Thursday, 30 January 2014

London Tourists - the finished painting

This has been the longest ever time that I've taken over a painting. It has also been on and off the shelf since its conception. I've been both tremendously excited and absolutely fed-up with it at times - a real roller-coaster of a work that well, I'm really glad but in a strange way sad that it's finished. All of the young people in this painting are strangers to me, but having painstakingly painted each of their faces, jackets and jumpers, crinkly jeans and assortment of footwear, I almost feel that I know each and every one of them in a strange way like a friend.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Lino Printing - Simple, or is it?

Done Sledging

It's been almost a year since I posted anything on here despite so much that has happened in that time. 2013 has been a good year for me, sold a number of paintings and greetings cards, the proceeds of which have disappeared down that empty hole of investment in painting kit and material costs. That said, I am under no illusion of making it as a half decent artist, but those sales have given me confidence and a little support in the last chance attempt in making a go at a painting career in my twilight years!

My work in acrylics has been dominant in the last half of last year and I've been moving towards bigger and more detailed, though not necessarily better work! I'm always keen to try out new things, and this has resulted in a new medium for me - linocut prints. Did you used to do that at school? I know I did, must have been in junior school in the 1950's - crickey, that seems an awful long time ago!

The first two goes that I had at lino printing were abysmal. Chunky, stark looking images with little detail made me give up in disgust for a couple of months. Then I came across one or two linocut images on the internet which looked amazing. What was I doing wrong then? Like the proverbial poor workman who blames his tools, I put it down to cheap shoddy tools and incorrect ink. So I bought a selection of acrylic printing inks, synthetic lino and a set of better quality tools and with the help of a marvellous book that I put on my Christmas list (never expecting to actually get it), I set about the task with renewed enthusiasm.

The new kit worked!

I decided to go the whole hog and do a three colour 'reduction' or 'suicide' print - well if you are going to do something, might as well think big, or that's what I thought.

fig.2 second print run
For those who aren't familiar with reduction techniques, this means first cutting away anything that is white or the paper colour, then running off as many prints as you need in your underlying colour, then working through this technique for each subsequent colour, cutting away at the lino as you go, though in practice, it isn't quite as simple as that.

The picture above has sort of given me a crash course in lino cutting! For a start, the new lino that came turned out to be dark grey. This meant that after carefully drawing the image on paper, transferring it to the lino by tracing became impracticable - couldn't see my lines, and carbon paper didn't leave a mark on it. I ended up chalking the back of the paper, then tracing it that way, which was extremely messy but gave me enough of an image to use a white acrylic pen to draw over the fast smudging lines!

The next problem was that I didn't have a light enough blue for my needs, so ended up adding some normal titanium white acrylic paint to my blue ink and mixing it in - bad decision, as this altered the viscosity of the ink which was difficult to roll out smoothly and dried very quick, but I didn't want to wait another week for more ink to come through the post or the expense of it, so ploughed on.

fig.1 lino after 2nd cut
With six sheets of the first colour printed, I set about cutting away areas where I wanted the second colour. It's not easy trying to work it all out, but interesting non the less. When it came to printing the second colour with normal blue ink (fig2), the resultant image started to look much more like a picture, but at this point it became clear that the first paler blue was really a bit too dark; also in my eagerness I managed to cut away the boy's right glove ! Couldn't do anything about that now, on with cutting again to leave just the parts I wanted black. After this printing, the image was almost complete, just left the man's cuffs and sled to add by brush in yellow and red.

My first real foray into lino printing produced a few mistakes but was in the main enjoyable and really interesting. Registering the colours during each stage of the printing was no where near as hard as I thought it was going to be, thanks to the book. There are endless possibilities and techniques to explore for future works, so this is going to be an interesting little project between paintings. So a promising start to 2014 it is!