Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Go! It's Your Duty Lad - Trailer

Here's the trailer for the animation I've produced for First World War Centenary project My Subject is War. The full animation is currently on display at Pyramid & Parr Hall in Warrington (until 29 August). Tonight I'll be at the gallery talking about my work as part of Arts Hub Meetup 6:00 - 8:00pm all are welcome!

Please see Pyramid & Parr Hall website for venue details.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

My Subject is War - New Exhibition!

My Subject is War  
An Exhibition of Animation and Illustration

18 July - 29 August 2015

Pyramid & Parr Hall, Palmyra Square South, Cultural Quarter,
Warrington WA1 1BL

This weekend my first solo show (eek!) opens in Warrington at Pyramid & Parr Hall (in the gallery at Pyramid). This year has been incredibly busy; at the end of 2014 I received some funding from Arts Council England to support a project that I was working on with Culture Warrington and Warrington Borough Council for the First World War centenary. This has pretty much been my life since January - workshops, lots of drawings, a vinyl installation, live art and now the final stage - the exhibition. 

Since May I've been working on a new piece of animation for the exhibition -  I wanted to produce something that celebrated Warrington in the First World War; I wanted to tell a story without focusing on a particular person or event - something that encapsulated everything that I've found out about the town during the war period. Surprisingly this came out quite easily - I wasn't too rigid with the storytelling. There were certain elements that I wanted to include - snippets from the lives of residents and things that were important to the town and from that a narrative naturally developed. I wanted to create a piece of work that the town would relate to and feel proud of but that would also inspire them to ask questions about their own families during that time. 

As well as making a piece of work about and for my home town this was an opportunity for me to develop as an artist. Since graduating 5 years ago (!) animation is the one area of my work that has really been neglected. Time constraints and lack of resources have been the main reason for this and I've really missed making moving image work. My past forays into animation involved stop-motion, paper cut outs, paper mache models and some home-made looking (but brilliant) results. When I included an animation in my project proposal I didn't really consider how I was going to approach it - I just knew that I wanted to do it. I had an idea in my head of the overall look that I was aiming for and I had to just work out what to do from there. It's been a lot of hard work and I've learnt more than I would have thought possible in such a short space of time but it's finished and I'm so proud of it. 

The animation will be on display at Pyramid alongside a selection of preliminary drawings from an earlier stage of the project. The exhibition opens on Saturday 18 July running until 29 August (check with the venue for opening times). 

On Wednesday 22 July I'll be doing a short talk about the work at Pyramid as part of July's Arts Hub Meetup taking place 6:00-8:00pm.

Monday, 8 December 2014

HBP: Complete Printmaker - Painterly Screen

The next process covered by the course was painterly (or mono) screen printing. This part of the course was taught by Jenni Nuttall (have a look at her work here: Jenni). This process involves using a blank screen - the ink is painted directly onto the screen and the colours are built up in layers. We weren't aiming for the pieces to actually look like anything so marks were experimental rather than carefully considered - working in this way felt quite liberating (and for me a little bit scary at the same time) as we could just mess around and see how things looked without worrying too much about themes or image. I sometimes find colour a little bit intimidating - especially during printing as it's hard to know how things will look or work without actually doing a print and screenprinting in particular can make colours look really flat. I picked a bright blue and deep yellow ochre as I wanted colours that evoked the sea/coast (although they haven't ended up doing that very much..).

The 'ink' is actually acrylic paint which is loosened up with a screen print medium - with this process it was possible to paint blobs, marks and lines onto the screen with the ink and then flood the screen with medium. Doing this meant that only the marks were transferred on to the paper (the medium helped to push them through the screen). On a couple of the prints I painted the clear medium on to the screen and then flooded with a colour ink which left white gaps which I really loved (see the first, fourth and fifth images).

I'm really happy with the images that I produced however I'm not sure what to do with them - I don't want to work into them further as there's a possibility that I could ruin them but they don't really feel like my work as they're so abstract.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

HBP: Complete Printmaker - Lino

After collagraphs we moved onto relief printing with lino. I was looking forward to working with lino as the last time I had the chance to use it (during my GCSEs) I really enjoyed the process and since then I've seen a lot of amazing lino work by other artists that made me want to give it another go.

I was still using my travel snaps as source material for my print work at this point in the course and I chose a coastal scene (I used it earlier for mono printing as well) as I thought the patterns and textures of the waves/cliffs/grass etc. would translate well onto a lino plate. We were doing a multi coloured print using one plate so it took a while to work out the order of the layers - I don't think I'd be able to explain it again but you start with a plain rectangle of colour and gradually cut into the lino to add each additional colour.

I started with the green as my plain rectangular base colour, then printed the light blue and then the navy on top - I did intend to print a fourth colour to add more definition to the sky but I ran out of time. The colours don't really work for me, in particular the green (I prefer the third image below with the white background). I really should have printed a lot of different background colours and tried out a few combinations but printing a clean rectangle was actually really difficult and I think I felt a bit discouraged after making mistakes with the green.

The cutting and gouging process was difficult (I remember it being tricky in school) as the lino can be quite stubborn and it's easy to cut away more than you intend to. I did enjoy working with the tools and forming the lines and marks in a more hands-on way but I'm not happy with the results that I got from my plate - I don't think the process suits my work as it's clunky and stylised. It's frustrating as I do love lino prints but this technique just isn't for me.


Saturday, 22 November 2014

HBP - Complete Printmakers: Collagraph

The third print process that we learnt on the course was collagraph; a process where the plate is made out of mountboard. You can either cut into the board or add raised textures to it (or you can do both) and once the design is complete you apply a few thin layers of varnish to make it more durable. 

At this point in the course I didn't have a subject or theme to focus on so I was still relying on my collection of travel photos for source material. The image that I chose was of a block flats in Berlin; in front of them (the white space at the side of the print) was quite a grand building/structure with Roman style columns and statues. 

The process of making the plate was tough on my fingers - I was cutting into the board with a craft knife and it took about 3-4 hours in total. To achieve the thicker lines and blocky shapes I had to carefully slice around the shape and gently scrape away layers of the card fibres within. I was a little bit impatient with the varnishing and applied a bit too much on my final coat so had to blot it through the press - the results of this are pictured below the prints. I wasn't really impressed with my final prints; the inking process was the same one used for drypoint and I struggled with the texture of this plate. The varnish didn't have the same smooth finish as the metal plates so wiping the ink back was a lot harder. I think the subject matter didn't really lend itself to this process either so if I were to do it again I'd definitely choose a different image.

Collagraph plate (I prefer the actual plate to the prints)

Thursday, 20 November 2014

HBP - Complete Printmakers: Drypoint

In the second and third week of the course we focused on drypoint - an intaglio print process which involves scratching a design into a thin metal sheet, inking up the sheet and putting the plate and the paper through a press. As I use mark making a lot in my drawings I really enjoyed this process - there were a variety of tools that we could use to scratch into the metal including an electric Dremel engraver and working into the plate was an interesting process. I enjoyed drawing in a way that was more free; the surface of the metal jarred against the tools making the process less controlled and the marks and lines unpredictable.

As drypoint is an intaglio process you have to cover the plate in ink and then wipe away - the ink is held in the burrs that stick up on either side of the lines and marks that have been scratched into the metal. I found the inking and wiping process difficult - it's very messy and quite labour intensive plus there are certain techniques to wiping which I still really struggle with. I think my first print was helped by a bit of beginners luck as the lighter areas of ink on the rock have given the image a bit more texture and definition but they definitely weren't intentional! 

As shown below I used my plates to make 2-3 prints each - the plates can't really be used much more than this as the burrs begin to flatten from going through the press and don't hold as much ink so the prints are softer and a bit blurry. As with mono print this is a process that I'd like to explore further as I think it works well with my style of drawing.

First drypoint print - drawing from a photo of the Pembrokeshire coast

Second drypoint print from same plate adding some thinned down coloured ink

Third print from original plate - the lines are becoming less defined as the burrs are flattened during the printing process

The drypoint plate and detail below of the marks that have been scratched into the surface of the metal

Second drypoint - I can't find the plate for this drypoint but it was another drawing from photos of the Pembrokeshire coast - I tried to add more colour to this one however it doesn't have the same impact as the first print and it came out a bit messy

Third drypoint plate - this time I used photos from a trip to Cumbria as my source material for the drawings. Again this plate doesn't have the same impact that the first plate did - the colours and the inking definitely need more consideration


Wednesday, 19 November 2014

HBP - Complete Printmakers: Mono Print

The first session of the course started with mono printing, a process where a very thin layer of ink is rolled out, the paper is laid face down on to the ink and another sheet of paper is laid on top. The drawing/mark making is done on the second piece of paper, the pressure of the pencil or pen through the layers of paper picks up the ink creating a reverse image with soft lines. The process of laying the paper on top of a large area of ink means that other marks are picked up and you have to be careful not to lean on the paper when you're drawing!

For my mono prints I used photos from various walks and trips over the past few years. I wanted to capture some of the textures of the scenery using dashes, dots and cross hatching with the basic shapes built up in line. My favourite is the coastal image (photos 8 and 9) with the green lines for the sea. The images are just on newsprint so they're quite fragile and have already begun to discolour but this simple print method is something that I want to explore further with other papers and subjects.