Friday, 31 May 2013

Many many works in progress

I've changed the way I work in quite radical ways recently.  Rather than power on with one piece covering paper until it's finished, as I do with my pen and ink drawings, I'm working on several pieces at once.  Working with airbrush and stencils is much faster than my pen and ink drawings, yet it involves much more conscious contemplation.  It's quite a neurotic way of working if I think about it, making notes about each piece, listing ideas for process, writing a 'to do' for the next day on a post-it, ticking off stages in the process as I go along.  I've been a great list maker for years now, but never in my art, until now.

I make a sketch on greaseproof paper of one of my photographs, make a tracing (or several) of the sketch, cut a stencil.  Maybe transfer the drawing onto the paper I'm going to work on (the piece above is watercolour paper, the piece below is Ingres paper) and paint out what will become highlights with masking fluid.  Then I spray a layer (or several) of liquid acrylic ink over the stencil.  Remove the stencil.  Begin the process again.

This piece above is a second version of a drawing I made a couple of years ago.  I really like the crumpled texture of the tree in the foreground.  I began this second version drawing as a pen and ink piece earlier this year and lost interest.  The addition of airbrush layers (and other multimedia elements) is an on-going experiment.

I love the smell and the light reflecting qualities of wild garlic.  I took this photo' above a few years ago and made a graphite tonal drawing of it last year.  For this new piece I made this quick sketch on greaseproof paper.  I want this new airbrush piece to be painterly and full of light and shade.  More when more's done.

The chaos of what passes as my computing work space where I plan new pieces from the pc screen, print off photographs etc...

My real-space work space.  Work in progress.  Many many works in progress...

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Monochrome airbush

I began this piece as a pen and ink drawing. The photo I was working from was full of swimming light and shade, and I was struggling how to represent this and the cluster of snowdrops nestling behind the iron fence. Almost out of desperation, and some restlessness I'd been feeling recently about my work, I had cut a very simple stencil out of greaseproof paper and dug out the airbrush I bought almost 2 years ago now. My first attempts at depressing the trigger resulted in a blot of jet black ink (I used black Acrylic ink for the tone in this drawing). Luckily I wasn't aiming the airbrush at the drawing, and managed to make a more subtle stream of ink through the stencil. I found the effect interesting, and began to experiment with several new pieces.

I had combined two photographs and made a quick drawing from them.  From this I made a tracing and cut a very simple stencil.  I masked out the area which would roughly form twigs and leaves with masking fluid and made my first airbrush impression.  I made a second tracing and cut another stencil for the darker areas of the tree images.  I liked the image so far, but have stalled a little here as I'm afraid of ruining what I've done by going forward too hastily.  I actually began a second version of this piece, which I will post about later.

This new way of working is actually much slower than my usual method, which is more instinctive and driven by a need (almost) to cover paper with marks.  I do more thinking between working on the images themselves.  Write myself lists in sketchbooks and on post-its. 

You can never have too many post-it notes...

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Airbrush Experiments

I've been experimenting with other ways of making art, of putting marks on paper, of introducing colour into my work. I love making my pen and ink drawings, but I need to stretch myself in other directions. I've been experimenting with an airbrush I purchased 2 years ago now, and hadn't got round to using yet. My first experiment was with a black and white pen and ink drawing which was dying on its feet. I'll post that image later. What I'm posting here is a later experiment. It's based on a failed pen and ink drawing I made earlier this year. I really wasn't happy with that. But something made me begin this new experiment. I began by making a quick sketch on tracing paper. Then I made a tracing of that. I cut my first stencil from that tracing and applied some acrylic ink with the airbrush. I masked out some areas using masking fluid then I made a second tracing, cut a second stencil and applied a second layer of ink with the airbrush. I then made the mistake of applying pen and ink to the foreground and hated it. So I painted this out with gouache and made another stencil and sprayed ink, then another, and another 'til I got this.

I carried on with a few more layers of watercolor, coloured pencil, gouache and stencil applied acrylic ink and I'm at this stage...

I'm working on several pieces at once instead of working intensely at one pen and ink piece. I need to do this as I'm scared to death I'm going to make the wrong decision. I need more thinking time. Here's another piece I've been working on. It began as a straight pen and ink drawing, but I started messing about with colour, layering stencil applied pigment, watercolour, ink and coloured pencil. Here's where I'm at with this piece.