Tag Archives: MDF

Resisting …..

30 Apr





I’ve been carrying on with my attempt to get more randomness in my work, to be more expressionistic and less controlling. I spent a bit of time over the weekend priming (gesso) and undercoating (white acrylic) some pieces of MDF. Today I brushed one of the pieces with a loose mixture of Daler-Rowney Georgian black oil paint and linseed oil.


I greatly admire the German Expressionist artists, especially Käthe Kolliwtz and I’m envious of artist friends who seem able to sit and doodle and produce lovely drawings straight from their imaginations. So I tried not to control what I was doing, not to fall into the trap to try and make it realistic.


I worked into the black oil paint with rags, cotton buds (Q Tips), bubble wrap and scrunched-up tissue paper, resisting the temptation to do something representational. I rubbed away and removed the black paint, a reductive rather than additive method.




On the left, my work station and on the right, the loose oil paint brushed onto prepared MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard.



Two close ups showing some of the detail of the reductive paintwork.


Piling On The Glamour

29 Apr


More of the glamour of being an artist. Yesterday I primed some MDF with acrylic gesso and sanded it smooth. Today I painted the pieces of MDF with white acrylic paint. Then I sanded them a bit. And then I painted them with a second coat of white acrylic paint. In this exciting picture, you can see the large tub of gesso, on the floor, and the smaller but still fairly substantial tub of acrylic paint on the plans chest.

Oh The Glamour!

28 Apr


The glamorous life of an artist, eh? Spending a Saturday afternoon sanding down sheets of MDF (with a dust mask on of course) and priming them with acrylic gesso and then sanding them down again. Tomorrow I’ll put on a layer of white acrylic paint. And sand them down again. Oh, the glamour!

A Humongous Proof

11 Oct


Today was day 2 of a Masterclass with woodcut artist John Abell at Swansea Print Workshop and I carried on cutting the humongous piece of MDF I started yesterday. I used compressed charcoal to darken the surface while I cut with my Flexcut tools. Finally, I reached the point where I wanted to get an idea of what it would look like printed up – you can always cut more away but you can never replace it once it’s gone. So I printed a proof print. This is a first pull, to see what you’ve done and decide whether it’s just right or needs more work.


I used a 50:50 mix of Daler Rowney Georgian Lamp Black oil paint with their Block Printing Medium, very soft, much softer than the relief printing ink I normally use. I rolled the ink over the wood, but it was very absorbent and used up far more than I am used to. I used Fabriano Accademica paper from a roll which was a bit awkward to handle at that size. I used a wooden spoon and a Japanese baren, rubbing hard over the back of the paper to take the print.


I have mixed feelings about it. I like the bits where I used a larger cutting tool in bold strokes, towards the top, but where I tried smaller tools to get a softer, more nuanced effect, it didn’t work at all and I need to get back into it, cutting much more boldly. I think I’ll also put in some lettering. But I’ll leave it a few days to dry out a bit so I’m not cutting through sticky goo.


10 Oct


I am doing a two-day masterclass with epic printmaker, John Abell, at Swansea Print Workshop. John specialises in humongously large woodcuts, click here to see some of his awesome work. I’ve done some small woodcuts before, on plywood, but didn’t really get on with the method. Today, I was presented with a table-sized lump of 6mm MDF to get stuck into. That was a bit of a shock. But I went for it, outlining some images in graphite block and then fleshing it out with charcoal. I used some of the imagery I developed recently on my wall drawing in The Bagpuss Window transient artspace. I knew it would come in handy.

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I started cutting and I suppose I’m about two thirds of the way through. I’ve been quite free, not sketching in too much detail and trying to be spontaneous with my cutting. My Flexcut tools cut through the MDF like a hot knife through butter – lovely. I’ll finish the cutting tomorrow morning and then we’ll be taking a print – by hand! Not with a printing press but with a wooden spoon, although I have a couple of barens as back-up.

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