Friday, 21 August 2015

CREATING COLLAGRAPHS

You may have gathered by now that I am an artist who uses collagraph to make my work. I choose collagraph because it is an exciting, versatile and a creative way to make an intaglio plate. Not because I am unable or do not have the facilities to etch. It is a positive choice about the way I make my work.
applying carborundum
In the late 70's I did a fine art degree and learnt to etch on copper. Collagraph has been an extension of that process after discovering it being used at a Steiner school in Gloucester over 20 years ago.
gluing highlights
I spend a great deal of time looking up other collagraph artists and researching my chosen method. I am excited by other people's working processes.
shellacked plate
And this post has come about because I stumbled across an American Youtube video describing Collagraphy (a term I hate) as and I quote, 'Poor persons etching',  I am incensed to have my working process described in this way.
inking up
When not looking at cats on the computer or putting things on my Facebook page I check out what is happening in the printmaking world. It is good to know what is out there. I can see why galleries think that collagraph could be considered a second rate, ameteur printmaking process. For a start no one seems to know how to spell Collagraph...it's Collagraph, not Collograph.
blue, brown and black inking
It's an intaglio process in it's own right and you need an etching press to print them. Relief printing them alone creates a thin image, a combination of the 2 creates magic.
Rook with Stag beetle 
There are wonderful role models to look up to, Brenda Hartill and Peter Wray, both have developed methods of making and inking collagraph plates, leading the way in raising the collagraph profile.
Collagraph with gum arabic transfer
There are really informative blog posts, information and books available.
Collagraph with gum arabic transfer
It seems to me that more than any other process, it's accessibility and low tech platemaking
Magpie with Longhorn beetle
is it's strength and leads to exciting, experimental images.
Rook with moth
I am completely absorbed by the process of making plates and over the years I have discovered the secrets to making collagraphs is in sensitively made plates and  the skill of technically correct inking.
Got it pegged
But the biggest questions we have to ask ourselves is, why are we using this process over other ways of plate making and what am I saying with it? To say that it is a poor persons etching has maddened me more than the constant misspelling of the process I am completely and wholeheartedly committed to. I know why I am an artist using collagraph printmaking...I would be interested in why you do, or even why you don't!!
The images of birds with labels and bulldog clips are from the plates I made at Art in Action. Got it pegged was inspire by my day out at Slimbridge.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

PROCESS IN PRACTICE

It has been important for me to spend August making new work and experimenting.
I spent last year trying to make a print a month, this came to an end in about February of this year, so July and August has seen me making up for it. I have made 5 new plates while at Art in Action and this week I have started
4 new plates inspired by drawings in my sketch book and
my lovely outing to Slimbridge a couple of weeks ago.
I have several things on the go at once, so that while things are drying I have other plates to work on in sequence.
I trace the drawing from my sketchbook and transfer it to grey board. If I shape the plate it is now that it happens. This is an image of Jackdaws on a washing line.
If I have any large white areas I apply the layers of glue at this stage. Each layer dries thoroughly before the next is applied. When this is dry I will then apply carborundum. 
Skim and repair plaster may come next, these sewing birds are too small for carborundum.
When the plaster is dry I will then glue on the highlights and cut and carve the dark areas and lines.
I really like making shaped plates and these will have a gum arabic background, a process I have been experimenting with
on one of the images I made at Art in Action.

There is a little way to go with these plates before printing...I will keep you posted. I you would like to learn collagraph techniques check out the yard:ARTspace workshops and courses for this year and 2016.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

INSPIRATION

Where do I get my inspiration and energy from, easily answered, teaching and research trips.
I found myself teaching an enamel workshop last weekend at New Brewery Arts, Cirencester.It was suppose to be a basic level workshop,
but thanks to the high caliber creatives who took part
some sophisticated samples were produced.
We used very basic techniques, from sgraffito drawing into the dried, wet enamel,
stamping and sifting techniques and lots of layering.
The kiln was hot and firing for 2 days.
I demonstrated the joys of transfers on enamel to whet everyone's appetites for extending the process.
Using these very
basic tools and
processes, combined
with a group full of ideas, 
some very lovely 
work was
made.
All this creativity in one place left me itching to make work myself. Facilitating workshops always leave me with itchy fingers, desperate to explore ideas myself. This is why I teach.
So the next day, the lovely Mr Brown and I went to my all time most inspiring place, after the British Museum and the Oxford Natural History Museum...Slimbridge.
146 photographs later, plans in my head to make a collection of wildfowl collagraphs I hit my studio
with plans to make work for Select Showcase in October and played and played
and played.
At last I have been able to introduce birds to my enamel and label themes...so watch this space, there is a great deal more to come as I am planning a drawing and collagraph plate making fortnight over the summer. 

Monday, 27 July 2015

WITHOUT BORDERS

Yesterday saw the opening of a really interesting exhibition organised by the Gloucestershire Printmaking Co-Op at the Museum in the Park, Stroud.
Without Borders does what it says, shows a series of works from the South West from artists using printmaking in unexpected ways.
It was a very convivial occasion,
with people really concentrating on the work being shown, but there was a great deal to look at.
The thing that struck me was how many collagraphs or collagraph derived work was shown. Jane Walker: Presli Fragments- Collagraph Plates.
An interesting set of multiples. Emily Lucas
Collagraphs embedded in resin.  Cath Bloomfield
A collagraph construction. Sandra Porter
I particularly enjoyed this piece with the stoned backed enamel element. Anthony Lloyd
This is also by Anthony Lloyd.
Artists book work feature large in this show. Zoe Heath.
3D screen prints by Jane Sasanow.
Paper clay spoons. Pamela Bowden
Anthea Millier.
Maxine Relton.
Peter Collins
Andrew Seaby
This well displayed group of 
Artists books certain takes several looks at.
Tricia Torrington.
These were my offerings to the exhibition, digital
and screen printed transfers
on etched steel.
Once again the Museum in the Park, Stroud have done an excellent job displaying this varied collection as a cohesive group. There is plenty to see in this exhibition, I have missed out quite a few beautiful pieces, I know I will have to go back to see it again.