Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Chambered nautilus drypoint etching from a perspex plate

Plans for Nautilus drypoint ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

I bit the bullet and treated myself to a small printing press a while back. I can print up to an A4 paper size which I think will suit my needs. The details of the press for anyone interested are here I am not affiliated to this company in any way and I'm sure that it can probably be purchased from other suppliers this is just where I happened to go. The press is very light weight and as well as bolting it to a cupboard I have also had to bolt the cupboard to the wall to stop everything from moving around so that I can get enough pressure to do what I need. That said for the price I am very pleasantly surprised and delighted with the results so far.

I have been rediscovering my love of drawing whilst experimenting with drypoint. Drawing the nautilus was an enjoyable challenge! Below is the first proof taken from a perspex plate.

Nautilus -  Artist Proof I   Drypoint   ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

At the moment I am using HOT PRESS 140lb watercolour paper but in the future hope to experiment with some printmaking paper. The inks I am using are Caligo safewash etching inks (oil based but watersoluble for easy  clean up).

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Watercolour storms in my sketchbook

Watercolour storm sketches A4 sketchbook ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

More storms in my sketchbook. My aim was to capture the 'wetness' of the weather. I am noticing those mussel shell colours a lot at the moment.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Watercolour summer storms

Last week we were treated to the most fantastic light show during a thunderstorm. I can't remember a storm with so much lightening. It was very loud and very bright and lasted quite a long time. Luckily Prince Twinkle toes slept all the way through it.

The build up to it had started in the afternoon and had inspired these tiny paintings which I have now listed in my Etsy shop.

Storm building I   watercolour 6x9cm ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

Storm building II   watercolour 6.5x8.5cm ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

Storm building III   watercolour 6x9cm ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec
Storm building IV   watercolour 6x9cm ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

Monday, 22 June 2015

Flexing my mussels

Mussel shells study   coloured pencil   ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

Sorry, I couldn't resist the pun.....

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Storms End

Storms End   17x17cm watercolour on paper   ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

With all the printmaking going on I have made a little time for painting too. A small painting inspired by the end of some wild weather. This painting is available at my Etsy store here

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Beach study in mixed media

Beach finds colour palette

A walk on the beach in Jersey to see my folks turned up these lovely finds. Such an inspiring collection of colours and textures.

They inspired a study in mixed media done on top of the proof of my collagraph plate from the previous post. As a print it was a total reject but to play with using other media and work through an idea it was perfect as the embossing of the plate left beautiful indentations suited to the broken colour I was trying to achieve. I used watercolour, oil pastels and coloured pencils, layering them and taking advantage of the repelling qualities of the dry media and watercolour. It has made for some interesting textures. Then I decided to work into the plate with the same media but with the addition of acrylic instead of watercolour.

I will at some point develop this idea further making more of the perspective and showing a bigger depth of field. This may be in print, paint or mixed media I'm not sure but exploration is the point of these small studies and for now I am enjoying the process.

Beach study mixed media and collagraph   ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

Beach study   collagraph plate and mixed media  ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

St. Aubins Bay - Jersey Channel Islands   ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Print making Day 5 collagraphs

The last day of the course came around far too soon for my liking. Now we had practiced a few different processes we could choose what we wanted to do for the final session. I choose to concentrate on collagraphs as I hadn't had much time the previous session and I wanted more practice at inking up the plates whilst there was people around to ask for advice.

Blind embossment of plate 2   ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

I started with a blind embossing (printing without ink) of plate 2 (from the previous post) on dampened NOT watercolour paper. The plate was given a fine coating of French Chalk to stop it from laminating the paper to the plate before going through the press.

This plate was made using a mixture of plastic lace and cotton lace. I like the details that are picked up and think it would have worked even better if I had used a smooth paper. It just goes to show the amount of pressure the press is using as the lace on the right really was a very fine cotton piece and yet every detail has come out.

A/P I of plate 2   ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

For the first inking of the plate I used a relief technique trying to only apply the colour to the raised surfaces and keeping the indentations free to show the white of the paper. Strictly speaking there is too much ink left on the plate when I put it through the press so the image is quite dark but it does have a nice contrast with the light. I just like images a bit more subtle in tone...

A/P II of plate 2   ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

Next I applied the ink with a toothbrush working it in to all the nooks and crannies using a more intaglio method of inking . A piece of scrim was used to wipe off the excess ink and finally a piece of tissue paper and a cotton bud to polish up a couple of highlights. But still......too much ink left on the plate! I hadn't taken off enough ink on the right hand cotton lace. The plastic lace is much easier to wipe ink off than the cotton, something I have made a mental note off for future reference.

A/P III of plate 2   ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

For experiments sake I ran it through the press a second time without adding any more ink. In some ways I prefer the more smokey faded images of a second run through the press.

Comparing the two methods of inking a collagraph plate is interesting and I think an experiment later using the two methods with different colours combined will make for interesting passages in an image.

Collagraph plate 2   ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

This was the plate after all that inking and printing a little cleaned up.

A/P I   beach study   collagraph   ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

beach study   collagraph plate  ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

This was my attempt at playing with an image using sand, glue and packing tape for textures. Whilst the print isn't really anything to speak of I really like the plate. Maybe I will work into it as a mixed media piece. Alas I ran out of time to do more. I need much more practice at this and have already signed up for the autumn term - something to look forward to.

Thank you Jan for a great course I have thoroughly enjoyed it. So much so that I have signed up for the Autumn term!

Friday, 17 April 2015

Print making Day 4 more drypoint and collagraph samples

Scallop    A/P1     dry point   8x7.5cm     ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

Due to the addictive nature of scratching away at pieces of acrylic perspex I went home and prepared a further five plates that week. This scallop was one that I did to have as a comparison with the previous zinc plate etching. I readily hang my head in shame at the mucky edges where I didn't clean the plate properly and I hold my hands up to the fact that I really need a lot more practice at inking up. But I figure the more mistakes I make the better I will be for it. I always have learnt by doing...

Scallop    A/P2     dry point   8x7.5cm     ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

A second pass this time using a pre watercoloured handmade paper for chine colle. The paper I used was a kind of lace paper and with hindsight I should have probably used one without holes running through it as it made it incredibally difficult to apply the gum arabic which was used to bond it to the paper as it went through the press. I have learnt so many things during each and every print.

Scallop A/P3   dry point & mixed media 8x7.5cm  ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

This is a third pass from the plate but this time I have worked into it with watercolour and gouache making a mixed media version.

Spots! A/P2   dry point 3.5x7.5cm   ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

Spots! was the smallest dry point that I did at only 3.5x7.5cm and was on a tiny left over piece that I was going to throw away. I'm glad that I didn't though as I think it works quite well.

The time that I spent printing off the dry point plates hadn't left me much time to ink up and print the collagraph samples that I had done. In this session I only managed a couple. Collagraph printing was the reason that I had signed up to this course in particular so it was kind of ironic that I had spent so much time in another and very different area.

Rather than do one board of samples to see how the different surfaces would print I had done a set of nine with the collaged elements loosely relating to each other. When I had sat down to make the sample board I had been thinking of the traditional embroidery samplers and how people had practiced groups of stitching which had led to separate contained boards. 

Collagraph sample boards all backed onto pieces of mountboard;

 A key of materials used to make the samples:

1 paper tags with string and punched shapes. The blue paper was flocked.
2 plastic lace flowers and a strip of cotton lace to compare.
3 snowflake sequins and a real feather.
4 cellotape, masking tape, magic tape and plastic photo corners.
5 medium and rough acrylic texture paste and a glass beads texture paste.
6 paper fibre acrylic texture paste, kitchen towel and a fragment of fabric.
7 embossed wall paper and a handmade lace paper.
8 sand, mountboard and a section of the mountboard peeled away to expose a middle layer.
9 different texture ribbons and a piece of ricrac.

Sample board 4   collograph   ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

This is the second pass as the first was far too heavy on the ink to actually see any of the texture and detail from the plate.

I thought the plastic photo corners made a good little row of beach hut roofs. The yellow on the pale hut isn't a clever bit of inking but a piece of the shellack that adhered to the paper. A lucky accident I think as I like the addition of the colour. I think I would have had a better print if I had wiped more ink of the plate. I am finding with every print making process the art of good printing is knowing how much and particularly how little ink to leave on the plate.

A/P1   Collagraph Plate 9   ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec
A/P2   Collagraph Plate 9   ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

On the left the first run through the press dampened paper and too much ink and on the right the second run through the press with no added ink and dry paper. This was much closer to my intended image.

So much to learn and so little time.....

Monday, 13 April 2015

Print making day week 3 more dry point and a little lino

acrylic perspex plate        7.5x7.5cm         ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

Before going to the next class I had done some research on dry point. I remembered reading about artists using acrylic perspex instead of metal plates. As I had some knocking around the studio I dug it out and decided to make a couple of experiment plates to see how it would work. The problem was I don't have an etching needle. Not to be deterred and I hope I don't make any printmakers wince too much, I thought to myself well it just needs to be sharp and pointy enough to scratch the surface...... out came a trusty school type compass. I warn you now, if you decide to have a go at this, the process quickly becomes very addictive.

  Whelk        dry point  7.7x7.5cm          ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

Although this is very rough and ready I can see the potential in this process for me. This will be something that I can safely replicate at home providing I have a small press and a proper etching tool or two. The lines aren't as delicate but I think that is the fault of the compass and my clumsy inking of the plate. I'm sure a little more burnishing off of the ink would have helped enormously. I made three plates and whilst the drawing on this one isn't terribly good it did print up the best as it had the better cross hatching and hatching in.

Gingko and moon    linoprint   10x17cm   ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec
The last print that I did for the day was this lino. This is a process I have used before a few times and I have to say I just don't have the patience (or the strength in my hands) for it. I usually end up with more flesh cut out of my fingers than lino carved. When I have done it before I have always pressed the prints by hand but this time there was a beautiful old Albion press to use.

Now the design was supposed to be very simple and graphic just the moon, gingko leaves and the larger reflection shapes. (*note the small amount of lino that would need to be carved ;o) ) However being such a menace with the cutting tools I had a few mishaps and the smaller dashes had appeared in a couple of places. What to do? I decided to go with it and add a few more... The best thing I can say about this is that the handmade paper that it was printed on was lovely - such a shame I ruined it. Ooops!

Like I said lino just isn't and I'm sure never will be a technique for me. If you would like to see a master lino cut print maker please visit Sherrie York at Brush and Baren.

As if all of this printing wasn't enough we also had our homework to finish preparing for the next session. The collograph samples had to be shellacked in advance due to the drying time needed. Our tutor Jan Bullas is an expert collograph printer and I was very much looking forward to this section of the course.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Print making day 2 dry point and etching

A Sudden Shower 1   dry point 10.5x5.5cm   ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

Toward the end of the previous session we had tried a little dry point as a test piece to get a feel for the technique. Using a small off cut of aluminum we scratched in a design using an etching needle. I know that I have used this process before back in my college days but being twenty years ago now I can barely remember it. I hadn't scratched in hard enough to get a deep enough burr to hold the ink so my first pass through the press was too feint.

A Sudden Shower 2   dry point 10.5x5.5cm   ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

After going over some of the lines and inking up again I was much more encouraged by the results. Now I just needed to concentrate on the inking up which is I think, the real 'art' of print making; knowing just how much to take off the plate I have found difficult to get the hang of. I think this is something that will come after many, many failed prints.

So a new day and a new set of adventures began. Trying to remember all that I had learnt about the above technique I started a new plate. This is the best print of the course for me. Luck was on my side and some magic happened...

On the Dunes   dry point 10x18.5cm ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

I used the etching needle to scratch in and cross hatch the fence posts, then carefully drew in the lines of the wire fence and grasses. When I inked up the plate I used a sepia ink only inking on the burr and I didn't apply any to the sky area or the sand on the right. I spent time buffing off the excess and burnishing the foreground grasses. At the last minute I had an 'I wonder what would happen if?...' moment and I used a piece of used black inky scrim and very gently wiped over the areas that had no ink at all on them. (My initial intention had been to leave these areas completely pristine and white.)

Using pre-soaked paper I ran it through the press and was excited to see the result. I like the tonal range of the image. The black inky scrim has given it a very subtle smokiness which I think gives it a nice atmosphere. There wasn't time for me to do a second pass in comparison without the grey so I will have to return to it another time. I think if I had left it completely white the image would have looked to hard and graphic. There are, of course, a lot of things that can be improved on with the drawing and inking of the plate and my edges aren't terribly neat but I felt satisfied that I had made a good start.

The plate 7.5x8cm ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec
On to etching with acid... using a small piece of zinc that had been coated in hard ground I gently scratched in with an etching needle. My shell design was so gently drawn in as to only have taken off the ground rather than denting the plate. I wondered if this would be enough for the acid to bite into. It went into an nitrate acid bath (ratio 1/10) for 25 minutes and was washed and prepared for inking. Again I used sepia ink but the burr in the plate was so subtle that I really didn't have high hopes for getting a decent impression. This is the plate before I had cleaned the ink off so you can see the ink in the lines. If you run your nail over the plate you can barely feel the indentation. I really like the plate as an object in itself - nice shiny zinc with the delicate inked lines  - I am tempted to frame it ;o)

Scallop A/P 1   etching ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

The first proof taken from the plate. I was pleasantly surprised at how much detail had come out. I had obviously underestimated just how much pressure the plate is put under in the press.

Scallop A/P 2   etching ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

As an experiment without inking the plate again I ran it through the plate a second time. Not so strong an image but I quite like the faded subtlety of it.

So after busy day two I had much to think about. I really enjoyed the etching process but baths of acid etc aren't going to be very practical for me to replicate at home. Dry point is maybe similar enough for me and very much appeals to my love of drawing. This was something for me to research before the next session.