Saturday, October 14, 2017

Monoprinting as Therapy

There's nothing like immersing yourself in a week of printing, even if interrupted by daily distractions....

After spending a week at Geelong teaching monoprinting, I was determined to not pack away my inks but set up my print studio and have some fun with my little Xcut Xpress machine.

I dug out my favourite wren stencils and got to work....

Inked plate and objects ready to print on the
bed of my Xcut machine.

Revealing the print after printing.
I used tinted Stonehenge, dampened and torn to size to
print as bleed prints.

My ink stations - printing on my own means
I need to chose my colours carefully as I only put
out three colours.  Less to clean up at the end of the day.

A feather print in progress, just for something different!

One of the successful prints, but not every print works.
I used my favourite Kangaroo Grass in this series,
I love its feathering appearance.

Another of my favourite wrens.  The pattern at the
bottom was from some mesh that was
gifted to me - a real treasure!

I had to trace around the outline of this wren
after the print was dry to make him
stand out a bit more.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Monoprint Alchemy - making inspirational books

Next week I'm heading down to Geelong (Victoria, Australia) to run a week-long workshop titled 'Monoprint Alchemy', where the participants will experiment and play with a variety of monoprint and print mixed-media techniques to create a themed coptic bound book.

Over the past year, I've been working on two sample books to take along, as well as running a trial project with few art friends where the outcome is they also produce their own book.  The idea of this trial was to be able to take along to the Geelong workshop samples of completed books, showing the diversity resulting from a range of styles, choices, preferences, and skills. To just take my books wouldn't tell the whole story.

As the project comes to a close, I thought I should show you the results of many months of working together.   And I must say, I'm both impressed and humbled by the outcome - a beautiful collection of books that each reflect the personality of the creator.

So a HUGE thank you to all of the girls.  And yes, I've managed to fit all of the books in my suitcase - 5kgs of them - I just can't bear to leave any of them behind!

Now I just need to think of another exciting project for next year to keep us all busy. :-)

Here we are showing off our wonderful Monoprint Alchemy books -
Wendy, Lyn, me, Joanna and Ngaire.  Karin was absent for the photo.

Don't you just love a stack of colourful coptic books? 

A sample of Joanna's "Garden Shambolic" book, with
a beautiful expressive drypoint print.  Her book is
all about her garden, featuring prints and snippets of plants.

Wendy's "Banksia Connections" book with cover-wrap.

Wendy's gorgeous cover-wrap made using Paper Cloth techniques.

 A collage of banksia leaf monoprints in Wendy's book.
Her restricted colour palette and repeated leaf imagery
link the prints together really well.

A sample of Lyn's colourful Japan inspired book, featuring
her original artwork, haiku poems and ephemera.

Ngaire's sublime book "Shore Lines" was inspired by her walks
along local beaches.

Ngaire's book features her beautiful poems on foldouts and popups.

Karin's book 'Leaf" is organic and earthy, with a beautiful
eco-dyed cover with a leaf monoprint.

My book 'Nest Feather Song' is all about birds.
I frequently use bird imagery in my prints
so it wasn't hard for me to find content for my book.

A spread from my book, with monoprints, drypoint prints,
zines, and pages from bird books.

This is my other book, 'Leaf'.  Karin also did this theme,
but our books are TOTALLY different, which shows that
each book is a creative artwork and a reflection of
the artist who made them.

A spread from my 'Leaf' Book showing use of printed
shipping tags (love them!).

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Working smaller and smarter

Its been a while since I've made time to do some large fine-art monoprints as it requires quite a bit of planning and preparation.

So in between fine-art prints, I like to do small ones, A6 size up to A5 size, at home on my portable etching press or my Xcut DieCut Machine.   I also do a few prints when demonstrating at my workshops, but often those ones don't work out as I'm rushing it with an audience looking on.

My small prints are great for selling in my local shop outlets, as I can keep the price reasonable, under $100 framed.

As the prints are small, I find that the photo-ready frames (with mats) at local shops are great.  I source these frames from department stores (BIG W, Kmart), homewares shops (Freedom Furniture), and stationary shops (Officeworks).  For larger prints, I always use professional framers, as I've found from experience that cheap frames tend to warp in larger sizes and its difficult to attach D rings without damaging the frame.

Sometimes I don't bother framing the small prints.  I just mount them on a piece of stiff white cardboard, sometimes using a precut mat to 'frame' it, and finally wrapping it cellophane.

I've found that presenting smaller works for sale doesn't always have to be expensive.  And keeping the price down means that more people can enjoy my work :-)

My work for sale at a local show.  Cards in boxes, small works
in cellophane on stands at the back of the table,
hanging works on the wall
"Bodhi" monoprint.
This one's between A6 and A5 size.

Feather monoprint.

Feather monoprint again.
I used a black mat for this one,
it really brought out the moodiness of the
dark tips of the feather.
You can see it in the first picture of my display at the local show.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Kayaking for inspiration

I enjoy getting out of the studio to enjoy some sunshine.   I've recently done a couple of kayaking trips around our local waterways, providing precious time to mindfully observe the trees, wildlife and geography as well as listening to bird calls and the soothing sound of wind moving through the tree canopy.

These journeys might not directly result in the production of art as I'm not there to sketch or print, but they provide me with some headspace to enjoy and observe, and more importantly, to think.  I love my thinking time, something unfortunately rare to achieve at home with all the usual day-to-day demands.

I think we all need some time like this to keep our art connected to what we're passionate about.

I love my selfie stick!

Here we are, our kayaks resting on a sandbank whilst we enjoyed morning tea.
We're in  Schulzs Canal - a man-made river and recreational haven.
The amount of rubbish that Craig picked up at this spot is an indication
of the Canal's popularity and location near urbanised areas.

Pied Oyster Catchers - one of my favourite shore birds.
You almost always see them in pairs, I think its very romantic!

You can't help but admire the architecture of mangroves and
coastal vegetation - a view that can only be appreciated by boat.

I enjoyed the rippled reflections on the outgoing tide, serenaded by the
mangrove honeyeaters.   Shame about the regular roar of planes taking off
at the nearby airport!

We lost count of how many old tyres we saw in Jacksons Creek -
we wondered how they all got there.
Unfortunately too big and too many to strap to the kayaks!

Craig and I gliding up a tidal creek out of the wind.
What a beautiful day for appreciating this small
piece of natural area right next to the airport.

We spotted a pelican gliding past, such an amazing bird.
As a young girl, I remember feeding them left over fish during family boating trips.
I still haven't forgiven the one who nipped my finger with its long beak!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Eco-Dyeing on Paper Play Day

I recently had a play day in my studio with eco-dyeing on paper.  I'd just returned home from running weekend workshops in Bundaberg (4 hours north of Brisbane), and had some left over red cabbage, so I decided not to waste it and have some brewing fun.

Using the red cabbage / alum / copper sulphate mix, I achieved some lovely results.  I collected some eucalypt leaves from my local park, but also tried a few plants from my garden.

I'll use the resulting eco-prints to make notebooks to sell at markets later this year.  I also intend to make a concertina artist book with the large pieces.

Eucalypt leaves
My stash of rusty metal bits

The brew - I cut up the red cabbage and put it into a laundry
bag to get the colour started. I removed the bag before dyeing
to make space for my bundles.
And it looks purple, but dyes blue/green/grey.
Making a bundle.
My technique is usually stuff in as much as you can,
but I decided to be a bit more conservative!

My bundles ready to go into the pot.
  I use large 'paddle-pop' sticks (also known as tongue depressers I think?)
and rubber bands.  I sometimes use tiles and clips but
that takes up too much room in the pot.
After 45 minutes simmering and maybe a bit of 'sitting' time,
I remove my bundles from the brew to cool before I unwrap them.
Patience is the key!
Unbundling - the best part of the process!

I love the dark marks that the rusty bottletop has made.
It contrasts really well with the brew colour (greeny/blue/grey)
and the leaf print.

The prints lighten as they darken -this one is still wet.
The purples lightened somewhat but still a beautiful print.

Wonderful marks and moody darks.

A clear leaf print.  The advantage of the cabbage brew
is that the brew colour doesn't dominate
like an iron brew (my favourite).

Lots of prints for notebooks.
Might be hard to part with them though!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Playing with Monotypes

Yesterday I enjoyed a printmaking play day with art friends where we explored a couple of different monoprinting techniques.

My favourite monoprinting technique is using stencils, leaves and objects to create layered imagery, but I wanted to explore some more traditional monotype techniques, so we tried subtractive, additive, trace, and pressure printing.

I also wanted to test my Akua inks to see how they performed, instead of my usual oil based etching inks.

Subtractive Monotype - we inked up our plates using rollers, then wiped back the ink off the plate to create our images.  The best results for a quick image were using plastic stencils, where we held onto the stencil and wiped out the ink from the stencil design.  We also played with cotton tips and other mark making tools.

Subtractive Monotype using two stencils

Additive Monotype - well......we didn't have much success using the Akua Inks with this one, perhaps too much blending medium?   More work required, but we decided that we had plenty of other creative techniques to explore.

Trace Monotype - this was an easy one that didn't require the press.  We inked up our plates, placed a piece of paper on top and drew our designs on the back of the paper.  It produced a crisp line when we used pencils, but we could also create tone with our fingers.  A simple technique that I used in conjunction with a paper stencil.

Trace Monotype

Printing from the Trace Monotype plate, using a
bird stencil as a resist
Stratograph or Pressure Printing - this is a technique that I read about being used in letterpress printing, but I wanted to try it to see if I could use it with my Xcut press.  This technique is essentially 'upside down' printing.  We inked up our plates, placed a piece of paper on top, then some dried pressed leaves on top of that, before running it through the Xcut press.  The pressure of the press prints the image of the leaves onto the paper from behind.  We had a lot of fun with this one, so I'll be exploring its possibilities in the coming months.

Wendy's Stratograph (or Pressure Print)
using banksia leaves on handmade paper

My Stratograph print

Print from the Stratograph Plate

I was pleased with the performance of the Akua inks, and they were super easy to clean up.  My intention over the next 12 months is to fully explore their possibilities with the intention of phasing out my oil based etching inks in the long term.  Fun times ahead!