Sunday, 31 October 2021

Coffee, cards and amazing art


Harpenden Arts Club's new exhibition venue - the Trust Hall, Southdown
© Teresa Newham

It's a delight to be able to take part in this year's Harpenden Arts Club Annual Exhibition - the first in two years.  So much has changed, not least the venue - the Public Halls is now a vaccination centre and earmarked for demolition, so the club have relocated the exhibition to the Trust Hall right here in Southdown.

August I greeting visitors to the main hall
© Teresa Newham

At the hand-in there were forty artists - and most brought a lot of work.  I've taken full advantage of the maximum six pieces on the wall, six in the browser and thirty cards, and I'm not the only one; we have two year's worth of creativity to show, after all, and I've kept some back for next year.

March I echoing the colours around it
© Teresa Newham

I spent Friday morning serving coffee at the Coffee Morning Preview - a new addition to the format, it encouraged people to relax and provided a sociable alternative for those who did not attend the Private View. We had a steady stream of visitors all morning, despite the showery weather.

paintings, pottery and coffee on tap in the back room . . .
© Teresa Newham

I was stationed in the back room, where there is some art and sculpture, the greetings cards and browsers, and the sales desk.  The space has a lively, informal atmosphere and there's plenty going on without the space becoming overcrowded.

. . . along with a bank of browsers 
© Teresa Newham

When the coffee session was finished, I took a proper look in the main hall, where most of the exhibition is hung.  To my amazement, nobody at the club was quite sure how it was all going to fit in until they started setting up last Wednesday.  As usual it is really well organised.

Field, Cross Lane in distinguished company
© Teresa Newham

My reduction linocut, Fence, Cross Lane, sold at the Private View. It's a favourite of mine and it's always good to know that somebody loves something enough to buy it. Buyers collect framed pieces at the end of the exhibition this afternoon so I might even get to meet them.

Fence, Cross Lane with a red dot
© Teresa Newham

As always, I'm in awe of the way the volunteers curate the disparate artworks to make a cohesive whole.  All my paintings and prints fit in well with their hanging companions and to my  joy, Duck and Drake have been placed together as as set - the right way round.  Thank you Harpenden Arts Club!

Duck and Drake hung as a pair
© Teresa Newham

The annual exhibition closes this afternoon at 4pm so there's still time to go and see it! To find out more about Harpenden Arts Club click here.

Friday, 15 October 2021

Learning as I go


Japanese woodblock print of acer leaf on Shiramine Select
by Teresa Newham

Was it a good idea, I wondered, to demonstrate Japanese woodblock printing during #HertsOpenStudios?  I'm still learning the technique and hadn't done any for ages, but what better way of getting to grips with it again?  I could set up outside - ideal for the Covid-secure experience we were trying to create - and the weather, for the first few sessions at least, was forecast to be fine and dry.

setting up the demo table outside
© Teresa Newham

Working outdoors presented the usual challenges; any items likely to blow away in the wind (virtually everything on the table) had to be weighted down.  I began to print proof copies to remind myself what I was supposed to do.  This took longer than one session, which forced me to reduce the size of the damp pack to fit it into the freezer until the next time, when I defrosted and completed the proof prints. It was so absorbing that I forgot to take any more photos.

printing the blue plate
© Teresa Newham

Oh, the joy of doing this outside! I was able wet the blocks and shake the excess water straight onto the patio; neither the prints nor the damp pack dried out too quickly; it was the perfect environment.  In fact I had to take care not to get everything too wet.  By the third session I was confident enough to try printing on two types of Japanese washi from the Awagami factory.

printing the yellow plate
© Teresa Newham

Keeping things as simple as possible, I only made four prints, which would fit easily into a small damp pack (in case it had to go into the freezer again). The beauty of Japanese woodblock is that you can re-use the blocks to make more prints, even years later.  I remembered not to use too much paint and nori and tried to describe the process to our visitors, who were completely fascinated by it.

trying out bokashi shading technique
© Teresa Newham

I then had a go at doing some bokashi shading, which was a little fiddly for a beginner like me, but produced some interesting effects.  It would probably have worked better on a larger piece - so I'm thinking of going larger next time.  

finished prints in the damp pack
© Teresa Newham

I dried the prints between layers of thick blotting paper under heavy books as usual, and moved indoors to demonstrate different techniques as the weather deteriorated for our final few days.  When I went back to the prints I found that the Shiramine Select had produced the best result, which is just as well; I have a stash of it in my studio waiting for the next print . . . 

Japanese woodblock print of Acer leaf on Okawara Select
© Teresa Newham

I'll be demonstrating what I've learned so far about Japanese woodblock on Friday 22nd October at The Workhouse Dunstable, 5 Ashton Gate LU6 3SN  from 10am - 12.30pm, so do come and take a look!