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Many Words……

24 Oct

words 1

Yesterday I showed how I started out developing a new piece of art, working though a process which ended up with lots of words rather than pictures. Today I took those words and started playing with the shapes of the letters and the shapes between the letters…..abstracting from the original letters in the same way that I might abstract from a visual image like a sketch. In doing so, I am working towards making the letters into visual images. Tomorrow, I’m going to cut one or two of these into a woodblock to see what they look like.

 

words 1

And Then There Was The Word

23 Oct

last day 1

The process of developing a new artwork sometimes takes some surprising twists and turns. When I started working on my new commission for Sky Arts Art50, I thought I’d be doing visual motifs, but after humming and haahing for a while, and reading loads of research, I found myself writing on walls, all over the walls in the elysium studio I had throughout September. A few visuals popped up, but mostly the words kept flowing. I thought I’d develop imagery from the words, but it just wasn’t happening.

words

So then I started putting the words together. It took a while trying out different combinations but then I came up with a grouping which sounded pretty good when read aloud. But no visuals. Then I thought, “Why do I have to have visual motifs?”, and I did a bit more research, looking at artists like Bob and Roberta Smith, the printmaker Paul Peter Piech and Ghada Amer whose work incorporates text. So I started experimenting with these words.

design 3

And I think I’m starting to get somewhere. But I wasn’t happy about the words just being … well … written. I know that sounds weird but I’m a visual artist and I see patterns in things, it’s what I do.

 

But you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see what’s occurring because I want to spend a bit more time working on my ideas ………

 

 

 

 

 

Foxing!

22 Oct

watercolours

I’ve been developing ideas for my commission from Sky Arts Art 50, working out my thoughts using my home-made walnut ink and Winsor & Newton watercolours onto Waterford watercolour paper. It’s a heavy, deckle-edged paper that withstands the very wet medium without needing to be soaked and stretched. I wouldn’t normally use such high quality paper for working though ideas, but this is vintage paper that I was given, that hadn’t seen the light of day for about a decade and it has signs of foxing .

Talking of foxing reminded me of one of my favourite film scenes, Garth from Wayne’s World dancing to Jimi Hendrix’ Foxy Lady. Here it is for those who can see YouTube 😀

 

design 3

 

Moving Along

20 Oct

dragons eye 1

I spent a couple of days doing test prints from a sample woodblock I cut, but today I decided to get on with the design for the commission, working it up onto a large sheet of Waterford watercolour paper with my own home-made walnut ink and some watercolour paint. I’m still in the early stages, each time I redraw my ideas, the whole thing develops and matures but I’ve a long way to go.

window

But I’ve come a long way too. Here’s my starting point, in the window of my studio, from about 4 weeks ago.

 

Taking Proofs

19 Oct
interior 1

Inside my new studio on a warm and sunny afternnon

I did some test proof prints from my sample woodblock, using Caligo Safewash relief ink onto MDF. I did a few printings onto different papers and using different densities of ink – I mixed extender in for some of them. To be honest, I don’t particularly like any of them, they’re a bit too faded. I need to try out some different inks and papers to see if I get a better result.

 

From left to right: inking the block: rubbing the back of the paper with a Japanese baren, the prints hanging to dry on a clothes rack.

 

 

Geeky stuff

18 Oct

I’m starting to do some test wood blocks for my commission for Sky Arts Art50. I’m cutting into MDF, using a facemask as it’s a bit dodgy, although it won’t be generating any dust. I’ve tried MDF before and when I inked it up it soaked up the ink and I had to make 3 prints before I got a decent one, the ink sank into the porous surface. I asked around and was told to try sealing the block, so I cut a test piece earlier and I brushed parts of it with Shellac. Once it’s dried I’ll ink up the whole thing and take a few proof prints to see how the sealed and unsealed bits of the block print up. I love doing stuff like this. I’m so geeky.

test block 1

I’m three days into my month-long residency at 216 High Street, Swansea, a very roomy shop with a generous subsidy from Coastal Housing Group – thanks very much.

216 high st 1

 

Here Be Dragons! Have Your Say!

17 Oct Sky Arts, Art 50, Brexit
Sky Arts, Art 50, Brexit

Commissioned by Sky Arts TV for ART50

Filming on Thursday November 8th (15.00-18.00) and Sunday November 11th (14.00-17.00)

Come and be on the telly! I’m doing a commission for Sky Arts called ‘Here Be Dragons’ and part of it is filming 1-minute interviews on what people think it means to be British – or Welsh – or something else altogether – for programmes in March 2019. Please pop in to my studio for tea and cake and if you want to do a quick interview – you don’t have to – it would be lovely to see you.

Here Be Dragons” at 216 High Street, Swansea

I’ve been commissioned by Sky Arts television to make a new artwork for an arts festival and TV programme early next year. It’s Art50, where over 50 artists or art organisations (in music, theatre, literature and the visual arts) have been commissioned to produce new art exploring the question, “In post – Brexit Britain, who are we?

Coastal Housing Group has kindly given me a subsidised space to work in and I’m developing a large woodcut, but I’ll also be having four Open Studio days as well so that people can come in, have a cuppa and a bit of cake (home-made of course) and see what goes on in an artist’s studio. They’ll also have a chance to do a one-minute vox pop interview to camera, if they want, giving their views on what Britishness is at the moment. I’ll keep you all posted when they’re going to be.

Check out more about what I’m doing here

 

 

 

Warm Spiced Apple Cake

22 Sep
SPW John Abell

‘Diary Of A Dead Officer’, a collection of lino prints by John Abell and a hand printed book published by Old Stile Press.

 

There’s a lovely exhibition of contemporary printmaking at Swansea Print Workshop this week (until September 29th) and if you fancy popping in to see it tomorrow afternoon (Sunday 22nd), I’ll be show sitting (which is a much nicer way of saying invigilation IMHO) from 1.30 – 4.30. If you haven’t been to the print workshop before, I’ll be happy to show you round our remarkable collection of antique and modern printing presses as well as the lovely exhibition. And there will be tea and coffee and warm spiced apple cake. How can you resist?

“NOW THE PRINTMAKERS”, SWANSEA PRINT WORKSHOP, 19A CLARENCE STREET, SWANSEA. EXHIBITION RUNS SEPTEMBER 22ND TO 29TH (except Monday 24th), 10.30 – 4.30.

Art, Cake, Cake, Art

19 Sep

 

Invite Now The Printmakers a

 

Such a lot happening over the next week or so in Swansea and it all kicks off this Friday with the opening of the exhibition, “Now The Printmakers” at 5.30 pm at Swansea Print Workshop. Inspired by the work of Frank Brangwyn and Kathe Kollwitz, the show focusses on the work of three contemporary print artists – John Abell, Andrew Baldwin and yours truly as well as a group show of a dozen or so of our artist members. I’ll be there at 5.30 – with lashings of cake – but within the hour I’ve got to shoot across the city centre to the start of my Open Studio event at Volcano, also with lashings of cake…..

 

Invite Here Be Dragons a

And there are other exhibitions opening across the city that night – at Mission Gallery, Galerie Simpson and the Glynn Vivian, with the opening times staggered so art lovers can get around and see lots of them. It’s all leading up to next weeks major international art festival, “Now The Hero / Nawr Yr Arwr”, but more about that tomorrow……

If you’re out and about in Swansea on Friday 21st September, please pop in to one or more of the venues and get yourself some art and cake. There will be bara brith, banana cake, spiced apple cake and Victoria Sandwich……

bara brith 2

Traditional home-made bara brith

 

 

 

 

Like Chalk And Cheese

17 Sep

I went to a weekend etching course at Trefeglwys Print Studio the weekend before last with two other printmakers – one of whom was Husb. He did some beautiful work but looking at what we produced emphasised that we’re like chalk and cheese. Here’s Husb’s beautifully modulated head of a child, burnished into a copper mezzotint plate, and my bonkers Mari Lwyd, an ancient Welsh traditional life-size puppet with a horse’s skull. Vive le Difference 😀

baby

 

mari mezzo plate

 

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