Saturday, 29 March 2014

second time around

A massive printmaking session this past week saw me going back to various pieces of work first created a couple of years ago.  I recently put some cards based on my piece Signs into the repository (shop) at my church (along with a couple of other designs), so I needed to make some more to sell at the various fairs and exhibitions coming up.

another card-making session . . .
© Teresa Newham
While I was about it, I decided to make some more prints of Signs  itself.  I'd previously made four separate prints and collated them in a mount but to make things a bit easier I hacked off part of the lino round two of the edges of each plate so that I could fit the four of them together to make the artwork, and still be able to use them separately for card-making:

the lino blocks for 'Signs' - newly trimmed to fit together!
© Teresa Newham
For the first time I was making the black-and-white cards and prints using black Caligo Safe Wash relief ink. The results  were excellent, as long as I managed to modify the ink correctly with tack reducer and Safewash Oil!  And I managed to position them in the right place so that they came out in the same order as the original, too:

'Signs' printed up as one piece
© Teresa Newham
Next I turned my attention to my most popular linocuts - the two Winter Birds.   Given my struggle the last time I tried to print them up with a background, I thought I'd be more scientific the second time around; so I part-inked each of the two plates with yellow . . . .


Winter Birds: part-inking a plate for registration . . .
© Teresa Newham
. . . which produced a ghostly image showing me where the background ought to be.  I should come clean right now and explain that if I was printing these properly, I would have made a background plate for each bird at the outset (ie two years ago), thus avoiding all this malarkey.  Another lesson learned . . . !

. . . which gives the ghost of an outline
© Teresa Newham
Next, I cut out a paper mask to fit  around the the outline, plus another circle of paper for the moon.  Then I prepared some red and yellow ink, rollering them together on the inking glass so that they blended in the middle, and applied the ink direct to the masked-out paper:

some backgrounds in need of a bird . . .
© Teresa Newham 
The next step was to print the first bird in black on top of its background.  The registration has worked OK for three out of the four, and even the one on the wonk isn't too bad (I need to keep at least one for reference purposes anyway!!).

. . . . which ended up looking like this!
© Teresa Newham
I did the same for the other bird, using yellow and blue ink.   One I can't use, because the colours are upside down and the moon got printed over when its mask moved during the rollering.  And the main mask moved slightly on the other three; next time, I will make the mask out of heavier paper, or thin card.  Yet another lesson . . . ! Still, I'm really pleased with the colours, and a bit of judicious mounting will conceal any blurred edges.

a different colourway for the other bird
© Teresa Newham
Now, of course, my house is full of drying prints.  And at last the weather is improving.  Just as well, because at this rate I think I'm going to have to start drying prints off in the garage!


Thursday, 13 March 2014

Venice revisited

total watercolour - painting two at once
© Teresa Newham
The longer days and arrival of some Spring sunshine have finally wooed me away from my printmaking inks!  To make up for lost time (I've done no watercolour work since Christmas) I decided to make two paintings, going back to the photos I took on our honeymoon three years ago in Venice.

Venice I - early washes and reference material . . .
© Teresa Newham
Hoping to portray something a little more vivid than the February light of my original shots, I printed out the reference photos using Lomo mode in Picasa, to bring out the colours before I chose my palette.

. . .  and for Venice II
© Teresa Newham

The photos fell into two rough groups - one set brighter than the other - so I used different tinted paper for each.  However, I decided to stick with the same palette for both of them: Quinacridone Red, Quinacridone Gold, Winsor Blue Green Shade, Viridian and Dioxazine Violet - not my usual  choice at all - along with some Titanium White. 



more layers . . .
© Teresa Newham

 When I painted up the colour swatches I realised that I'd unwittingly picked the colours of Venetian glass - that's what comes of looking back through old photos . . . and Winsor Blue Green shade is the equivalent of  Phthalo Green - which I've been using in my printmaking.   My subconscious must have been working overtime!

. . .  and some embellishments
© Teresa Newham

I built the paintings up in layers, trying to remember that I was painting the light as well as the buildings, bridges and canals.  Deciding to keep everything simple, I left out a lot of the street furniture (landing stages, other boats, mooring poles) and only hinted at the complex decoration on the houses.

the gondoliers appear . . .
© Teresa Newham
I left the figures until last of all - despite the brightness of the colours it's still clearly February in the paintings as both the gondoliers are wearing their winter gear!  At this stage I had not added the water of the canals, so the gondolas appeared to be skating on ice.  

. . .  but where are the canals?
© Teresa Newham
I carefully painted in a Viridian wash, deliberately leaving a lot of white and blue areas.  I could have made it darker, but I liked the reflections, which had been made using wet on wet runbacks, and some dry brush strokes.

Venice I
© Teresa Newham
I still had no names for these paintings - unusual for me, as I often know the title before the painting is started - so I opted for the obvious: Venice I and Venice II.  The titles may not be particularly inspiring but I hope the results hint at the tranquility of this lovely place!

Venice II
© Teresa Newham