Sunday, 26 December 2010

Latest etching of 'Scary Trees'

Here's the latest print, based on Levens Hall topiary garden, showing the insides of their huge hedge which you can just about crawl inside, giving the impression of a Sleeping Beauty style thorny hedge. The print is 30x33cm and uses intaglio line work, which took a day to carefully scribe (first image), and then aquatint with an element of open bite (second image).

Friday, 10 December 2010

Cross Process and iPhone photo apps

During the frost I discovered a photographic technique called Cross Process. If you are a photographer you will know about it, but to laymen it is processing positive colour film (slide film) in colour negative chemicals. Beautiful and other-worldly colour mixes are created, often involving happy accidents. I discovered a way of doing this in Photoshop, and applied it to my frozen plant pictures.
This is the link if you want to try it yourself:
Cross Processing in Photoshop - color negative art effect |

These are my images:
Blue cross process

Brown cross process

Green and brown cross process (my favourite)

If you have an iPhone4 there are a bunch of apps which help this process and save time. 
RetroCamera and Mill Colour are pretty good. PictureShow is loads of fun and does all sorts of other natty things, the image below was made with it.

My favourite app is Hipstamatic, which has lots of lenses, films and flashes to use and experiment with.

'The coldest winter EVER' say the papers

North Yorkshire (*map) has experienced the hardest frost since records began. Temperatures dropped for several days to -18ºC at night and laid a fluffy crust of frost crystals on every plant. During this period I went to the printmaking studio and discovered the water in the bath and pipes was frozen hard, and the heater could puff out warmth only 12" before Jack Frost pushed it back with his giant shield of chilled air. So I went home. Booo. yes, but I will return, hopefully Monday, as the temperature has risen to 6ºC! 
To keep the work flowing and find new print ideas I waded into the garden and took some photos of the frost (cue the Edward Scissorhands music).

*map of UK with North Yorkshire

Sunday, 5 December 2010

One print, two stages

These two are the first and last stages of a small etching. If you know my prints I like em dark and moody! Some may say that its too dark, but its just my old goth nature expressing itself in the work.
The print size is 30x13cm.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

The King's Head pub, Crouch End

This the final drawing done while in Crouch End. I drew it while supping a lemon cooler in All Bar None, across the road from The King's Head pub. It is 33x29cm and drawn with Tombow brush pens and watercolour.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Remembered sketches of Crouch End

I've just been using my Neocolour I crayons, and embellishing some drawings. These are drawn in a rough and carefree way while being carried along by Janelle Monáe's The Archandroid album.
This picture is the typical house in Crouch End, kind of made to look like an island.

This picture is the views as I walked from the flat to Finsbury Park station (not in any order of course)
1.The Blue corner shop, 2. The blue corner shop with eccentric choice of painted gates.
3.The tunnel down to the platforms at Finsbury Park Station. 4. Outside the station, with The Railway pub on the right. 5. Waiting at the bus stop with the eery green lighting under the bridge. 6. The view down the hill, showing the Emirates Stadium in middle distance and the City of London in the background. 

Wednesday, 17 November 2010


sorry its been quiet, I've been moving house, trying to get some work done and tidying the bombsite that is all the stuff from the old flat. Normal service will be resumed next week. ta-da.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Playtime with Hamlet

Here are a few versions I made of the print in the earlier Hamlet post. They are all made with Photoshop, and are just meant to be bit of fun and to see what sort of different versions I could make in colour.

Hamlet at the Crucible, Sheffield

Last weekend I saw Hamlet at The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. It was a very strong and emotional, spooky and chilling performance. I've been communicating with one of the cast (who runs a blog on the life of an actor) and sent him the print shown below as a thankyou. Yes, inspired to make a print just on the strength of a play!
I'm glad he liked it, and so did the rest of the cast apparently. The cast included: John Simm as Hamlet, John Nettles as Claudius, Barbara Flynn as Gertrude, and not forgetting Alexander Vlahos as Barnardo (and top blogger).
The print is 23x23cm and was created quite quickly to express the vitality and emotion of the play.
The scratchy lines and the roughly applied aquatint tones at the bottom right have opened up my desire to be more free and expressive in my work.

Across the road

sorry I've not blogged for a while, but here's a bumper crop of prints and drawings to make up for it.

This next print is of the view from across the road to my old flat in London. Yes, I've fallen in love with the countryside and have dumped London.
The print is 30x13cm.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Primrose Bakery print

This is another London-based print, of Primrose Bakery, Tavistock Street, Covent Garden. I posted a drawing of the cafe a few months ago. The print has more drawing than earlier prints, after the aquatint disaster a fortnight ago I decided to concentrate on drawing to show the scene, rather than using complicated tones to describe the shapes and areas of light and dark. This also means I can draw on the plate at home and really take my time, then bring it in to bite in the print studio.
Some colour will be added with watercolour, just a couple, such as yellow for the door and some tulips, and pink for the girl's apron.

Monday, 27 September 2010

A small drawing for a future print

This is a little drawing for a future print. Its roughly 16x16cm, and will be 30x30cm as the print. I wanted to understand the scene, and by drawing it roughed out how the print would look.
The drawing and the original photo are side by side, to give you an idea of the tranformation in my head.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Mrs Fix-it on Friday.

Recently, I have been experiencing trouble with my prints, ie the darkness is way too light. After hours of study from various books, websites and friends, and sleepless nights there was just one thing for it; do some tests. It would seem, that either the plate hasn't been in the rosin box* and/or the metal is milled densely, therefor the acid needs more time to bite into it. ugh. 
We all stood round the plates, comparing a good plate to a weak one, our fingers stroking the rosined (aquatinted) areas. We looked like a Glen Baxter cartoon. After much chin stroking we deduced (like Sherlock) that a good strong aquatint tone feels like sandpaper on the plate, and so I had to bite the plate for much longer.

*big monster box with powdered pine sap whirling round and settling on plate like snow to make a resist against the acid, so making tiny dots of resist which helps the ink stick to and so making a lovely dark tone. 
This one, 'Tabletop' (300x134mm), is from a drawing of the table in my flat, where breakfast, the computer, letters and a Xmas tree have to share the space. Not a lot of room. The first version of the print was very pale, the start of trouble with acid bite times. so, instead of re-applying the aquatint, I decided to do close hatching and redrawing with a compass point on soft ground, then put in the nitric acid for about 8mins. it worked and so everything is good again.

The print above is called 'Gnarly Trees I' (265x440mm) , and was put in acid for a second time. This time I re-applied the aquatint and put in the acid for 16mins. Mammoth time I know, but this metal seems to be quite dense.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

The Old-school Drawing Test

This is quite an old drawing, from 2008, done to test my skills in drawing. You know, you've been doing graphics for a bit, and oops, have I got rusty? Well, thankfully not, I summoned up all my self-control and paid attention to the pile of shoes in the middle of the floor.
I have a feeling its going to be a print...

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Dark drawing for gnarly trees

I was working on this last night, while listening to the XX... It was started last week as a study for the latest print, as a way for ideas to come and to understand the subject matter. It is 19.5x38cm.
It puts me in mind of the Moomin illustrations and a bit of Mervyn Peake drawings.

Friday, 10 September 2010

"House of the Trembling Madness" bistro

This is a lovely medieval building in York, which has such an atmosphere of eccentricity and history. Everything is at an odd angle through movement over 600 years, and the little windows to the right give a great view towards the Minster.
The drawing was done there, which I prefer now because you get a stronger sense of place. Then I watercoloured it and finally gave it some extra definition with Neocolour I crayons.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Candy Cakes, London

Another slightly chaotic drawing, which was done at the Cafe Candy Cakes, Monmouth Street in Covent  Garden. Then took it home to add watercolour, then jazzed it up today with Neocolour I crayons. The drawing is 50x20cm on Khadi paper. It may become an etching in the next month, there's a giant piece of zinc about to be cut up for etchings.

Seven Dials/Covent Garden is my favourite part of London, and a link below shows you what you can find there:

Gnarly Trees

Good morning, and here's the latest print, a study of gnarly trees inside a huge hedge. The hedge (in Levens Hall Gardens, Cumbria) is 30ft tall and supported by thick stakes. It is very spooky in there, very reminiscent of Grimms fairy tales, which I wanted to show in the style. After working in publishing the print has a subconscious 'storybook' quality, and also employing my usual bold dark lines. The plate took a day to make, and is 45x27cm, my largest so far. After making small prints I really wanted to stretch out and make something with a lot of instant impact. 
The print may have darker tones added next week just to give it extra punch.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Latest print- Treasurers Garden, York

This print was made last thursday, and is from a drawing done in July. The Tresurers House in York is a late medieval manor house behind the Minster, and is reputedly haunted by the lost Roman legion. The size is 40x16.5cm and is intaglio with aquatint.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

iPad drawing

This is a drawing made with the Brushes app on an iPad, its just fab drawing on it, like junior school and fingerpainting. As I was in the giant Apple store on Covent Garden Piazza I just started drawing.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

The Caffe Nero Mahjong Drive

Another print from an earlier sketch in central London. I was enjoying a quiet cuppa watching a row of people playing what looked like Mahjong. Everyone was hunched over the boards concentrating hard and looking very studious.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Crouch End loaders

I've been advised to concentrate on prints featuring people, so here's the next in the series.
It was drawn in Starbucks in Crouch End on one of the freezing days earlier in the year, although the trees are still trying to be in leaf.
3 different versions were made of this plate, I added drypoint scratches to the man with the thin legs as he was not standing out enough in the composition.

ps, wish me luck, I'm off to see a man with a gallery on friday...

Sunday, 1 August 2010

At Kings Cross Station

The latest print in my People in London series. Its from an original sketch made in spring, while waiting for the train to York. The medium is aquatint etching and is 40x16cm.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Friday's print

Friday's print, titled Starbucks Lasses. I'm alarmed by the success of this plate, as I had no idea how it would turn out, (well, I had some idea), but didn't think it would have such rich dark tones. I used a cloth to push into the soft wax ground to get a jumper texture, which is quite subtle but you can just about see on the right hand figure.
It is 40x16cm.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Original small drawing

I started to draw the scene, and concentrated on the hilly nature of the view. Then a lady came to have a nosey and so explained what I was doing. After that I decided to move a little down the hill because the view which was most interesting was one I saw every time I crossed the road from the bus stop. Finally, its on paper after 3 years!

Across the road

This is my next project- the view across the road from my flat in London. I'm undecided about whether to do an aquatint or drypoint.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Success with the aquatint!

Well, well, well, after wondering why some of my prints had been a bit of a worry with the aquatint, I realised that the attractive speckly effect on them was because of the interference of grease and rosin. So, after a bit of expert guidance I have started gently tickling the plate with Flash Lemon All Purpose Cleaner solution and a big soft brush. Now I'm starting to get accurate effects on my etchings, and lots of stress has been removed.

Both prints: Levens Hall, Cumbria, UK. 30x20cm aquatint

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Banners etching gets the watercolour treatment

This trio is from a single etching of Banners Restaurant in London, with watercolour added. It can completely change the mood of an image.

Friday, 9 July 2010

The Treasurers House, York

On a very hot day I went to hide in the coolness of the garden at the Treasurers House, York. I used a Tombow brush pen and a Khadi drawing pad, and tried to draw the scene with different marks, so to keep the variety on the page. This will probably be turned into an etching. The drawing is 48x16cm.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Etching of Banners Restaurant

My latest print, from an original drawing of Banners Restaurant in London. Its a really crazy Jamaican/French/ad hoc sort of restaurant in Crouch End.
The print is 40x16cm. The little prints are done by masking certain areas to get a fragment of the scene. It took me right back to doing pre-photoshop tricks at college in 1990.