Tag Archives: German Expressionists

Darkly Drawing

24 Apr

Day 1 WP

Spent a happy day at the Creative Bubble artspace in Swansea with the 15 Hundred Lives collective on our monthly public art event. I’m continuing with a series of manier noir drawings inspired by a visit to Berlin a couple of winters back. I saw the Holocaust Memorial under a couple of feet of snow and it was even more powerful and awe-inspiring than normal, throwing stark shadows between the dark stelae like a German Expressionist film set.

I learned the manier noir drawing technique from Irish printmaker Aoife Layton. I started by stretching a large piece of Fabriano Accademica paper on my wall and giving it two coats of acrylic gesso. When it was dry, I scribbled over it with blocks of compressed charcoal and then rubbed it in with my hands to get a fairly even, black surface. I draw with wire wool (steel wool) and fine grade aluminium oxide paper, or sand paper, rubbing away the black to reveal tones of grey and white highlights. It gives a dramatic, sculptural, chiaroscuro effect. The phrase manier noir means ‘in the dark manner’ and is often used to refer to mezzotint prints.

These are three separate drawings; I’m working on one piece of paper because it’s easier to prepare one larger rather then lots of smaller pieces. Eventually I’ll separate them and frame them up, probably in very plain boxy frames, for an exhibition coming later this year.

I’ve Got Wood…

7 Nov

…..and I know how to use it :).

I’ve got a stack of plywood offcuts hanging around the studio so I thought I’d do some woodcuts from my sketches. I’ve decided to work on male nudes for the foreseeable future and I’ve just completed a series of three very large manier noir drawings, including one from the sketch above. So now I’m going to develop the three images into woodcuts as well. Here it is at the start, reversed and transferred onto plywood, ready to start hacking away. I usually use PVC signwriter’s foamboard or traditional lino for block printing, so it’s going to be a bit of a challenge using wood but I’ve got some cracking cutting tools and a top class sharpening strop so I’ll give it a go. I’ve also been reading up a lot on the German Expressionists, who loved their woodcuts, so I’m in illustrious company.

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