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.
So, Hubby and I went to Orford Ness for a weekend with the scary camera. I generally twiddle things and press buttons until I get a shot I like – my photography teacher called it ‘instinctive’ – I think she was being polite. Hubby, who is far more analytical, is getting into histograms and actually expects me to know what the twiddling will do before it does it. I suspect he will make a better photographer than me in the long run.
A day was spent stalking Little Egrets and Herons, we also saw Stonechats but they refused to sit still and consequently came out blurry. With much excitement, we watched a tiny black dot circling over the reserve which may or may not have been a Marsh Harrier…of course it is just as likely to have been a pigeon. I do not pretend to be a very knowledgeable bird watcher and I could include on our spotting list some ‘little brown ones’, ‘a red legged one’ confirmed by a bearded fellow with a huge telephoto lens to be a Redshank, and a little creamy orange one with a white eyebrow which turned out to be a Wheatear. This was confirmed by my friend Gwyn by dint of a behavioural description and the photo posted below. I guess this makes me a retrospective bird watcher – I take a photo and ask someone about it later.
I am learning though.
On returning home we played with Adobe Lightroom and discovered that some of our pics were not too bad. I have to credit Hubby with the Little Egret – I think this beautiful creature will be appearing in a new collagraph print soon.
About a year ago I enlisted on a one day photography course and bought myself a very lovely DSLR camera, the idea being I would head off into the wilds of Norfolk and shoot wildlife (with the camera!). With my head swimming with F-stops, aperture settings, shutter speeds and focal points I dutifully headed out, immediately forgetting it all as the first bird flew past and I realised I hadn’t taken the lens cap off. I am sure I heard the camera sigh!
The next attempt was less ambitious – limiting myself to just the macro lens and a promise to make a start on understanding shutter speed and depth of field I ventured into the garden to see what beasties lurked there. Here are some of the results – I don’t know whether any of these creatures will make it into artwork but I really enjoyed myself.
My wonderful husband suggested that I should write about where I find my inspiration and about what I get up to in the studio – so here I am trying to decide what to include in my first post.
Blank paper syndrome…
Hey, there’s an idea. My first post – blank canvas to finished painting.
It is called ‘Cliff Top’ and is painted with acrylic on canvas. This is a piece I hauled out of the archives – painted in 2011. From now on I will try to record my new pieces in stages and post them here.