Tag Archives: FIRE Laboratory

That Beetle Is Toast!

30 Sep

Here’s a little screeprint I did at the weekend. The characters are a snipe and a beetle, printed onto a Fabriano paper with a fragment of chine colle. I think that beetle’s days are numbered!

Birds And Bugs, Rubbish And Rugby

29 Sep

full set

I’ve just finished an exhausting three days working with Edinburgh-based Australian artist Kelly Stewart to develop a boxed set of small screenprints based on drawings we did from the Swansea Museum archives – taxidermy birds and invertebrates. I also included some imagery based on rubbish – the sort that ends up in our rivers and seas. I wanted to link the two types of images together.

 

Kelly took the group of us through the demanding technical challenge of producing so many multi-layered pieces in a relatively short time. She’s the consumate professional, and a really good sport. She wasn’t at all put out by Wales beating Australia in the Rugby World Cup as we worked. She had tea and Welsh Cakes to console her.

Birds And Bugs

28 Sep

bird 3

 

I spent yesterday drawing at Swansea Museum with a group of artists led by Edinburgh-based artist Kelly Stewart. It was arranged by Swansea Print Workshop who worked with staff from the Museum stores to select antique taxidermy specimens from their collection – a range of birds and bugs. I drew herons, a hawk, cockchafers and beetles.

 

 

I used different papers – Khadi hand-made, Winsor & Newton watercolour, Daler Rowney cartridge – and drawing materials – conté crayons, carbon and my home-made walnut ink.

 

bugs 1

 

Today our group moved to the print workshop to do a two-day screenprint session with Kelly. I took my bugs and birds and the Gelli plate monotypes I did recently and developed the drawings into designs, made them into transparencies and then onto photosensitised silkscreens ready for printing tomorrow. That’s a lot of work done and a lot more to come……..

 

I’m currently artist-in-residence at the FIRE Laboratory in Swansea University, a scientific research project examining the ecology of the River Tawe. If you want to find out more about local freshwater fauna, check this out ….

Rubbish

27 Sep

mono 2

 

I’ve just done a dozen or so monotypes using rubbish. I recently became the artist in residence with the FIRE Lab at Swansea University and I’ve been going out on field trips with the science team along the River Tawe, looking at its ecosystem, which includes noting the rubbish. We used some rubbish we found to make cyanotypes a few weeks ago and I really liked the result, so I decided to try out a different printmaking technique with rubbish and Gelli plates.

 

mono 3

 

I started by inking a Gelli plate with a thin layer of Process Yellow Safewash ink from Caligo Cranfield and stretched a net fruit bag over it. Then I put a piece of Hosho Japanese lightweight paper on top and pressed it with my hands, to lift the ink. I repeated the process with another dozen sheets, putting different pieces of rubbish onto the Gelli plates, including ripped newspaper and old bubblewrap.

 

mono 4

Then I cleaned the equipment (in hot soapy water – so easy) and inked up in Process Red, using fresh pieces of rubbish placed at random on the Gelli plate. I put the yellow-printed papers face down and rubbed so the monotypes became yellow, red and orange.

 

mono 5

 

Finally, after cleaning everything, I repeated the whole thing with Process Blue.

 

mono 6

 

I think the rubbish looks pretty good ……

 

mono 1

…… I have plans for these ……..

Yellow Stone Blue Sheep

23 Aug

 

August Tawe source

Husb and I had a couple of days away in mid-Wales and drove back along the old unnamed road between Trecastell and Tafarn-y-Garreg in the Brecon Beacons where we stopped near the source of the River Tawe. We only had time for a short walk so we followed a dry stream bed down the hill and came across patches of bright yellowy brown. There were two types, one a fairly hard stone and the other a softer, crumbly clay. I left a coin in exchange – just in case there’s one of the Gwragedd Annwn thereabouts – and brought them home to try and make usable pigments with them.

That’s my weekend sorted! I’ll link this with my work in the FIRE Lab at Swansea University.

blue sheep

And then we saw some bright blue sheep!

 

 

 

 

My Geographic Palette #5 – Australian Ochre

17 Aug

ochre 9

This Australian Ochre is the fifth pigment I’m trying out from my geographic palette – plants and minerals from different places that I’m converting into paint and/or ink. I’m using them to develop work that I’m doing with Swansea University’s FIRE Lab project, which brings together science and the arts to do research and engagement along Swansea’s River Tawe. The ochre is in the little bag at the bottom of the picture.
equipment

 

I was very moved to be gifted this Australian ochre which was collected by Aunty Anna Duncan, a Gomeroi/Kamilaroi artist. She gave the ochre to researcher Emily O’Gorman to bring to Swansea and collected it from a dry river bed near Terri Hei Hei (part of her Country) in north-western New South Wales, a special area that includes very old grinding grooves near a long-dry creek, a birthing tree, some grave sites, and a colonial-Aboriginal mission. Aunty Anna collected the ochre in the traditional way to ensure that it is spiritually safe. I am honoured to receive it and excited to use it.

 

I put a couple of the smaller fragments into a small pestle and mortar (bought in Pakistan and marble I think) and crushed them – they are much harder than I was expecting and there was a lot of grit in the powder at the end which I think was the marble not the ochre!!!

 

 

I looked up some tips for how to turn it into paint – traditionally it is ground up and mixed with spittle or blood, but I decided to adapt a recipe for printing ink from Shannon Yost and added some gin and water to the powder, mixing it well. Then I mixed in a dob of Japanese Nori paste, which is made from seaweed. Finally, I put some of the rather stiff mixture into a small pot and added more water to make it thin enough to use with a brush.

 

ochre 7

I did a quick brushwork sketch based on some sketchbook drawings inspired by culverts I had visited in the Brecon Beacons a few weeks ago with colleagues in the FIRE Lab team. It worked beautifully – the pigment is thin enough to flow but thick enough to hold the brushstrokes and give a wide variation of density and colour. Well chuffed. I used a Langdon watercolour paper, 300 gsm and quite heavily textured.

 

Here’s a link to one of the FIRE Lab blogs – this is about a regular Twitter game about Dams.

 

OOOH….

16 Aug

equipment

What am I going to do with this little lot then? Something to do with my geographic palette …….

 

 

 

Heavy Metal

15 Aug

metal

I spent a happy afternoon at Swansea Print Workshop, starting to prepare for a new series of printmaking for my artist residency at The FIRE Lab. I’m planning a mixed bag of techniques based on my drawings en plein air of Victorian culverts. I rummaged around in the drawers of my plans chest to find some metal plates and came up with three copper (one partially used) and an aluminium. So my next stage is to prepare them for use. I’ll use Andrew Baldwin’s Sandpaper Aquatint technique for the copper and then a coffee resist combined with spit-bite for the aluminium.

Here’s a short video of Andrew demonstrating how to do Spit Bite.

And here’s one about the Sandpaper Aquatint

The Rainbow Roll

28 Jul

 

rainbow 5

Colour

It’s been years since I did a rainbow roll to put colour into the background of a block print. I’ve been trying out proof prints for my “Streambed” vinyl block and that’s how I ended up doing a rainbow roll. I put out three lumps of Caligo Safewash litho/relief ink – Process Blue on the right, Extender in the middle and Process Blue with Process Yellow on the left and then I rolled them very carefully in one direction until they were blended, with a dark blue merging through an almost-white to green. The colours are very strong and I remembered that I should have used far more Extender and less pigment.

 

 

Masking

I needed to mask out the edge of the coloured area so I ripped a hole in a sheet of newspaper to form a stencil and put it over the rainbow roll.

 

 

Strength

Then I put a piece of Japanese Hosho paper on top of it and rubbed with a baren. The result is reasonable, but I think the pigment is too strong, I need to add far more extender to the colours to make them paler and more translucent. Finally, I overprinted with my “Streambed” block in a black oil-based litho/relief ink from Intaglio Printmaker in London. I like it, it’s different.

 

The FIRE Lab

I based this block on an original sketch I did with colleagues from the FIRELab project at the Zoology Department at Swansea University. Here’s one of the FIRE Lab’s blogs, talking about uses for the saliva of The Tench (it’s a fish).

 

Doubling Up

27 Jul

streambed double

Carrying on experimenting with my vinyl block based on a drawing of a streambed, I printed it up twice in black litho/relief ink onto Hosho paper. I like the negative spaces between the two shapes. This merits some development, I think. I have been developing this work in response to field trips with colleagues from Swansea University’s FIRE Lab.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: