Sunday, 16 February 2020

Art Studio

I thought I'd introduce you all to my art studio where I produce all my artwork and which started out in my spare room and now seems to have gradually spread all around my flat!

My lovely table-top etching press taking pride of place in my studio. It's very well used and a little bit inky, as its quite a few years old now, but has printed many tigers, hippos, cats etc and is still going strong!

Lots of inks etc being supervised by Morph and Kermit!

My desk, which I was very proud of managing to put together when I had a flatpack building frenzy when I first moved in. Including my best purchase of last year, a badge maker, which has proved incredibly popular at all of my selling events.

I was trying to keep all my artwork activities in my spare room but because the light is amazing in my living room I seem to end up painting in there instead and have gradually taken over my dining table! 

A very sneaky look at what I am working on at the moment. Two brand new collagraph printing plates, lots more work to do on them but I should be proofing them very soon. I will never learn to not leave my hot chocolate near my artwork, I've lost track of how many times I've dipped my brush in it!

Just to show that I definitely do take over everywhere - an improvised drying rack for my hand printed tote bags in my main bathroom! I also use the bath to soak my paper when I am printing so its a good job I have an en-suite shower room I can use too!

I'm house hunting at the moment so hopefully I will have a brand new studio to show you soon too!

Clare xx

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Tiger Print

Back in July last year I was in my usual place by the tiger enclosure at Dudley Zoo when the tigers suddenly started mating! The male tiger strutted off looking very proud of himself and the female rolled over onto her back and just looked very chilled and relaxed. I managed to get quite a few photos of her and knew I would have to do some artwork featuring such an unusual pose for a tiger!

I did a couple of acrylic paintings featuring the very happy tiger:
Happy Tiger - Acrylic Painting

Happy Tiger 2 - Acrylic Painting

I also had to depict her in a collagraph print too.  A collagraph print is a print created from a card plate made by adding glue, paint, enamel etc. This holds the ink in varying degrees and is then printed through the intaglio process.

Sadly the original printing plate (which took hours to make!) warped in the printing press due to some of the paint being too thick, so that one had to be binned. This is the second collagraph printing plate just finished and ready to be printed:
Lots of blue/black intaglio ink is wiped all over the printing plate.
And then wiped off again! The ink stays in the textured parts of the printing plate and wipes off the smoother parts which will print lighter or white.
The printing plate is then placed onto the intaglio press and a slightly damp piece of paper is put on top. all of this is covered with a blanket and then put through the printing press which forces the ink off the printing plate onto the paper, leaving the paper slightly embossed.
The finished collagraph print, framed and ready for exhibition.
I decided to enter her into the Wolverhampton Society of Artists new Centenary Exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery and luckily she was accepted! 

Also I was very shocked and proud to receive the first prize for the Selection Panel Choice and got to meet the Mayor of Wolverhampton who presented me with a certificate and book.

The exhibition is on until February 16th and well worth a look and you can see a very relaxed looking tiger!

Clare xx

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