Christmas preparations – Cards completed

These are the first impressions of the linocut.

Lino printing
Lino printing

The left one was printed by placing the linocut face down in the paint, then printing with hand pressure, while the  right hand one had the paint rolled onto the block then printed, again using hand pressure.  I just pressed a little harder for the card standing up at the back!  I like the softer ones but not all the elements of the design came out clearly, and I think such a simple design need clarity.  Pressing harder did the trick, but I  tried the book press to speed things up a bit.

This was decidedly messier for me, though not for the printing process, as the book press is too heavy to move and the room it is in is not set up for painting.  However, the furniture survived unscathed, and despite covering my hands and the (covered) table I was working on in paint, I achieved 10 good prints of my design.

I was in two minds about the addition of gold paint, so I tried it out on one of my trial prints.  I liked the effect of a thin gold line round each halo and then gilded “Noel” as well.  The card looks more finished, less of an experiment.

Christmas Card
Christmas Card – 2016

If I was doing this again, I would make the image smaller as I think a border round it would look better.  Maybe the lino print itself would benefit from the smaller size – it’s a very simple design, after all.

More Christmas preparations

Linocut done!
Linocut done!

Well, I managed to excavate the design with only one small injury!  I don’t remember things going so well in my youth.  The “lino” was softer and more willing to be carved than the real lino we used just after the War – maybe I have more patience now, too.  The first edges are a bit ragged, but I soon discovered how to get clearer ones, even managing most of the tight angles.  It was good fun to do and I am already wondering what else I can do with my new found skill.

The kit we have provided red and yellow paint but I wanted to print in dark green.  Jackson’s Catalogue arrived fortuitously (as a free gift with another magazine), and there I found just what I wanted.  but I must say a word about the Catalogue itself.  It’s a very impressive publication. Not only was there a comprehensive range of artist’s materials,  but each section was headed with an interesting and informative essay about the material concerned and each material was accompanied by a short description of when it would be most useful.  In fact,  I spent a pleasant and useful afternoon (when I should have been painting) reading the catalogue, and didn’t exhaust its fascination.  I never thought I would eulogise a catalogue!

Trial printing
Trial printing

I tried two ways of printing my linocut – in the first case, I rolled the paint out into a suitable shape on the marble block I have, pressed the lino onto the paint, and then onto the paper; while in the second attempt, I rolled the paint onto the roller, then onto the linocut, then onto the paper.  The results were quite different, though both were patchy in printing.  I do own a book press, so I am thinking of using that to gain more colour.  I hope to show you the finished result next week.

The Liverymen 03 – layout

The dresser is Martin’s, so it seemed appropriate to place it behind him, and it will be a good place to stand various objects relating to their interests.    All the objects had to have significance, but they also needed to create a pleasing composition.  Somehow I had to find a place for Martin’s collections of antique wineglasses, wine bottles, and Victorian books,  for Brian’s fishing tackle, love of opera and yacht racing, for their shared interest in wine, and the Livery Company, for the Company itself, and for my own connection with it.  Well, it’s a big canvas!

The liverymen
The liverymen

After I had roughed in the boys in their robes, I made a tentative layout in pencil, putting smaller things on the shelves. Brian is holding his fishing rod with his wellies beside him, the Silver Cup of the winner of the National Championship for the Yeomen Class which Brian and his friend won three times in the eighties, a silver rose (“Der RosenKavelier”, his favourite opera).  Martin’s collections grace the shelves behind him, while the pile of books, and bottle of claret they are sharing demonstrate interests they have in common.  I needed something light and fairly big behind Martin’s arm to give tonal and visual variety so I included a watercolour I had done of St James’ Garlickhyde. This beautiful Wren Church is where I accompany my husband, also a Liveryman, to the Winter and Summer Services of the Company. Behind Brian is a painting of his yacht “Fanatic” in full cry, and a chair representing the period when the company was founded.

Reasonably satisfied with this layout, I washed the canvas in a warm burnt sienna to remove the glare of white canvas.

The Gates of Chester 04

This is the Newgate, not the latest of the modern gates, but definitely Twentieth Century.  I always call it the Pepper Gate, for it stands at the end of Pepper Street, and a very fine and imposing gate it is, too, worthy of the ancient Walls.  It stand adjacent to the Wolfgate shown in the first three blogs of this series, though this image in taken from the other side of the Walls.

Newgate in pastel
Newgate in pastel

It is painted in pastel on sandy coloured velour paper.   I love the feel of pastel on velour, very luxurious, and good edges so easy to achieve.  (“Good edges” are those that are right for the job!) Most of my pastels are from “Unison”, but all the labels are gone so I can’t tell you the numbers of the colours and tones.   But you can see I have used a very restricted palette, brightening the red-brown of the sandstone, blueing the greens and greening the blues to get the complimentaries working.

It is a chunky building with clean lines and neat roofs.  The little garden is a useful foil for the mass of sandstone.  I wanted to keep it simple, so I didn’t break up the surface with mortar lines or detailed decorative elements.  Working mainly with the side of the pastel, I mixed the browns, tans, and reds on the paper.  Equally, the garden is only sketched in – it never ceased to amaze and delight me that so much can be indicated with so few marks.  If, like me, you’ve fallen in love with the illusion of paint, you will know what I mean.

Christmas preparations again

 

The first drawing
The first drawing

This is the drawing that all the previous interpretations have been derived from.  You can see how the circles and curving lines make a heart shape, hence the protective impression of the “stained glass” window.

In her travels, Rachel had picked up a lino-cut kit so our thought was to make a print of this design for the few cards we needed.  Now I haven’t done lino-cut work since I was at school, so this was not going to be as easy as just saying “I’ll do a lino-cut”.  I can see some cut fingers ahead.

The first decision was whether to remove the background, or the figures. We had already decided to make a one colour print.   I didn’t fancy trialforegroundtrialbackgroundthe idea of trying to register a two colour print at my first attempt in I don’t know how many years.   I copied the design and inked in the alternatives – and I liked them both.  We thought that dark green would be a good “Christmas” colour – I was never going to do a black Christmas card – with some gold embellishment hand done after printing.  Perhaps stippling the gold moving out from the Christ Child’s head would look effective for little effort (I haven’t stippled for years, either).  Gold on colour would show up better than on white.  Or maybe I will just edge the halos and the two inward curves with a gold line (easier!) – in which case the printed figures are the best option.  And this was going to be a simple exercise!

So, I must try stippling to see if the gold I have will work that way, find a suitable dark green paint/ink and make the lino printing block of my design.  This may take a week or two.  I hope I manage to do it all in time for this Christmas!