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.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A month of bees

Its been a very busy April, hence my first post for the month is a bit tardy......

My art this month has been all about bees, specifically native stingless bees.

As you know from previous posts, I've been playing around with non-codex type book structures and paper installations (see my Tambo exhibition posts here and  here).  Last week I created a prototype of a hive-like book structure for a bee themed teacher's PD workshop I've been engaged to run.

Using my gelatine plate to create bee theme prints
Monoprints and Relief prints on hexagonal 'pages' for the book
The completed Prototype book, it folds up
 randomly into one hexagonal

I've also been reworking a print I created last year, a monotype with a bee etching over the top.  The print was an unresolved ghost print.  I felt it needed a bit of definition and drama, so I've drawn over the ghost image of the weed with a sepia pen to bring out its detail and fine beauty.  I'm really happy with the result.

Detail of the bee etching from the print "Pollination"

Detail of the weed heads, the colour and shadowing
is the monoprint, the sharper detail is done using a sepia coloured pen.

The Print "Pollination"

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Big Smoke, Little Smoke Exhibition - Road Trip to Tambo and Beyond

Craig and I have just returned from a road trip to Tambo in Central Western Queensland to install my exhibition 'Big Smoke Little Smoke' with fellow artist Joanne Taylor.

Not much time for art and unfortunately too hot to do any monoprinting (of course I took my gel plate!), but we enjoyed a week of camping in the outdoors and seeing plenty of interesting things along the way.

And the exhibition looks great too!  Images of some works from the exhibition are on my website

Joanne and I are planning to exhibit the exhibition closer to Brisbane some time in the next 12 months, so that it gets some time in the 'Big Smoke'...!

Camping at the Bunya Mountains....misty and cool.
A stark contrast to the rest of the week.

Myall Park Botanic Gardens -
ticked off my bucket list!

On the road

A shower of rain over pasture lands.  The grass is
thick from previous rain but drying out quickly
in the hot temperatures.

Grasslands Art Gallery at Tambo,
where 'Big Smoke, Little Smoke' will be held
until the end of April

I'm installing 'Interconnection' - 200 handcut hexagons
arranged in a stingless bee hive pattern.
Surprisingly fun to install and all done by eye, no
pencil marks to guide me.
For the hexagons, I cut up maps and old prints - the process
of sorting, revisiting and cutting up prints connects my
previous bodies of work with one of my current themes - pollination.

Me again... installing 'Dispersal' - 50 monoprints of weeds
on the inside of envelopes, attached to the wall
with tacs and magnets.
The weed plants were sourced from my own garden,
turning something unwanted into a plant to be
cultivated and pressed like a valuable museum specimen.
Its interesting that this kind of unexpected meaning
develops during the process of creation.
Also, this form of installation with prints flowing down the wall
was something I've been keen to do for some time,
but I had to find the right venue for it.

Here I am with fellow artist Joanne Taylor
at our exhibition opening.

One of the Bottle Trees in the main street of Tambo.
I love their unique sculptural quality.

And only in Australia,
 this portly Green Tree Frog was occupying more than
his fair share of room in a toilet bowl at a public loo in Augathella.
FYI - I found another toilet to use!  

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Pedestrian Artist Book

One of my final projects for my upcoming exhibition 'Big Smoke, Little Smoke' was a set of 5 artist books titled 'Pedestrian' primarily using photographic images - something quite different from my usual printmaking techniques.

The title 'Pedestrian' alludes to the banalness of the urban environment from a bicycle point of view. I often ride my bike along local roads and bike paths to go shopping etc.  One day I realised the extent of urban structure around me - road markings, signage, poles, bins, drains etc. There's so much of it, pointing us in the 'right' direction, guiding us through our journeys, and modifying the natural environment.  So banal, so much sameness, it all just becomes a blur in the background.  They are the stage props against which we act out our daily lives.

To create the layout for the 5 concertina books, I engaged the services of a graphic designer, Wendy Clark.  I had originally intended these to be circle accordion formats with a self-cover but a hiccup in the printing process meant that I had to change plans slightly and so my first books in the edition have self-made covers from box board and binding tape.  I also made a simple slipcase to house the books.  The low-tech cover and slipcase contrast nicely against the semi-gloss of the monotone photographs.

'Pedestrian' is designed to look a bit urban grungy and this first version certainly fits the bill.  

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Mock-Up or Two

Today I finished another artist book that I've been working on for my upcoming partnered solo exhibition "Big Smoke Little Smoke" opening on 5 March at the Grasslands Art Gallery at Tambo.

I was inspired by an artist book format I found in the book 'Playing with Paper' by Helen Hiebert.

My book is called 'Entomophobia'.  I used atlas pages to make envelopes then cut hexagon windows and inserted insect imagery printed on organza.  The book comes together with piano hinges and when installed, will be arranged in a closed hexagon.  The hexagon shapes are repeated in one of my other artworks for the exhibition, and refers to beehive combs.

When I make artist books I usually avoid making mock ups as I've always felt it drained my creativity and enthusiasm.  But this time, I knew that I needed to do some testing and playing before I made the actual book.  It was a good idea, as I had to make a couple of mock up books before I found the papers that would do the job.  Making the mock ups also allowed me to expend all of my 'frantic' creative energy on the test pieces, thus ensuring when I was working on my final piece I was calmly measuring, cutting and THINKING mindfully, not allowing my knife to get ahead of my brain!

The structure and images I have used in this book express the idea that humans have significantly changed the global landscape and thus impacted on insect populations.  The title of the book 'Entomophobia' alludes to our general attitude towards insects - an inconvenience and nuisance within our homes and gardens.  Perhaps we should be also considering the importance of insects in the natural world, where they are part of the food chain, help break down plant material and of course pollinate plants.

Cutting out hexagon windows in my handmade atlas envelopes

I printed my insect imagery onto organza sheets

The mock up artist books
The final book, side view

Top View, the concertina will be installed
closed like this in a hexagon pattern

Close up of one of the piano hinges,
using a bamboo skewer to secure it