Saturday, 28 April 2012

Cast Iron Relief Press, Monoprint, Chop, and Henry Li.

Untitled, 2012, watercolour monoprint with acrylic, graphite, Colourfix, wax oil crayon, 
oil pastel, and chop, on Fabriano paper, 25.4 x 20.3 cm

At the Goods Shed (Bass Coast Artist Society clubhouse) there is a wonderful old printing press.  So I thought that I would take advantage of this and attempt a set of monoprints. I am very much a beginner in relation to this art form and very inexperienced.  I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with monoprinting, I love most of the effects, but loathe some of the effects. For instance, if one is using very thick paint (particularly acrylic), then when the print is pulled, the areas of thick paint within the print will be full of little peaks of varying sizes.  Very annoying, but one can fix this up to a point, but I find that one loses some of the characteristics that was so attractive in the first place.  I tend to go over the peaks with an appropriately sized plasterer's scraper to flatten them, but this degrades the naturally occurring look of spontaneity. Also it is inevitable that some of the edges of the forms will be negatively effected.
Anyway, in a perfect world, the first and subsequent prints would need no 'adjusting' except for some minor embellishment at some later stage.  As I stated above I am fairly new at this, and perhaps with an appropriate level of control (perhaps with more experience) when creating the plate, these negatives could be avoided. I have done some monoprinting in the past with varying results.  This is the first time using an actual press. The plate consisted of a piece of old masonite that was covered with lumps, bumps, hollows and lines emanating from layers of old oil and acrylic paint that had dried and formed over many years. I have been experimenting with watercolour, laying it on straight from the tube in most cases.  With watercolour paint, thick and straight from the tube, it 'flattens' (more so as opposed to the more extreme 'peaking' in acrylics), and doesn't seem to have the same negatives inherent with acrylic paint. It does worry me that once the thick layer of watercolour paint has dried there may be some cracking.  I haven't noticed anything of this nature yet.  I make no claim as to the quality of these works.  It was though, great fun doing it and wonderfully exciting at that moment when one pulls the print off of the plate to view - either a abysmal mess or something wonderful.
I use the text and chop primarily as compositional elements within the picture.

Untitled, 2012, watercolour monoprint with Colourfix, graphite, and chop,
 on Fabriano paper, 26.1 x 21.0 cm.

Untitled, 2012, watercolour monoprint with graphite and chop, on Fabriano paper,
29.7 x 21.0 cm.

I think that I lost control with this last one in the set.  Its kind of all over the place. Probably carried away with all the delightful mark-making.  Still I will do some more of these paying more attention to compositional elements. Incidentally, the chop was carved by Henry Li, of Blue Heron Arts (online store) in the U.S. and is a chinese translation of my name.  It was used with Dark Red, chinese chop ink. It is a pleasure dealing with Henry.  Just a little plug for one of my favourite art stores :))
What is so wonderful working with watercolour paint in this fashion (thick, straight from the tube) is the intensity of the colour, which unfortunately, doesn't really come through in the above scans.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Anderson Inlet + Wet Feet.

Anderson Inlet, around dusk.


walking the edge of the great abyss
talking to Nietzsche
a falling moon is the harbinger of spring

I try and spent as much time as I can these days out taking photographs.  Anderson Inlet - 20 mins drive along the coast from home, is a favourite haunt of mine (got to remember to take the gumboots next time though). Once I secure an image - take the shot, download it, and then post process it on the computer - and if the picture has that "something" that I feel connected to, that it touches a place within, where, for want of a better description, there resides the 'spirit', then I feel that I have been successful in my endeavours.  It is the same with my painting and drawing, and even other artists work.  There is  something ineffable at times, that is triggered by a work of art, that flows within and then expands outward to touch something, some otherness, that is indescribable.  But so very profound and beautiful.  Sounds pretty weird and far out even to me.  I am not a religious person (any more).  Over the years, my Catholicism has been beaten out of me by various aspects of the Church of Rome.  So, religious - no, spiritual, yes.

Anderson Inlet around dusk.

inlet V

pale indigo green sandpools
sit brooding under winters sun
the color of boyhood marbles

Anderson Inlet around dusk, looking east.

inlet II

at ocean’s edge
wavelets hiss and gurgle
a one-legged gull watches with black eyes



For all the photography aficionados out there.  I understand that some of these images don't follow the 'rules'. The thing is if we were all confined by dogma, then there would be no art.  I think one should learn the rules/guidelines thoroughly, then in formulating ones own personal vision, break them.

The Sand From The Urns

The Sand From The Urns

Mould-green is the house of oblivion.
At each of its blowing gates your beheaded minstrel goes blue.
For you he beats on a drum of moss and bitter pubic hair;
With an ulcerous toe he traces your brow in the sand.
Longer than it was he draws it, and the red of your lip.
You fill up the urns here and nourish your heart.

 Paul Celan

I have long been a fan of the work of Paul Celan and his poem Todesfuge tears at my heart every time I read it.  The  poem above is another one of his that resides deep within.  Many painters have attempted to interpret Celan's work.  Anselm Kiefer I would consider to have been the most successful.  

The Sand from the Urns, 2012, Acrylic, Colourfix, graphite, and wax oil crayon on Fabriano paper,
21.0 x 29.6 cm

The Sand from the Urns II, 2012, Acrylic, Colourfix, graphite, and wax oil crayon on Fabriano paper,
21.0 x 29.6 cm

The Sand from the Urns III, 2012, Acrylic, Colourfix, graphite, and wax oil crayon on Fabriano paper,
21.0 x 29.6 cm

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

A4 + Moloch

Moloch, 2012, Acrylic, Colourfix, graphite, and wax oil crayon on Fabriano paper,
21.0 x 29.6 cm.

The only regret I have, and its a very minor thing, is that I wish I had started this painting and drawing stuff a bit earlier in life.  I was in my mid forties when I started, never having used a pencil in anger so to speak. Anyway, the thing is, is that art making has so enriched my life.  I know this is a cliche but it is the journey that matters, not the destination.

In December last year I decided to start a body of work using only A4 size paper.  The rationale being that this size is easy to scan (for internet), relatively easy to do sitting down (I have some mobility problems), and the small size enables me to work through a series very quickly, thus allowing a significant evolution to take place very quickly between each work.  And being retired and rarely exhibiting these days, there is no pressure, just sitting back, chilling and getting lost in and enjoying the creative process.

When I had finished the painting above I thought to myself "hmmm, this is weird".  I wasn't really taken with it, it seemed too raw, primitive, messy, unfinished and so on.  I finished it about a month ago, and have been watching it since.  It has definitely grown on me over the past few weeks - as a matter of fact, I really really like it now.  I will add some additional text into the lower left - probably poetry.  I got the title from Alan Ginsberg's poem "Howl".  Moloch was a particularly evil deity mentioned in Biblical and other religious texts. Ginsberg uses him/it as a metaphor for capitalism and industrial civilisation in America and by extension, everywhere.  The painting seems to have an almost beast-like, nasty characteristic about it.  But I gotta say, I love the colours.  So, for me, there is a seductive quality to it also.

Moloch III, 2012, Acrylic, Colourfix, and graphite on Fabriano paper,
21.0 x 29.6 cm