti plants are infected with the bugs for 5 months at a time and then they leave the plants to rest for a few months. The insects are harvested by blowing them off the plants into bags using compressed air tipping them into massive steel vats and pulping them.  There’s no nice way of saying it. Trillions of insects die to make your chicken tikka masala look like it does. Because, cochineal is the common name for the permitted food colouring E120 and it’s in most foods that are red and pink, like processed ham and also in cosmetics like lipstick.

The deep red you get from cochineal bugs has always been very valuable.  Cardinals in the Catholic Church used to have hats dyed with it and Mary Queen of Scots wore a dress dyed with cochineal when she was beheaded. 

The ancient Incas

The ancient Incas had a very sophisticated symbolic colour system. Black was time, yellow was gold, blue was the sky and they used red to represent themselves.  Different types of red would mean different aspects of their empire. They used a sophisticated system of knotted cords to communicate across great distances.  A red cord tied with knots at the top would mean a great battle and blood red knots at the top would show how many of their own people had died. 

When Europeans stumbled across the Americas, gold wasn’t the only thing they wanted.  They were amazed by the red they found there.  It was richer than the ones they were used to and they didn’t waste any time, muscling in on the trade in cochineal and very quickly this new, brighter version of red totally swamped the European world.  Everybody wanted it for clothes and cosmetics.  At the time only the Spanish knew how the red was made and they guarded the secret fiercely.  The colour was imported into Europe as a reddish brown powder, so no one knew it was bugs, and the Spaniards tried to stop any other nation from travelling to the source of their supplies in the New World. 

Thiéry de Menonville

By the 18th Century, other nations wanted in on the Red action. The French sent Thiéry de Menonville to South America to find out.  The Spanish were suspicious of him and tried to send him home but he escaped and headed into the interior of Mexico.  Once he had discovered the secret, he then had to get the insects home to France. Because they would not settle on a plant once they had been removed, the plants complete with insects would have to be kidnapped and kept alive all the way back across to Europe. And, if he’d been caught the Spanish customs officers would have burnt him at the stake. That was their penalty for industrial espionage back then.

After months of searching and risking death from the Spanish, from bandits, disease and wild animals he got back to the French controlled island of Haiti where he lived. And then he found the cactus and bugs growing just round the corner from his house. Which must have been annoying. But it broke the Spanish monopoly of the cochineal trade.

The red produced by cochineal is so gorgeous that the 19th century British painter Turner used it despite being told time and again by his fellow artists, customers and even the manufacturers of his paints that it would fade.  And it did. And because of this many of the great Turner paintings that we see in museums are literally shadows of their former selves, because the reds have faded so much.

Turner

But he wasn’t that bothered. Turner was well known for not caring about his finished work and left a lot of his paintings in terrible conditions. He even ripped a tear in one painting to make a catflap for his seven Manx cats.  He was such a passionate, spontaneous artist that he wanted the reddest red at the moment he was painting and didn’t think of anything else. 

But he also used another popular red at that time, red lead. The proper name for it in its natural state is Minium but it can be made by heating up white lead, which is also really poisonous. It’s quite an orangey red and it was so widely used by Persian and Mughal artists that their work became known as miniatures.  The fact that the paintings are also usually very small is just a coincidence.

So what other reds did Turner get to use? In one of his most famous paintings, of the ship The Fighting Temeraire, he used iodine scarlet, which was developed by the inventor Humphrey Davey from the mineral iodine.  But like the others, it fades and the painting is now it’s just a pale reflection of when it was created. 

Post boxes

Finding a red that didn’t fade was also a problem for the Post office in the 1800s. Post boxes were originally painted green, but people complained that they kept bumping into them, so the Post Office painted their pillar boxes red. Unfortunately, they quickly faded to pink and had to keep being repainted until a good, colour fast synthetic red paint was invented.

So there we are, the colour Red – I hope you enjoyed hearing about colour as much as I do. Like I said, I got most of this from the book Colour: Travels Through The Paintbox by Victoria Finlay. Net time I’ll podcast about another colour – black maybe …. Or purple …. So many to choose from. Hwyl fawr, Bye….

A Chance To Own One Of My Artworks

I have some small screenprints for sale, inspired by my drawings of the taxidermy collection at Swansea Museum. I have given these antique artifacts a modern twist by combining them with images of rubbish – old fruit nets, bubble wrap and plastic – highlighting the problem of human pollution and how it affects wildlife.

To buy my work on the Swansea Print Workshop site please click the image to the left and to see the complete image.

Inspired by drawings of the taxidermy collection at Swansea Museum. I have given these antique artefacts a modern twist by combining them with images of rubbish – old fruit nets, bubble wrap and plastic – highlighting the problem of human pollution and how it affects wildlife.

20 percent of the cost of each screenprint sold goes to support Swansea Print Workshop, which receives no public funding.

A Mari Lwyd Day

5 Jan

mari cards 1

I wasn’t feeling too well yesterday so didn’t do much of anything at all but I bounced back today with my two Mari Lwyd projects. I printed my lino block, in black Caligo Cranfield Safewash relief ink, individually onto white card and then in blocks of four onto A4 sheets of hand made paper made from recycled saris in various colours – here’s the grey one.

mari cards 2

Then I finished painting a layer of gesso onto the two parts of the flat pack Mari Lwyd puppet I’m putting together. I hope to have it all finished ready for Hen Galan, the ancient New Year on January 13th.

Making Mari 5

 

 

 

A Chance To Own One Of My Artworks

I have some small screenprints for sale, inspired by my drawings of the taxidermy collection at Swansea Museum. I have given these antique artifacts a modern twist by combining them with images of rubbish – old fruit nets, bubble wrap and plastic – highlighting the problem of human pollution and how it affects wildlife.

To buy my work on the Swansea Print Workshop site please click the image to the left and to see the complete image.

Inspired by drawings of the taxidermy collection at Swansea Museum. I have given these antique artefacts a modern twist by combining them with images of rubbish – old fruit nets, bubble wrap and plastic – highlighting the problem of human pollution and how it affects wildlife.

20 percent of the cost of each screenprint sold goes to support Swansea Print Workshop, which receives no public funding.

 

The First Proof

27 Dec

proof 1

I did some more carving on my new Mari Lwyd linocut this afternoon, more or less finishing the head. I thought I’d take a first proof print to see what else needs to be done to the head and to have a think about what, if anything, I might do to the rest of the block. I’m pleased with the head, but there are a couple of flaws on the surface of the lino which I will go over with a fine sandpaper.

 

 

A Chance To Own One Of My Artworks

I have some small screenprints for sale, inspired by my drawings of the taxidermy collection at Swansea Museum. I have given these antique artifacts a modern twist by combining them with images of rubbish – old fruit nets, bubble wrap and plastic – highlighting the problem of human pollution and how it affects wildlife.

To buy my work on the Swansea Print Workshop site please click the image to the left and to see the complete image.

Inspired by drawings of the taxidermy collection at Swansea Museum. I have given these antique artefacts a modern twist by combining them with images of rubbish – old fruit nets, bubble wrap and plastic – highlighting the problem of human pollution and how it affects wildlife.

20 percent of the cost of each screenprint sold goes to support Swansea Print Workshop, which receives no public funding.

Cheese And Trackie Bottoms …..

26 Dec

Cut 2

It’s Boxing Day. Yesterday was Christmas Day. I’m on holiday so mostly I’m stuffing my face with cheese and cherry liquer chocolates, slobbing around the house in trackie bottoms and watching Netflix. But I managed to drag myself off the settee for half an hour earlier to go for a socially distanced and masked walk because guilt was getting the better of me and then I had enough enthusiasm to do a bit more carving on my lino block. Not a lot but I can honestly say that I haven’t wasted the entire day. It’s the Mari Lwyd. This is the third year I have carved a lino of the Mari Lwyd. It will be printed up and sent out for the Hen Galan – the ancient New Year.

 

 

 

A Chance To Own One Of My Artworks

I have some small screenprints for sale, inspired by my drawings of the taxidermy collection at Swansea Museum. I have given these antique artifacts a modern twist by combining them with images of rubbish – old fruit nets, bubble wrap and plastic – highlighting the problem of human pollution and how it affects wildlife.

To buy my work on the Swansea Print Workshop site please click the image to the left and to see the complete image.

Inspired by drawings of the taxidermy collection at Swansea Museum. I have given these antique artefacts a modern twist by combining them with images of rubbish – old fruit nets, bubble wrap and plastic – highlighting the problem of human pollution and how it affects wildlife.

20 percent of the cost of each screenprint sold goes to support Swansea Print Workshop, which receives no public funding.

 

A Carving, A Cat, And A Horse’s Skull

23 Dec

Cut 1

After a long break, I did some lino cutting today. It’s been months ….. I don’t think I’ve gone as long as this without doing some printmaking. The pandemic has had a strange effect on me and although I’ve been doing loads of painting and drawing, I haven’t been able to work up the enthusiasm to do any printmaking. Until now.

It’s almost time for the Mari Lwyd to make an appearance. She’s an ancient tradition, based on a horse’s skull, and for the past couple of years I’ve made New Year greeting cards of her from lino cuts. So I got stuck in today and quickly got into the zone. Hope to have it finished in a couple of days and printed up, ready to send out in plenty of time for Hen Galan the “old” New Year.

And the cat “helped” me …….

Sparta helps 1

 

 

 

A Chance To Own One Of My Artworks

I have some small screenprints for sale, inspired by my drawings of the taxidermy collection at Swansea Museum. I have given these antique artifacts a modern twist by combining them with images of rubbish – old fruit nets, bubble wrap and plastic – highlighting the problem of human pollution and how it affects wildlife.

To buy my work on the Swansea Print Workshop site please click the image to the left and to see the complete image.

Inspired by drawings of the taxidermy collection at Swansea Museum. I have given these antique artefacts a modern twist by combining them with images of rubbish – old fruit nets, bubble wrap and plastic – highlighting the problem of human pollution and how it affects wildlife.

20 percent of the cost of each screenprint sold goes to support Swansea Print Workshop, which receives no public funding.

 

Craft And Cake

17 Dec

Potato 1

Today, like yesterday, was another day of craft and cake. I work part time as an arts educator for a homelessness charity and today I ran a Zoom session making Xmas wrapping paper and labels with potato prints. I haven’t done them since primary school but it was fun and the results weren’t too bad at all.

Potato 2

Brown paper, a potato and an ink stamp pad

Then I made a chocolate buttercream sticky plum cake. As you do. Very gooey, very chocolatey, very sticky.

chocolate plum buttercream

But tomorrow I shall do art ……

 

A Chance To Own One Of My Artworks

I have some small screenprints for sale, inspired by my drawings of the taxidermy collection at Swansea Museum. I have given these antique artifacts a modern twist by combining them with images of rubbish – old fruit nets, bubble wrap and plastic – highlighting the problem of human pollution and how it affects wildlife.

To buy my work on the Swansea Print Workshop site please click the image to the left and to see the complete image.

Inspired by drawings of the taxidermy collection at Swansea Museum. I have given these antique artefacts a modern twist by combining them with images of rubbish – old fruit nets, bubble wrap and plastic – highlighting the problem of human pollution and how it affects wildlife.

20 percent of the cost of each screenprint sold goes to support Swansea Print Workshop, which receives no public funding.

 

Herstory And The Artist Support Pledge

14 Sep

kathe-final-2

A while back I did a series of screenprint portraits, I call them “Herstory”, of women artists I greatly admire. I don’t like to have favourites but perhaps top of my list – just – is the incomparable Käthe Kollwitz, active in Germany from the late 19th century to the end of World War 2. Her life, her work and her politics are fascinating and I think that she should be far better known than she is. But unfortunately that’s true of many women artists. Her work is profoundly moving. She suffered the tragedy of losing her son in World War 1 and her grandson in WW2 and her war memorial, ‘The Grieving Parents’ in the Vladsio German War Cemetery is imbued with a terrible sadness and hopelessness. But she was also an energetic political campaigner and social rights activist. A wonderful artist and human being.

SONY DSC

These are the original 8, I’ve always intended that the series will be ongoing and I’ll be adding to them soon. I’ve only exhibited them a couple of times – so many galleries don’t want a series of work, just one or two pieces. I’m going to be releasing these for sale over the next couple of months, beginning with Käthe this week, through the  Artist Support Pledge which was set up to help artists sell work through these uncertain Covid19 times.

 

 

 

Looking Back (With A Kitten)

3 Sep

SONY DSC

Oh the glamour of being an artist. Sorting through my drawers. I decided to spend a bit of time this evening organising my plans chest, which meant rediscovering some of my older work. It was good, remembering how I’d done things a while back. This mixed media piece started as a drawing with a life model – my cat Sparta Puss, who was a kitten at the time, ran in playing with a ball of rolled up paper. I was going through a phase of preparing large sheets of beautiful paper – Bockingford, Somerset, BFK Rives, with random squeegeeing (a bit like Gerhard Richter) and screen prints to build up layers of background textures. Then I collaged and drew on top. The blanket that the model is lying on is made up of a ripped up linocut print that I ended up not liking. I painted all the little fragments with oil glazes before I stuck them down. Waste not, want not.

 

A Chance To Own One Of My Artworks

I have some small screenprints for sale, inspired by my drawings of the taxidermy collection at Swansea Museum. I have given these antique artifacts a modern twist by combining them with images of rubbish – old fruit nets, bubble wrap and plastic – highlighting the problem of human pollution and how it affects wildlife.

To buy my work on the Swansea Print Workshop site please click the image to the left.

In this one, I combined the image of the bird with snippets of text of things my Nana used to say. She used to take me to Swansea Museum a lot when I was small and I could hear her voice in the back of my head as I was sitting and drawing the birds and bugs.

20 percent of the cost of each screenprint sold goes to support Swansea Print Workshop, which receives no public funding.

 

Doing My Own Thing

24 Aug

step 1

I’ve been doing a fair bit of painting during lockdown. I challenged myself to improve my skills as I hardly ever paint. I’ve been doing a weekly practice session with the Cheese and Wine Painting Club on Facebook, which has been great. I’ve learnt a lot. But today I decided that I should start to do my own thing instead of copying others. Another thing I’ve been doing during lockdown is a load of drawings en plein air with charcoal into my Khadi sketchbook. So today I used one of the drawings as source material and worked up a very basic underpainting onto a stretched canvas with transparent Liquitex acrylic paints, thinned with water.

cat and landscape

Later, I tried to take a photo of an abstract painting but Sparta Puss had other ideas!

 

I have some small screenprints for sale, inspired by my drawings of the taxidermy collection at Swansea Museum. I have given these antique artifacts a modern twist by combining them with images of rubbish – old fruit nets, bubble wrap and plastic – highlighting the problem of human pollution and how it affects wildlife.

To buy my work on the Swansea Print Workshop site please click the image to the left.

In this one, I combined the image of the bird with snippets of text of things my Nana used to say. She used to take me to Swansea Museum a lot when I was small and I could hear her voice in the back of my head as I was sitting and drawing the birds and bugs.

20 percent of the cost of each screenprint sold goes to support Swansea Print Workshop, which receives no public funding.

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