As the dark evenings continue my flocks of birds are getting bigger...
There is a direct connection!
I'm really happy to stay in with some jolly tunes on my radiogram, a lino cutting tool or two and a sketchbook filled with summertime doodles...
Some of my armadillos, cats, starlings and assorted friends have gone off to The Bedworkshop in Bristol for a few weeks - I just know they are going to enjoy being there...such an amazing building and really fantastic furniture, so warm and cosy!!
Do go and visit them if you are in Bristol and time soon :)
Girls with unusual pets
A lovely person who is not me and knows about photography and how to do it, even when taking photos of black and white things on a grey background, has made my colour-free work look colourful and lively and very much improved!! Thank you Jo!
Cat in a bubble bath
A great session of lino printing produced all these lovely prints (and many more, but I really am not a photographer!!) all designed and made by a really great, creative group of ladies this weekend.
I was on hand for the odd bit of technical advice, tea making and sweeping up of lino 'peelings' but in the fab surroundings of Makers in Bristol on a sunny Sunday morning there was no stopping the lino production line...
...(and not a Christmas card in sight - surely a lino printing workshop in Nov/Dec must result in a christmas card??? Maybe they can add glitter to the toadstool and tea cups??)
Who doesn't love parcels...but unexpected treats are even better!!
Look at this amazing print, sent to me by Alison as part of her #printoctober giveaway on Twitter.
Lucky me, it's so beautiful!!
Thanks so much Alison.
Take a look at her work here
I had got a plan to do a whole lot of printing this week (that may be a never-ending plan now I think about it!) but then I opened up the drawers where I store my prints and suddenly I have a new plan...
Over the last few weeks/months of rummaging, storing, finding they have somehow dis-organised themselves into complete randomness.
I need to think of a good way to organise them all though - should I store them by animal type? (cats, then dogs, or do armadillos come first - and what do I do with multiple animal crowds? Sort by the biggest in size or the top predator?). Alphabetically, size order, oldest to newest.... I think this is going to stretch over more than a day...
It is a never ending thing, this sorting as my prints insist on coming out in different sizes and shapes and so cannot be just a stack. And there are quite a few of them sitting here waiting for new homes or a trip to the framers!
Such a lovely time of year - here I am sitting in the Autumn sunshine - what could be better?
Time to take to the woods, check out the leaves changing colour and forming slightly mushy piles to kick through, and catch the lovely rays of Autumn sunshine before we decide to hibernate in front of the fire for the winter (we have already started practising sitting in front of the fire though, just in case we had forgotten how!).
I've had a couple of commissions in the past weeks and now feel like I am re-emerging into the world, ready to be out doors as much as I can (when it isn't raining of course...) and ready to turn a few of my own ideas into lino prints. Have I made enough lino prints yet? Nope.
I love doing lino prints of big flocks of birds! Crows, starlings, swallows, fish ( I know they aren't birds, but a lino print of a shoal of fish crept up on me...) and now pigeons. Yay!
These feathery friends seemed to take all summer to cut out, but in reality they were all waiting patiently for me whilst I got distracted by sunshine, seaside and some really interesting beetles in the back garden.
Now they are editioned and cooing their way off to galleries and internet land most happily (and flappily).
It's the time of year when ripening veg invade the windowsills of our house and printmakers have to take second place!
The tomato plants all decided to get blight and 'Tomato Moths' at the same time and so we harvested the lot (a lot) and left the plants outside for the caterpillars to finish off! This means that every space has trays of tomatoes of every shade between green and red and I really hope they all go red as we still have some of last years green tomato chutney in the cupboard...
...and the pepper plants got really bad greenfly all of a sudden - it must be an end of season thing - so you can just see the fruits lying on the windowsill getting redder by the day...
...and the squashes (my not so secret favourite thing to grow and then stockpile along with the logs ready for winter) are just having a final warm indoor ripening session before being stored away ready for winter feasts that will be needed in the far distant future.
Oh, and I made some prints too. But really I'm more interested in the squashes and the stockpiling...
At the beginning of the month I spent a happy day running a couple of lino printing workshops at Papervillage in Bristol - oh what fun was had!!
Several people signed up for both workshops and so spent an entire Sunday lino cutting, which is a feat of endurance for the most seasoned printmaker, and they barely paused for a cup of tea so dedicated were they!
But hey, they left with bundles of prints and as some claimed to be complete non-arty beginners I think they did so well, many fine artworks completed.
What I always love is how unlike my work the work produced on courses I teach is!
Look at all the zingy colours... makes me think I should try out something that isn't black... the image above worked brilliantly as a block for rolling 3 different colours onto one block - no aligning or registration needed here!
In the morning we did mostly one colour prints (to get everyone started as it was a complete beginners course and you really need to play about a little to find out what the tools do and how to ink up and how different papers can print) - in the afternoon everyone could go in a different direction, some choosing to do multiple blocks, one brave person went straight for a reduction print and others played around with multi-coloured inking to get the results they were after...phew.
We are nearing the end of our household birthday season - one left to go - but I think the mono-printed british wildlife birthday bunting may survive for a while yet! Created for our Wildlife and Owl craft party...
How can we scrunch up those sweet little creatures??
We can't recycle foxes...maybe they will have to stay up until Christmas!!
After two years of blaming the cloudy weather for my non-existent photos of artwork I've had to pretend to take an interest in taking some.
As I am sure is the situation with most people/artists there are only three places in my house which could be considered suitable for photographing and these places are usually covered in piles of important reference material/paints and inks/cups of tea and work in progress.
The only place available today also has a purple wall.
Not the subtle grey/purple of the magazines....
If you like films of galleries and printmaking then this one is for you!
Some really great prints by some amazing folk in the current show at RBSA Brook Street, Birmingham, click here and you will see...
My main process is carving out lino, for a lot of time, in a happy bubble of my own. And that is nearly enough in itself....but I do like printing too. Above is a picture of a just inked 'new' print - such a glorious moment in any piece of lino's life. This happens to be of a ferocious cat intent on destruction, but it could just as easily have a been a sweet kitten, slightly bedraggled by a Spring shower.
My second main process is looking through drawers to find the piece of lino I now need to print and that I do know is there. Somehow there isn't a logical filing system for multiple pieces of grey lino, all living in sets of grey drawers - should it be by size/species/age/weight? I just don't know, but looking through drawers is a big part of my week!
I've been framing (assembling, someone else made the frame bits - I just do the cleaning up, putting in, taping down, adding fixings, undoing again to get that stray bit of fluff out, putting back in, taping back down, re-doing the fixings and final polish up...).
It is fair to say that it has taken me a long time!
But that means there are also a lot of pictures now in frames.
One boxful went off this morning as a mini-exhibition and some of the others will go up later in the week ready for our local arts trail and the local exhibition I'm in for the rest of the month.
Practical tasks ticked off the list - back to doodling now.
Posted by Melanie Wickham at 21:12
I am being pulled towards the allotment, I just want to go and plant things, it really is compulsive and it is a great time of year to spend alot of each day outside. I know there are lines of bunnies, pigeons and slugs watching my every move, but for an hour at least order and abundance remains...
It is also the month of our local arts trail which is always a blast, with music, art and food featuring all around the area, and this year our venue is letting us turn the weekend into two weeks, so we are having a 'real' exhibition alongside it - hooray...
You can see the giant poster already, so I will only say that I'm very excited, as there is going to to be some pretty fab work and I love hanging out with all these folk, so what a great excuse to do so.
Posted by Melanie Wickham at 11:56
It's sunny, I've been printing (how unusual...) and I'm waiting to hear about several little schemes in the next couple of weeks, so I'm also twitching.
When I opened my print drawer a few days ago it seemed quite empty and I have had a flurry of printing to fill it back up again. I have even branched out into midnight blue as a change from always black (can you see the cards in the above photo are blue? It was quite a radical move for me and I'm not sure that I will be able to sustain such impulsive ways of working).
I've also painted my garden gate blue today, but that is so bright in its blueness that it isn't even registering on my camera. I hope that the neighbours recover. I blame the sunshine and will try to reign it in for a while.
Pucklechurch in South Gloucestershire. Starting next to the church and then working outwards, past houses old and new and out to the sites of the local mines, whilst finding out lots of the significant events and history of the area.
I'd been given a fantastic commission - to create an image that was part map, part history of the village, that could then be given to Pucklechurch's twin town Pringy in France to commemorate 25 years as twins!
Having attempted to absorb the entire history of the area, as well as remembering significant local buildings I then set to work, sketching a road layout and incorporating as many of the features that 'make' Pucklechurch (some historical events, some distinctive houses) as possible.
After a fair amount of head scratching and liberal use of tracing paper I settled on a layout that looked like Pucklechurch and had a good mix of historical and present day features.
Then to the real fun - carving this out of a sheet of lino, blade of grass by blade of grass...
Lino and wood printing blocks are often works of art in themselves, hand carved for many hours (as a mirror image of the final printed picture) and it is a nerve wracking moment when an ink roller laden with printing ink is first rolled over the lino block and the image is revealed as every raised area takes up the ink....but I think Pucklechurch is looking great here, even in reverse!
Then on to the job of printing all of the copies needed for this edition. The carved lino block needs re-inking every time a print is taken and I printed this image using a boxwood burnishing tool rather than a press as it allows me so much more control over the pressure applied to the paper as the image is printed.
I've printed Pucelancyrcan/Pucklechurch as a limited edition of only 50 limited edition prints on Somerset Satin paper from St Cuthberts Mill in Wells.
Thanks to Gail Boyle for having the idea for such a great project!
It is funny how once you have an idea of the shape your day will take it is so very hard to change plans completely!
I WILL take photos of tea towels and prints. Just because there are 100 meters of fog rising above my house, which yesterday took until 4 o'clock to clear, and therefore no chance of any sun or even proper sunlight, I will not be put off!!
I really want a new set of photos of my lino prints - it's a hard thing to do, making a flat piece of paper look like an exciting must have product (well for me, you may find that is your natural talent). I could just scan them, but where is the challenge in that?
Well, not put off until I see what the photos look like! Ha! Fog, you have beaten me.
I think I'll go and join the fog and play on the allotment instead today...
Today I'm in the great position of having finished a couple of projects and having a little gap before the next, so I could draw and print anything I like! Which means it's impossible to choose and so I am putting a picture on my blog instead...
I do really need to print a big batch of cards as stocks are rather low and I have got all the lino blocks out ready (see above picture), but the sun is out, the curtains blowing slightly in the (chilly) breeze, there is a space on my desk just large enough not to require any tidying - so it is a play around day, who knows what the results may be...
Another new lino print...
This one has the most leaves I have ever cut in lino.
I haven't counted them yet, but that is the sort of thing I like to do - if there are statistics accompanying a piece of artwork does that add to it's depth and complexity??
This picture had a seven year old art director, with very exacting ideas and standards and perhaps slightly high expectations of what can be achieved in lino, but we got there!
All woodland creatures in place and a great selection of plants and mushrooms too...I wasn't allowed to include a slug, but a snail was alright.
I didn't cut this lino block in one go, it took a few days, one leaf at a time, and then suddenly they were all done and the printing fun could begin.
There is a very satisfying moment, when the ink is first rolled onto a brand new lino cut, ready for the first proof print because suddenly the image is really there, as it is going to be (in reverse of course!) and then there is no going back or fiddling about because at least one print is going to look exactly like this.
Thank goodness I hadn't hacked through a tree trunk or chopped the hedgehogs nose off, because it would have been very painful to have to recut this one...all those leaves, aaah...
You can look at this very same print HERE if you like too...
Hello neglected blog - it's because I've been really busy, honest (and hibernating and adjusting to a new year and all those other winter time things).
I have been cutting away at lino blocks the whole time too, and I have really enjoyed making this print, a new animal alphabet - It's official title is:
and it is taking me quite a while to write the titles on the whole edition i can tell you....I am quite worried about spelling mistakes and missing out a whole entire animal, but, so far so good!
I am also trying to write the title at a jaunty angle to echo the circle of the print so that it looks fab when framed - it's a complicated business this being an artist thing.
When I have recovered from the whole editioning thing I will list the print in online places, but I'm going to have to shorten the title a little I think as search facilities don't seem to like 26 words joined together with no spaces, not sure why????
If you can't wait that long, and the nursery must have artwork NOW then leave me a comment or send me an email as there is always a way.....
Most of my printing time is spent printing on paper, and that is without doubt 'my thing'. I love it and my brain is always filling up with ideas for lino prints, most of which never get out again, but I already feel that I have a good few years of lino print ideas stashed away just waiting for their turn.
As well as printing on paper I have also printed lots of other things, ranging from walls to pants (yes, underpants...) and printing on fabric has got to be number two. I've printed hundreds of birds onto my bedroom curtains in the last two months and I'm now casting around the house for anything else that looks a bit plain!
If you fancy having a go at this or you have an idea that has been lurking at the back of your mind for a while I'm teaching a workshop this Saturday (25th Jan) at Makers in Bristol, where we are going to be printing cushions, so if you are free and want to join in the fun click here to find out all the important info.
I love a project like this, where you can go from an idea to a finished item, looking great, with all the printing fun in the middle in the space of an afternoon! The beauty of block printing is that even a simple shape or design will look brilliant as a repeat or mixed with another shape or in two colours, so this is a great chance to play around and see what can happen. And there will definitely be cakes.
It's gloomy outside, the allotment is underwater and the house looks a little sad without it's winter decorations, so rather than sit down and get on with the terrible pile of paperwork (that I MUST tackle) I've decided to spend some time printing up some bright, cheery cushion covers instead.
I printed a set of curtains at the end of last year and it is now essential that I fully accessorize with matching everything. I think as I get older I am more and more confidant in making my house more and more childish and playful and not pretending to be a grown-up...some may say it is not mature confidence at all, but instead yet another delaying tactic to avoid the paperwork, but we shall see...
Today - fun and creative projects
Tomorrow - dull figures and adding up and lots of cups of tea...