Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Drypoint Printmaking

I've had a few days off work this week so I thought I'd dig out my etching press and do a little bit of printmaking!

I decided to have a go at some drypoint printmaking as its very quick and immediate. Drypoint is where the image is scratched into the printing plate using a "drypoint" creating a line and also producing a burr, which is a rough ridge on the plate that prints a slightly ragged line, these lines hold the ink when printed and produce a rich velvety texture.

I found the drypoint needle that I was given while at university and 26 years later it still works absolutely fine! Whilst at university we used to use aluminium plates for drypoint printmaking from the commercial printers that were below us but nowadays I use Rhenalon plates which are very thin perspex sheets and as these are transparent I can put an image underneath the plate and use it as a guide while I am working on the plate.

You can just about see the scratches on the printing plate below with the image I am working on underneath.

And the printing plate scratched into and ready to be printed below. Its very hard to see some of the lines and sometimes easier to just run our nail over them to gauge the depth.

Now for the messy bit! I use the Caligo safe-wash etching ink straight from the tube as it needs to be quite thick to stay in the lines and cover the whole of the printing plate with it. 

I then wipe the printing plate with newspaper and then tissue paper to remove the surface ink but being really careful to leave the ink within the lines. Caressing the printing plate as my University tutor always used to say!

Then onto my etching press with slightly dampened paper on top of the printing plate and once under the rollers the big reveal as the paper is lifted off! 

This can be the slightly scary part as drypoint printing plates are very fragile and can only really be printed a few times as the process of going through the printing press flattens the lines and dulls the prints. I tend to do mine in editions of 6 so each print really counts.

The finished prints hot off the printing press! 
Ring Tailed Lemur & Baby - Drypoint Limited Edition Print

Tiger - Drypoint Limited Edition Print
Clare xx

Friday, 28 June 2019

ACEO Tiny Paintings!

I have been painting teeny tiny paintings called ACEO's for quite a few years now. ACEO stands for Art Cards, Editions and Originals. Basically a tiny painting/drawing/print/etc which must be 3.5 x 2.5 inches, about the size of a playing card, and as I have discovered people love collecting them!

A 50p piece to show the scale!

I hadn't painted any new ones for quite a while but after my recent visit to the local zoo, and taking a few hundred photos whilst there, I decided to paint a few more. Two of these tigers have sold already!

I find them a very good way of seeing if a larger painting will work as if an image really stands out when tiny it should work on a larger scale. For example the tiny painting of a tiger that I recently did I liked so much I made it into a big acrylic painting.

I think it has also made me paint a lot freer as its very difficult to get a lot of detail onto a tiny piece of paper and I feel it has really improved my watercolour painting. Also because I'm quite an impatient painter and hate waiting for paint to dry, I find that when I'm doing a large watercolour painting I try and work on about 10 ACEO's at the same time. By the time I have put a layer of paint on every painting the first one will have dried and I can start all over again!

So far I have sold 401 of these mini paintings with tigers and cats proving the most popular and the majority going to the USA! 

A few examples of my tiger ACEO's, I'm rapidly running out of titles for these!

Most of my ACEO's I sell on Ebay or Etsy and its a really good feeling when people come back for more and have a little collection of my mini artworks!

Clare xx 

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Printing Tiger Feet!

I have a slight obsession with tigers and whenever I go to Dudley Zoo I spend hours watching the tigers. I was really lucky the last time I was there as the male tiger Joao was having a little sleep and showing his lovely big paws which I just wanted to tickle!
I knew I would have to produce some artwork of him so I decided to do a quick acrylic painting:
Sleeping Tiger Acrylic Painting
He looked so cute I thought he would work brilliantly as a collagraph print too, here's the start of my printing plate being designed.

About to start printing, not many people get to see the printing plates before they have been inked up and got very messy!

Here he is after being inked up. I've inked him A la poupĂ©e which is a technique for applying different colours of ink using a ball-shaped wad of fabric to apply the ink which then means I can print the image in just one run through the press. Its a bit fiddly but well worth it.

Hot off the printing press!

A few different variations of the tiger print, still deciding which one I like the best.
I moved house about 5 weeks ago so I am still unpacking everything but my new studio is starting to come together and I'm really enjoying doing a bit of printmaking again!
Hopefully lots more new prints coming soon!
Clare xx

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Printing a Hippo in 3 Colours

I love printing hippos!
Hippo Collagraph Prints
I've done quite a few hippo collagraph prints over the years, in lots of colours, and these have proved very popular. I wanted to do a slightly different hippo print with three colours printed from the one printing plate. I decided to do a hippo swimming (or floating!) so I could use lots of different blues for the water. Here's one of the photos I used for reference.
Below is the collagraph printing plate before it is has any ink applied. The image is backwards compared to the photo so that when printed it will be the right way round. I use different paints on the cardboard (mountboard) printing plate to get different textures. The yellow is just some cheap acrylic paint with lots of brush marks to create texture! (I use a light colour such as yellow so that I can see it through the inking process to make sure I get ink into every part of the plate.)
I deliberately designed the printing plate to be inked in three different places. The top third to be process blue with lots of extender medium to keep it quite light. The middle to be the hippo in purple ink and the bottom third to be printed in my favourite blue prussian blue. Here's the top part of the printing plate with process blue ink applied in a thin layer avoiding getting any on the hippo head.
 Next I applied the purple ink. I use a scrunched up kitchen cloth to apply the ink (they are cheap and I usually have loads of them) I twisted a corner of the cloth to apply the ink to the smaller places.
Applying the prussian blue to the bottom of the printing plate for the water. I try and be careful to not go over the areas with the other colours and mix the ink too much but I don't mind if a bit of colour runs into another.
Once every part of the printing plate is covered in ink I very carefully blot the plate with newspaper so as not to move the ink around too much and mix the colours.
I carry on wiping with newspaper and tissue paper until there is only a fine layer of ink left on the printing plate. Here's the plate below all wiped and ready to go through the printing press.
  The hippo print hot off my etching printing press!

A whole herd of hippos drying!

Finally, the finished collagraph print!
Hippo Swim Collagraph Print
 Here's the hippo print framed and on exhibition recently at Wolverhampton Art Gallery.
A very rare photo of me printing and getting very messy on my dining room table in my very, very inky printing hoody!
Clare xx

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Painting a Sloth

I love sloths, they are just so odd looking but still very cute! I've seen one in the wild while on holiday in Costa Rica but it was so far away and up a tree it just looked like a vague pile of fur so when I went to Chester Zoo last year I took loads of photos of their two toed sloths and had to paint them! You would think they would be easy to take photos of as they are supposed to be quite slow but these ones were so active a lot of my photos were quite blurry!

My original intention was just to paint one sloth but I enjoyed it so much I got carried away and ended up doing three paintings!

This is how I painted them below. They are all painted in Liquitex Heavy Body acrylic on box canvas.

First of all I hate working on a white canvas so I painted the canvas a neutral grey all over. I wasn't intending to keep the grey background but it worked so well against the colours of the sloth's fur that I kept it in the end. I gridded up the canvas and the photo that I was working from so that I could enlarge the sloth image onto the canvas and now I'm all set to start painting!

I laid in a rough idea of the sloth with a light mix of water and an acrylic colour called parchment, which is great for animal fur, so that I could get an idea of the shape.

I'm beginning to add a few different colours to the sloth building up a few of the dark areas.

Adding a few more darks to the fur, I always work by adding paint all over the painting and never working too much in one area. 

Gradually building up the paint and adding a few more details. I'm trying to keep the direction of the paint strokes always going in the same direction as the fur so that it looks more realistic and has a sense of movement. Also I like to use a large brush so that I don't get caught up in too much detail and also get some lovely paint strokes showing in the painting.

Almost there, just strengthening the lights and darks and adding a tiny bit more detail. I like to have a strong contrast between the lights and darks in my paintings as it makes it more dynamic.

The finished painting and the two other sloth paintings I couldn't resist doing too to then make a Sloth Triptych!

Sloth Walk - acrylic painting on canvas

Hanging Sloth - acrylic painting on canvas

Sloth Reach - acrylic painting on canvas

I really enjoyed painting these sloths and loved having fun with the paint in their fur, might be tempted to do a few more soon!

Clare xx

Monday, 11 December 2017

Painting a Steampunk Tabby Cat

I had a bit of time to kill on Tuesday morning while waiting for the chimney sweep to come round so I thought I'd start a couple of new Steampunk inspired animals in hats acrylic paintings!

Its been a while since I did a new cat in hat painting so I thought I'd try a tabby cat in a leather flying hat and goggles, I've done a black and white cat and also a tiger in a flying hat and these have proved to be very popular!
Flying Kitty Greeting Card

Flying Tiger Greeting Card
I decided to take a few photos of my step by step painting so you can see behind the scenes of how I paint!
Here is the very start, I manipulate the image in Photoshop and have added a hat to the tabby cat (I don't really force any animals to wear hats, its all done digitally!) Here's my canvas at the very beginning - I hate working on a white canvas/paper so always paint the canvas first. For my cats I find red seems to work the best as a background colour.

I also always start with the eyes as I think if the eyes don't look right the painting will never work.

I try to cover as much of the canvas as I can working on every part blocking in the basic colours. 

I am gradually building up layers and refining areas. Again I like to get the eyes to be very clear and often exaggerate them slightly to make the face look cuter!

He is starting to come together. You can see the cat is a lot more refined than the hat at the moment. The hats and goggles are usually the last things I work on. Also you can spot my palette is an icecream tub lid, it keeps the paint wet for a bit longer and doesn't need cleaning off when I have finished!

Just about finished! I've added touches of gold paint to the goggles and a bit more detail all over. I love painting goggles and adding all the reflections in the metal!

Flying Tabby Acrylic Painting
Here he is all finished and ready to go off on a new adventure!

Clare xx