Monday, 27 August 2012

keep calm and carry on . . .

Preparations for Herts Open Studios 2012 are in full swing: the August Bank Holiday Farmers' Market crept up on me almost without warning, despite having been in the diary for months.  Saturday's thunder and lightning had luckily given way to dry, cool weather; the Harpenden Artists' usual stall promoting Open Studios in the town generated a lot of interest, including the Acer Leaf print I'd hastily shoved in the car as my own contribution.

Harpenden Artists' stall at the Farmers' Market
Next weekend the HVAF is putting on an exhibition at Harpenden Public Halls just before Open Studios gets going;  artists from all over the county are taking part, some of whom are unable to participate in Open Studios this year - a great opportunity to include them, and promote Open Studios at the same time.  So there have been exhibits to sort out for that, and for the taster exhibition which runs alongside Open Studios at the Methodist Church in the High Street; and for the Open Studios promotion in the window of the Harpenden Building Society!

Open Studios brochures and envelopes awaiting distribution

There's also been a mailing to do for our own Artscape Arts exhibition, which runs alongside Herts Open Studios;  paintings, prints and photos to be mounted, labelled and wrapped;   wall labels & signage to print and laminate; browser items chosen; and a whole variety of greetings cards to sort out, some of which I've only just got round to printing!

last-minute card-making . . .
One of the items I'd hoped to show at Open Studios isn't close to being finished - at this rate it will become a demonstration piece during the event - and with a busy and potentially stressfull week at work coming up ahead of next Saturday's hanging at Artscape I'm just having to go with the flow, do what I can when I can, and give it up to God.  It's only art, after all . . . !!

 . . . other cards bagged up and ready to go!

More information about Herts Open Studios is available here on the HVA website; and you can see the brochure online here.

Monday, 13 August 2012

false start - an Olympian struggle

birdwatch photo
It won't have escaped your notice that for the last two weeks London has been hosting the biggest sporting event on earth.  The London 2012 Olympics pretty much took over our lives; at home we were glued to the TV, at work we had even the most obscure events up on our computer screens.  After the first weekend (who knew that Her Majesty was such an accomplished sky diver?) I realised pretty quickly that I was going to have to take steps to avoid getting square eyeballs.

blank base colours hanging in the studio
I was Doing My Bit for the Olympics by working from home for a few days, so decided to use the time I would have spent commuting for creating some linocut prints, based on some photos I'd taken during the January  RSPB Birdwatch .  I'd already prepared some blank red and blue base colours, and the lino was ready, so I got straight down to printing -  gold, silver and copper metallics on the red and blue;  and just for fun some black prints on a couple of watercolour backgrounds I'd prepared.  I even had time to print up some black and white cards - and all before I started work at 9.30am!

printed metallics
Before long, the study was festooned with drying prints, and I went upstairs to log into work, highly pleased with my output.  It was only when I came down again for a mid-morning cuppa that I realised, with a sinking heart:  there was no contrast, no depth, no light in the dozen red and blue prints I'd made.  I couldn't use them.

bird cards
The cards showed more light, life and contrast than the original prints.  Even the experimental prints with the watercolour backgrounds - where the ink had run slightly because I hadn't dried the lino off properly before printing with a new colour - showed more depth.

experimental watercolour prints
The best thing would be to print black on top of metallic, I decided;  and perhaps I could add depth by leaving part of the background white.  So when work was over for the day, I cut a square template, and a circular mask (think moon, rather than Olympic rings), and printed up my backgrounds from those. A little hint: never, ever change techniques half way through something.  Could I get those templates to fit the bird linocut?  An hour and a half and several wasted sheets of Hosho paper later, I had to admit I couldn't.  Next morning, convinced I'd solved the problem, I started again but still the fit wasn't quite right.  Eventually I abandoned all idea of achieving proper registration and printed them by eye, which has given them what one could politely call a 'lively' appearance.

finally - bird prints!
As for the Olympics, they've been wonderful - successful beyond our wildest dreams.  I wasn't enthusiastic at first;  no events were taking place close by, and I hadn't expected to see much Olympic activity in the area of London I work in.  But from the moment I ran down to the Thames from my office - along with half my team - to see the Olympic torch pass the Globe Theatre, I realised we were in for something special.  And I was right:

Olympic Torch passingThe Globe Theatre
Olympic Mascot near The Tate Modern
flags of all nations along the Thames
Olympic rings in the Thames