Sunday, 30 October 2016

Art and eccentricity in Madrid

Half term found a group of us in Madrid, on a short break with a packed itinerary - Old Town, Cathedral, Royal Palace, the Prado; there was going to be lots of art.  Would the city turn out to have a whacky side, too, I wondered?

the bear and the strawberry tree - symbol of Madrid
© Teresa Newham
At the Puerta del Sol  we paused for photos by the statue of the bear and the strawberry tree - both symbols of the city which have featured on its' coat of arms for centuries.  Then it was off into the narrow streets of the Old Town, where we spotted this automaton moving above a watch shop:

the clockmaker plying his trade
© Teresa Newham
Art was everywhere on the streets in the Old Town, as well as in the museums and art galleries.  We had a good view in the glorious sunny weather, which showed the buildings off to their best advantage.

highly decorated buildings in Madrid Old Town
© Teresa Newham
In the Plaza Mayor we found official and unofficial statues, the latter being very keen to engage with us.  At least the official statues didn't move . . .

statues living and traditional in the Plaza Mayor
© Teresa Newham
The relatively modern Almudena Cathedral was a striking mixture of plain white walls and colourful works of art.  Luckily I remembered to point my camera at the ceiling, which was a work of art in itself!

stunning artwork on the ceiling of the cathedral
© Teresa Newham

Moving on, I spotted this model on a balcony near the old market. Who thought of putting it there? (I would like to thank them).  Why did they put it there - was it to find out which of us look up as well as around? When it rains, does she hold an umbrella?

a mannequin on a balcony
© Teresa Newham

In the part of the Royal Palace where photos are allowed, I was looking up again, at this very Spanish ceiling (while trying not to fall down the staircase at the same time).  This wasn't just Art - this was  Culture, with a capital C:

stunning artwork on the ceilings at the Royal Palace
© Teresa Newham

And I couldn't resist snapping these, which are shop mannequins and not the living statue variety, unfortunately.    Madrid may be a capital city, but you can't accuse it of taking itself too seriously!

street mannequins near the old town
© Teresa Newham

Saturday, 15 October 2016

the frog - revisited

the green frog
reduction linocut by Teresa Newham

As soon as I'd finished printing The Golden Frog, I knew I wanted to have another go at the subject.  I started planning it out during our last Herts Open Studios session - trying to make the markings more - well - frog-like, and eliminating some of the problems I'd encountered previously.

working out the design
© Teresa Newham
My stickiest issue was the background - I discarded the idea of leaves and tried boulders and pebbles, but I couldn't get it right.  Until one of our Open Studios visitors, browsing our charity bookstall, said: "Oh look, there are some frogs here, on lily pads".  So a glance at my own book would have given me the answer!

getting the first colour right . . .  or not!
© Teresa Newham
Once the white was cut I set out to print the first yellow layer.  That's right - yellow.  Except it didn't work out like that, because I mixed this lime green colour first, and fell in love with it.  The prints sat for a week on my clothes airer drying rack until I found time to move on.

first colour, printed & drying
© Teresa Newham
The next plate had to be a mid-green.  I hoped it would work, and tried to build some texture into the print when I cut the leaves out.  Because I was transferring the design plate by plate using a pencil, I kept getting confused, and was pretty apprehensive when I came to do the actual printing.

now for the second colour . . . .
© Teresa Newham
I needn't have worried - the two colours printed together worked well.  The markings were there, the white outline was there (on most of them anyway), and even on the odd print where the registration was slightly out, it didn't seem to matter.

. . . which looked encouraging!
© Teresa Newham
I repeated the process for the next (and what turned out to be final) colour - brown. I'd originally intended to print black onto the water and the pupil of the eye, but came to the conclusion I didn't need to - the brown and green are fine as they are.  So glad I had another go at this little fella!

the final print
© Teresa Newham