So in the precious hour I had in the studio today I have gone through my website and updated a few images that were listed as out of stock and added a few that have been languishing out of view. My intent is that I will try to keep a tidier shop! Wish me luck – I would rather be printing so I might be tempted away from the scanner by my etching press which is currently giving me reproachful looks…
I guess as a wildlife artist I cannot really get angry when it eats my plates!
On the plus side for those of you that own ‘Blackbird in Magnolia’ your print has now increased in rarity as I only printed a third of the edition…hmmm there is a lesson in that I guess.
So, in the on-going battle between myself and my camera, I attended a workshop at Banham zoo with the Photographer James Neale. What a lovely day! Lots of tips to get the best out of photographing the animals and lots of brilliant advice about buttons and twiddlings on the camera…needless to say I took lots of photos and have just spent an hour picking three to post here. Howler Monkey (through glass), Lemur sunning itself and the baby Spider monkey…
I am so pleased with this last image of the baby spider monkey; their eyes are startling blue when they are born.
Anyway, my Dad kept me company for the day too – and we fully intend to come back to put into practise everything we learnt…watch this space for more shots.
I highly recommend the course especially if you are new to photography or want a refresher. The tips and advice on getting the best shots out of a zoo environment were brill! Take a look at the links below for more info.
We went back!
So, I have been watching a barn owl quartering the fields – a view from my living room window, how lucky am I?- and building up enough gusto to start on another big collagraph plate. I thought I would post this as a ‘work in progress’ and I will update it as I go along. So I started with a tiny thumbnail which I took straight to the plate and worked up as a sketch.
The next step was to decide how to use tone to build the image. I decided to cut the owl out; peeling the smooth surface of the card away to reveal the texture of the under-layer. This would print as a dark owl shaped silhouette and I could add lighter tones with hammerite. It was necessary to redraw the owl so that I knew where to paint!
So here you can see the plate and the proof with the hammerite highlights. It was necessary to sand some of the hammerite back because it raised the rough texture of the card but I quite liked the way this added to the textures of the feathers.
There is still more to be done. This plate is at a dangerous stage – it looks as though it is going to work well but, I have to add more highlights to the body and it could go badly wrong.
So keep your fingers crossed and I will post the finished print when I can…if I don’t then I am probably sulking about the temperamental nature of printmaking!
We had decided to spend a precious free Sunday watching birds. Hubby, in the tradition of reluctant ornithologist, wanted guaranteed action and so we ventured out to Titchwell reserve where at least you could get a decent bacon sandwich. It was beautiful – we were lucky to see a tiny snipe and the distant shape of the Marsh Harrier among some of the more plentiful Teal and Avocets.
So I have been thinking about Little Terns for a few months now and I finally decided to start a plate. This has taken a couple of days to do and I finally printed a few off today.
I have finished printing two of my most popular images – Foraging Wren and Goldfinches. This morning I spent an hour with a sharp pencil signing and editioning them!
It is a funny feeling when you get to the end of a print run – mainly it is quite exciting because you have made a connection with a lot of people and they liked it enough to want it in their home.
It is also a bit sad to think that you will never print from the plate again because it has kept you company for such a long time and seen you through quite a few exhibitions.
Ah well – I will just have to start working on some new ones!
Not so long ago I spent the day printing the plate for Startled Hare. A few visitors to the blog have asked me describe how the plate was made so here are few photos.
I start by laying dried twiggy bits between two sheets of mount board which I then pass through the press so that their forms are impressed into the card. You can see these indents in the second photo. The design is then sketched onto the card working with the impressions of the plants and incorporating them into the design.
I then cut around the hare with a very sharp craft knife and peel the shape off leaving the core of the card exposed. It has a fluffy texture which will hold more ink than the smooth surface of the card and will produce a darker tone. Using gesso and PVA glue I paint facial details and highlights, in this way I can introduce a smooth texture to the fluffy layer and build lighter tones into that area ; it allows me describe the hare’s face and form. The plate is sealed with a varnish before being inked and printed on the etching press. Inking and printing Startled Hare
This is a form of collagraph printing – a process based on collaging textures to a base plate. Rough textures hold more ink – smoother textures hold less ink and in this way you can build up a range of tone. I keep my plates quite simple tending to work into the plate rather than collaging textures onto it – it is a technique that works for me but it isn’t the only one I use, it all depends on the image I want to create.
Watch this space!