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