Akua/Caligo inks

I wanted to try a little experiment after watching several youtube videos on printmaking.

There seemed overwhelming support for Akua inks over everything else, so I bought a pot to test run and compare to my usual Caligo.

I used both inks for monoprint, reduction monoprint, monotype, and printing of etchings with and without a press.

Basically there's not a lot to choose between them. They both clean up with soap and water (though to clean a plate thoroughly, I found I needed to use a little vegetable oil for both) Looking at the tubes it seems that Caligo is based on Linseed Oil and Akua is based on soya.

I'd imagine that for textiles, Akua (soya based) would be less likely to rot the fabric over time than Caligo (linseed based) That's just my personal take based on my long-held understanding that oil paints which contain linseed oil can rot fabric.

Akua intaglio ink is much runnier than the Caligo etching ink, which made the line monoprinting less successful...too much noise.  It suggests you mix it with magmix to make it thicker when printing. Good to know there are products to thicken and thin, but the Caligo is about right naturally. Caligo also make products to thicken and thin.

Akua also do a liquid pigment which looks fun and can be used in conjunction with the intaglio and is transparent. You could have great fun combining both products. It looks a bit like Golden Fluid acrylic. It's claimed that Akua will stay wet on the plate until printed onto paper when it will then dry, giving endless time when making an image.

Below: A quick reductive mushroom monoprint on Somerset paper, Caligo on left, Akua on right.

Sketchbook page using Akua for monoprint.

In conclusion, I found the Akua much wetter and viscous than the Caligo and I would use it for preference for reduction monoprinting. I'd use the Caligo over the Akua when it came to line monoprint. Good to have both products to hand I guess.

Reductive monoprint - Mushrooms

 Another first go - this time with reductive monoprint (which means starting with lots of ink and wiping it away)

Here's the process

I've put a white cloth on the table and covered it with a large piece of acetate which I bought from a DIY store. (They can cut to size which is very useful!) You don't need to do this, it just makes life easier.

I've put a piece of paper under the acetate as a size guide when inking up.

For the first attempt I used Caligo printing ink and covered the area with a thin layer of ink rollered until you can hear the "crackle" (just a lovely whispering sound that tells you the paint is the right thickness)

Below - using a cloth to wipe shapes from the ink surface. This is done freehand with illustrations from a book to give me confidence; essentially mushrooms are just ovals with a thick stem.

Printing the image onto paper. Use your hands to gently rub the paper - or use a brayer, spoon, or barron to transfer the image from the plate. All those loose sheets of printer paper you can see are masks I've put round the sides of the plate to give me a nice edge .

The reveal  - areas for improvement as usual but a quick and easy way to print. Maybe slightly damp paper would have given more detail.

I also tried using Open Acrylics and although you have to be quite quick as the paint dries more quickly than the printing inks, I liked the effect more. Don't think you could use ordinary acrylics as it dries too quickly.

2nd go at drypoint etching - architecture.

Leamingtonians will spot straight away where I've gone wrong! For everybody else, I forgot to reverse the photo image before etching. Mr Jephson's monument is now back to front!! 😜

A first go at drypoint and printing

I was given some plastic etching sheets and a a special etching pen as a Christmas present and couldn't wait to try them out.

I did read a bit about it, but as it seems that the principle was a matter of just scraping an image onto the plastic and then printing, I dived straight in as I prefer to learn by experience!

Here's my process:

I've laid the sheet of plastic onto a piece of white paper so I can see what I'm doing a little easier. I've used the pen (you could use a needle in a cork or a compass - anything with a sharp point) to scratch an image of poppies. A good tip is to find a drawing you've done or even a photo and place it under the clear plastic. Remember whatever you do in this way will be reversed when printed so take care with text!!

I've used a stamp set to print some text on the reverse side of the plastic. This means when I turn it over to scrape in the letters, it will be reversed. This is what you need to print it properly and for it to be the right way round.

I've got to be honest, the printing part is the fun bit!

I'm using Caligo printing inks which are water soluble making them nice and easy to use.

The colour here is brown/black and I'm applying the ink directly to the plastic, and I'm using a piece of felt to rub it into the surface making sure all the cracks are filled.

Here you can see how much ink has been applied to ensure coverage. I'm now scraping off the excess with a piece of mountboard.

You now need to start rubbing with clean pieces of newspaper or telephone directory pages to remove the excess ink from the surface.

It's quite hard when you start, but keep going replacing the paper frequently. Magically it suddenly gets easier and you'll have a nice clean image to print from.

I am cleaning the background with a piece of cloth just to make sure as I don't want any bits of stray ink spoiling the paper.

You'll need some paper to print on. It does matter what you use but for an initial go printer paper should be fine. This is Somerset 30gms which has been wet under the tap and left on a piece of fabric for 5 minutes before using. It shouldn't be wet just slightly damp.

I'm using the Xcut for this experiment, but I also used the back of a spoon and it worked equally well if a little blurry because I hadn't taped everything down to keep it steady.

Anyway, put the plate on the plastic base that comes with the xcut. Make sure it's nice and straight. Put your damp paper on top, then the xcut top plate. Put it through the machine - I've used 4 to 4.5 for pressure and one pass through is all you need.

I really enjoyed the process and can't wait to try again very soon.

Happy New Year!

The Halls have been scrubbed and the ledges dusted and we are, here at Rainbow Towers, back to what passes as normal. I had some lovely arty pressies, a book from a good friend:

I shall really enjoy reading this and will do my best to paint - if not daily - a lot more often on a smaller scale.

My lovely DD bought me this little collection as I want to try drypoint etching etc. I've no idea where to start or what the pen thingies are, so I guess a bit of reading is needed 😍.  Lots to do this year, and fun to be had - best get started - I do hope you might like to join me!

Fabric Xmas Wreath - last minute quick make

I reckon this took me about 35 minutes and children will find this pretty easy too! I'm not a great one for spending time hemming bunting etc and am always looking for something quick and easy to do.

The front door needed some festive last minute cheer, so I found some Christmas fabric scraps (about 6 fat eights) and an old wire coathanger.  Don't take the top off the hanger as it makes a good loop to hang from a door knocker.  Use your hands or a pair of pliers to shape the hanger into a rough round. The fabric will cover a multitude of sins so don't worry if yours isn't accurate. 

All you need to do is cut your jolly fabric into 6-8 inch lengths by about 1inch wide. You can alter these measurements to suit yourself and your fabric stash, but that's the measurements for the wreath above.

Above: strips of cut fabric. Below tying them onto the coathanger with a simple over and under half knot.

Use your hand to push the cloth to the front of the hanger and twist any that aren't sitting quite right. Bunch them up good and tight.

Deck the halls!

It's that time of year again!

After realizing that my garage "tidy up" had left the box with the Christmas decorations in a totally inaccessible place, which meant putting the battery back in the car, removing several boxes of junk and quilts, and struggling with an over-packed shelf just to get to it, I've begun to Deck The Halls.

I've always liked print trays but don't have a proper one - this little box tray came from a local very cheap supermarket, you know the one, everything is a £, and is lined with some home-dyed fabric and is normally stacked with small collectibles.  At Christmas I empty it out and fill it again with decs.

It's given me an idea and I've been scouring Pinterest to find images of folk who've "pimped" their print trays. I'm going to turn this into a miniature world! Well, maybe I'll buy a slightly better made replacement first as I don't want to spend ages filling it only to find it falls apart under the weight or something. Sort of dolls house meets library meets having a bit of a laugh!

Mind you, the creative to-do list is getting a bit long. I'll have to crack on and start ticking a few things off - but maybe not until after January 1st? I'd love for you to join me as I make a start on it all.

If I'm not back here before then, please have a wonderful Christmas, share some love and take great care. Merry Christmas!!! Thanks for reading xx

I've been on my travels

I’ve been travelling! Back soon.

Someone asked me where my social media profiles had gone (FB and Instagram) and I apologize if you were one of my followers, but I've had a love/hate relationship with them because of my name and the subject matter of my life quilts. Both sites just removed my accounts saying I'd broken the rules, but to my knowledge I haven't. They've done this more than once. When I checked, I found several Chinese accounts and it looks like my name has been used for gaming sites, or maybe someone has objected to my account, who knows. FB have told me several times that I can't open an account with my name, because it's not a real name!! I gave up, sorry to mess you about.

I have to say though, there's a lot more time in the day 😀

Monoprint with collage via a dolls house, farm, and several bedding sets.

Well, I have finished the farm board, and also painted a dolls house that G and I found in a local charity shop. It was a little grubby and unpainted and just needed some tlc, and we thought it would make a great thing for our granddaughters to play with if we spent some time renovating. Since the photo, it's been wallpapered,  carpeted and furnished. I'd live in it.

My smallest granddaughter loves to put things to bed, so in addition to a small collection of wooden dolls for a Christmas stocking gift, I've been sewing mattresses, sheets and pillows. Crikey, I had to give up when I hit 9 sets - couldn't face one more bright pink wadded lump.

I was going on to paint the portrait of my daughter in my "special" A3 sketchbook, but decided to have another go at monoprint with collage (see the last penultimate posting of a tree) and have had a lovely afternoon with glue and caligo printing inks. It's not dry enough to do the white painting yet, as caligo takes a few days to dry, but I'll be back soon with the results.

Inspired by Matisse? No, not really.

I've just started to work on a new large painting and Whatsap'ed the image below to show my family, along with the line "Can you guess what it is yet?" To me it was obvious of course, but I loved the replies including " Dancing Lady Sneezing Out A Blue Kidney". Perfect.

It is, of course, the base board that I'm painting for a farm layout for the grandchildren when they stay over Christmas. I found my old farm set at the back of a wardrobe and figure they're old enough to get some use out of it. This board folds in half and fits my coffee table so should be easy to tidy away. The blue thing will be a pond, the grey will be roads, brown will be farm tracks and pathways, and the rest green fields with trees and fencing.

Sketchbook tree with thanks to DMTV

Laura Kemshall has inspired this sketchbook page with her latest DMTV tutorial. Can’t share how it was done as it wouldn’t be fair, but here’s a link. https://www.designmatterstv.com/

It's still a bit wet and I've caught the wrinkles where the paper has been glued, but it looks a lot flatter irl. Next stage is to add a bit of colour.

BP Portrait Awards 2018 - Wolverhampton (part 1)

(Left - I thought this would make a good one to try and paint!)

I love painting portraits, I think! - it's a real battle to get anywhere with them and I always want to give up when I'm in the middle of one, but force myself to persist to the end! It involves much groaning and many cups of distractive and strong tea - occasionally a biscuit. (When I'm anxious I like to attack the biscuits and have been known to go through half a packet without realizing - the only evidence is the crumbs pebble-dashed down my front).

So how wonderful that the BP Portrait Awards are visiting Wolverhampton Art Gallery (until the end of November) and I can go and see, and admire, and be inspired.

So what is it??

The BP Portrait Award is an annual competition of contemporary painted portraiture, and attracts entries from all over the world. This year, 2,667 entries were received from artists in 88 countries. Initial assessment is digital in order to whittle entries down to a longlist of a few hundred, and then those are viewed physically and reduced to the selection of 48 finalists. These finalists are judged anonymously with each judge justifying their choices - 1st prize is a wonderful £35,000.

Here's a quick canter through what I saw and particularly liked.

The whole portrait was this eye.
Derek (I am) by John McCarthy, Acrylic on panel.

Dad's Last Day
Nathan Ford, Oil and pencil on canvas.

(Look closely)

Sunday, 10th September was Nathan Ford's father's last day. Suffering from bowel cancer, hernias, Hodgkin's lymphoma and prostate cancer, he continued to work rather than retiring. On the Sunday morning, the artist sat with his father and drew and painted. The mantelpiece has a mixture of anniversay and "get Well" cards, above hangs a portrait of his parents on their wedding day 47 years before. Stan Ford died at home at 10.30pm.

An Existential Crisis by Megan Roodenrys, Oil on linen

The portrait is of Maeve, the artists daughter, who suffered depression, and creating the portrait helped the artist understand how this affected her. Surrounded by symbols of beauty and joy, the artist is hoping her daughter will have positive not negative days.

I've got to be honest, beautiful portrait though it is, I couldn't help feeling the eyes were looking in slightly different directions? Maybe they were irl - we'll never know!

Girl with Long Hair by Annalisa Avancini - oil on canvas (detail - I thought the painting of the eyes and fall of light was beautiful)

This portrait is of the artists sister in law. "The clash of the pattern on the old sofa on which she sits, her embroidered t-shirt and her long hair was an interesting compositional challenge".

 Mrs Anna Wojcik by Monika Polak

Those who love textiles and have perhaps been painting on them for years (!!) will appreciate this one. It's the bare outlines of a body painted onto a cloth (no stitching) and then the face and hands beautifully rendered in oil paint.

I have always understood that you didn't use oils on fabric because the paint will eventually rot the fabric without a layer of gesso - perhaps there's some acrylic gel in there somewhere!

The fabric shows through the paint but doesn't interfere with the tones and shading, which is interesting, and I love the way that it looks like it's 2 fabrics and not one.

Here's the winner of the £35,000 prize.

An Angel at my Table by Miriam Escofet - oil on linen over panel. 
The portrait is of the artists mother "who has a wonderful inner stillness and calm that I really wanted to convey in this work" The perspective of the crockery is to a vanishing point within the body.

(below, detail)

Fair Isle David by Shona Chew, oil on linen

Finally, Mr and Mrs Cooper, Separated by Mark H Laurence, oil on canvas

This portrait is of Mr and Mrs Cooper. The work is part of an ongoing series looking at adults with learning disabilities.

These are a few of those portraits I loved, but are just a section of those exhibited. There were many different styles of painting and media, but I felt drawn to these.