27 July 2016

Imagination running on overtime

"Interpersonal" relationships are everywhere - most obviously in chairs, which stand in for the people who sat or will sit in them. Some scenarios immediately make you see inanimate objects as participants in a drama, ie as (human) actors.

Here, the traffic lights seem to me to become "people" - are they a couple ignoring each other while the "slain" light tries to rise up again - or is about to sink down for the last time, despite the protection on offer. Or, is the couple keeping a lookout? And what about the "Green Man" on the other side of the street?

Metaphors are everywhere ... don't look too hard.

26 July 2016

Drawing Tuesday - Museum of London

We roamed all over the museum. I was rather hankering after a skeleton, and found this big chunk of bone in the first gallery -
It's the left rear foot of a 300,000 year old elephant, and I got to know it quite well, using six different media, which makes for a crowded page. I seem to have paid more attention to the shape of the bones, rather then to the scale and proportions -
Top left, blind drawing with HB pencil; top right, 4B and 8B, starting at the centre.
Middle left, soluble HB, with some measuring; right, Lumograph EE pencil, first making an outline then doing the filling in.
Bottom left, ivory black watercolour pencil, right V-ball pen (and quite fed up at that point).
I'm not tempted to use water with the soluble HB or the watercolour pencil ... not even sure how to go about it! (A few tips are here and here. No excuses!) (And for coloured pencils, this is basic, a way to start.)

Najlaa enjoyed the pattering of a Chinese plate -
 Carol immersed herself in patterning too - some decorated floor tiles -
Sue found a collection of cooking implements -
 Janet found an architectural model that more than filled the page -

25 July 2016

Tube geekery

"Secrets of the Circle Line" will feed you public transport trivia ... and make the next journey on the "yellow line" a little more in-depth. And once you've watched that, hop over to one of the other tube lines.

An excerpt:  homage to the  roundel on a drainpipe at 55 Broadway, built as the headquarters of what is now called London Underground -
On completion, it was the tallest office block in London - and what, after all, can be taller than an office block?

24 July 2016

Arty summery day

Saturday afternoon at Tate Modern, my first visit to the Switch House extension.
 The viewing platform goes all around the 10th floor, and this is part of the view.

Sky high cat (it's under the sofa) and reflected brickwork
Hundreds of kids on bikes, doing wheelies all over the road
 A very quick look at some art -
It made musical noises
Mirrored cubes (what a photo op!) and blue cubes that get rearranged at 10 every day
On the way home, time to look at Bankside Gallery -
Work by Sally McLaren
A monotype, with collage

23 July 2016

Saturday routine

As part of "domestic maintenance", Saturday morning includes a trip to the grocery store, not so much for a Big Shop but for an excuse to have breakfast out, at the nearby coffee shop, and to sit there for an hour working on an ipad drawing. Then a wander round Waitrose, remember to get the weekend paper, and quick home before the ice cream melts.

The drawings are mounting up - here are a couple of the newer ones -

22 July 2016

Introduction to linocut printmaking

A short course - three intense evenings. Linocuts can be printed without a press and don't need a lot of "stuff".

My first "reveal" (on the right, a japanese baren)
In the first session we learned about tools -
Gouges for woodcutting, but can be used for lino also
I speedily found these, and some "plastic lino"
... and about cutting - the V gouge for lines and contours, the round one for removal -
Note the position of the hand (behind the cutting) and the angle of the tool
Warm the lino - and use a grippy mat to stop it slipping (though I found that sometimes it's useful to be able to turn the lino as you cut, for a circle for instance). "You have more control if you stop now and again" said Anne Marie. You don't have to press hard! The width of the line depends on the pressure.

Before inking, use a bristle brush to get rid of any "bits". 

We used Safewash inks - oil based, so they don't dry out immediately, but can be washed with water, and you can use vegetable oil to get rid of any oil residue.
Some test prints, trying to get the amount of ink right, and
 using the baren to rub
 Before the next class I drew out a couple more scenes (from my "Home" series of drawings) onto lino, but didn't get round to attempting to cut them. Too detailed! Will have to rethink,,,

The recently-purchased "plastic lino", and the pattern of a ceramic plate seen in a book, led to a quick block and some experiments with multiple prints and ghost prints -
The jig for registration consists of a piece of cardboard the same size as the printing paper. Place the block in position and draw round it; once the inked block is in place, the paper is aligned with the card,
Multipositional tryouts

Exciting inking with two colours happening next to me
Some people were using caustic soda to texture sections of the surface, but I decided to leave that for another day. Did try using the relief press, though, and it gave a smoothly dark print. Can similar results be obtained with my bookbinding press?

The third session was about using colour. First Anne Marie showed a block she'd textured with stop-out varnish (the dark bits) and caustic soda, printed in blue -
 I'd made another little plate to try out some textures -
My two-colour trial was a revelation - I'll be looking for ways to use that technique in my project.
Then it was on with my psychedelic not-quite-circle. Anne Marie suggested using extender ink to make paler and darker versions of the colour - and in retrospect I wish I'd done that - but somehow I got sidetracked into mixing first a pale orange and then adding yellow - not that successful as a top layer, so I tried a darker orange instead.
The registration jig in action
What a difference a colour makes
Psychedelic filigree?
Some plain blocks printed up for later 
Hanging up to dry on the ingenious marble rack
Colour blending -
And the effect it can have -
Elsewhere around the table -

The printmaking room at City Lit -

(This post is linked to Off the Wall Friday.)

21 July 2016

Poetry Thursday - Rachel McCarthy

Survey North of 60 degrees

We're here to cast off names -
Viking, Fair Isle, Faeroes,
pronounce drowned coves, remap the coast.
I'm troubled - not at the cliff's seaward shiver
or the guillemots' black beaks scissored and shrieking -
but the wind singing
one long low note
its worm-burrow to the heart of the Arctic.

Late, in your hotel room, we nip at a bottle of Absolut,
talk of tongues of ice repealing themselves:
Novaya Zemlya, Svalbard, Barents.
I don't mention the wind tunnelling me
like the wisteria that arched the path
from the park to my childhood home
where I'd sneak a smoke
to inhale the boy I thought I loved
before I knew what love was;

snow-quiet, might, obliterative,
to be able to sit at the world' end
and say little of it.

Rachel McCarthy

Encountered at  Alphabet of Our Universe, part social history lecture, part poetry reading, at the Royal Society of Chemistry during the "Courtyard Late" at Burlington House on 15 July - the postcard is a good reminder. The "Y" stamp refers to one of the elements whose history was brought to light in the lecture; fascinating.

Rachel's poetry is inspired by "hardcore" chemistry; she is also a climate scientist. Her first pamphlet, Element, is available now.

20 July 2016

Meanwhile, back at the flat...

Living room ready for plastering

... and doesn't it need it!

The kitchen is spared "attention" at this point
Everything had to be moved to any available space
(so many tools in the bathroom!)
And once the plasterer had gone -
I can finally get to my closet!

and the tools have been taken to a job site
Freshly plastered
 Areas of disorder do remain -

And while the Project Manager was on holiday, the electricity went off and the freezer puddled onto the (plaster covered) floor.......

People keep telling me "it'll be worth it in the end" - I hope one day soon I'll at least feel there's a light at the end of the tunnel.