It's been a good week: three successful proofs in one day, Mad Max at the pictures and Chameleons Vox at the Fleece. First, the prints: I finished cutting the Mike Leigh block and proofed it- the paper won't be the orange I printed on, that is what I had to hand. If I can find a whitish Japanese paper with a similar fibrous texture, I will print on that- I like the hairy texture but not the colour.
Next up is the first proof of Another Place II, the companion mezzotint to the one I had in the exhibition at BRLSI last winter. My brother reckons it looks like the work of Alfred Kubin: this was done directly on to the plate, no preparatory drawings.
It needs some of the highlights defining a bit more, but generally I'm happy with it.
The next one is the first successful proof of Three Generations, which is now ready to edition. Not the cleanest proof ever pulled, but I was more interested in the image than perfect borders.
Wow, have I been slack or what? Anyway, there is new work on the go- woodcut and mezzotint. The first one marks the 'retirement' of one of the 'Directors, Cut' blocks. I am taking the Kurosawa print down, and will not be printing any, because it is the one out of the whole series I have been unhappy with. From a technical perspective, I just don't think it works very well, and is less striking and memorable than it ought to be, so it is going. Hold your tears, put the hankies away, for it is being replaced with...Mike Leigh!
Feast your eyes, and keep an eye out for the printed version. I'm partly tempted to leave it as it is, and just show the block because it looks so good. Without further ado:
and this is 'Neighbourhood Watch', an A4 linocut on Shoji paper.
Here are some photos from the show itself:
I haven't posted for a while, because I've been working on a mezzotint. This is a very slow and labour-intensive method, which repays effort and time by allowing a wider tonal range than any other.
The plate was rocked with 72 passes of a coarse 45 teeth per inch rocker, which ploughs the smooth surface of a plate up when rocked from side to side, creating pits and burrs that hold ink.
This took around 25 hours; the rocker moves in a straight line and I rotate the plate a little for each pass, so that the pits and burrs cross and mesh until there is a completely random distribution covering the whole area. I like a clear margin between the image and plate edge, so this is masked off with card: despite this, the rocker bites through the card in places leaving marks which must be removed before printing.
After the plate is rocked, I use scrapers and burnishers with light oil to remove and smooth the pits and burrs: the more I remove the less ink remains when the plate is wiped, so I can control how light or dark areas of an image will be.
This normally takes at least twice as long as rocking,
The image is of a Thomas Hall stockman's knife which belonged first to my great grandfather, then my grandad and now is mine- hence Three Generations. As far as I can tell, this knife is at least 104 years old, and I use it regularly on the allotment: the apple blossom behind the knives is my Laxton's Superb, a variety my grandad grew, so the knife was probably used by him at some point to trim or cut the very same apples.
I started by masking the image off to stop copper particles contaminating it.
I roughly filed and beveled the plate edges- at this point the corners are still square.
I used a medium file to take the rougher edges and filings off, and to round the corners- which is how I learned to shape plates.
I have also filed the underside of the edges to remove any swarf.
At this stage, I can run my finger down the edge without fear of cuts, but it still needs work to prevent it holding ink and print cleanly.
I have used a scraper to further refine and smooth the edges. It's starting to look something like usable now.
Burnishing the edges. Even at this point there are still stray pieces of copper coming away.
I've finished burnishing the edges; this is now an hour and a half since I started. The corners are yet to be done.
Corners need love too.
Shiny happy corners.
Notice the burnishing marks at the edge of the image; this is one area where the rocker bit through the card at the start.
The margins are still dirty and need a final polish before inking and printing. The image edges are taped off for obvious reasons.
Half an hour later; inked, wiped and ready to print
The first proof: overwiped, and I have a lot of refining to do, but it's down on paper and I have a guide. From experience, it will probably take five or more proofs before it's good enough.
Also, the plate marks and margins are pristine from filing and polishing: prior planning and preparation prevents poor performance.
I have five of the 'Directors, Cut' series on show with eight of the woodblocks, in the window of Bath Artist Printmakers at 3b Upper Lambridge Street, Larkhall until the end of June. This is my first solo show, and I think it looks pretty good.
Edit 08/07/14: this month is a group show on the theme of 'Summertime'- and why not?
and prints for sale, in my Etsy shop- have at it!
Chuffed! I have four woodcuts this exhibition, Art at the Heart of the RUH, on until 16th July:
This is an exhibition by Bath Artist Printmakers ( website on my links page ) and forms part of our 30th anniversary.
Later in the year we will be exhibiting at BRSLI ( Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute ) with an exhibition called '30Thirty'- watch this space for details.
The four are David Cronenberg, Guillermo Del Toro, David Lynch and Alejandro Jodorowsky.
I'd like to thank http://www.kellyanndesigns.co.uk/ for doing an excellent framing job, and finishing it so quickly.
into the water here, having a website is new to me. Any road, a quick peek at the gallery page will show you a series of portraits of film directors I have recently finished and printed, which has taken most of the last few months. I've always loved film, and these ten directors have made some of the better and more memorable films I have enjoyed. Here's why I picked them:
First and foremost, for ' Aguirre, Wrath of God', a gripping and electrifying study of ambition, hubris and obsession descending into madness.
I've watched most of his films since seeing this, and the ongoing revelation of a unique perspective on the human condition repeatedly draws me to his work
She made the cut- pun most definitely intended- for one film. Not The Hurt Locker ( which deserved its' plaudits ), or Zero Dark Thirty, which I haven't seen. Near Dark is the one, and I regard it as the best and most original vampire film of the 80s. Spare, taut and grisly, the cast portray the story perfectly and the soundtrack is outstanding; I'll watch it any time it's on.
Like the image, there's a sense of humour pervading all his films which just grabs me. Whether it's the gleeful stomach-turning final scene of Pink Flamingos or murdering suburban housewives for wearing the wrong shoes, you can tell he's enjoying himself.
The closest thing to Philip K. Dick making films, his dissections of reality, sexuality, identity and biology are inescapably interesting.
Stalker. The most poetic of films; perfectly paced, every frame a visual feast, and a profound meditation on the interplay between the creative and rational aspects of consciousness.
I love the Seven Samurai, my favourite film. It has everything: honour, integrity, trust, love, regret, and the best rainsoaked battle scene in cinema.
I first read 'The Incal' series he did with Jean 'Moebius' Giraud ( RIP ). Much later I saw El Topo, a psychedelic Buddhist Western, and I knew he had a vision, but not of the world as we see it.
You know why; he puts dreams and nightmares on the screen, and leaves us to make whatever sense we can from them.
Guillermo Del Toro
I think I saw Mimic first, closely followed by Cronos- another original and strangely moving take on the vampire film. I've watched everything since then.
The Thing gave me nightmares back then, and still makes me shudder. Now I also appreciate the fine ensemble acting, pacing and refusal to cop out with a happy ending.
I'm Phil, making prints from whatever pops up in my head and won't go away.