Jazz flute, and Ginkgo rider

The first of these two pieces started life as one of my not exactly series, but better described as a group of works based on players of musical instruments.  Most of the individuals are women, and one day a woman with red hair playing the flute came into my mind.

I like rendering my drawings as relief prints – showing the carving too.  There is something in this which seems to combine the flat image with movement and even three dimensionality, I find.  In any case, I like the effect, so have been using it a lot.  The digital graphics can also add to the layered look.

For Jazz flute I wanted her hair to be red, and the whole atmosphere to be a warm and sunny one.  The fact that I have a friend who plays the flute and who loves the sun may have influenced this desire.  So I tried out printing the lino block on yellow tissue paper which had been crushed once then flattened (adding more random elements with a batik-y feel).  I think she looks good even starkly thus in the initial image which was scanned.

jazz001

The digital work gave her the red hair, the green dress, and the pastel scattered background from my ‘background’ digital files – much used many times before, and once I was happy with the image I printed this out onto a prepared A3 sheet of cotton lawn.

jazz flute

I am really happy with the effect of the yellow rather than white base, and I am now adding the final layer of stitching with fine silk threads.

In the case of Ginkgo rider the final image came about through trial and error.  When learning to print collagraphs one of my attempts used leaves.  The image of that attempt I thought might be worth chopping up digitally to use as elements in a future piece.

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One of the great advantages of scanning at a high resolution, then cropping is that I’m not limited to the scale of the physical piece of paper.  The ginkgo leaf was its actual size on the print – as can be seen in relation to the stamps; but I am able to render its looks much more appropriately sculptural with a crop.

Turned round the sweep of the stem and the fan of the leaf made me think of kites and windsurfers,… although a sail is usually above the sailor my thoughts took me to a rider – someone who would be swept off on top, holding the mast, so to speak.  The digital processing in this case simply added the red rider.  The rest of the image is a high resolution scan of the cropped print.  This will also be printed onto A3 prepared cotton lawn, and more colour will be added with thread when I start stitching.

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The development of Quiet work

quiet template

As with most pieces, Quiet work started as a doodle destined for lino cutting.  She was printed while I was experimenting with the use of handmade papers prepared for inkjet printing.  As she has such a large empty background – necessarily so – I used a photograph with faint texture and pale colour.  (A close-up snap of the Serpentine pavilion which is now at Hauser and Wirth Somerset.)

crafting back

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The print came out well, and after I had scanned it I put it up in my print kitchen.  But in order to stitch the piece I thought that more colour was needed, so I played around for a bit before printing the image onto cotton.

quiet work

The balance of visual weight had to be at the base of the image, so I decided to use a different stitch with the leaves to try to achieve that.  Also important is her hair, so more pattern detail was stitched into that.  The background, however had to be kept separate and airy, so I used a seed stitch – and I’m still not completely happy with that.  But it’s done now, and overall I’m pleased.

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Fixing a flaw

For my latest quilt project I have once again chosen to put together a patchwork of individual images.  These images are printed on cotton lawn because as there is to be quite a bit of hand stitching I want to make it as easy for my arthritic fingers as possible.  The down side of cotton lawn, however, is that it is so fine that it can fold imperceptibly, causing breaks in the print.

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This happened to two of my 25 pieces – in a very minor way, but nonetheless rather obvious.  I’m lucky that the design of the pieces is visually chaotic having been derived from a lino print, and deliberately includes the lino cutaway marks – as well as a kind of ‘wallpaper’ pattern superimposed.  But I needed to fix the white jagged line as much as possible.  Annoying, but not the end of the world.

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I have found in similar situations in the past that Prismacolor coloured pencils have both the range of shade as well as the waxiness to achieve a good enough fix.  Although it can be seen still in the pic below, I hope that once the stitching has been done that the flaws will not be obvious – especially as I will give them another going over with the crayons once stitched.

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Ending the year

sol1I’m still not sure about this blog – not sure about having enough to write.  This year has been very bitty, and increasingly so.  I lack a coherent plan; rather simply progressing from design to design.  I am hoping to sort myself out in the coming year, at least for the core of my work.

soliloquy2Meantime I have been getting on with developing print work.  I am enjoying using the Blue Boy press to work up the ingredients for the next quilt.

soliloquyI printed a pattern onto tissue prepared with soft pastel, then once they were dry I printed the figures on top.  I shall scan them before printing onto cotton – and then the stitching will begin.

Of course as occupation while watching the television or dvd during my hibernation reading I shall still continue with the odd pieces in my stitching pile – at present I have this one to hand:

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with a further handful waiting to make sure that I don’t end up with nothing to do!

Summer sloth

I have not had anything to write about for some time.  Truth to tell I don’t really have much of substance to say now.  I have been puttering along with bits and pieces mostly, with only one real project to move forward.  I have cut several lino plates, both for the project called Soliloquy, and for other ideas.

Three

TwoI have not yet proofed these plates, but I have printed three of the others, and they are now ready to stitch as small pieces.

memoir

chicken

salad days

 

Proofing can render results

Seeking a perfect print is not my goal – or at least I am looking for a print perfect for my purposes.  With the few exceptions of print as end product, I have to bear in mind that stitch is to be added without looking superficial – or even worse, excessive.  For this reason I look at the proof stage of my relief printing as a possible source of material to progress.  I am looking out for happy accidents which make the image speak louder in its own voice.

Sometimes I am compelled to put (at least) two elements together: such as this figure

new body

and this background (street furniture in Oxford),

flowers streetwhich was altered thus when I thought of the figure.

patchedThe idea was developed when I had taken the idea of a grid as a theme/exercise – and so I elaborated onto the body.

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This became the template for my relief plate, as I want the movement to be to the right.

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The proof onto plain paper came out boldly.

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I had digitally printed the background onto 42gsm Murakumo Kozo Select White, which is actually cream-ish white.  Perhaps because of my being aware of the thin-ness of the paper I did not press enough – I hand burnish my prints – and the result was much fainter:

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I am delighted with the ghost-like qualities, and although I shall most likely print another, bolder version, I shall still consider the possibility of taking this proof forward to stitch.  The original design was one of a happy conjunction of elements, but now I think I might be approaching ambiguity of meaning as well – which would be a much more desirable outcome.