Monday, 21 August 2017

Scottish Beach Near Ullapool - It's a little bit mauve

Some progress on the linocut I began last Friday.  It's based on the same set of photographs I used for my Cairn linocut, but this one is half the size as the Cairn print.  It measures 4 inches by 6 inches.  I buy my lino on-line from Ebay.  The lino comes in a variety of sizes but so far I've stuck to two: 4 by 6 inches and 6 by 8 inches (to print on A5 and A4).  I would like to venture larger than A4 but worry that I won't have the stamina to hand press anything larger.

Anyway, beginnings...

I made an initial sketch, traced the sketch and transferred it onto the lino.  I chipped out a few initial marks and started off my edition of 12 in a pale cream colour.

Then I started to cut more detail into my plate...

I printed in a kind of mauve colour which I mixed from about 5 of my inks.  I'm not very technical or systematic when it comes to mixing colours, I should be really.  If I was more organised I would have mixed enough to print the entire 12, as it was I cocked up and ended printing 6 in one shade then (after an intermission of a number of hours and a day out) 6 in a shade that didn't quite match.

But what was worse, in my rush to get the 12 prints done I messed up the texture of the ink and the little white caravans nestling just beneath the far trees disappeared in a gloop of mauve.

Because I don't like throwing anything away I have tried to rescue my oh too blobby prints (there are 2 of them) by sponging white ink over the disappearing caravans and then printing my next layer of colour over this, giving a kind of misty distance appearance. I also printed another 4 prints onto Daler-Rowney Murano Pastel Paper, which is a cream colour, because after mixing the second batch of mauve I found I had misjudged the amount needed to print off 6 images and had lots left over.  So my initial 12 prints has now increased to 16.

I was a bit perplexed about what colour to print next, but decided that I wanted to add the green of the distant hills.  So I mixed a lightish green and masked off the area around it, as I will be wanting to print another colour here later and so can't cut away any lino there yet.  I made the mask quickly by tearing some paper to the shape I wanted.  The torn edge suits my way of working as it won't give a hard edge to the colour once it is applied and will look more organic and painterly.

Then I chipped away the hills and went through the same process again to apply a darker green for shrubs.

Now I want to give some definition to the beach area, the repeated crescents of the seaweed in the foreground.  But I can't print the reddish colour of the seaweed yet, because I still need to add some kind of subtle definition to the pebbles and the distant hills.  I have made the pebbles way darker than I had intended.  I really saw this print initially as something much simpler than it is turning out to be. I sort of planned for there to be a light expanse of shingle then the contrasting deep red of the seaweed.  And only about 3 layers altogether.  

But I'm learning that with printmaking, even on the domestic scale I am practising, you can't really plan anything and rigidly stick to it.  To succeed you have to be flexible with what the print will allow you do to do.  The process is boss.

So I added a blue thinned out with a generous amount of extender, because I didn't want the blue to be too in your face.  And I wanted the blue to draw the whole composition together, from far distant hills to the pebbles which you are just about to step onto.  

NEXT STEPS:  Hopefully I will finish this little print tomorrow.  I plan to chip out the remaining pebbles leaving just the shapes of receding seaweed.  Then I'll mix up a rusty orange/red colour and roll it over the lino plate and pull my 16 prints.

Then I'll chip out a few more spots in the red seaweed area to add texture to the seaweed and then mix up a darker red colour and print this over my 16 prints.

I'm toying with the idea of chipping out a few more pebbly parts at the very bottom of the print and printing this with a very dark red/black to transform the bottom of the print into foreground.  But I'm not sure if I will do this yet, or if this will just be overkill.

Although it's been a gloomy day it was muggy and humid this evening.  I like sitting outside at the end of the day. I water my plants and deny the snails their feast by peeling them off the sunflowers and rolling them under the gates at the top of our garden.  I know it's futile, but it gives me a feeling of control, false though it is.

I'm sure I saw bats this evening.  I have seen them before, 3 years ago, zipping around the top of our Poplar tree at dusk.  Then a few weeks ago and now this evening, just for about 10 minutes or so, this crazy little creature flying frenetically about, whirling in the air in circles of varying circumference, disappearing into the dark of the poplar, pointed crescent wings fluttering as it flew. Its frantic movements in the air reminded me of the way a butterfly moves, not like a bird at all.  The dimming sky behind it, the darkness of the garden with the solar lights glimmering below.  I think it was a bat, I'm not certain though.  But if it was, to think, bats in the heart of the Black Country.  What a wonderful, unexpected thing.

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