Paul Klee, Mira Schendal, new etchings and my 60th Birthday!

Hello everyone,

Last week I entered my seventh decade and feel somewhat relieved that it has arrived and I can stop worrying about it!  My eldest daughter texted me to say that she had taken annual leave in order to help me get my free bus pass! 
On the Wednesday I enjoyed a birthday lunch at the pub with my peers from University and then drove off to London for more fun.  My wonderful children had organised some lovely birthday treats and surprises and I spent five days in London relaxing, having dinner with friends, family and going to Tate Modern.  There was lots of cake and presents and I was very very spoilt!
What an amazing cake!
The Paul Klee exhibition was large.  He was so prolific and innovative.  Just marvellous.  I fell in love with ‘Gaze of Silence’.  I can’t explain it really.  It is not necessarily something I would normally like so much, but the colours were so rich yet subtle and I was smitten.   Like so many paintings,  it has to be seen in the flesh in order to be fully appreciated.

                                “Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible”
                                                     Paul Klee, Creative Confession and other 1920. Tate Publishing

Gaze of Silence – Oil on burlap  56.6 x 70.5 cm  1932

The other treat of the day was Mira Schendal’s exhibition.  I was particularly taken by two rooms,  (for lots more you can go here as this blog has many photographs.)
The two rooms which I liked the most consisted of multiple images on Japanese paper hung between perspex.  The first space included images similar to the image below.   The second room consisted of off white writings in acrylic on Japanese paper.  The words were barely visible but hung collectively it was so effective.  I loved it.  Oh! to be able to construct something so subtle and lovely yet so powerful. 

Graphic Object 1967 by Mira Schendel, a the Tate Modern. Photograph: Mira Schendel Estate (sourced from The Guardian)

The best photo I could find to describe the rooms is below, sourced from this blog

I have also been working away at my etchings and here are a few of the latest prints.

Musk Beetle front view – Hardground etching & aquatint.
Dragonfly on Water – Soft ground, hard ground, aquatint etching.

Stag beetle – hard ground etching, sugarlift aquatint.
Finally, I played with some drafting film the other day and then exposed the drawing onto a solar plate.  Lots of fun and potential.  

Automaton beetle – solar plate etching from drawing on drafting film.

That’s all for now. 

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

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.

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