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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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

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

More Sugar lifting!

Two plate sugarlift etching, testing my skills at registration!

In my quest to move away from drypoints, as you know I have been experimenting with sugar lift aquatints.  Here are a few of the tests and experiments.  The bugs got a little more creative inspired by a recent visit to the reserve collection in the Zoology Museum in Cambridge.  What a treat that was!  We also visited the Tate Print Collection on Wednesday and got to see some beauties close up.  I just loved this early Hockney print, which I believe is his first etching… puts me to shame!  Below are some photos from last week.

Abstraction from a landscape painting in sugarlift aquatint
Dragonfly Abstraction – 1.50 x 2 approx.

Flower Mantis sugarlift –  1.50 x 2 approx.

David Hockney – Myself and my heroes. Better image to be found with Tate link