Friday, December 15, 2017

Experimenting with Cyanotypes

Together with my printmaking friends at Migaloo Press Collective, we've been playing with cyanotypes.

Cyanotypes are created using a photographic printing process where two chemicals painted onto paper (or fabric etc) and allowed to dry in a dark room.  Objects are then arranged on the paper, and it is exposed to the sun to develop.  The exposed paper around the objects develops a cyan-blue colour, leaving silhouettes and shapes of your objects.

Great fun!

Migaloo Press did a play-day, lead by Jen who has experience in cyanotypes.  I had done some years ago but was keen to update my skills and to use cyanotype chemicals I had stored in my art room (on the 'must do' list).

I've captured some of my experiments in the photos below, but I plan to do some more exploring and developing alternative colours using tea and vinegar.  I think this is my Christmas holidays project!

Exposing the paper, with leaves and stones.
Its behind glass to ensure good contact and so that
the leaves don't blow away.

The resulting print from the exposure in the previous photo.
It was a cloudy day so this is a pale print even after 20minutes exposure time.

Another exposure, with a bee image (cut from paper), sedge,
string, talc, and a hexagon stencil.
I'm not a minimalist as you can see!
This exposure only took 5 minutes as it was
 a bright sunny day.
Cyanotype print using Shepherds' Purse weed, talc, and a paper stencil.

The same cyanotype print with a lithograph printed
on top afterwards.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Collagraphs with Plants and Friends

This week my art friends and I did some playing with simple collagraphs.  We made printing plates where we stuck leaves and other found objects to thin card (mat board) and then sealed the plates with shellac.

We spent a fun day printing the plates intaglio style using my Akua inks and my Xcut machine.

We did some printing with 2 colours, but when dry, the prints can also be handcoloured.

Some of Wendy's plates, ready to print with.
Ngaire printing using the Xcut.
We had to keep adjusting the pressure for the different
thicknesses of the plates, depending on how
much material had been glued to the plate.

Ngaire's plate, revealing her print.

Ngaire's print on eco-dyed paper.
The subtle background colour looked beautiful with the blue ink.
2 of the leaves were glued to the plate vein side up
so their vein patterns were captured in the printing process.
Karin's print using a finely woven doily
glued to cardboard and sealed.
It was tricky for her to get the ink even,
but produced an interesting print.

Wendy's banksia collagraph on rusted text paper.

Wendy's 2 colour banksia print.
She inked up the background in blue,
then inked the leaf in black,
carefully wiping back without mixing the
colours too much.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Magpies in my garden.....and in my monoprints

Its always a good thing to challenge oneself.

So, keeping that in mind, last week I decided to create a monochromatic print using multiple plates, keeping the composition simple and minimalistic.  My usual technique is lots of colour on one plate with tons of mark making.   So how did I go?

My theme was one of my favourite - magpies. This time I wanted to tell the story of a magpie hunting for grubs on my back lawn.

The print that I completed consisted of 4 plates - 3 monoprint and 1 drypoint.  I ended up with a series of 2 successful prints and 6 failed prints.  I had many failures due to issues with accurate registration, which detracted from the pleasure of the process but a great learning opportunity as well. The plates moved as I lowered the paper on top, particularly the feather as it wasn't flat.

My plates were:
- Drypoint of a grub
- Monoprinted Magpie stencil
- Ghost monoprint of string (to represent the Magpie's song OR it could be the path of the grub under the ground)
- Monoprint of a feather

Would I do it again?  Hmmmmmm.....   maybe I'll try it where the plates are odd sizes and don't have to line up.   :-)

Making the drypoint plate using acrylic sheet and etching tool

Printing the 4 plates.  The registration sheet is below
the plastic liner on the bed press.

Revealing the print.

Revealing another print.
One of the final prints "Magpie in My Garden".
Can you see the story?

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Scrub Turkey printing video

Hi all, my apologies that the video I included in yesterdays' post 'The Scrub Turkeys Return' didn't work.

However, I have addressed the issue and it should now work.  Here is the link to my blogpost:



Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Scrub Turkeys return

Its been a few years since I printed a Scrub Turkey series.  Its one of my favourite birds (after wrens!).  I recently sold the remaining Turkey prints from my last series, so I thought...why not?  Lets print some more!  Each series is different, and shows the advances in my technique and colour choices.

I've named this series of 13 prints "Bird vs Backyard" highlighting how the Scrub Turkeys' cross the boundaries between urban and natural areas.  Locals have a 'love/hate' relationship with them and keen gardeners are frustrated by the turkeys' instincts to collect mulch to create their nest mounds.  Its quite a backyard battle!

And a first for me, I took a short video as a printed - its at the bottom of this post.  I must admit it was a low-tech video using my phone and a selfie stick but I hope you enjoy it!
I always like to plan my compositions before I start printing -
laying out my stencils and objects to see how they work together.

I was gifted some awesome mesh which I used in my wren
prints last week.  Here are the marks left by the mesh on the plate
from a previous print, ready to print off onto the next print.

A happy accident - I was inking up a stencil on scrap paper
and it ''printed itself'....nice!  I'll find a use for it - right now it reminds me
of the magic of monoprinting and the serendipity of the process.

One that didn't quite work.  I changed my colours after this one.
I'll still use it for something, maybe cut it up.

The best print in the series (in my opinion).  Blue and brown are my
favourite colours, so I keep coming back to them.

I reverted back to my old technique a few times, overprinting
on ghost prints which provided more interesting marks and textures.

White space is always a good compositional tool,
but its tricky to get the balance right like I did here.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Monoprinting as Therapy

There's nothing like immersing yourself in a week of printing, even if interrupted by daily distractions....

After spending a week at Geelong teaching monoprinting, I was determined to not pack away my inks but set up my print studio and have some fun with my little Xcut Xpress machine.

I dug out my favourite wren stencils and got to work....

Inked plate and objects ready to print on the
bed of my Xcut machine.

Revealing the print after printing.
I used tinted Stonehenge, dampened and torn to size to
print as bleed prints.

My ink stations - printing on my own means
I need to chose my colours carefully as I only put
out three colours.  Less to clean up at the end of the day.

A feather print in progress, just for something different!

One of the successful prints, but not every print works.
I used my favourite Kangaroo Grass in this series,
I love its feathering appearance.

Another of my favourite wrens.  The pattern at the
bottom was from some mesh that was
gifted to me - a real treasure!

I had to trace around the outline of this wren
after the print was dry to make him
stand out a bit more.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Monoprint Alchemy - making inspirational books

Next week I'm heading down to Geelong (Victoria, Australia) to run a week-long workshop titled 'Monoprint Alchemy', where the participants will experiment and play with a variety of monoprint and print mixed-media techniques to create a themed coptic bound book.

Over the past year, I've been working on two sample books to take along, as well as running a trial project with few art friends where the outcome is they also produce their own book.  The idea of this trial was to be able to take along to the Geelong workshop samples of completed books, showing the diversity resulting from a range of styles, choices, preferences, and skills. To just take my books wouldn't tell the whole story.

As the project comes to a close, I thought I should show you the results of many months of working together.   And I must say, I'm both impressed and humbled by the outcome - a beautiful collection of books that each reflect the personality of the creator.

So a HUGE thank you to all of the girls.  And yes, I've managed to fit all of the books in my suitcase - 5kgs of them - I just can't bear to leave any of them behind!

Now I just need to think of another exciting project for next year to keep us all busy. :-)

Here we are showing off our wonderful Monoprint Alchemy books -
Wendy, Lyn, me, Joanna and Ngaire.  Karin was absent for the photo.

Don't you just love a stack of colourful coptic books? 

A sample of Joanna's "Garden Shambolic" book, with
a beautiful expressive drypoint print.  Her book is
all about her garden, featuring prints and snippets of plants.

Wendy's "Banksia Connections" book with cover-wrap.

Wendy's gorgeous cover-wrap made using Paper Cloth techniques.

 A collage of banksia leaf monoprints in Wendy's book.
Her restricted colour palette and repeated leaf imagery
link the prints together really well.

A sample of Lyn's colourful Japan inspired book, featuring
her original artwork, haiku poems and ephemera.

Ngaire's sublime book "Shore Lines" was inspired by her walks
along local beaches.

Ngaire's book features her beautiful poems on foldouts and popups.

Karin's book 'Leaf" is organic and earthy, with a beautiful
eco-dyed cover with a leaf monoprint.

My book 'Nest Feather Song' is all about birds.
I frequently use bird imagery in my prints
so it wasn't hard for me to find content for my book.

A spread from my book, with monoprints, drypoint prints,
zines, and pages from bird books.

This is my other book, 'Leaf'.  Karin also did this theme,
but our books are TOTALLY different, which shows that
each book is a creative artwork and a reflection of
the artist who made them.

A spread from my 'Leaf' Book showing use of printed
shipping tags (love them!).

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Working smaller and smarter

Its been a while since I've made time to do some large fine-art monoprints as it requires quite a bit of planning and preparation.

So in between fine-art prints, I like to do small ones, A6 size up to A5 size, at home on my portable etching press or my Xcut DieCut Machine.   I also do a few prints when demonstrating at my workshops, but often those ones don't work out as I'm rushing it with an audience looking on.

My small prints are great for selling in my local shop outlets, as I can keep the price reasonable, under $100 framed.

As the prints are small, I find that the photo-ready frames (with mats) at local shops are great.  I source these frames from department stores (BIG W, Kmart), homewares shops (Freedom Furniture), and stationary shops (Officeworks).  For larger prints, I always use professional framers, as I've found from experience that cheap frames tend to warp in larger sizes and its difficult to attach D rings without damaging the frame.

Sometimes I don't bother framing the small prints.  I just mount them on a piece of stiff white cardboard, sometimes using a precut mat to 'frame' it, and finally wrapping it cellophane.

I've found that presenting smaller works for sale doesn't always have to be expensive.  And keeping the price down means that more people can enjoy my work :-)

My work for sale at a local show.  Cards in boxes, small works
in cellophane on stands at the back of the table,
hanging works on the wall
"Bodhi" monoprint.
This one's between A6 and A5 size.

Feather monoprint.

Feather monoprint again.
I used a black mat for this one,
it really brought out the moodiness of the
dark tips of the feather.
You can see it in the first picture of my display at the local show.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Kayaking for inspiration

I enjoy getting out of the studio to enjoy some sunshine.   I've recently done a couple of kayaking trips around our local waterways, providing precious time to mindfully observe the trees, wildlife and geography as well as listening to bird calls and the soothing sound of wind moving through the tree canopy.

These journeys might not directly result in the production of art as I'm not there to sketch or print, but they provide me with some headspace to enjoy and observe, and more importantly, to think.  I love my thinking time, something unfortunately rare to achieve at home with all the usual day-to-day demands.

I think we all need some time like this to keep our art connected to what we're passionate about.

I love my selfie stick!

Here we are, our kayaks resting on a sandbank whilst we enjoyed morning tea.
We're in  Schulzs Canal - a man-made river and recreational haven.
The amount of rubbish that Craig picked up at this spot is an indication
of the Canal's popularity and location near urbanised areas.

Pied Oyster Catchers - one of my favourite shore birds.
You almost always see them in pairs, I think its very romantic!

You can't help but admire the architecture of mangroves and
coastal vegetation - a view that can only be appreciated by boat.

I enjoyed the rippled reflections on the outgoing tide, serenaded by the
mangrove honeyeaters.   Shame about the regular roar of planes taking off
at the nearby airport!

We lost count of how many old tyres we saw in Jacksons Creek -
we wondered how they all got there.
Unfortunately too big and too many to strap to the kayaks!

Craig and I gliding up a tidal creek out of the wind.
What a beautiful day for appreciating this small
piece of natural area right next to the airport.

We spotted a pelican gliding past, such an amazing bird.
As a young girl, I remember feeding them left over fish during family boating trips.
I still haven't forgiven the one who nipped my finger with its long beak!