Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Cheer

Our annual Printmakers Only Group Christmas party was held on Tuesday, December 18, at Beverlee's house in Cowichan Bay. Thanks, Beverlee, we had a blast! My photos leave a lot to be desired, but it was a great gathering, fantastic food, and lots of fun.

Kathie, Edie, Lynn, Mary & Susan

Lida & Bev K

Beverlee & Trudy

Anne & Kathie

Our hostess with the mostest!





Kathie & Kitty

The spread!

Lynn - The goofy gift exchange - irony at its best!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Testing a new online tool

Just found a nifty way to publish a slideshow on the internet via Slide. So here's a sample slide show using one of my photosets from Flickr.

Pretty nifty, huh? The internet can be so entertaining!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Periodic Table of the Elements

I discovered this project this summer after people had signed up and started to send in (I was too late to join, pooh), but was drawn back to it again by someone on Wet Canvas printmaking forum. Wow! What an incredible project! Such a neat idea, combining science & art (of course, a concept near & dear to my heart) in such a fabulous way. This is a snapshot of some of the work, please click on it to view the whole project and details thereof:

None of these are my images, please go to the project site for details about the artists and the pieces themselves.

Check out how many of these artists are or were scientists - how cool is that?! Personally, I figure that to be a good scientist, especially an experimental scientist, you do have to have a certain level of creativity, otherwise how could you possibly create intricate experiments and problem-solve from unique and different perspectives? I'm never surprised (but I am delighted) when I see an artist (especially a printmaker) who was once in the sciences.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Who-hoo! I'm featured on a couple of blogs out there, yay!

Katherine Tyrrell's Making a Mark blog in late November about all sorts of stuff art related. My stuff is under "Art Resources - Traditional Printmaking".

Ujwala Prabhu's Draw the Line blog on her explorations of drawing and mark making (also check out her portfolio blog, Maya, and her feed Blog Schmlog on free art stuff on the 'net).

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ink Wars

ink test

SafetyKut on Masa, linocut on Rising Stonehenge (top) & kitakata (bottom)
in Faust AquaLine, Graphic Chemical & Akua Intaglio

Today I did an actual, side-by-side comparison of various water soluble relief printing inks. I printed three inks using my most recent linocut, on both a heavy "Western" (RisingStonehenge) and a light "Oriental" (kitakata green) paper. The inks I tested were Akua Intaglio, Graphic Chemical, and Faust AquaLine. I also tried the GC & Faust on a SafetyKut block using another "Oriental" paper, masa.

Overall, I was not impressed (pardon the pun!) with the Akua, but then, perhaps I didn't try hard enough. I found that the impression was somewhat fuzzier on the edges, and even though the ink sang when brayered, it acted kind of dry. Perhaps that's a factor of it being an oil-based ink? I liked both the AquaLine & GC inks, although the GC surprisingly performed better overall. The image was sharper, and I seemed to get a nicer impression. I found that the trick was to use a much heavier amount of ink than I thought appropriate, and that worked really well. The black was such a beautiful rich black with the GC. The Faust is a lovely buttery consistency to brayer, and it rolls on well and quickly; it just seems to not quite transfer as well as the GC. But then, in earlier trials, I wasn't happy with the GC at all (but I did use a lot less ink before). Also, the Faust definitely has an odour that is starting to bother me, while the GC is practically odourless.

I have emailed both companies and asked them for their input on whether their available colours match what I require, or if they can provide them for me. My wish list of pigments is as follows:

Cadmium Red Light or Medium or Deep - Pigment Red 108
Quinacridone Red/Violet - Pigment Violet 19
French Ultramarine - Pigment Blue 29
Cerulean Blue - Pigment Blue 35
Arylide Yellow - Pigment Yellow 3 (but not PY 1)
Cadmium Yellow - Pigment Yellow 35 or pure PY37
Burnt Sienna - Pigment Brown 7
Burnt Umber - Pigment Brown 7
Yellow Ochre - Pigment Yellow 43
Phthalocyanine Green - Pigment Green 7
Prussian Blue - Pigment Blue 27

based on the recommendations of Michael Wilcox in his The Artist's Guide to Selecting Colours and Blue and Yellow Don't Make Green, both of which are quite useful colour theory books for any artist. Suzanne Northcott originally introduced me to Wilcox's "Colour Bias Wheel", which, as far as I'm concerned, is a great, simple, appropriate way of looking at colour.

So we'll see how things go! As it stands, it looks like the GC line of colours might be the "brights" and the Faust the "earth tones". I don't even know if they'll mix, it would be interesting to see. I'll have to try with the blacks to see what results.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Christmas Card Chaos

I couldn't decide on what to do for Christmas cards this year. I usually do something for family & friends, as well as for customers who have purchased my work during the year (so that translates to roughly 60 cards altogether), but this year I also had two print exchanges for an additional 40 cards. After Goosey's demise, I had wanted to do something to commemorate him again, but the idea I had was more complicated than I felt like working on (especially for so many prints).

Sketch for card using Goosey as the subject
(those are snowflakes in the background)

I had worked on another image a couple of years ago in acrylic that I was never very happy with, but I liked the idea:

Acrylic on board, 8"x10"

I really like the feeling of the finch sitting on the cold, bare, slightly snow-dusted branches, so I took the same source photo and simplified the overall look to get this year's general (i.e. to friends & family) card:

I carved the image into wood-mounted linoleum and printed it using the Adana 4x6 No 2 on Strathmore Bristol paper using Speedball water-soluble inks. The image is 5 1/2"x3". I was pretty happy with the text (first time I've used it really in a print - have to write backwards for the text to read correctly; cheers for computer software & printers!!). It performed sufficiently, but I still wasn't 100% pleased.

I thought I'd try my hand at chine collé. So I printed the piece first on kitakata green paper (a thin Japanese paper), then mounted it (using nori paste) onto Cartiera Magnani "Pescia", a stiffer, supposedly "creamy smooth" printmaking paper, although it's really rough (cold pressed) with quite a tooth, and very thick. I'd ordered it from Dick Blick in a "what the heck" moment, but I don't really think it's appropriate for relief printing, or at least not what I do.

Really, for the chine collé, you're supposed to place your fine paper on top of your inked plate, dust with nori powder or paste the back of the fine paper, then place your mounting paper on top, and run everything through a press. As I don't have a press, this wasn't going to work. And the whole point to using finer paper was so that I wouldn't have such a hard time burnishing to transfer the image. Unfortunately, the Speedball doesn't ever really loose its water solubility, so the moist paste spread very thinly on the back still slightly activated the dried ink on the front, resulting in a few of these with a couple of tiny smudges here or there.

The card will be folded between the text & image, so that the image sits facing forward. The fold is not centred, so you end up with kind of an interesting card. I love the pale green of the kitakata paper, and it has a beautiful finish that's just a dream to print on. I'm definitely going to use it again.

Finally, I had one more image I wanted to play with. I have been working on this image in various print media over this year. First was a stone lithograph, then an acrylic monotype, and now I've done it in a linocut relief print.

The original image was a pencil sketch of a photograph I took up at Dad's one winter. I really love the contrast of the aspen against the conifers in the background, and the neat textures of the bark on the aspen.

aspen sketch

For this relief print, I wanted the image smaller, so I scanned the sketch, reduced the dimensions, mirror-flipped it, and printed it off, then stuck it onto the lino block.

Pays d'Hiver - working sketch

I used graphite paper to trace the image onto the block (so the graphite paper is placed between my working sketch and the block). This is great stuff because the resulting line is quite fine, and I can erase the graphite before I print, so that I don't get graphite transferring onto the final paper.

Pays d'Hiver - graphite image on block

I removed all the areas that I wanted to stay white using wood carving tools to carve away the linoleum. Here's a photo of the inked up lino block showing the carving details:

Pays d'Hiver - inked lino block

I ran a few proofs and fiddled a bit with the image, but then was happy with the result pretty quickly. The final prints (so far only 20 for the second print exchange, but I think I'll do more), are on Rising Stonehenge grey paper, and the image size is 6.25"x3.5", printed using Faust's AquaLine water-soluble "Carbon Black". It's very buttery to use, a bit stinky, but I really like using it, and it seems to print quite well on heavy paper with hand burnishing (an unusual find, for me!).

Pays d'Hiver (Winter Country)
Pays d'Hiver (Winter Country)

I'm very pleased with the end result (this photo is somewhat warmer than the actual print), and will be doing more than 20 for the edition. But my arms have given up tonight so I won't be doing any more prints for a little while.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Weather Worries

Last Monday I had a demo to do at the Port Moody Art Association, and we were being threatened with snow. While not a huge deal, if the Lower Mainland gets snow, then where we are (up on a hill in Burnaby) and where I was headed to, I would go through a few spots where snow would definitely be accumulating. The rest of Canada always scoffs at the West Coast for our complete lack of ability to drive in the white stuff, and while they aren't wrong, a significant factor they tend to ignore is that we don't have the snow removal budget or man-power that they do. Plus, we have LOTS of significant hills, something at least not an issue in the Prairies.

Anyhow, there was little snow, but TONS of rain. There were a dedicated group of about 30 people who showed up for the demo (thanks everyone who braved the weather!), and I think the demo went well. Of course, I'm still having issues with Speedball inks drying on the Plexi, but until I find something I can use as an alternative, I just have to keep cleaning & re-brayering. So here are some photos from the demo, and one of the prints that I did as part of the demo (rainbow roll & reduction all in one!)

Discussing carving tools & carving the block

Preparing the rainbow roll

Burnishing the paper to transfer the ink

Reduction & rainbow roll techniques combined

Our Black, White & Red, Revisited exhibition for the Printmakers Only Group was kind of a flop, but it looked so good! We all arrived on Friday to set up, and discussions about the weather forecast were uppermost in our conversations. We were due to have at least 15cm of snow fall but more like 20-40cm. We got the latter, if not more, over the entire weekend. We had a few bodies arrive and even purchase work early on the Saturday, but by lunch-time, the snow was flying fast and furious. So here are some photos from the thwarted exhibition (we had to wait until Monday to pick up our work, as no one was traveling on the Sunday, and few people could even get out onto the roads, which were not especially clear).

From our "theme" room

Beverlee McLeod's "Fish Farm" monoprint
body printed from plastic stencil wrapped in masking tape,
gelatin prints for the little fishes,
woven thread "net" containing the little fishes within the body, mounted on black paper

Patrick Hill Ladybug stone lithograph

Some of the POG crew at the show in the "secondary" room
guest Marilyn Dyer, POGers Susan Law, Bev Koski-Cooper & Mary Oscar

guest Marilyn Dyer & me with a couple of my block prints

So getting home from the show was a bit of a nightmare. A trip that should have taken a little over half an hour was a two and a half hour ordeal. You can see why:

And this was our truck after about 14" of snow over less than 24 hours:

As I sat here drafting this post, our power crashed. So it's been two solid days without power, which means, here at my Mom's, no flushing toilets, no running water, to go with the no lights, no computer, no TV. We finally had power restored this morning. Following the heavy snowfall, we had a "pineapple express" roar through, with I don't know how much rain, but a heck of a lot. Of course, on top of all of that snow, which resulted in this:
View of Cowichan Bay flooding courtesy of Beverlee McLeod