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

Saturday, 12 August 2017

How to Steampunk a Giraffe!

Last year I went to Florida and had the most unforgettable experience of hand feeding a very friendly giraffe at Busch Gardens. I got so many amazing photos and knew that I would have to do a lot of giraffe artwork when I got back home!
 I decided I would have to paint a Steampunk giraffe to go with the rest of my animals in Steampunk hats series of paintings and started thinking about what hat would look best on a giraffe!

I decided he would have to be an explorer and after seeing my partners very nice new pith helmet, above, at the last West Midlands Steampunk Assembly's very fun expedition to hunt dinosaurs at the Botanical Gardens in Birmingham in June, I knew the giraffe would look great in a pith helmet and goggles!

A lot of people ask me how I get the animals to wear the hats in my artworks, I don't think many of them would be too happy with me dressing them up so I do use a little bit of photoshop magic before I start the artwork. I prefer to work from real hats as I can get more detail, to control the lighting and also sometimes wear them while painting so I an see what it looks like on! So I borrowed the pith helmet and took a few photos from various angles. I then put these into photoshop and added the pith helmet to one of my photos of the giraffe.

Here is what he looks like and what I work from while I am doing the painting. It is very roughly photoshopped (and excuse my thumb!) but I only need a rough idea and can alter things as I paint.

Explorer Giraffe - Acrylic Painting
And here he is, the finished painting! I think he looks very cute in his pith helmet and goggles!

Explorer Giraffe - Greeting Card
I also made him into a greeting card to go with my many cards depicting my animals in Steampunk hats!

Steampunk Animal Cards
I'm sure there will be a few more Steampunk inspired giraffe paintings coming soon and there may be a few more animals wearing pith helmets as they are great fun to paint!

Clare xx

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Mini Elephant Collagraph Prints

I am quite fascinated with elephants and a lot of my artwork features them! When I spotted this family group at Chester Zoo recently I couldn't resist doing some prints of them and I'm having fun at the moment with tiny 10 x 10cm collagraph prints so I just had to do a little elephant series of prints!

Collagraph print: 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.

This is what my printing plates look like before printing, I always work from dark to light and all the images are backwards too so It's not an easy process!

Applying ink all over the printing plate, this is sepia ink but can look really dark before printing.

Wiping the ink off the plate, and getting very messy too!

Printing plates all wiped and ready to print. The printing plate holds the ink in crevices and rough parts of the plate and the lighter parts are smoother so the ink is wiped off to print the whiter areas.

Elephants hot off the printing press! I have a small etching press which lives on my dining room table everyday except for Christmas day!

Elephant & Baby Collagraph Print
Elephant 2 Collagraph Print
Elephant 1 Collagraph Print
Here are the finished prints all framed and ready to go to their new homes!

Might be tempted to do a few more elephants very soon!

Clare xx