Week Four -25 Oct 18

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
― Benjamin Franklin

Being dyslexic and anxious can be both a hindrance and a blessing. Whilst the creative side of it is great, I do often struggle to soak up and retain information, especially instructions, it can take a fair few times for the penny to stop ‘rolling’ and finally ‘drop’.

One of the challenges I am facing this semester is letting go of the need to know what I am doing before I do it. By not allowing myself the fumbling and sometimes embarrassing stages of being a beginner I take away the experimental, fun bit. So there is this internal battle of wills, one desperate to have a plan, to be in control and make no mistakes and the other needing the space to just go with the creative flow, make the mistakes to learn from and have fun. A good example of this is my recent attempt to grasp the concept of measuring mount boards for my prints, simple for some, but not for me..not straight away anyway;

I am very happy to be exhibiting with and volunteering on the Aberystwyth Printmakers stand at the North Wales Print Fair 2018 on the 10th and 11th November.

44453503_10156948048704052_5356495156428144640_nI have selected a few Stone Lithography prints and collages to take, they need to be packaged up professionally to be in keeping with the other members’ work.

Being short of money, I cannot simply just go out and buy the mounts ready cut to size, so I need to be resourceful. I have tried measuring and cutting mount boards before but could not remember how and besides I am not a mathematical person, at all!?!

So, I asked a couple of tutors in Uni, who kindly helped by demonstrating their ways of doing it, both slightly different but making complete sense at the time. However, when it came to ME doing it, my brain froze! I just stood there armed with my prints, the mount board, instructions, ruler, pencil and calculator, unable to think, staring at it all and scratching my head!? I could NOT remember the instructions, my notes and sketches made little sense to me, I felt stupid! I gave up and went home defeated.

After a pep talk with myself that evening, I decided that the following morning would be the time that I would make myself ‘get it’ and measure all the mount boards ready to be cut! But again, I just stood there racking my brains in the empty studio trying to work out how it was to be done. Luckily a fellow student, Beth was in early and helped me see sense. Eureka!! That moment when you do get it finally, felt pretty good! The mount boards all measured up and marked ready to cut! Thanks Beth!

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Now this was a huge feat for me to overcome. One I will try to remember when attempting other things that initially seem to elude me. I do think the effects of this breakthrough continued into the following few days as I became more daring in my experimental approaches to working in my home studio….

In the studio: 

Starting the day off by preparing some BIG soft ground etching plates. One of the things AB and I discussed in my last tutorial was drawing, something I am NOT very confident at all about, and mixing etching with cyanotypes.

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Feeling the fear and drawing it anyway…. a work in process..

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Not yet being fully set up to be able to etch plates at home and to continue practicing my drawing, I moved on to this dry-point on a thin clear acrylic plate, really enjoyed this and felt good about the result;

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I also experimented with rolling over an old etching plate with relief ink and a brayer. This is the actual plate inked up, I really liked the teal colour that came through from the aluminium plate.

Whilst the relief ink was out I decided to finish carving and print a linocut that I started in the summer..need to sort out the eyes, maybe with an ink drawing pen?

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So, what’s next?

Etch the plates from this week and print. Also, Cyanotypes, as soon as I get the chemistry. More experimentation!

I will also continue working on a woodcut of a Robin to go on greetings cards and printing a linocut on some plate litho prints.

Work on my website and photo editing skills in the MAC suite on Friday.

Prepare work for my space in the Oriel Seren gallery in Machynlleth and create some up-cycled work for the Art Centre Winter Fair.

 

Week Three – 18 Oct 18

It has been a busy week, with lots to do at home/work as well as some artist research, a fair amount of studio practice (which included the maiden print voyage of my very own ‘Gerstack Nova 400’ press named ‘Nellie’) and a business trip to my textile studio (currently in Llanbrynmair, Powys) to prepare, label and collect stock for the annual Aberystwyth Arts Centre Winter Fair, along with some up-cycling supplies so I can create more ‘Kaotic Kittus’ stock at home to save time and fuel.

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Kaotic Kittus @ Aberystwyth Arts Centre Winter Fair 2018

In between the busy-ness of work and rain showers I have managed to get out and about with Guto the whippet to forage for leaves and imagery to use in print. Autumn definitely is a beautiful and inspirational season, brimming with colour, textures and patterns.

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Back in the studio and further research into wet on wet cyanotypes led me to the website of Dennis Humphrey, who refers to his work as ‘cynoscapes’. He creates incredible images with the cyanotype method with a quirky and painterly use of the chemicals themselves, as well as found objects and photographs. I really like his sense of expression and freedom. There is one image in particular called ‘The Artist and the Leaf‘ where he has combined a self portrait photograph and a leaf through this process which can be found on his website – www.dennishumphrey.wixsite.com

Cyanoscape by Dennis Humphrey Collision Over Stalgmites

Dennis Humphrey – ‘Collision Over Stalagmites’ (Cyanoscape)

I want to experiment with the cyanotype process during the next few weeks. I am especially keen to look at the various ways I could mix the intaglio and cyanotype processes together? Something that was discussed in my tutorial with AB was looking at ways of layering them, I just need to think about which process image will be the dominant one. Maybe a photo and/or a found object etched plate onto a cyanotype base or vice versa? The self portrait image by Dennis Humphrey on his website has certainly inspired me.

Also discussed during the tutorial was continuing with the found object in soft ground etching as well as experimenting with taking textural rubbings from items such as wood, rock, rusty metals and the like.

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I love the textures and patterns in nature and our surroundings. I foraged this fine chunk of wood when out and about with Guto recently.

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This wonderful piece of rusted metal was unearthed at a friend’s place, I just love the colours and patterns its decay is creating.

On Thursday I got together with MA student Judy Batt, who kindly showed me how to take rubbings from my rather large chunk of drift wood and some rusty metal fragments using the ancient art of ‘Chinese dab printing’ with handmade dabbers, rice paste and some oil-based relief printing inks.

Judy’s latest work, including large scale rubbings from tree trunk slices, is created by using the Chinese dab printing method to print along with additional linocut plates to create shapes and blocks of colour, resulting in some remarkable images. To see her work and some very interesting and informative blog posts check out her website-  www.judybatt.com

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Firstly the wood was coated with the homemade rice paste to create a base and adhesive before the Chinese Wenzhou paper was laid over it.

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After gently pushing the paper into the textural grooves of the wood with our fingers and a paintbrush, we dabbed relief printing ink over the top using a handmade cloth dabber.

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It was interesting how the edges bled a little despite using an oil-based ink. Judy normally uses watercolour inks which don’t bleed at all.

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I wanted to try and capture the stunning colours created by the oxidation of these rusty chunks of metal.

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So I started by soaking it with vinegar (to speed up the rusting), then coated it in rice paste before laying Chinese Wenzhou paper directly to it and pushing it into the ‘plate’.

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Alas, it didn’t work this time. I think it needed a lot more time and consistent pressure on top. More experimentation needed to develop this idea further.

 

Going back to the Fern etchings from last week;

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The plates were printed in Prussian blue in my home studio.

When back in the Uni studio I printed them in Opaque white of black Reeves paper.

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Very ‘Festive’

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What next?

I will continue experimenting with soft ground etching and using lithography crayons for rubbings to be etched. Quite interested in some of printmaker Norman Ackroyd’s work, so would like to research him and his etching methods. Ordering cyanotype chemistry and attempting to get creative with this process is on top of my list for next week too. I also think it would be useful to look at other artist blogs, see how they conceptualize and write about their work and process.

Oh and note to self, take a notebook and pen into next tutorial!

 

 

Week Two – 11Oct18

I have spent some time this past week researching artists that use photography in printmaking and stumbled across the work of Naomi Siegler Savage (1927-2005). An American artist creating etchings using her photographic images, more interestingly though, for me, she saw the etched plates as works of art in themselves, something I have often thought about with some of my own plates. Savage was very much inspired by the photographer and her uncle, Man Ray (1890-1976). She experimented with traditional photographic techniques and combined them with printmaking through photogravure and photoengraving as well as creating her own techniques resulting in some very interesting images and plates.

 

Peacock Feathers 1980s

Naomi Savage – Peacock Feathers c.1980s (Solarised Print)

As a member of a number of alternative photography and printmaking groups on Facebook, I see many interesting and inspiring posts from various artists from all over the world. One of these is Valerie D. Cargo from Ontario, Canada. This lady creates interesting images using a process called Wet Cynotype, although she refers to it as ‘Spicy Cys’. Mostly using found plants, cynotype chemicals (I presume) and ingredients from the kitchen cupboard such as turmeric, baking soda, salt, bleach and vinegar along with sun exposure, creating some mesmerizing images. I am currently researching this process further, hoping to have a go at creating something similar myself using cynotype and perhaps through using the etching process. Her website is www.valeriecargo.com and is well worth a look, despite not showing her ‘Spicy Cys’ work, her photography is very inspiring.

Valerie D Cargo - spicy cys

Valerie D. Cargo – Spicy Cy Print

During my week two tutorial AB and I discussed the various ways that I could begin the year, starting off by creating work from foraged, found things; plants, feathers, wood, rusty metal and experimenting using various processes such as soft ground etching, aqua tint, coffee lifts, using templates, various stop out techniques, rubbings using BIG ground, Cynotypes and my photography and see where these take me. I will continue researching found object printing, including wet cynotypes, as well as looking at my photographic images to see which ones I can bring into the mix.

In the studio:

Starting off by getting myself reacquainted with the etching process by preparing some copper plates and using the black soft ground along with some fern leaves.

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Laying out items onto test plates. I decided to just start with two plates

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First run through press with soft ground on plates and mesh, registration quite important here

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First stage of imprinted Fern leaves in soft ground, with a little added mark making on the plate on the right-hand side using scrunched up tape. (The plate on the left did change quite drastically in the end, from experimenting with spraying lavender oil on it and swishing it about, shame I lost the lovely imprint, but this is all about experimentation and seeing what happens)

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Off setting the fern leaves from the copper plates which had soft ground on them and laid them onto this prepared aluminium plate.

The next day I spent a few hours test printing the plates. One of the copper plates (with the single fern image that had pretty much been lost thanks to the lavender oil spraying that I had done the day before) was sprayed with some Aqua Tint to create ‘bite’ on the smooth areas of metal.

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Copper plate soft ground etching. Printed in Sepia on white Fabriano paper

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This copper plate soft ground etching has an aqua tint added also. Printed in Sepia on white Fabriano paper

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Soft ground etched mini fern leaves off set from the copper plates onto an aluminium plate also printed in Sepia on white Fabriano

What next?

Print some more from these plates in my home studio between now and next Thursday (if I can get my press set up and working). Then, when I am back in the uni studio, print them on black Reeves paper using opaque white ink and possibly metallic ink powder. Experiment with rolling another colour over the top with a high ratio of extender.

Week One – 04Oct18

I am embarking on my final year of my Fine Art degree at Aberystwyth University. As a part of the third year we have to complete a core module called ‘Research and Process in Practice’. This blog page will now be primarily for the purpose of this module, I do hope that you will continue to join me on my journey.

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Light Levels

First day back after the summer, both eager and nervous in equal measures. I prepared my self-evaluation feeling quite clear and confident about what I would like to be doing, but when it came to the group meeting, I felt less confident.

It is always good to hear the tutor’s feedback although it can send you into a spiral of self-doubt. Had another chat with both PC and AB after which I felt a bit more ‘together’ and able to begin.

Self Evaluation in note form:

My passions are printmaking and photography. I would quite like to combine the two.

I like the idea of creating something interesting from the mundane/uninteresting. (I am also a clothing upcycler, so this kind of fits)

I believe that I have a quirky way of seeing things and seeing things within things. Ambiguity played a part in my 2nd year theme, mostly in photography but it did spill over into printmaking.

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Believe – a manipulated contrast photograph that I took of a lithograph stone that was laid on the press bed, to create a landscape image that would be used in a stone lithograph print.

Lithograph stone with part of my photograph being used early on in the process

Cropped Lithograph

Cropped final version of the stone lithograph print from my second year

Inspirations have been; natural world, landscape, urban landscapes, animals (especially whippets).

I have enjoyed mixing it up, ripping prints up and reassembling or just making an image out of something I saw within the original image. Using photographs in my lithography work.

Landscape I - mixed media collage

This is a collage created from ripped up pieces of my stone lithograph image and an ink wash

I began experimenting with colour and then found objects (feather) in BIG ground and etched. Then looking at corroding the plate by leaving in the acid for various lengths of time.

What next?

During the summer time was had to reflect and ponder, a few keywords kept coming up;

Happy accidents – Curiosity – Playfulness – Experimentation – Exploration – Ambiguity – Texture – Form – Pattern – Abstraction – Colour – Corrosion

I am very interested in the interplay/interactions between photography and printmaking. Quite like the abstract patterns created from photographic experimentation using imagery of everyday things, usually in close up and distorted with high contrast and quirky compositions. Bringing these into my printmaking somehow.

My main mission now is to experiment more with process rather than worrying about outcomes/final images, at this stage anyhow. I would like to focus more on the journey, allowing the process and its results lead the way a little. Learn to let go of the desire to control and drive it to a specific outcome.

Artists that have inspired me:

Sinclair Ashman; I actually met him and saw his work at ‘Printfest’ print fair in Ulverston at the beginning of the summer. I loved his experimental way of working and the images it produced. Also, his use of everyday found objects that he used to build/create his plates. I really admired his openness with regard his techniques and his fearlessness in trying new stuff and with playing with the processes.

Other artists include;

Nancy Boyd

Lesley Davy

Peter Ford

Claire Nash

Brenda Harthill

Dionisia Salas

Charles Shearer

Eunice Kim

Processes I would most like to experiment with;

Collagraphs

Carborundum

Monotype

soft ground

photo etching

Photo plate Litho

It will be interesting to see how these posts develop over the coming months. Watch this space.

End of Year 2.. Blimey that went quickly!?!

As my second year in Uni comes to an end, even amidst the self made chaos of leaving things til the last minute (again!?!) and the longing for it to end so I can pat myself on the back and put my feet up and have a stiff drink (and maybe sleep for a week?!) I still feel a little sad that it’s over for the summer…

It has been one hell of a year, a roller-coaster ride, highs, lows, tears of joy and despair, a bad bout of flu, depression and anxiety, vehicle issues, essay extensions, nervous breakdowns, celebrations, chocolate addiction, many attempts at stress management that does not involve alcohol, including yoga, meditation and endless amounts of Guto the whippet hugging! (Bless him).

I have indeed learnt an awful lot, not just about photography and printmaking, but about myself and other people, learning to believe in myself, breathe deep, let go of the need to control things, to go with the flow, to accept the things I cannot change/do anything about and just focus on doing the best I can with what I can change/do. There is so much more to doing a degree than just the subject you choose…it is character building and it can be a real game changer, for good or bad, that depends on you I guess. I want to get the most I can from this experience.

In printmaking I have been mostly working with Intaglio during the first semester and in the Lithography room this last semester, it has been INTENSE to say the least, trying to learn so many different processes, whilst trying to create reasonably good images isn’t always easy 😉

I was a bit sad I didn’t get to learn screen-print this year, but I can do that one in my third year, so not all lost. I chose and have enjoyed lithography although I think it needs a whole degree all to itself!! I feel that progressing through a degree is a bit like driving a car at night, the road unfolds as you go, you are essentially driving at 60mph into darkness haha! Bit scary but the road always appears you just got to stay alert, trust yourself a bit and keep moving forward.

My photography blossomed in the second semester and my confidence with it. I nearly dropped it in the first semester, soooo glad I didn’t!! I felt that I had found my place and was really enjoying creating quirky images and getting them printed onto fine art paper, they look exquisite. I am really proud of them.

Deciding what module to choose for my final year has been a bit of a head ache (bit like lithography haha !) I wondered what the easier option would be (my default setting), especially after looking at all the written work that was ahead! I initially went for photography thinking that well at least with this I know what I am doing etc… but after chats with various tutors and thinking about it, I decided to take printmaking and use my photography in it.. I felt that taking myself out of my comfort zone would be better for me and there is so much still to explore in printmaking, so many avenues I haven’t had the chance to go down properly or at all and despite loving photography and being extremely interested in it, I do think I will get a lot more out of the printmaking route…. so there you have it. Feels good when the decision is made.

So, yes I am feeling a little sad about this year coming to an end, but I am starting to map out my summer, hoping to fill it with lots of  studio diary entries, artist research, exhibitions, photo taking, printmaking and painting as well as travels to Bretegne (another blog post 😉 ) to collect ideas, inspiration and material for my final year. Gulp, my final year….wow!

Da iawn Sammi, well done lass. I didn’t always think I would make it……but I did! 🙂

Here are a selection of printmaking images from my second year:

Reduction Lino Semester 1
Reduction Lino Semester 1
Woodcut Semester 1
Woodcuts Semester 1
Woodcut Semester 1
Japanese Vinyl Semester 1
Lino test print Semester 2
Etching (marbling and rubbing) Semester 1
Etching the plate in acid Semester 1
Etching using BIG Ground Semester 1
Etching experimenting with colour Semester 1
Faux Mezzotint Semester 1
Etching Semester 1
Faux Mezzotint with double drop colour experimentation Semester 1
Indian Ink wash study Semester 2
Photo transfer and touche wash on Stone Lithograph Semester 2
Stone Lithography Semester 2
Playing with photo transfer collage for stone Lithography Semester 2
Prep for group critic -Printmaking Semester 2
Collage made from Lithograph Semester 2
Black and white close up photograph of a lithograph stone on the press bed used as a photo transfer on a stone Semester 2
The lithograph stone with the photo transfer and touche Semester 2

 

 

There is something about Guto..

Sleepy Whippet Lino plate
Printing Sleepy Whippet by hand
Sleepy Whippet – Linocut

Sleepy Whippet (above) is proving to be one of my most popular prints (a sure fave of mine too) As you may well be aware, my whippet Guto is my muse, his quirky character and sleek shape inspires me a lot. He appears in many a print, drawings and even a painting..

Painting is not my forte but I do enjoy it.

I like mixing it up too;

Oh Hi – Linocut on acrylic greeting card
Pretty Please – Linocut

Pretty Please was one of my early linocuts, I do really like this one. Trying to bring my up-cycling into my printmaking work;

Pretty Please – Linocut with up-cycled patchwork frame
Playtime  Lino plate
Playtime – Linocut

And some collage too;

I just love making prints of my boy!

The Calm Before the Second Year Storm

I actually had a lot on last summer, I was running my stall and workshops at a few festivals and fairs, trying to make the time to create new ‘Kittus’ stock for the Winter craft fair season (as I would be back in Uni from September) as well as create new prints etc…as I also took part in a couple of exhibitions.. I do have a little confession to make though- I quite like the ‘rush’ of being under pressure, just can’t take it as well now that I am older 😉 One of the things I am finding about being under stress is that if you don’t take care of yourself physically & mentally then it really does hit you harder and is more difficult to recover. I am a work in progress on this point (and many other points too 😉 )

Anyhoo, despite the hustle and bustle and the pressures and stresses of business, I did get to create some prints, trying out new things and reprinting a few old faves..

My stall 2017

I am enjoying the transition from creating my up-cycled foraged finery to printed and sometimes painted art work..

Here are some of the potato prints I have been doing;

Potato Printing is easy and  fun!
Lamb – Potato Print
More Please – Potato Print and Ink
Hippy Whippy – Potato Print on hand marbled paper
Contemplation – Potato Print
Mr Guto – Potato Print on Thick Khadi paper

What I did last Summer #2

Last summer was a good one for ‘having a go’ at different printing methods, I set up my studio space and really got into playing. Here are a few examples of the results from my monotype printing experimentations;

Monotype print
Monotype print & pastel
Monotype print on quite thick Khadi paper. Interesting to see how using different papers can change the effects.
Fern print. So simple, so effective. I like this one a lot.

This kind of printing makes me want to look more into ‘Eco’ printing, using found objects etc… I did see this article on FaceBook a while ago about some guys who went around making prints from manhole covers and other interesting objects all around creating funky printed TShirts etc… check this out:

Pirate Printers: These Guys Use Urban Utility Covers To Print Bags And Shirts

 

 

What I did last Summer..

Following on from my previous ‘retrospective’ blog post;

What I did last Summer…. Printers in the Sticks was a lot of fun last year, I met some lovely people and had the chance to experiment and stretch my ‘printmaking’ legs. I played with collagraph and reduction lino for the first time in preparation for the first semester of my second year… Thanks to Cassie I also tried a bit of dry point on plastic:

Stalker

I did try hand colouring this one as I felt it was a bit too rough but actually now that I look at it, I prefer the original.

Stalker (Hand Coloured)

I also had a go at a dry point on aluminium;

Whippy

I am not confident with drawing, I really do need to practice more. Both these were printed on the Xcut Xpress Machine.

 

Retrospective Blog Post #1

#1 – 01 May 2018

Retrospective blog posting, is that a thing?

I am a bit late in writing my blog posts I’m afraid, I have some anxiety around writing and so these posts will probably be brief and more of a visual studio diary. Well, at least in the beginning until I get better at it?! Here goes:

So, I am now just coming to the end of my second year in Uni, phew, what a journey?! Pretty amazing really though, and one that I never actually thought I would complete, but here I am, still alive and well. I do have to take it one day at a time mind, encouraging and congratulating myself on the way., making sure I take on board tutor feedback to help me improve and learn as much as I can. Still working out my methods, a work in progress. I have to say though, it feels like it is getting a bit easier and yet more intense in some ways. I do seem to know what I am doing a little bit more these days, where as during the first year, it was just a whirl wind of excitement, joy, avoidance, pain and anxiety and a lot of winging it!

Last summer, was full on with my up-cycling business, but I did manage to get some creative work in too.

At the beginning of 2017 I joined a printmaking group called ‘Printers in the Sticks’, we meet in Ystrad Meurig regularly during term time and sometimes sneak a session or two in during the holidays too. We also exhibit as a group at various venues, including Y Talbot in Tregaron, The Mulberry Bush café in Lampeter and Newman’s Garden Centre in Capel Dewi. Hardly the Tate I know, but the work presented from the group is of a high standard and I am very proud to be a part of it. I even sold work too!

Selection of prints for our group exhibitions of 2017

During the summer I attempted a few new things with the help of some of the group members, including collagraphs and reduction linocut. It was really good to have the opportunity to practice these before heading back to Uni in September for the second year, as it did make it easier to grasp the concept.

Just goes to show, it is always worth keeping the creative work going during the holidays etc. Ideally, I would like to do a daily drawing/print of some kind, but this is not always possible.

Here was my first attempt at a Collagraph;

First stage is to draw your image onto some mount board card
I have cut around the stag so it is raised and have scored, ripped and marked the card with a knife to create texture and tones, then a coat of shellac to seal the plate.
Here it is inked up
Here are some test prints and the plate.

 

And, my first attempt at a reduction linocut, unfortunately I didn’t photograph every stage but here is what I have:

I started by drawing the image onto the lino
Cutting away the colours step by step, with my original image near by as a guide
Inking up
Cutting away more
Some worked, some didn’t, it was a steep learning curve
The final images