Thursday, 28 January 2016

Lino printing for beginners

The Albion Press we used to print our work
I have finally fulfilled one of my ambitions and that is to sign up for a printmaking course this year. I did just enough printing on my foundation course and at art college to whet my appetite but never pursued it when I left college so am now left with no printing skills to speak of.

I've joined a beginners lino printing course at East London Printmakers which is an artists run cooperative near London Fields and,even better, is walking distance from home. Our teacher had us printing our first colour, a yellow block, very quickly having introduced us to the mysteries of registering one colour over another with the use of masking tape.

Yellow printed, now to start cutting the lino
I used for my starting point a wee sketch that I did very quickly while walking on Hadrian's Wall last year. It's one of a series of quick sketches that I made on that walk that I keep revisiting. Our teacher did point out that you can never predict exactly how your print will finally look and how right he was. My original drawing was made in the remote Northumbrian countryside and my final print looked as though it was set in a fair ground! I thought this quite amusing.

Eight of us students managed to produce seven, three colour prints in the course of our first day which we were all quite impressed with. Next Wednesday we'll be working on a single colour design that we will have designed and cut at home during the week.

Trying to register the second colour over the first was not easy
The finished print drying on the rack

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Ice skating at Canary Wharf

Here's my warm-up drawing
I belong to an informal sketching group called Art in the Park and we visited the ice rink at Canary Wharf for our first outing of 2016. This is a temporary structure and we sheltered in the pop-up pub on site called the Tasting Room.

It always takes me a while to settle into drawing so I began with a pencil view of the bar. Then I turned my attention to the outside and the skaters circling the rink. I admired their collective courage - their expertise ranged from terrified novice to fearlessly competent. I quite envied them and briefly considered joining in but decided I was just avoiding trying to sketch the skaters.

First attempt at skaters
Second attempt - thought it was getting a bit repetitive
My fellow artists

Then I thought it might be fun to try drawing without looking at the paper so I tried this with my fellow artists and liked the result. I found it difficult to only look at the subject so compromised by looking at the paper as little as possible. I really liked the way this was going so did one last drawing of a table and chairs using the same approach.

I was happy with the way this drawing turned out and if felt good to take a chance and risk losing control of the final product so while I may not have ventured onto the ice I did step out of my usual drawing 'comfort zone' and reaped some rewards in the process.