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

A little light relief!

After spending all last Monday doing a test strip for an aquatint, I thought I would end the day with a little abstract monoprinting!  Above are the results left on the table!  Not on paper sadly.  It seems that just when you have to clear up, interesting things start to happen.  At least I have the photos.

I have decided that I need to stop doing drypoints for now because I spend hours drawing on the plate and can only get a few prints.  I am trying to learn how achieve a similar effect by using etching and aquatint.  Needless to say I haven’t succeeded yet, but it’s early days.  Since I have basically messed up a plate, I thought I would just experiment with differing techniques.  On this plate is an aquatint of varying bites, a hard and soft ground etching and some scraping out of the aquatint.  I ran out of time today to make anything of it, but at least I am learning.

First print after adding the soft ground.  Note the scraping out in the middle.
More scraping.
I added another soft ground and drew into it more and etched it for 30 minutes
The many stages of tarlatan or scrim

This week I have been to the Tate twice!  Once, to investigate an artist Vija Celmins for my essay and the other to see a fabulous exhibition on Picasso and his influences on Modern British Art