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!


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.


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


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;


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?


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.


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.





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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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’.


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;


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.


Very ‘Festive’



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.


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


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


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)


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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;




soft ground

photo etching

Photo plate Litho

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