Sunday, 26 March 2017

Fear of Colour

Looking at the extreme monochrome of my website made me realise it's time to get over my chromophobia, if I want to make better prints.

Most classes are taught using black ink, which is cheaper I guess, and it's easy to get good effects with black and white.  And usually the teacher is concentrating on showing you the process and technique, not the aesthetic qualities of what you are producing.

So I was very very happy to come across a specialised colour etching class at Morley College. It is taught by Rob White, a master printmaker who has worked for a long time in editioning studios like Thumbprint and Paupers Press and is a really good (and patient) teacher too.

This class was about experimenting with different inks and layers to produce  more multilayered, colourful work.

I took a reaaaaaally long time to make my three zinc plates, so didn't get to play around with the inks as much as I'd have liked.   But I'm still happy with the outcome and on the way to using more colour, now I've broken through the colour taboo.

Hard ground etching of tree trunk & branches on plate number 1

 I will always, always forget to reverse the image on the plate. This was meant to be going the other way.  D'oh.

Leaves painted on with sugar lift solution.

You can sometimes find little pots of ready made sugar lift solutions in art shops, or there's lots of recipes to make it yourself online.

Or you can use the excellently named Camp Coffee (I found it a bit more runny to use though).                                                                            

Once the sugar lift solution has dried, you can coat the entire plate with liquid etching ground or straw hat varnish.

Like so. The sugar lift will bubble up a bit.

You then immerse the plate in hot water.

The sugar lift will dissolve, leaving marks on the plate which you can then aquatint.  These will print out as positives.
This is what the plate looks like once it has been aquatinted, and the liquid hard ground had been taken off.

This is plate number two.

The windows were first etched with a soft ground. I used stop out varnish so that the rectangle shapes will print out white, and aquatinted the rest so that it would print in a darker tone  (full disclosure; I messed up the aquatint, Rob did it in the end.)

This is plate number three, made at home.

I used a paper stencil to position the sugar lift solution in the right place. This is Camp Coffee, it was a bit runny and didn't stay where you put it, so I ended up using stop out so that the marks weren't too big (otherwise you will get open bite)

Plate number 3, with added stop out, after sugar lift has been lifted, and ready to be aquatinted.

So the three plates were made, it was time to take a first proof and see what's what.

Oh no. I am not good with the colours. I couldn't even tell you what they are here - murky blue, murky green, murky grey I think.

This was before Rob did the aquatint properly for me on plate number two, as you can see the grey is printing very patchily, not as one solid tone.

In the final week, I decided on  three colours (process blue, viridian, pale green). Rob advised using a little extender (this makes the ink more transparent) and some white ink in the mix.

Eh voila, this is the final print.    I ran out of time, but  pretty happy. At least it's not black and white.  And I really learned a lot in this class.

Some close ups:

Thursday, 12 January 2017


Posting work over here now, it will be updated as and when, and as I get to grips with Squarespace...

Sunday, 31 July 2016

MA Printmaking

Guess what, blog lovers? I just found out I've got an unconditional offer to the MA Printmaking at Middlesex University. Raaaaaaah! Victory at last!

After initial euphoria, came the panic about finding the money. Some enterprising people have set up crowdfunding on Hubbub and the like, I think this is quite bold, I don't really have the cojones to ask total strangers to pay for my degree.

So it's off to the library to research charities and trusts.

And maybe I should start trying to actually, you know, sell what I've made in order to fund this adventure...

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Come on, brain

Here are some of the opportunities which I’ve let slide in the past few months, because I just can’t even, at the moment…

Made little print fanzines for the new Maker’s Library, part of a new British Council initiative, at ELP.

Exhibited in Mile End Art Pavilion on the theme of A New Home (refugee themed show)

Exhibited in Roman Road for a ‘Generations’  themed exhibition

Just Got Made exhibition at Somerset House

Sublet at the print studio

Failed to apply for residencies at ELP and the print studio in City Lit (free use of space in return for teaching sessions)

I had a beautiful dream yesterday, that I was flicking through my sketchpad, I hadn’t thought they were very good but they were all miraculously wonderful, like looking at someone else’s work almost.  They were oil pastel, which is weird, something I never use. And just everyday scenes, (though the scenes in my dream were in fact quite odd, adult rated and kinky, featuring ironwork fetish jewellery, and orgies in a swimming pool.)

It was a bit disappointing waking up and realising my new found artistic genius was illusory.

What does it mean? It means I need to get my arse in gear, it’s not going to happen by itself.

Sunday, 27 December 2015


Started this last year, finally finished it!

A calendar of Fabulous Beasts in linocut, one for each month. 

Print it off and make your own, knock yourself out.

The bull is my favourite, the squirrel the least. He was meant to be quirky but came out looking more evil, like the Joker in Batman. The randomness of printing. 

Saturday, 22 August 2015


We had our first collective meet up in Epping Forest. I've been meaning to go for the 8 (wow) years I've lived in East London. It is beautiful, but surrounded by very busy roads, so not really much like a real forest. I appear to have lost the sketchbook, so these are all that remain.

We also now have a name for our collective, hurrah! I will reveal it shortly, when we actually do something. 

Tree trunks

Water in the lake. Water is tricky.

plant skeleton

Nature does it much better.

Monday, 10 August 2015


We have found a studio share.  I can't believe it, as it's hard to find/afford them, especially in Central London (this is Makespace studios in Waterloo).

When I say studio share, I really mean sublet, as we're sharing the space with two others, a composer/musician and a painter. They'll use it in the week and we'll use it in the evenings and at weekends. Our little corner is small, but it's a start.

And hopefully, if another one comes up in the same complex, we'll be able to get one to ourselves.

So far, we didn't have a desk to work on, so we've been renting but not using the space. Wei managed to get a desk there this weekend, the hero, so now I must get into a routine of going. Very luckily for me, it's a 15 minute walk from work.

It all has started to happen around Southwark.   I've started working there; our studio is 15 minutes away; Intaglio Printmakers is 5 minutes away, the most essential & professional printmaking shop in London, if not the UK.  

I've also signed up to do etching with an artist I really admire at the Art Academy in Borough. They have an open access studio with presses, so potentially I can go our studio and prepare work, then print it up on the presses at the Art Academy on weekends.

London is magnificent like that.