Monthly Archives: June 2011

Bright plant

Over enhanced photograph of a flowering plant at Cave Stream Scenic Reserve near Arthur’s Pass.

bright flower

I liked the yellow-green leaves and they looked best against the saturated red-orange background.

From the road

Couple of the shots that Maggie took from the car window. Her own camera battery died only a couple of days after we got to Australia. So, although it was heavy and difficult for her to manage, she decided to give my camera a try. I thought I wasn’t going to get it back. With the ability to shoot almost as soon as it is turned on and be ready for the next shot straight away, she loved using it and used it all the time from the car window. Even pinched it off me to get favourite shots outside as well. Says a lot for the balance of the camera that even someone with her problems can manage it though she could never carry it around herself.

These two were shot on the road to Arthur’s Pass. This first one shows the typical bare hills you see in NZ (overly manipulated to highlight this).

bare hills

And this one, the line of low cloud we were heading into.

cloudy ahead

Linocuts

Last week’s print course session was on linocut printing. I really loved doing this. Knowing in advance what we were going to do, I went through my list of photographs and chose a few that had a good amount of contrast. With each of these, I used Lightroom to produce a clean B&W print, which I further modified to produce an image that looked good in what was basically 2-bit. Of those, two seemed to present the best combination of not-too-difficult alongside still-interesting-image. I cropped and printed each as 6×4 (since that was the size we were told the lino would be: btw, one guy on the course asked what lino was: see this fascinating wikipedia article), both normal and reverse.

Nichola gave us each some basic instruction in lino preparation and cutting, handed out the tools and then left us to it. I picked the simplest of my images but even that proved to take a long time.

I put some carbon paper onto the lino and the reverse image over that and then traced out the lines. I was going to scribble in the areas to be cut out but it took me so long to do the tracing I was running out of time so I just started cutting. Hell, it hurt after a while. I probably wasn’t holding the cutting tools correctly. At least I hope I wasn’t since my thumb was still partially numb three days later!

Most of the class were making multiple prints while I was still cutting so I stopped in the end and just printed what I had. I can see bits where I cut what I shouldn’t and other bits that were left that should have been removed. Still the images look ok.

The photograph I started with was (blurred line through the middle is a telephone wire):

bird in tree

I made three prints. The first in orange, second in black and third in purple. The third looked much like the second so I’ve left it out. The first two were:

linocut: bird in tree: orange print

and

linocut: bird in tree: black print

I’m really pleased with these. I enjoyed the work, love the type of image produced and am sure that this and monoprinting are the way I’m meant to go. This week is hard ground etching, which I’m less sure of. Still need to decide on images to take along.

One lesson I need to remember is to allow more time for carving, which should be okay since I’ll probably work on the carving at home and only take the lino in when I have a few to print. More important is to properly mark out the cutting areas on the lino. Using carbon paper is not good enough. As I was cutting, my hand was erasing other parts of the tracing. Nichola suggested going over the tracing with permanent ink which I’ll do in future.

Also need to use any photograph only as a starting point. I need to trace the photograph onto paper (or not even that) and then compose the image I want using black pen and brush.

Mt White bridge over Waimakariri River

As the title says, this is the Mount White bridge over the Waimakariri River in New Zealand, a side excursion while we were driving to Arthur’s Pass.

Mt White bridge

While looking for links, though, I came across this 1913 photograph of the bridge showing the building of the railway line:

The Mount White bridge over the Waimakariri River near Cass

If I’d known about this pic, I would have taken my own photograph on the other side of the river.

My Cezanne

Rod, my painting teacher, suggested I try a copy of a Cezanne painting to get the feel of placing paint onto the paper and making colour and effect from the profusion of marks rather than trying to exactly reproduce an image. We looked through a book of his and chose this one, Mont Sainte-Victoire, 1885-7.

Cezanne's Mont Sainte Victoire

This is similar to the image Rod had in his book, but looks completely different to the copy on wikimedia:

Maybe the image above had been cleaned while I was working with one tinged with old varnish. Anyway, that was the one I had when I started, and it wasn’t as though I was going to exactly reproduce it 🙂

I started it halfway through 15th June class (after finishing the Hopper copy), laying down a base ochre-ish colour. I then started painting in the tree and branches, which Rod corrected me on (he’d gone out to get our tea/coffee): I ought to have started with the sky. So I painted over the branches, leaving just the trunk and put down the sky, or my impression of Cezanne’s sky.

I wasn’t trying to reproduce his painting mark for mark, just to get the feel of how he painted it. Rod helped again when he showed me how to have two brushes on the go at the same time, mixing the marks of the sky. It felt great. By the end of the lesson, I’d done what I wanted to the sky:

my cezanne

I was quite pleased with it, lots of movement. But the test would come with the fore & middle ground.

I worked on that for most of the next lesson (22nd June), trying to put in place the basic shapes that Cezanne used while getting my own balance. It half worked. I got the general colour balance the way I wanted but not the shaping. The middle ground needed a lot more formal shaping to it to balance the unshaped sky and I couldn’t achieve that. I seem unable to paint a small straight line. I’m sure it is partly me but brushes don’t help. Just thought: maybe what I need to do is lay down the colour of the shape and then get the lines smooth by painting the colours next to it. Don’t know. But the fore & middle grounds do not really work, need more precision.

my cezanne

Btw, I captured this image using the scanner and stitching together the three scanned images: seems to have worked ok, better than using the camera which barrels the lines.

Also just noticed, the shapes in the fields are too large. To show the distance of the middle ground, they need to be smaller. Also the moss on the tree needs to be blended more into the bark, less distinct, while the middle ground shapes need to be more distinct. No, not happy with that. Still, lots of lessons learned.

Strangely, it looks more like the second reproduction of Cezanne’s than the one I was trying to copy. 🙂

Needle shaped leaves

Couple of shots of (pine tree?) needle shaped leaves.

needle shaped leaves

I just liked this crop from the original shot showing more twigs & branches. Seems a nice balance of colour, shape and textures.

needle shaped leaves

Love the fine strands of web around the leaves. Is it spider’s web?

And this shows where we are and where the previous few day’s shots were taken, on the walk to Devil’s Punchbowl Falls, near Arthur’s Pass.

devil's punchbowl falls: sign

Monoprint

Much too late with this post. So much that I cannot recall what I did during the session. These are the results of the second week of my printmaking course at LPW, on Monoprinting. Nichola first explained what monoprinting was and how we’d go about it. We were each given a metal plate to use which we inked up with plain black ink. Back on our worktables, we first took one impression onto newsprint to remove a layer of ink so that later impressions were not smudged with the excess ink.

Then we proceeded to lay sheets of newsprint onto the plate and ‘draw’ onto the newsprint to leave an impression on the side touching the plate. We drew with pencils, fingers, and anything else that would leave a mark where the paper was pressed into the plate. I did not know what we’d be doing (would have been useful to know more in advance so that we could prepare ideas) so I basically scribbled to see what would happen.

Monoprint B&W 01 Monoprint B&W 02

#1 is scribbling with a pencil on the back; lots of ink transferred since the plate is unused. #2 is more scribbling plus pressing edge of set square down and rubbing it lengthways.

Monoprint B&W 03 Monoprint B&W 04

#3 is scribbling again then rubbing with finger. #4 is more sort of drawing; still getting good marking even with all the previous prints. The plate was never re-inked during the whole print taking session.

Monoprint B&W 05 Monoprint B&W 05

#5 was tearing out some pieces of paper, laying them over the plate and smoothing over with my hand. #6 was the same (with one piece of paper removed – didn’t like the effect) and then smoothing more forcefully with the edge of the set square. Can’t have been too much ink left at this stage.

The next stage was to use colour and rollers. The plate was cleaned of black ink and several colours were rolled out onto the preparation surface. We used the rollers to roll out strips or edges (using edge of roller) of colour, blended colours on the plate and scratched patterns onto the plate or masked bits off (I didn’t do that). Then the plate was printed onto damp paper using the roller press.

Monoprint colour 01-1

I made a second print to see how it came out (and liked this print better).

Monoprint colour 01-2

Since the time allowed, I wiped the plate clean and rolled/scratched further colours and designs onto it.

Monoprint colour 02-1

I liked this one as well. Which I also printed a second time but, in this case, did not like the second print, it came out very bland. I think I used two different presses for the two sets so it is likely the second was tighter and more ink transferred to the first print leaving little for the second.

Monoprint colour 02-2

I really could have spent a day doing this, trying out different techniques and colours, rather than the two hours we had. The only downside was how inordinately covered in ink my hands were time and again. They were stinging at the end of the two hours from the paint, vegetable oil used to clean the plates and swarfega used to wash out hands. Will invest in a few boxes of latex gloves in the future.

But it was a really enjoyable session. I preferred this to the drypoint.

Nice green leaf

After all the mosses of the last two days, today I thought we could do with just a nice green leaf.

nice green leaf

Many more mosses

The same walk revealed so many mosses that I thought I’d better stack them all up in the same blog rather than spend the next week on them. So, here they are:

Tree moss 1 Tree moss 2

Tree moss 3 Tree moss 4

Tree moss 5 Tree moss 6

I suspect some of these are the same in different stages of growth but they take nice pics. Love that pale blue/grey stringy one.

Many mosses

How many mosses can you get in one patch of tree? No idea but this tree is going for it.

Many mosses

Obligatory cute

There seems to be some rule that every blog has to include a picture of cute kitten or puppy at some stage, so this is mine, taken when we stopped for lunch on the drive from Arthur’s Pass to Franz Josef.

cute puppy

At least he brought his own food. And this is where he lives, or sleeps.

The Bushman Cafe and Bar

Sea set rock

Like a jewel in a ring, the sea has set this rock into its driftwood setting:

sea set rock