Tag Archives: Wales

Make Your Own Pocket Watercolour Paintbox

19 Aug

box 4

I did a blog recently about a little watercolour paintbox I made from an old tin. Lots of people were interested so I thought I’d put up instructions for it. I do a few hours teaching each week for a charity working with homeless people and I did this with the people in our watercolour group, so they each have their own kit.

You’ll need:

  • A small rectangular hinged tin – I used a vintage ink stamp tin
  • A watercolour brush
  • A junior hacksaw
  • Sandpaper
  • DAS self-hardening clay
  • An Inhaler or large round-bottomed pen
  • A plastic lid from a margarine tub, or similar
  • Blu Tack
  • White acrylic paint
  • A hog hair brush or similar
  • Some reasonable quality tubes of watercolour paint

 

  1. Clean and dry the tin
  2. Cut a watercolour brush to size with a junior hacksaw
  3. Sand off the cut top with sand paper
  4. Press self-hardening clay evenly into the deeper (bottom) side, smoothing it up the sides a bit to seal it.
  5. Make a channel with the cut brush in the centre of the clay.

box 1

6. Press six dips with the bottom of a pen, such as a Sharpie or an Inhaler. The dips should not go to the bottom.

box 2

7. Leave the clay to dry – it might take a few days

8. Cut the white plastic to fit the lid and press it in. A smidgen of blue tack or similar might be needed.

9. If you’ve used coloured clay, give it two coats of white acrylic paint, leaving it to dry between coats.

box 3

10. Blob some good quality watercolours into the dips – one each of red, yellow and blue; purple, orange and green and leave them to dry before you carry the tin around. Pop the brush in and off you go.

box 5

Have a great time with it …..

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

Reinventing An Icon: Part 2

1 Aug

roughs

 

I did some research on medieval clothing to try and picture Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd for the flag design I was working on.   Unmarried women wore their hair in elaborate braids but as soon as they married, they adopted a veil-like headdress.

Medieval Clothing

Gwenllian was married at 16 so I tried out a few ideas based on a typical headdress of the early 1100s. It didn’t do it for me. I think the medieval clothing erects a barrier between her and us. Heroes and legends are constantly changed, updated, made relevant for each age and I wanted people here and now in the 21st century to identify with her.

 

veiled

The medieval Gwenllian…. graphite on paper

Norman Invaders

I wanted to know what she would be like if I could go back in time to meet her. I tried to get to know her, what she was like in real life. She was a woman in her mid-30s when she was murdered by the Norman invaders and a mother of 5. She was great Lady of a castle and an educated and gracious diplomat.

Lived as an Outlaw

She fought for her people and her nation and lived as an outlaw. Although she was recognised as a beauty, she wasn’t young; she was a mature, strong woman with a lot of confidence, someone accessible to modern people, someone we would respond to if we saw her on the street – not someone from the distant and unfamiliar past.

Back to the drawing board ……

 

30257333._SX318_

 

Gwenllian was suggested by Christine Moore of the YesCymru Bridgend group as the subject of a fourth flag to be carried on the Independence march in Caernarfon on July 27th organised by AUOB Cymru, a non-party political, non-partisan organisation. The flags and banner have been donated by Charles Ashburner of Grŵp Baner Cymru.

 

Grwp Baner Cymru

Photo from Grŵp Baner Cymru

 

And he’s now producing Gwenllian flags….

 

 

Reinventing An Icon: Part 1

31 Jul

A couple of weeks ago, local flagmaker Charles Ashburner sent me an email asking if I’d like to get involved in the creation of a new flag. We had met last year when I was working on a commission for the SkyArts TV channel, creating a new artwork – a new flag for Britain that I called “Here Be Dragons“.

Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd

He asked me to develop an image of the historical Welsh heroine, Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd, for the AUOB Cymru (All Under One Banner Wales) march in Caernarfon on July 27th. That wasn’t a lot of time and I nearly said no. But it’s a cause I support so I took a deep breath and said yes and started to research our Welsh warrior princess.

graphite small
Gwenllian in graphite, one of my original sketches

Zena Warrior Princess

So where to start? I found a very interesting little book by Laurel Rockerfeller which gave me the outline of her life but thinking about how to portray her visually was challenging as there are no contemporary drawings and I didn’t want to go down the “Zena Warrior Princess” route (although I love Zena).

Hugh Williams

And although I liked the painting by Hugh Williams from 1909 that’s associated with her, I didn’t want to reproduce that because it has a very Edwardian sensibility and style. I realised that I had to bring her out of the middle ages and rescue her from early 20th century Art Nouveau and bring her bang up to date into the 21st century.

Gwenllian 1
Gwenllian by Hugh Williams 1909

I wondered what she would be like if I could pop into the Tardis with Doctor Who and travel back in time to meet her …… with my pencil and sketchbook …..

….to be continued ….

Scribbling Yes Cymru

30 Jul

Husb and I endured eleven hours on a coach with the smelliest toilets in the universe on Saturday to get to and from the YES Cymru march in Caernarfon. It was amazing! Over 8,000 people crammed into the tiny cobbled streets and little market square, enjoying the party atmosphere and listening to inspiring speakers. It was a great crowd and of course, I had to have a scribble! Our coach from Swansea picked up the Llanelli / Carmarthen posse that included a bunch of lads who rocked the Welsh costume – here’s one of them in a rather fetching mini-skirted version.

Caernarfon 3

And a few faces in the crowd…..
Caernarfon 2

….including Lloyd-George modelling an ANNIBYNIAETH banner!

Caernarfon 1

And I did a quick sketch of Scottish speaker and supporter Hardeep Singh Kohli as he sat and waited for his turn behind the ever-moving flags and legs. He was hilarious and such a fervent supporter of Scottish … and Welsh … independence.

Caernarfon 4

 

I’m still recovering from the travel sickness. But it was worth it.

 

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.

 

 

A Tryout In Colour

26 Jul

chine colle 1

After I had done the first proof of my vinyl block in black ink, I decided to try out some colour. My first experiment was with some simple chine collé using silk fabric papers, using colours I had seen in the stream bed and landscape. Unfortunately we’re in the middle of a heatwave and my stick of UHU glue had gone really gummy and made it difficult to stick the silk paper to the Hosho satisfactorily, so I just did the one proof.

 

chine colle 2

 

My block is based on an original sketch that I made on a field trip with colleagues from the Swansea University FIRE Lab, up in the Brecon Beacons back in May.

Proofing The Stream Bed

25 Jul

 

First proof 1c

A few weeks ago I went on a field trip up into the Brecon Beacons with colleagues from Swansea University’s FIRE Lab and while they studied the environment in culverts, I sketched. I really liked the abstraction of this drawing of a stream bed so I cut it into a block of vinyl and today finally started doing some proof prints down at Swansea Print Workshop.

culvert 4

I used Intaglio Printmakers’ black litho/relief ink and Japanese Hosho paper. It’s very lightweight because I wanted to take the prints by hand, using a Japanese baren rather than the Victorian Columbian press, lovely though it is.

 

I’m pleased with it, I love the level of abstraction, which is really out of my comfort zone. Next I’m going to try to incorporate some colour with chine collé, but that will be for tomorrow.

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