Print in progress: Final stage

24 May 2010

Finished! I've printed the final and darkest colour onto both versions of the "Havana" print, and the image at last comes into focus.

Blue Havana. Linocut 30 x 24 cm.

Havana Gold. Linocut 30 x 24 cm.

I haven't checked the prints thoroughly yet, but there's about six good prints of "Blue Havana", and about eight of "Havana Gold".

On with the next print...

Print in progress: Next colour

20 May 2010

I've cut away more of the linoblock, and printed it in darker blue and brown on top of the lighter colour.

The image is starting to emerge. Now I have to cut away more of the block, and then print the last colour.

Tony Bevan at the De La Warr Pavilion

18 May 2010

A few days ago, I went down to the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea to see the artist Tony Bevan talk about the installation that he has created for the gallery there. The installation comprises three paintings, so big that they each almost completely occupy one wall of the room in which they are hung.

Images © Tony Bevan, De La Warr Pavilion

Two portraits face each other. Bevan said that they are self-portraits in that they are his own head, but they're not meant to be about him; it's just that when he wants to paint a head, his own is the most convenient. The head on the left (top image) is influenced by Franz Messerschmidt, an 18th century German sculptor.

The third painting turns out also to be a head: it's the back of an enormous Buddha statue in China. The spirals are snails, the traditional hair of Buddha.

"When the Buddha was sitting under the Bodhi tree he was so deep in meditation that he was unaware that it was extremely hot. A group of snails saw him and realising the importance of his thoughts, crawled up to cover and protect his head with their bodies. The snails died from exposure to the hot sun and became honoured as martyrs who had died to protect the Buddha." (Iconography of the Buddha, V&A website.)
Tony Bevan was "in conversation" with Richard Cork, the art critic. At one point, Cork asked, "Because you've painted the back of the Buddha's head, should we read this as somehow symbolic, the idea perhaps that you are turning away from religion, or even that religion is turning away from you".

Bevan replied, "No, it's just when you visit that statue, you climb up a mountain, and the first sight you have of it is from the back."

The paintings are acrylic and charcoal on canvas. The canvas is covered with acrylic polymer that sticks the charcoal to the canvas. It's not clear from the photos, but the white background is actually white paint over the natural brown canvas. The paintings are so big that Bevan painted the canvas flat on the floor, using a ladder to check the progress. When he finished, the canvases were rolled up, taken to the gallery, and then put on stretchers. The first time that Bevan saw them in the traditional vertical position was when they were hung on the gallery wall.

The exhibition continues until 13 June, 2010.

Changing the print

16 May 2010

I made a proof of the linocut in black ink, on the white background that I printed the other day, and decided that it still wasn't working.

So I've made two new decisions: the print will be in colour, and it will be a reduction print (that is, there will be several layers printed on top of each other).

But one decision I can't make is which colour.

The dominant part of this image is the shadows. Warm sunshine on white buildings creates blue shadows... But will blue still be too cold? Would a warm yellow/orange/brown be better?

Solution: Print half the edition in blue, and half the edition in brown.

As this is now going to be a reduction print, there will be more colours on top of this. Back to the cutting board to cut the next stage.

Croydon Art Society exhibition

13 May 2010

The Croydon Art Society are holding an exhibition at the Clocktower Galleries. The exhibition runs from Saturday 15 May to Saturday 29 May 2010.

Pile of pictures, prints and cards waiting to go to the exhibition.

Ashdown Forest again

12 May 2010

Another painting of Ashdown Forest.

Acrylic on canvas, 40 x 30 cm.

I like the flat broad areas in the foreground (bottom two-thirds), and the softer colours in the background (top third), but I'm not sure that they work together.

Yes, it's Ashdown Forest again. The subject matter might not be revolutionary, but this is probably the first landscape painting that I've done that isn't square...

Change of plan

10 May 2010

I've been thinking a lot about what to do with this linocut. I like the way the block has been cut, but don't like the black-on-white...

...I've just realised that I haven't mentioned what the subject of this print is. It's based on a sketch (and some supporting photos) made from the roof terrace of the Ambos Mundos hotel in Havana, Cuba. It's the hotel where Ernest Hemingway stayed back in the the 1930s, and has a great view across the rooftops of the city.

But the black-ink-on-white-paper of the linocut is too stark to get the feeling of Caribbean heat. So I've decided to go back a step: I'm changing the background of the print. I got another block of lino the same size, and then printed the flat block in warm white. (White plus a tiny amount of warm yellow.)

Here's a picture of some white ink printed onto white paper!

This will be the background on which I will print the block that has been already cut. It should make the highlights warmer, and soften the contrast with the black ink.

End of an exhibition

07 May 2010

Today was the last day of the exhibition at the Ashdown Forest Visitor Centre. Time to take down all the paintings.

The paintings are back in their boxes.

The walls are empty again.

Small car. Good thing that most of the paintings are small too.

But it's been a good exhibition: discovering and exploring the forest has been an eye-opener, and certainly inspired a new direction in my paintings.

First proof

06 May 2010

So here's the block that I have been working on for the last week. It's all inked and ready to go through the press.

Hold your breath as it goes through the press...

It's always a bit of shock when you take the first proof off the press, and see the image the right way round, after all that time staring at the reversed image.

But I like what I see. The clutter of buildings in the top right corner is working (there's a nice play of white against black against white). The foreground right corner perhaps has too much detail, and the left side needs more definition.

But it's going in the right direction. Back to the cutting board to complete the details.

Work in progress: New linocut stage 2

04 May 2010

I've spend about eight hours cutting this block. Every mark affects the next mark. In a linocut, the mark is either there or not there. To define a black shape, it must be surrounded by white (so you cut that bit out); but then to define that white shape, the next area must be black. The very first cut on the block decides the entire image.

I've done as much to this stage as I think I can; it's time to take the first proof.

Out of practice

03 May 2010

I've been so busy working on the paintings and prints that I haven't done any life drawing recently. Just started again, and the lack of practice shows in these 30-minute sketches...

(But what a good model!)

Each charcoal and chalk on coloured paper, about 50 x 50 cm.