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

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Steampunk Boot Wings

At The Asylum Festival
I went to the Asylum Steampunk Festival in Lincoln for the first time this year and had an amazing time (the biggest and longest running Steampunk Festival in the solar system!) I had heard lots of stories about the steep hill, cobbles and just lots and lots of walking over the course of the long weekend so I treated myself to some very practical boots with a comfort sole and memory foam. I loved my boots but thought there was just something missing so I decided to have a go at making some wings for them so that I could try and fly up that steep hill instead!

I had lots of wool fleece left over from making some cushions so decided to use that, also it is really thick and holds it shape well but very easy to sew too. I get my fleece from a local community scrap store called SCARF which is like an Aladdins Cave of fabric, paint etc perfect for making steampunk items. I found some lovely brass eyelets on Ebay and decided to have a go at making.
Purple/Pink Boot Wings
Here's the first outing for my new wings with the West Midlands Steampunk Assembly at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens over the summer:

I loved them so much that I decided I had to make some to sell too.

You can just spot some of my wings that I smuggled in under my cloak to sell at the Illicit Market at the Asylum!
Here's a quick look behind the scenes of the making of my recent boot wings:

A few wings all sewn and ready to be painted.

Painting a few highlights on the wings, I love my metallic gold and copper paints!

Adding my eyelets - I use a spare brick in the garden as a mini anvil!

Lots of finished wings ready to be bagged for sale.

They have been selling really well so I decided to make a few more and lots of the new ones will be available at my next Steampunk Event - Steampunks in Space at the Leicester Space Centre, 25 - 26th November.

I've also added a pair of wings to my bag below, I'm thinking of adding some to my hat too!

Lots and lots of wings!
I'm hoping that the more wings I add I should really be able to fly soon!

Clare xx

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Printmaking on my Dining Room Table!

When I put one of my prints online I always say "printed on my dining room table". Here's a little tour of where I produce my prints:

My etching press takes pride of place on my dining room table, we normally have to eat around it if we want to use the table for its proper use! The printing press (which is a bit heavy!) is only moved once a year at Christmas so I can decorate the table and have a proper festive meal!

Here's my lovely press, its a bit battered now and well used but still prints great. I mostly do collagraphs and the occasional linocut print on it and it is perfect for up to A3 size paper. I would love a slightly bigger one but haven't the money or space at the moment.Yes there is a Dalek cookie jar which lives behind it and threatens to Exterminate me if I don't behave!

Hippo Collagraph Print
Here's one of Hippo collagraph prints hot off the printing press!

Temple of Concordia Collagraph Print
And the stunning Temple of Concordia in Sicily.

Because I print from my dining room table I wanted to use non-toxic inks as I didn't want to have the smell and mess of cleaning everything up with white spirit (especially as I usually get ink all over me, the light switches, door handles etc!) I started using the Caligo Safewash etching inks which are oil based but can be cleaned up really easily with water while they are still wet, which is perfect for working from home. This is a photo of some of my very messy inks!

Even though I always wear gloves I always somehow manage to get inky hands!

 Other parts of my house are used in the printmaking process! My bath is used to soak the paper slightly before printing and I have a pile of old towels to blot the paper!

The spare room bed makes a convenient "drying rack" for my prints and can often be found covered in hippos, cats etc!

  My other work space is the spare room which has a desk for painting, sewing etc and has to be hastily packed away when anyone comes over to stay!

Elephant Collagraph Printing Plates
  I always take my photos in the garden to make the most of the natural light. The garden table is handy for taking photos - here's my elephant collagraph printing plates before they have been inked and printed.

Hippo Swim Collagraph Print

We have a marble fireplace in the living room which gives a good backdrop for some of my listing photos, I have to clear everything off the mantle piece first though!
Elephant 2 Collagraph Print
Here's another view!

 Hope you enjoyed a behind the scenes look at my printmaking and home "studio"!

Clare xx