Inky Fingers

Life drawing and monoprinting, what better way to spend a Saturday? I’ve just got back from an inspirational workshop at the Art Shack (a wonderfully Bohemian venue complete with chickens and a gorgeous Black Labrador) in Bishop’s Waltham taught by Hampshire based artist, printmaker and tutor Jo Morley and modelled by the lovely Bev.

Our inky adventures began with linear drawing, using a range of different implements to create interesting marks including biros, pieces of wood, rubbers and things that one might find useful during a pedicure.  I particularly liked this “blind” drawing I did with an old biro at the start of the session as while it doesn’t look anything like Bev it is kinda fun and makes me smile.

"linear life drawing"

Linear drawing

After an hour or so of experimenting with line we moved on to Reductive monoprinting and it really was a race against the clock to get an image onto the print plate before the ink dried.

"reductive monoprint of seated female"

Reductive monoprint


We tried out a range of tools but I found cotton buds, a finger covered in a baby wipe and credit cards the most successful tools for removing the ink.

After spending a couple of hours in black and white it was time to get colourful and we moved on to Additive monoprinting and were given three colours to experiment with.  I particularly liked the painterly effects produced using this method and found myself instinctively incorporating the reductive technique with it.

"Seated female using combined additive and reductive monoprint techniques"

Additive and reductive monoprint techniques combined for a seated pose

The rest of the day was spent happily covered in ink as we experimented with these techniques trying to keep up with Bev and her wide range of dynamic poses.  I love the way that the quick and prolific nature of this type of printmaking encouraged us to move out of our comfort zones and experiment widely with mark making.  It quickly became obvious why many artists including Edgar Degas, Tracey Emin and Paul Klee use monoprinting in their work.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself and came away with a blister from frantic rollering, black fingernails that are going to take hours of scrubbing to get clean and about 30 images which are all begging to inspire follow on work.  At the moment I can’t come up with a favourite from the day but after spending a few hours last weekend with the charismatic and talented James Hunting at West Dean College, this linear print is currently shouting at me to be stitched in some way.

"linear monoprint seated female"

Linear monoprint, seated pose

Now where did I put that nail brush?………

A Doggy Doodle Obsession

I had so much fun creating Gaspode and Fifi, and Bert version 1 (woven) that I have got a little carried away with the doggy doodles in recent weeks.  There might also be diversion tactics at play here, i.e. using “colouring in” of light hearted images while subconsciously mulling over ideas for my next major project (there is one in the pipeline, it just seems to be a little stuck!). I have also had a couple of lighter weeks at work and with no knitting on the needles at present, have used the odd half an hour in between clients to draw.  Consequently I have been getting home from work with a sketchbook full of felt pen characters that are begging to be embroidered.

"Doggy Doodles, felt pen, tapestry and embroidery"

A trio of Berts: Felt pen on paper, woven tapestry and cotton embroidery on calico

I often find re-creating the same image in different media fascinating as each method brings its own characteristics. With the three versions of Bert that I have produced so far, I particularly like the way that in the woven version the relatively large size of the warp used and the resulting pixel size, enforces a charming crudeness on the image which to me adds to its appeal and interest.

In “Russ and Ollie” I think I may have found an enduring character in Russ the Jack Russell Terrier as he has begun to crop up in a few more of my felt pen drawings.  Oh dear, I feel another book coming on……….


Doggy Doodle 2: Here comes Bert

I might have been a bit adventurous with the image I chose for my first woven tapestry following a cartoon (quite literally as it turned out!) but then again I don’t like to do things by halves so felt pen in hand out came the sketchbook and Bert was born.  Bizarrely it somehow felt right combining this historic, somewhat majestic method of textile construction with a felt pen doodle.  After a brief false start I remembered how to warp up and after fixing the frame to the dining room table off I went.  I used yarn from my knitting stash which added to the challenge of achieving an even tension (particularly with the wonderfully soft Alpaca which provided the background colour) but I quite like the resulting “organic” edges and the fabric feels lovely to the touch.

"tapestry weaving "

Bert: WIP

The ceremonial cut off was a bit nerve wracking as I hadn’t seen him the right way up until that point, but once he was trimmed he made me chuckle so all those hours sitting side bent on an inappropriate chair (you’ll be pleased to hear that after this experience I have ordered an adjustable height chair) were worth it.

"doodle of a dog in tapestry"

Doggy Doodle 2: Bert in woven tapestry (with a crochet chain collar!)