Happy Easter everyone!

Spring is definitely here and I have managed to squeeze a little painting time in between finalising my MA project.  I love the fact that I can get on my bike with all my painting gear and just cycle along the towpath of the River Cam.   
Later I found the lovely spot at Stow cum Quy that my friend Mel introduced me to a few years ago. Quy is prounounced Kwai.  Locally the bridge I was standing on is known as The Bridge over the River Quy/Kwai, although officially it is called Quy water.
Stow cum Quy

River Cam towpath
Four weeks to go until I hand in my work for assessment and that will be the end, except for summer access and our exhibition in September. 
Almost three years glorious years of printmaking and how incredible it has been.  I keep saying I am going to be dragged kicking and screaming from Anglian Ruskin University’s print room.  

Now to get on with some gardening.  I am trying to maintain my Dad’s standards, but sadly, it’s not possible at the moment.

Bye for now.

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Etching, etching, and more etching!

Tiny hard ground etching 2
I have been trying very hard lately to improve my hard ground etching skills.  Just when I think I have got it right, I go and over bite it and it gets too dark, or I get too much foul bite. Hopefully, I will get there in the end!  For inspiration and education,  I have been looking at Rembrandt’s etchings and this is a wonderful site for being able to really focus in.  What a treat it is to be able to look at his work so closely.

Tiny hard ground etching 3
I have also been working on an etchings of a pinned beetles  This is the second one, the first one wasn’t so good.   I think they are taking on a rather sinister feel.  What do you think?  Please feel free to comment.. just hit the comment button at the bottom of the posting.   I get a lot of people emailing me directly, but it’s always nice to be able to show your comments on the blog too.  Thank you.

Hard ground etching
Last Thursday I went to the Natural History Museum (Angela Marmont Centre) to draw for the day.  What a lovely bunch of people they are there.  It was such a wonderful day, I hope to go back again soon.

Finally, I used one of those scary exposure units in the screen printing room last week and produced this solar plate etching.  So much fun!  I used one of my dragonfly photographs, cropped it and made it grey scale and the result is below.  So much potential.. what next?!

Solar plate etching of a dragonfly’s wing.

Two colour solar plate etching

The research goes on…

Three trips to Margate in a month and now Pushing Print is over.  It was a good show, lots of interesting work and getting to meet other artists was lovely.  I also got some good entomology suggestions too, so the beetle project is developing. 
Unfortunately the Zoology Museum in Cambridge is closed for renovations,  however,  I was kindly allowed a morning’s access to a few beetles last week.  Can you imagine the work it is going to involve packing up all those insects, birds and shells, etc?    
It is such an amazing experience going into these more scientific/academic ‘zones’, which are obviously so different from the messy, yet controlled hubbub of a print room.  I was given a desk in a quiet corner with a magnifiying table light and I sat quietly drawing all morning.  I am intrigued by all the entomological equipment, the perspex boxes, the pins, the little platforms of styrofoam,  where cork or something similar was used before… (note to self – check this out!). 
Musk Beetle
I have produced so far a few beetle etchings.  I am trying out different methods, hard ground, soft ground and sugar lift aquatint to see what I think works the best.  Here are a few to begin with.

An assortment of beetle etchings in progress and sketch of Darwin’s Beetle box.

Hister Beetle – Sugar lift Aquatint, hard ground and burnishing.

Rhinoceros beetle –  Hard ground etching.

In addition, I have just finished a  Nuthatch painting.   Now to finish my tax return…. that’s no fun at all!

Nuthatch on a branch – 10 x 10 in Oil/Panel

Back to school.

These last few weeks have been amazing.  My travels to Cornwall were so inspirational and I am now translating some of the rock drawings into monoprints and etchings.   It is wonderful to be back in the print room.

I also got accepted into the Pushing Print exhibition in Margate and had to deliver my prints and then return the following weekend for the Private View. My good friend,  Jim, lives nearby, so not only did I get to see him, and deliver my work, but also spent time on Botany bay beach, which I love.   This time I paid attention to the tide times and enjoyed the high tide with the water lapping around the rocks which I normally walk amongst.  I posted a little video here.  I also walked all the way along to the arch at low tide which is near Broadstairs.  I hope you enjoy some of my photographs, including a few from the Pushing Print Festival.

My friend Jane with my prints.
Giant Monoprinting

Giant Monoprinting.
Botany Bay
Me amongst the rocks, drawing as usual.
Arch, a short distance from Broadstairs and Kingsgate.
Monoprint
Soft and hardground etching
 
Etching in progress.

May is here and it’s still cold!

Well, the essay is handed in and what a relief that is!   It felt quite odd not to be spending all weekend writing.  Now I just have to sort my portfolio and hand that in on 20th May and that’s my second year over.  What a life changer it has been.  The third years are leaving and I am very sad.  They are such a great bunch.  I shall miss them so much.

Below are some photos of some of the things I have been busy about, besides the hotel painting commissions and essay writing!

On June 6th, I am boarding a plane for New Mexico for a couple of months to get some big paintings done.  I am looking forward to that for obvious reasons, but also to warm my bones… spring has barely arrived here and today it’s blowing a cold wind… 

Waterways i soft ground etching 7 x 7 cm

Lake i soft ground etching 5 x 15 cm

Fen with monoprint on Tosa Washi chine collé  7 x 7 cm
Field and Stream soft ground etching 5 x 15 cm

Still writing my essay and other things

I am definitely making a meal out of this writing business… it’s only 4000 words and 10% of my final MA mark, but I obviously want to do the best I can!  Plus, it’s fascinating, and the research goes on and on.  I can’t imagine how I wrote my really long dissertation back in the day when I couldn’t type and we didn’t have the web.  It doesn’t seem possible.
 
Koichi Yamamoto is one of the artists I am writing about, in particular this print.

Koichi Yamamoto – Rakujo
 I think his work is incredible and he has been so generous in answering my questions.  Another artist which I have discovered along the way with the help of my fellow students is Susan Derges.  Her work is so beautiful.   She is best known for her pioneering technique of capturing the continuous movement of water by immersing photographic paper directly into rivers or shorelines. She often creates her work at night, working with the light of the moon and a hand-held torch to expose images directly onto light sensitive paper. (Purdy Hicks Gallery)
Susan Derges –  River Taw – Photograms
 Meanwhile, I have been experimenting a great deal with soft ground etchings and chine colle, plus a two plate etching, soft ground and sugar lift aquatint.  
Unfinished soft ground with tosa washi monoprint chine colle.

Soft ground etching with tosa washi monoprint chine colle.
Two plate soft ground etching with background sugarlift aquatint.

Catching Up..

Goodness, how time flies.  Barry came and went and I got back into my University work, plus a couple of commissions and now struggling with my final essay.  I just couldn’t catch up with my blog until I settled on the subject matter and that kept changing every week!  I think I have clinched it now and am writing on the abstraction/semi abstraction of landscape/nature.  There!   I have said it out loud and now I am committed!  It’s a big subject, so I am honing it down to a couple of artists.

Do let me know your thoughts if you have any.  I have always been very fascinated by the transition from representation to abtraction and how we change what we see and why.  I am enjoying looking into this in more detail.

Here are some two plate sugar lift aquatints that I have been working on.  They are tiny, barely 2 x 2″ or 5 x 5 cm.   I just love the ‘abtraction’ of these images and played with colour.  Plus I was practicing my registration skills.  There is something very satisfying about getting two plates to line up perfectly… almost perfectly!

Below is a photo that Barry took of me.   We happened to be near my old school and I wanted to show it to him, but sadly we couldn’t see it!  Nevertheless, we got some good photos of mist! 

Me and the Mist