Tag Archives: etchings

a little something for the weekend

Saturday 23 October 2010

may i introduce to you another small installment in my virtual world travelogue..? here is another mixed media abstract on paper on canvas, in the ongoing series of diminutive travelling icons or iCons. this one is entitled venezia

mixed media canvas print venice venezia

venezia, 2010, 13cm x 13cm x 3cm, intaglio collagraph on paper on canvas

mixed media canvas print venice venezia

venezia is one of a new series of very small works (virtual travel ‘iCons’) that focus on colour and visual associations with locations around the world – but i never quite know where i will visit next. this one is quite formally patterned as an object and i have begun to envisage it as work in textiles, perhaps as a woven wall hanging or a rug.

the dark brown recalls the damp wood of mooring posts and the striations echo shop front canopies, and also the mineral traces of waterlines on the buildings. the very small but perfectly formed venezia iCon is up for some real-life travelling should anyone wish it to give it a room…

so, a virtual weekend break, spent in venice, italy… well, not exactly (if only), but this is where i landed

venice - gondola

however, venice is presently in my thoughts, as i recall memories of when i first visited, many years ago on a journey through italy. we arrived aching & mildly dazed after a through-the-night train journey (in economy class, naturally), venice shrouded in an early morning mist which mizzled on for most of the day – but venice seemed like a very accommodating place in which to get slightly disorientated…

 venice canal and boats

venice also reminds me of my first experience of italian ice cream (or gelato) and the visual array of textures & colours on view along the counter. i was amazed to discover that ice cream came in so many flavours, and then i savoured my first taste of the very aromatic pistachio. it was lighter and more crystalline in texture than british ice cream and i marvelled at the sophistication of its presentation, elegantly scooped up and served atop a stylish cone. it was something of a glacial epiphany when all i had previously known was raspberry ripple in a large tub (re-used as a lunch box when empty), cinema choc-ices and maybe a wall’s funny face

venezia now joins tuscany, pompeii, milano and roma in a somewhat unplanned & erratic virtual tour of italy… these very small travel iCons (visual shortcuts, suitably squared, the equivalent of pixels, as small mementos to my virtual journeys) will continue the cause & effect – that of the aesthetic of colour leading onto faraway places; the subtext needs no futher explanation…

so, i found myself being taken back to what seems to be the very source of things again, the endless fascination with the signs of weathering, neglect and decay. i took a lot of photographs during my inter-railing journey through europe (about seven rolls of film) – of the cities and their buildings, the doorways, windows and walls – and even the pavements – any structure or surface which seemed to exhibit the textures of time, the evidence of history that didn’t require a tour guide…

later that year, during my art & design diploma (the pre-requisite qualification prior to embarking on an art degree) i first encountered etching. the printmaking workshop was a small but brightly lit room, with windows that overlooked the museum next door. in the centre of the workshop was a very old star-wheeled etching press. this seemingly archaic contraption of print technology was a much revered object, a prized antique (which, of course, it was). our printmaking tutor would often play old jazz records to jolly us along, so the atmosphere was more convivial and relaxed in comparison to the painting & drawing studios…

this is my first ever etching (1985), very simply titled ‘a door in venice‘. the subject matter of an old, weathered door and crumbling, decayed brickwork seemed perfectly in tune with the intaglio etching processes of open bite and aquatint

a door in venice, etching, 1985

is it really twenty five years since the not-so-grand european tour?

it’s strange how the tide of time affects the memory of things, how those memories resurface when you least expect them to, when you come across something, a photograph or an object, something that both creates & completes the connection to the past, that takes you right back there, in an instant, and in that instant everything that has happened since seems to make perfect sense…

prints and drawings

Friday 26 March 2010

one of the lichenscapes etchings, proofed in colour…


[etchings, proofs on various papers]

another road trip; subsequently did some while looking out of the window sketches to while away the seated hours, in what could possibly be the smallest functioning sketchbook, at only 10cm square…


[miniature sketchbook, with tesco pen]


[miniature sketchbook pages]


[field and sky drawing one]


[field and sky drawing two]


[field and sky drawing three]


[field and sky drawing four]

I am hoping that drawing directly from the landscape, sat within it or just passing through it (as here, partly from observation and partly memory) will in time inspire a new direction in my work… I like the sombre mood of dark clouds against a rolling landscape…

happiness is a warm sun

Saturday 20 March 2010

Today is is the spring equinox, and nearly all this week the sun has been shining, with some record temperatures – mild, balmy, brighter and lighter days – and my little eggbox seedlings are surely pushing their way into the verdant world. Brighter days has helped with the etchings too, as I have been wearing magnifying glasses to draw the plates under a desk lamp…

As I was sifting through the contents of a cupboard for some possible frames and mounts for my new etchings, I came across the last nine of the one hundred paintings that I began in November 2008… I hadn’t scanned these until this week… and I noticed how, with a clean mount, the rustic, elemental nature of these little paintings became at once much more minimalist, dare I say smarter, cooler, that little bit more slick and stylish…


click to view larger version on etsy

However, I’m not a fan of mats or mounts, as I like to see the raw edges… I see these little paintings as small fragments…


[XCIV small abstract painting on paper]

In reality they all look much like these six from behind… I tear the paper to the required size first, then begin the monoprinting (aka monotyping) and painting…


[rear view of small paintings, aka verso]

if any evidence were needed that layer upon layer is added or blotted back, all made by paint-covered hands…

I remember once looking at the Tate’s collection of Rothkos and noticing the rough edges of the canvas, and I wondered what they might look like as abstract paintings from the back, on the verso – he painted in very thin layers onto unprimed canvas that soaked into the fibres (one for the conservators). What about all those notes and amendments to details that we add to our the back of our work? I sometimes add a label to larger works that describes the idea behind the work, title, name and address, web and email, the year, month started and/or completed, or revised… I know some artists who never date their work (or at least obscure it) – in that way their work never looks old to gallery eyes…

Here are the last nine scans of the series: XCII, XCIII, XCIV, XCV, XCVI, XCVII, XCVIII, XCIX and C…

Here’s the full one hundred paintings, I to C, aka chromatids, 2008-2009…


One hundred paintings, I to C, mixed media on paper

You can read the very beginning of the one hundred paintings here…

And finally, back to the printmaking (I seem to have lots of ongoing projects) – I had quite forgotten how long it might take to draw the lichenscape plates, so no finished prints to show today, but here is a sneak preview for avid followers of this blog (three, not counting my good self)…  I took a snapshot of one of the copper plates near the window…


[copper plate etching]

If there is one thing that I have missed over the last couple of weeks, it is drawing in my sketchbook outdoors.. so I will endeavour to get some sketching hours in the next week or two…