Saturday, October 15, 2011


A fine day and a walk along a favourite and pretty much deserted beach last weekend led me to some on site sketching and the start of a study back in the studio.  I want to go much larger and likely will if time allows me to do so.   This is done with watercolour in a kraft paper sketchbook with a small addition of gouache to add a little solidity to the rockface.  The paper in this Daler Rowney Earthbound sketchbook isn't designed for watermedia, but it seems to stand up to it very well.

Rocks jutting out of the ocean always interest me.  On this beach they become an obstruction for waves that break around them and the resulting lines of water that cross on the shore is fascinating.  This 8 x 16 is the start of a painting of more of the rocks on this beach.  Its difficult to show the scale, but they are very large, more like mountains.

I took a number of photos in my explorations and a lot of them of rocks.  Its hard to go far here without them and I love the formations and how sometimes it can almost seem as if I'm in a different world in the barren landscape that they form.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Head in the Clouds

 On a cold, wintry day last January I looked out the window at work just as the sun was setting and the sky was full of gold and pink and blue.  I grabbed a quick shot of it with my cell phone camera, but it isn't til now that I've had a chance to try to put it down onto canvas.

Clouds are fascinating to draw or paint and they are forgiving too.  You can rearrange them a little and still have them appear quite cloud like.  On the other hand, clouds do have form and values and those need to be taken into account when painting them just like any other object.

And, of course, a closer view above, for those who like to see how the strokes are put down.

This study is painted in oils on a 6 x 12" canvas and I'd like to translate it onto a much larger canvas.  Concentrating on the sky alone with no land allows the eye to really see the cloud formations and colour.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Etching - the print

I spent most of the morning being frustrated with the printmaking process, but believe the 'aha' moment has arrived and most of it is to do with paper choices. After yesterday's etching process, today was the printing.  I do not have a printing press so need to use a baren/brayer to achieve a decent image.

I started out with Rives BFK paper. Its fairly thick and strong, even when well dampened.  I perhaps overdampened and ended up with some blurred images.  The inks I used were Graphic Chemical oil based inks and initial prints were with Intense Black, a commonly used ink for etching.   I'm not sure if it was the ink or the paper or me, but the results were pale, the lines weak and soft.  However, with initial prints, it is a bit of a test to see what works and what doesn't.

1st print on BFK Rives paper

After a coffee and a think, I had an interlude of printing a linocut that I had recarved and used a lighter Okawara Japanese paper, perhaps half the thickness of the original Rives, using a mix of the Intense Black and Phtalo Green Caligo inks. The lino print worked beautifully.  Buoyed by success I tried another of the etching and am reasonably pleased with the result.  The lines are crisper and the colour darker.  It may be down to some more experimenting with other papers and inks.

2nd print on Okawara paper

From left to right:  BFK Rives paper, 1st print on Okawara, 2nd print on Okawara

I've enjoyed the etching process and would like to continue.  I would like to access zinc or copper plates and a decent etching needle as well.  That will have to go onto the next mail order shopping list.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Come up and see my etchings

Well, they're not quite ready yet, but I'm heading there.

I was reading The Printmaking Bible and learning more about the process of etching, drypoint in particular which does not involve acid baths.  Perhaps that will come at a later date.   Since the concept of the idea the other day, I've been trying to find suitable materials to test with and in this town, that's never an easy task, so one learns to be inventive.

As copper or zinc plates weren't available, I decided I would try plexiglass and actually ended up with some acrylic blanks used for glass painting practice.  Then not having an etching needle, I tried a scratchboard knife which seems to work well on the softer surface.

I decided I would use an old drawing of a circle of fish that I had completed last year and have pretty much completed etching the drawing onto the acrylic sheet.  Tomorrow I'll test the printing. This may be a challenge as I don't have a printing press so I'll see what weights and a baren or rolling pin will do.  Stay tuned!