Monday, October 17, 2016

Kamikoya - making paper the traditional japanese way

I've just returned from 2 weeks in Japan (my 6th trip!).  This trip was focussing on paper, paper, and more paper.......

I engaged Phil and Kazuko from the boutique tour company ShumiStay (on facebook 'Shumi Stay Japan') to take myself and fellow Papermakers to explore traditional Japanese hand papermaking techniques.

The highlight of our trip was a 2 day workshop at Kamikoya ( with Rogier Uitenboogaart and his family.  During the trip we also visited paper museums and shops and villages specialising in papermaking.

We returned home with hand made papers of Kozo and Mitsumata fibers, and a firm resolve to incorporate more traditional and more organic processes into our papermaking practices.

All decked out in our papermaking uniforms -
heavy plastic aprons and gum boots.

Beating the fibres by hand -
its all about rhythm and trying not to
splatter your fellow papermakers with fibre!

Stirring the vat, there's a special technique for that too.

Rogier guiding me through forming a sheet.
It was challenging but a great experience.
The happy group at the end of the workshop, with
Rogier and his wife and son.

Rogier with his assistant Michael.
Thanks guys!

Papers drying on boards.  It rained most of the time we were at Kamikoya
so the papers had to be posted to us a week later.

My futon bed at our traditional accommodation
onsite at Kamikoya.
Some of the local scenery, misty with rain.  The bright
green area in the foreground is rice ready to harvest.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Wren Monoprints

Last weekend, I had the luxury of spending a few hours monoprinting at the Toowoomba Art Society with members of the Saturday Printmakers.

Using some wren stencils from a previous series, I created a small series of monoprints with a circle shaped plate and a few plant materials including some Shephards's Purse weed.

I titled the works 'In My Garden'.  Its a bit of wishful thinking, as I unfortunately don't have wrens in my garden, but really wish I did!

Below are photos of a selection of the series of 9 prints.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Replicating a Monoprint

Back in January, I blogged about a series of monoprints for an exhibition "Women of Substance", see my post here.  The seven monoprints that I created for the exhibition and folio boxes are all sold or accounted for, the remaining print was a gift to my mother, who was the subject of the print.

I was recently asked whether I had any more of these prints, perhaps an artists proof. Sadly with monoprints, there are no artists proofs (or test prints or the first prints in an edition). Every print is a unique print, some work and some don't.  And the variable 'edition' is as many prints as I wish to make in that series.

Hence, to fulfil the commission, for the first time I needed to replicate my monoprint.

Luckily I found where I had stored my stencils, and because I blogged about the print, I had great documentation about my colours and what objects I used.

But the process was still a challenge, and the monoprints that I've produced in this second run are different from the first run.  There are subtle differences in how I mixed the colours and how I applied the ink and the objects.

The mysterious and free process of monoprinting has many rewards and I never know what the outcome will be even when I'm repeating a print process like this.  Below are 3 of the 10 prints in this new series.  There are another six that I rejected...maybe they will be the content for an artist book someday....nothing is ever wasted!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Artist in Residence at The Pod

During the month of August, I was given the opportunity by Brisbane City Council to be artist in residence in 'The Pod' in the Brunswick Street Mall in Brisbane's valley area.

The Pod is an open studio space in a refurbished shipping container, designed for occupation by artists etc, to help activate the mall.

The busy, noisy urban environment was a big change from my home studio in my backyard, but I enjoyed the constant stimulation of watching the various types of people in the mall.  There were tourists casually walking, school girls passing through at 3.15pm, swearing teenagers eating McDonalds, office people and of course, many people who looked like they'd had a hard and difficult life.

During my residency I started work on a series of drawings of urban birds on takeaway brown paper bags.  The patterns of the drawings were directly sourced from the mall buildings and infrastructure, such as pipes, facades, pit covers, seats, and sculptures.

I also ran daily free activities for the public, making a stab bound notebook and carving an easy relief block.  These were very popular, I had approximately 80 participants over the 15 days.  As the activities were free, I was able to share my art with a broader audience than usual, which I really enjoyed.

Patterns on a sculpture, this pattern
was incorporated into my drawings

My favourite pattern on a roof in nearby Chinatown Mall

Drawing onto my paper bags

Drawing in progress

Here I am outside The Pod, as Artist in Residence

Activity time, lots of keen participants

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Tunnel Book

A tunnel book has been on my 'to do' list for some time.  I've made models and played around but never constructed a finished work.

The opportunity to make a 'real' tunnel book finally presented itself in the form of excess monoprints from a print run that I created for a group exhibition 'Elements'.

I intrepreted the theme 'Elements' into the 5 elements of Japanese Buddhism.  Japanese stone lanterns are one of the most common representations of these five elements, known as 'Godai', "five great". Each section of the lantern represents one of the five elements - earth, wind, fire, wind and void.

I've visited Japan a few times (5 times plus another trip planned this year) and my tunnel book was inspired by my love of Japanese culture and the beauty of their gardens.  Using the tunnel format, I have creatively reimagined the layered viewpoints of a garden, looking through ginkgo trees across the pond to the stone lantern, the koi swimming in the water below.

I started the process by making a prototype out of photocopy paper, then set to work cutting out elements of my rejected prints.  I used strong black card to make the framework of the book.

To house the book and protect it, I created a black cover secured with a Japanese bone clasp.

Tunnel books are interesting as they're like little
theatres, where each panel makes up the final layered image.
The final 3D image is like looking across a vista in a
Japanese garden.

Looking into the book from the side front.

The closed cover, made of box board and mulberry paper,
with the bone clasp

Looking down into the book

You can see I've attached the monoprint images onto each panel.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Screen Monoprinting

One of the first monoprinting techniques I explored before I got my etching press Thumper was using a silk-screen.  The process involved painting a design on the screen using acrylic paints, then squeeging onto paper using Print Paste.  I then worked back into the dried print using oil crayons to add detail and highlights.  Below are a couple of my prints, probably produced around 2006.

I love their colour and movement.  Using the silk screen to monoprint is very expressive process where the initial image is created without first drawing or tracing.

Today I used some mini-silk screens to try water soluble crayons using this screen monoprinting process.  I drew on the screen using the crayons, then experimented with Print Paste as well as Gloss Gel Medium.  The results were interesting, and it's a very quick spontaneous process - just what I love about monoprinting.  Its definitely a technique that I would be able to take travelling with me.

The screens, squeege and mediums I used

Test print

One of the ghost prints, showing some colour stuck in
the screen

Another test print


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Monoprint Commission

I've just finished a small commission to complete a framed work utilising imagery from Japan and Queensland, as a gift for a sister cities project.

I could have just done one of my usual monoprints, but I decided to combine monoprint, chine-colle and drypoint just to provide a bit of a challenge to myself....!

I wanted to use elements of the natural world that had connections to our local area and juxtapose them against elements from Japan.   I selected leaves from a small eucalypt, the Plunkett Mallee, which is the city tree for Ipswich, near Brisbane, Qld.  Luckily for me, my friend Wendy had one in her front garden.  I used these leaves to create monoprints on banana paper, a very beautiful translucent paper I bought in Melbourne.  I've printed on it before and loved the results.

I then created a drypoint image of a magnolia flower, the city tree for Nerima in Japan.

I used the process of chine-colle to collage pieces of the monoprint onto the drypoint image.  The word chine-colle roughly translates from French 'chine' = tissue, and 'colle' = glued.  The glueing process occurs during the printing, in this case the printing of the drypoint.

I'm happy with resulting print.  The process was long and sometimes challenging but, to me, the image of the magnolia flower made up of the eucalypt leaves perfectly describes the connection between the two cities.

Drypoint plate inked up
Cut up pieces of monoprint glued onto backing washi,
ready for chine colle onto the drypoint
The finished work with the drypoint printed over
the monoprint pieces

I had some ink left over so printed the last run of the monoprints
onto some scrap grey-toned paper,
it really brought out the beauty of the mallee leaves.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Co-operative Artist Book

My final project in conjunction with Sandi Conte (the 2016 Creative-In-Residence at Logan Art Gallery) was a Teachers Professional Development workshop.  I worked with local art teachers to create a collaborative Artist Book that focussed on the co-operative and social nature of some species of native stingless bees.

My goal for the workshop was to create a sculptural book that didn't read like a normal codex format, using drypoint and monotype printmaking techniques and incorporating text on the theme of 'co-operation'.

The final book format is a concertina spiral of hexagons echoing the structure of the brood of a local species of stingless native bee.  The book is sewn together with waxed linen thread.

To house the book, I created a simple card box featuring one of the hexagon artworks and some gorgeous Japanese paper with a textured hexagon pattern.

The book will be exhibited at the Logan Gallery with other works created during Sandi's Creative-In-Residence.

I enjoyed working collaboratively with the art teachers who were able to create additional hexagon artworks during the workshop to incorporate into their own book structures.

The box which contains the book when folded up, concertina style.

The artist book on display, 'opened up' to display the spiral pattern.
Each hexagon was created by one of the teachers.
I also contributed a couple of hexagon works
as well.

The book 'closed up' with a hexagon of wax sheet for
the centre piece.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

To Cut and Paste a Monoprint

As part of my ongoing work with Sandi Conte (the 2016 Creative-In-Residence at Logan Art Gallery), I recently conducted a masterclass monoprinting workshop themed on native stingless bees, working with paper 12cm x 12cm.

Some of the works produced during the workshop are proposed to be included in an upcoming travelling exhibition, and as lead artist, I was also invited to submit some works.... what fun!

My approach was not my usual - proceed straight to my studio, drag out 'Thumper' my etching press and start printing.   Instead I looked through my folio and found some bee related works I completed late last year and started cutting them up.

I've used this approach before - cutting up old prints to create paper installations.  In this situation, I cut up the bee prints into hexagons to use in a collage.  The prints were originally done on grey coloured Stonehenge paper which provides a lovely background tone to the prints.

I also incorporated cuttings from a technical book relating to pollen.  I think the text and drawings from this book add a scientific feel to the prints.

The 3 resulting artworks are named "Under the Microscope", monotype and collage on paper.

One of the old works, 'Society' 4/4

'Under the Microscope I', monotype + collage, 12cm x 12cm

'Under the Microscope II', monotype + collage, 12cm x 12cm

'Under the Microscope III', monotype + collage, 12cm x 12cm

Friday, May 6, 2016

A new Artist Book is 'hatched'

After doing a series of bee monoprints a few months ago, I had a lot of pre-cut paper stencils of hexagons and native bees.  So I decided to use them to create a collagraph plate, which is a printing plate made of cardboard with things stuck to it.  After sealing with shellac, I used the plate to emboss some toned printmaking papers, and these have become the pages of my latest artist book, titled 'Brood'.

The book structure, once again in that typical honeycomb/hexagon shape, alludes to the structure of a bee's hive.  The embossed imagery is of the brood at work - worker bees tending to the eggs and larvae of the next generation.  The book needs to be fully opened to see the imagery, which mimics the action of the beekeeper opening and inspecting a hive.

The embossing was done using the collagraph plates on dampened paper, no ink, using my etching press 'Thumper'.

The Collagraph plates and resulting embossed 'print'.

The closed book - the covers are made of box board and some
beautiful gold and black paper I had in my stash.
I thought the paper colour was like the rich gold of honey.

'Brood' - you can see the honeycomb like structure.

Its hard to see the embossing in the photo.
Viewing the book will be an 'up close and personal'
experience, inviting the viewer in for a good look.