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

Sacred Creatures

Kingfisher with Dragonfly
12 x 12 Oil/Panel

Nuthatch with Bumblebee iv
12 x 12 Oil/Panel

Carolina Wren, nest and eggs
12 x 12 Oil/Panel

Black-capped Chickadee with egg
12 x 12 Oil/Panel

At last, I have finished! Unfortunately I seem unable to get really good photos of these paintings, but you get the idea! I am going to go abstract after these… I think my thumb is going to drop off! I would love to find a way to do my birds in a loser manner, but still can’t allow myself to go there!

I am so looking forward to this weekend to celebrate my birthday in London with my children! I think I deserve it!

Another wonderful evening etching.


I have been working on this new plate for a few weeks now. We only go to etching once a week on Thursdays and usually after running around Santa Fe doing errands first, so we usually arrive late afternoon and work until 10 or 11. It’s hard to go home and thanks to Eric, who always has some food cooking, we can stay the whole evening without interruption! I decided this time to methodically etch a plate without aquatint or dry point. So the bottom photo displays a steady progression of the results of adding the wax ground, etching the lines, cleaning the plate and printing the plate, then adding another wax ground and doing the whole process again and again. I think it helps with a greater understanding of the process. So many times in the past, especially with aquatint I have ended up with the plate being too dark and I have had to burnish a lot. I like this method, it has a little more control. I think it’s almost finished, but I need to just darken the shadows and add a few more highlights.

Nuthatch Commission – finished… I think.

Well, just in time, I think I have finished. I always like to take a few days to contemplate, but for now I think it’s there but for the final glaze. I am now rushing around trying to get all my ducks in a row so that I can leave. There is a lot to think about regarding making sure hospital appointments and blood tests and rides to various appointments are all sorted. Plus I have some of my oldest and very best friends coming for the weekend from Scotland and Cambridge. It will be wonderful, as socialising has been very low on the agenda recently.

I leave for London on Monday, dropping off my submission for the Summer Exhibition so that my daughter can deliver it on 30th March. Then fly out on Tuesday. I can’t quite believe it. Dad is doing so much better. He spent a few hours in the garden today, tidying up and digging a hole to plant our christmas tree that has been sitting in it’s pot since Christmas, obviously!

Nuthatch Commission – Coming along!

I think my little nuthatch commission is coming along nicely…. and today I posted my entry form for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Yay!! Last year I missed the deadline so I have been really working hard trying to get the paintings finished so that I felt confident enough to submit the entry form… and I did it! No doubt I will be rejected, (I always like to expect the worst, then I won’t be disappointed!!) but you have to try. I have been told that you have to submit a few times before you get accepted, but maybe that is an urban myth. So… this is my first time of trying, and hopefully I will eventually get accepted before I reach 60!

Nuthatch Commission

Here is the next stage of my nuthatch commission. I think it has now lost the lovely three dimensional quality of the original drawing. I love my early layouts and have done many paintings just using the under painting and adding more darks and glazing a lot. Of course you have to be so sure that your wiping out is accurate, but the effect of glazing on an almost clean gessoed wood, using no white is gorgeous and when finished, reminds me of ‘conkers’ (the seed from horse-chestnuts or buckeyes I think in the US)

Nuthatch Commission

I didn’t get much time to paint today, as I had to drive to Cambridge and back to deliver my triptych to the framer. I am so happy to have finished it as it has taken me forever to paint. However, I couldn’t go to bed without doing some painting, so I started my latest Nuthatch commission. Another 8 x 8.