Tag Archives: Blwyddyn Newydd Hapus

Exhausted But Happy!

9 Sep

plate prep

Just back from a very tiring weekend printmaking course at Trefeglwys Print Studio. It was fantastic. I learned so much and came away with a number of prints I’d be happy to exhibit and two new etching plates to edition and an etching plate to work on and finish. Result. I’m shattered now though. The first thing we did was prepare a copper plate for a ‘faux’ mezzotint, a process invented by Trefeglwys printmaker Andrew Baldwin. I think the plate is a work of art in itself.

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I had some drawings to work from, I decided to develop three plates from my sketches of the Mari Lwyd and the faux mezzotint will be based on the middle drawing. More tomorrow, off to bed now ……..

 

 

Echo From The Past

10 Jan

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This is the last drawing I did of The Mari Lwyd, Y Fari Lwyd, at Gellionen Chapel last Sunday. Sitting in the pew during the visit from Mari Ystrad (the Mari Lwyd from Ystradgynlais) gave me the time and space to do more detailed drawings than I was able to do a couple of weeks ago when I followed Mari Trecopwr (Coppertown Mari) around pubs in North Gower, which was raucous and hectic but loads of fun.

The tradition of Mari Lwyd was very common until the 1960’s when it had almost died out but it’s now having a revival and it’s terrific to see and draw this echo from the past.

I drew with white, black and sanguine conté crayons into my A4 brown paper sketchbook. I’m enjoying this sketchbook, it gives me a good mid tone to work into. I really like this drawing, I might eventually develop it into a screenprint.

 

 

I am putting my series of drawings of ancient Welsh monuments on Artfinder.  If you want to buy one, you can see them by clicking on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page.

St Elvis

A Thin Veil

9 Jan

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Drawing the Mari Ystrad at Gellionen Chapel yesterday was a much more peaceful experience than drawing the Mari Trecopwr around the pubs of North Gower a couple of weeks ago and I had the chance to take my time, observe and record at leisure. I finally drew the full figure – the Mari’s skull atop a two legged creature in a decorated white shroud, baggy white trousers and white socks. The huge horse’s skull dwarfs the homo sapien below.

The white – or grey – colouring of the Mari Lwyd dates to pre-Christian times and is the colour of animals that could cross the divide between this world and the underworld. White is also associated with Rhiannon, a Welsh horse goddess and queen of the underworld. At this darkest time of the year, tradition has it that the veil between this and other worlds is at its thinnest and some beings could pass through.

Husb noticed that the spiral pattern on part of the shroud is the same as carvings on ancient stone monuments and temples across Malta. Coincidence? hhhmmmmm

 

I am putting my series of drawings of ancient Welsh monuments on Artfinder.  If you want to buy one, you can see them by clicking on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page.

St Elvis

Singing In The Chapel!!!!

8 Jan

chapel

Anyone who knows Husb and me knows that we’re a pair of unrepentant godless heathen. And would be very surprised that we went to chapel today! A gorgeous Unitarian chapel up on Gellionen Mountain, completely deserted and shrouded in this morning’s thick fog. The lovely wood-lined interior was decorated with holly and ivy and there was a chalice and large candle lit in front of the simple pulpit. I did a very quick sketch before the service started with the rousing Welsh hymn, Calon Lân, one that Husb and I hadn’t sung since childhood. Surprisingly I really enjoyed singing it. But that’s not the reason we were there. The chapel had organised a visit from Mari Ystrad, the Ystradgynlais Mari Lwyd and I’m getting a bit obsessed with the tradition of The Mari and jumped at the chance of drawing another one, after following Mari Trecopwr, the Coppertown Mari around North Gower last week.

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The Mari Ystrad was incorporated into the simple and moving service with great hilarity and afterwards we munched on delicious home-made Welsh cakes. Mari Ystrad seems less sinister and more skittish than the Mari Trecopwr and now I’m just going to have to go and draw some more to see how they differ……

 

 

I am putting my series of drawings of ancient Welsh monuments on Artfinder.  If you want to buy one, you can see them by clicking on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page.

St Elvis

Experimenting With The Mari

7 Jan

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I carried on experimenting with my Mari Lwyd sketch in monotype, getting used to working the ink and how much to leave on the plate to get the best result in the print. This is the one I like best, the density of the black is good, there is plenty of definition on the face of the Mari and the chine collé stuck successfully using Intaglio Printmaker’s Litho / Relief ink onto Somerset paper. However, the ink was very difficult to work on the plate so I decided to add some Extender for the next one and see what difference it makes. I also want to try out a different paper. So on to the next experiment…..

 

 

 

I am putting my series of drawings of ancient Welsh monuments on Artfinder.  If you want to buy one, you can see them by clicking on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page.

St Elvis

Pasted Tissue

5 Jan

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Chine Collé is a technique that applies a fine paper, such as tissue, between the ink and the paper on a print so that when the whole lot is put through a printing press, the chine collé sticks to the main sheet of paper, adding colour to the overall piece. The pieces of chine collé are placed onto the inked plate with the upper side covered in glue or paste – I use Pritt stick.

It takes a while to get used to a process after a break – I hadn’t done monotypes for a year or so – and after printing I realised that I had taken too much ink off the plate during the drawing process, I would have liked the head to have had more definition. I used a Somerset paper, well soaked, but I think I need to try a lighter paper with a smoother texture to get more ink off the plate. The Intaglio Printmaker’s Litho / Relief ink might also be a bit too stiff and tarry for this technique. More experimenting needed!

 

 

I am putting my series of drawings of ancient Welsh monuments on Artfinder.  If you want to buy one, you can see them by clicking on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page.

St Elvis

Menace And Monotype

4 Jan

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I’ve been working away at Swansea Print Workshop since I finished two evenings of sketching with the Coppertown Mari Lwyd last week. I decided to develop my drawings into print and chose a fairly simple reduction monotype technique, with chine collé, as my starting point. This is the first. There is usually a period of experimentation when you start a new series of prints, matching the ink and paper, getting the ink mix just right, getting the paper dampened to the correct degree – not too dry or too sloppy. I’m reasonably happy with it. I’m a bit obsessed with getting very solid blacks and this is much more grey than I would have planned, but I quite like it. The technique lends an air of menace to the image which I also like.

From left to right: Starting to draw from my original sketch onto an inked perspex plate: using various implements for mark-making – wood skewers, cotton buds, rags: adding chine collé – hand made recycled sari papers. I used a Somerset paper and Intaglio Printmaker’s Litho / Relief ink mixed about 60:40 with Extender.

 

 

I am putting my series of drawings of ancient Welsh monuments on Artfinder.  If you want to buy one, you can see them by clicking on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page.

St Elvis

The Mari And The Libbers

3 Jan

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This is the last of my recent sketchbook drawings made over two evenings following the Mari Lwyd around pubs in North Gower. The last pub we went to (I won’t identify it) I hadn’t been into since way back in the 1970’s. It was one of the few pubs remaining in the area with a men-only bar and it wouldn’t serve women with pints so some of us from Swansea Women’s Liberation Group went up there, marched into the men-only bar, put our money on the bar and ordered a round of pints. The landlord was furious and threw us out, threatening to call the police. So we scarpered! But that was a long time ago and we had a lovely welcome on Friday night.

So now ……. what shall I do with these sketches? How should I develop them? I’ve been spending some time down at the fabulous Swansea Print Workshop, trying out a few things ……. but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see what I’m doing.

 

I am putting my series of drawings of ancient Welsh monuments on Artfinder.  If you want to buy one, you can see them by clicking on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page.

St Elvis

The Pagan Skull

2 Jan

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Another of my Mari Lwyd drawings from last week. The Mary Lwyd (Y Fari Lwyd in Welsh) is an old midwinter tradition in Wales where for centuries a puppet made from a horse’s skull, decorated with ribbons and bells was accompanied around villages with singers and poets, knocking on doors of houses and pubs, engaging in ribald banter with the occupants (usually in the Welsh language in the past) and hopefully being invited inside for spiced cider (Wassail) and cake. The tradition had almost died out, there was a lot of opposition from Christian churches and chapels because of its pagan origins (there are links to the ancient horse goddess Epona) but there is now a revival.

We visited 7 pubs over 2 evenings and this is one of the last of my drawings, growing in confidence with much stronger dynamic lines and an almost cartoon-like quality to the characterisation of the Mari. It wasn’t deliberate as it was too quick and frantic to spend a while thinking about it. I used black, white and sanguine conté crayons into my A4 spiral bound brown paper sketchbook.

 

 

I am putting my series of drawings of ancient Welsh monuments on Artfinder.  If you want to buy one, you can see them by clicking on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page.

St Elvis

Midwinter Mare

1 Jan

 

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For the second night, Husb and I went out with the Mari Lwyd, trawling around pubs on North Gower with the Gower Old Horse Wassail. Midwinter celebrations date from thousands of years ago and ones involving animal skulls are common across the world. Horses were particularly important to the British Celts, a symbol of power and fertility and it’s possible that the Mari Lwyd harks back to these traditions and also incorporates elements of Wassailing.

I drew quickly, tucked away in a corner, using white, black and sanguine conté crayons into my A4 brown paper sketchbook. I’d loosened up a bit by the second evening and drew with more confidence, trying to express the spirit of the event rather than focus on detail.

I am putting my series of drawings of ancient Welsh monuments on Artfinder.  If you want to buy one, you can see them by clicking on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page.

St Elvis

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