Printmakers Exhibition, Oxmarket Gallery, Chichester

Print Exhib Flyer 2015

If you are in the Chichester area in early March do drop by the Oxmarket Gallery and have a look at this exhibition organised by talented printmaker and teacher, Will Dyke.  Last year’s exhibition was a great success and 2015 promises to be even better.  I have a couple of large, framed monoprints on display and five unframed prints in the browsers. The Private View is 6-8pm on 3 March and is sponsored by West Dean College. Do come if you can as all are invited and the more the merrier!

“Upside Down and Back to Front” with Matthew Harris

Isn’t it wonderful when you look forward to something for ages and it turns out even better than expected?  That just about sums up the past few days spent at West Dean College with ten lovely stitchers and the super talented and charming Matthew Harris as tutor. Matthew has been a sell out at West Dean for every course he has done there so far, and with good reason.

In the brief we were advised to bring some images to work from, preferably abstract, but as you have probably gathered by now I don’t really do abstract being more inclined to figurative so I arrived armed with five monoprints from a recent life session.  I was hoping that with Matthew’s expert guidance I would learn a way of working which would enable me to move away from the literal and create an in between step when translating my drawings into textile work.  That was exactly what happened!  I think it is a sign of a good tutor when every person in the room takes on board a new working process but comes up with their own unique visual language and identity, and using Matthew’s tutorial style of teaching that is certainly what happened for us.

I came away with a number of images which I see as resolved pieces in themselves but which I am also itching to translate into textiles.  After a brief dabble with embroidery this morning, I am now thinking woven tapestry.  Hoping to keep the enthusiasm for this on the back burner over the next few weeks while I get on with a couple of commissions. These are probably my favourite images from the weekend (at the moment anyway, but this could change once I have put them away for a few weeks).  Watch this space for further development…..

"ink and graphite drawing on Khadi Paper"

Ink and graphite on Kahdi Paper, drawing by Nicky Barfoot 2014

"ink and graphite drawing on Khadi paper"

Ink and graphite on Khadi Paper, drawing by Nicky Barfoot 2014

Mab, Faery or Alien?

Over the past year I have been obsessively making (quite literally!) my way through the fabulous and witty Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher on audiobook (what a discovery Audible was, a way of “reading” a book and knitting, all at the same time!).  I recently finished number 15, narrated by the silky smooth James Marsters, (he of Spike fame for those Buffy and Angel fans amongst you) and am hoping Mr Butcher gets a move on with the next instalment as Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden, Chicago’s only wizard still has plenty of evil supernatural beings to battle in his efforts to save Chicago and the human race.  Long time readers of my blog may also remember that I am a huge Terry Pratchett fan, another talented author who’s stories use an entertaining collage of myth, faery tale and science fiction, to make a light hearted observation of current affairs.

I thought this was an Arty Blog I hear you say, not a book review!  Fear not, there is an art connection so please indulge me a little further.  Whilst in Butcher’s series, Mab the queen of the faeries is a traditionally beautiful and sadistic human-like being with super powers who regularly visits Earth to manipulate Harry into fighting her cause, Pratchett’s new Long Earth Series written in collaboration with Stephen Baxter, explains the myth of supernatural beings as dimension travelling humanoids who step between parallel worlds.  I particularly like this idea of aliens and faeries possibly being one and the same thing and from this my latest textile piece, “Mab” was born, inspired by one of the mono prints from the recent Life printing day.

"woven tapestry"

“Mab” by Nicky Barfoot. Woven tapestry, wool and metallic polyester thread mounted on linen.

Bev (Seated)

At last, with urgent commissions out of the way and exhibition entry deadlines met, I have been able to indulge this week in a bit of decadent stitchery translating one of my favourite monoprints from the recent life workshop (see post “Inky Fingers”) into stitch.  The result is “Bev (Seated)”.  Hope you like.

"embroidered life drawing"

“Bev (Seated)”. Cotton threads and silk mohair yarn on printed cotton

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?………