Tag Archives: sketching

Drawing Obsessively

1 Jan

1546378514022~2-401697363..jpeg

I’m getting a bit obsessed with drawing Mari Lwyds; I’m thinking of doing some larger artworks incorporating them so I’m drawing them from lots of different angles as preparation studies. I’m choosing random photos from the Internet at the moment, but I’ll be going out to do some en plein air drawings on the 13th and 19th of January. The first is an appearance by the Ystrad Mari (from Ystradgynlais) at Gellionen Chapel, the second a ‘meet’ or even a ‘mayhem’ of Mari Lwyds at the Chepstow Wassail (I don’t know if there’s a collective noun for them).

 

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda

31 Dec

mari lwyd lino

Ce n’est pas un Mari. Ceci est un impression lino d’un Mari.” Just channelling a bit of Magritte there. Mari Lwyd traditionally welcomes in the New Year in Wales …. well, who else would wander around with a dead horse’s head on a stick at this time of year? And “Blwyddyn Newydd Dda” is Welsh for a Happy New Year. Have a good one xxx

 

 

Carving Done

19 Dec

stage 4

I’ve finished carving my little lino block of a Mari Lwyd and I’m ready to print it, which I can do at Swansea Print Workshop all day tomorrow (Thursday 20th). It’s the last day of the Leftovers VIII international exhibition of miniature prints from Wingtip Press in Idaho, USA. I’ll be there from 10.30 to 4.30 so please pop in and have a look if you’re in town.

Carving A Horse Skull

18 Dec

stage 3 crop

I’m carving a block of grey vinyl this evening as I’ve decided to make a New Year’s greeting card, based on the Mari Lwyd, a pagan Welsh ritual based on a horse skull. It’s quite small so I should be able to get it cut and printed quickly. Working on this scale is nice, I can perch it on my lap and listen to the telly while I’m carving. Can’t get too distracted, though, because my cutting tools are razor sharp.

 

The image is based on a drawing of the Mari Abertawe I did en plein air a while back. The Mari Lwyd comes out to play at this time of year through to mid January.

 

 

 

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

 

Mad Mari: The First Proof

16 Sep

first proof

In the last half hour or so of Andrew Baldwin’s weekend etching workshop at Trefeglwys Print Studio, I did a first proof print (on the left) of my coffee lift / spit bite aluminium etching plate, using Charbonnel black ink onto soaked Hahnemulle paper. I’m really pleased with it. It’s completely different to the faux mezzotint Mari Lwyd that I did on the first day (below). Same subject but a completely different interpretation. I like them both.

double drop 1

 

 

Spit And Splatter

15 Sep

mad mari 1

Carrying on with the coffee lift plate I worked on at Trefeglwys Print Studio last weekend, after washing the coffee off the plate, leaving the black B.I.G. etching ground masking most of the aluminium, I dipped it in copper sulphate solution for quite some time to etch the exposed areas really deep so they’ll give a good strong black when printed. Then when I was happy with the amount etched, the B.I.G. ground was cleaned off with non-toxic paint stripper.

 

mad mari 2

Then I started to etch the rest of the plate using a spit bite technique, brushing and splashing and splattering copper sulphate solution onto the aluminium. You have to keep rinsing the plate because the copper sulphate leaves a dark ‘rust’ on the plate as it etches and this will eventually build up and stop the etching process. You can see it above – the darker areas to the left of the Mari Lwyd’s face. After the very precise and tight process of the mezzotint plate I also did at the workshop, I wanted to be much freer and looser with this one.

Tomorrow …. finishing the spit bite etch and printing the plate …..

And here’s one of Andrew Baldwin’s videos demonstrating coffee lift and spit bite

 

Mad Mari

14 Sep

mad mari 1

So as well as working on a copper mezzotint plate at Andrew Baldwin’s weekend course at Trefeglwys Studios last weekend, there was also time to prepare an aluminium plate with coffee lift and spit bite. I used another of my drawings of the traditional Welsh Mari Lwyd from one of my sketchbooks. The Mari Lwyd is weird looking at the best of times but in this drawing she looks proper mad. The first stage is to degrease the aluminium plate (soy sauce and whiting powder) and then draw onto it with instant coffee. I used brushes and a large-ish nib pen and a bit of splatter. Then once the coffee was dry, I coated it with Andrew’s B.I.G. etching ground and baked it in the oven for 4 minutes to set it. Then it was washed in cold water to lift off the coffee, leaving the design showing through the black ground (above).

More teccie stuff tomorrow ……

The Mari Lwyd (Grey Mare) is an ancient Welsh tradition rooted in the celebration of the Celtic horse goddess, Epona, and appears around the New Year, always accompanied by a band of revellers who often travel from pub to pub. The tradition was almost wiped out by Christianity and just a few Maris were left in Wales by the mid-20th century, but there has been a strong revival in recent years. The Mari Lwyd is a life-sized puppet based on a real horse skull and is therefore very heavy. The Mari’s skull is usually decorated with flowers, ribbons and bells and the eye sockets are often filled as well, giving a sinister appearance. She wears a white shroud to hide the puppeteer underneath, who operates a contraption that snaps the skull’s mouth open and closed.

 

Mari 1

Mari Abertawe (the Swansea Mari Lwyd) celebrating the New Year in a local hostelry with her companions

 

Real horse skulls are quite hard to come by these days, but there are card flatpack ones available – see here.

 

 

The Double Drop

13 Sep

double drop 1

And the last thing I did with my mezzotint plate last weekend was a Double Drop! Trefeglwys Studio tutor, Andrew Baldwin, wanted us to get some experience of doing different things with our intaglio plates, not just printing in black. The Double Drop is a way of overprinting one colour over another to achieve a beautiful level of richness and depth. First, I inked up in orange and then took a conventional print, but stuck one end of the paper to the bed with masking tape before it went through the roller, so it was trapped when it had been printed. Then by a complex system of registration, the plate was removed, cleaned and inked with a Prussian Blue and was overprinted onto the orange. The result is rich and beautiful.

 

double drop 2

The first drop, the plate is printed in orange, then cleaned and inked ready for the second drop.

 

Andrew has developed his own non-toxic etching ground – B.I.G. or Baldwin’s Etching Ground and he runs regular workshops at his studio in the beautiful countryside of Powys. Printmakers come from all over the world to study this technique and there is an ancient cottage next door for people to stay in.

The image is developed from an original drawing I did of a Mari Lwyd, an ancient Welsh tradition based on the Celtic horse goddess Epona – a life size puppet made from a horse’s skull that welcomes in the New Year.

 

 

The Final Proof

12 Sep

final proof

I worked on my Mari Lwyd mezzotint plate again, after doing the first state print on the second morning of the weekend course I did at Trefeglwys Print Studio. I needed to burnish the highlights a lot more and lighten the Mari’s feet. Then onto another proof print which turned out to be the final proof because I’m very happy with the quality of the image and I don’t think I need to do any more plate work. I used Charbonnel black etching ink onto soaked Hannemuhle paper.

 

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