One of the experiments I've been pursuing over the past few weeks is in using liquid Latex to create molds which I then use as a plate for printmaking. I had never used Latex before and. like most of the experiments on this AA2A project, I had no real idea what I was trying to achieve or even how to go about it but thought I'd have a go and just see what happened.
Initially, I thought it might provide a solution to the problem of putting the collagraph plates through the press and the paper sticking, by creating a mold from the collagraph plate. I selected a few plates that had been through the press several times, and started coating them with liquid Latex which I bought from the local arts supply shop.
I found they needed about 10-12 coats, each of which needs to dry, or cure, fully before the next is added so it was a long and laborious process. I'm glad I used a cheap paintbrush as trying to get the Latex out of the bristles, despites washing after each application, became a real headache!
When the first ones were ready to try out last week, I struggled with removing the mold from the plate without it stcking to itself so the first print in the album has a somewhat primitive look with uneven edges, which I actually quite like. I quickly found that a light dusting of talcolm powder rather than washing-up liquid as recommended, made it a lot easier to remove the molds and in so doing, they retained their original shape. The second image was printed this week having removed the mold this way so it has retained its shape more.
Having removed the molds, I laid them flat and lightly used a roller over the entire thing with oil-based intaglio ink, then laid pre-soaked paper over the plates and put them through the small relief press. Initially using too much ink, I gradually got the hang of using less and managed to get some reasonable results with a first print. I quite liked the impression given by the wrinked edges of the latex when making the print and the visible brush strokes from coating the latex which showed through the ink.
Although these were quite successful in terms of generating a print and several of the other printmakers commented on how effective and original they were, I wasn't entirey happy as they were not really what I was trying to achieve. I experimented some more with different plates and changed the techniques as I went and tried both pre-soaked and dry papers but still I was not convinced.
I rediscovered recently, while talking to Dee, Abi and Kezia (my fellow AA2A artists at University of Bedfordshire, Luton) that where I work is really important to me and my art practice.
Its not really the actual physical space that I find important. I currently work in a shed (which I gloriously title my studio), part of a garage, bits of my home, even in a marquee in the garden when I need more space or am doing particularly messy sculpture work, and when I can I work direct in a local forest.
What is important is that I get to spend enough time in the space to make it 'mine' ... my energy, my creativity - building a rapport between me and the physical environment I'm working in. Thinking about it as I write, this is totally connected with how I see, and what I want to express in, my work - the whole scientific/mythical connection with the world around us and how we explore, explain and relate to it is also wrapped up in my relationship with the creative environment I'm working in.
This is a rather unexpected and potentially awkward thing to rediscover at this stage in my residency. I really want to commit time to spend at the Uni in Luton, but I can't just pop in and out and at the same time be creative - it just isn't me.
I've realised that I need to order my time - some spent at home (like right now) working in a familiar zone on unfamiliar things (bringing my graphics experience of Adobe Illustrator into my art practice), but also making sure I spend some very concentrated time in the studios at Luton, actually working on weaving the sculptures and developing my ideas ... this will be much easier once I have the materials (see the lasercutter blog post).
An unfortunate and negative outcome of my thoughts on working in the studios in Luton - my work and that of another AA2A artist were taken down from the space we were working in. Apparently a misunderstanding but no communication directly from the Uni and it has made me feel even more unable to make their space 'mine' ...
It has been a slow start, what with sorting out how to access the equipment, who, where and when to arrange everything but I finally feel like I'm starting on the residency and I'm really looking forward to getting the metal sheets to test what I can cut with the laser cutter - my plan is to cut a series of small 'sample' patterns which will hopefully provide a new form of 'wire' to weave into sculptures.
If it works as planned (and lets face it things rarely go to plan but its the happy accidents that tend to move my art practice forward) I will be able to incorporate both science and natural pattern elements within the wire.
So in anticipation of the delivery of metal sheets I am working on the Adobe Illustrator files, which I'm creating at home at present, as its a lot easier for me to work here ... and this brings me onto another aspect of my art practice - where it takes place, but I think that's a whole new blog subject so I'll try to start one for each aspect (laser cutter, 3d printer, how I work) ...
Once I've worked out how to add images here I'll post some of the patterns I'm working with at the moment!
At last we have all got together to introduce ourselves to the students and staff on one place at the same time. It was a great opportunity to give some background information on what sort of creative practice we follow and an idea of what we want to achieve whilst at the college. I have to say, Chelmsford college has been amazingly welcoming and accomodating. It seems everyone I meet, from an aray of departments, seem to know about the AA2A artist and they are all very excited about us being here. I think the combination of this project and the new art block has created a surge of positive energy within the college and this is fantastic for the student's motivation.
During my presentation, I asked for some students to volunteer as models for my 'Festival Goer' project. I am pleased to say that after the presentatios 6 students approached me offering to help me with the development process - being 'fesival goer' life models. Looking forward to working with them all.
Random, controlled, right, accurate, going wrong, accepting, discarding. And it all depends where you are looking from as to what you see.
My most recent albums contain drawings made on site this January. Working outside is thwart with challenges: Keeping warm, not losing the best pastel in the mud, drawing figures that are mostly out of sight as were the tree felling team and accepting what is in front of you and moving with the scene.
I used compressed charcoal and oil pastels as they gave me the most immediate result to my responses as there is not time to compose or consider. As the time went on I began to settle and get to know the clothing and the shape of a chain saw, all of which starts to give the drawing some gravitas. I worked on these drawings when I returned to my studio, having observed all that I saw and taken in the whole activity. Watching a tree sway after about twenty minutes of selective chain sawing is a sign it is about to fall down at a pre-meditated place.
The management of this parcel of land where I was pitched lies with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. The felling contractors are Worthy Tree Care.
Woah, time has flown by...
So Christmas and New Year have passed and looking back, I'm glad I got some good solid induction in before Christmas. I've not yet been back to PCA (more on why to come) since my print room inductions (which were very exciting: great facilities for sure), and getting them under my belt has meant that the planning of my dossiers is well under way.
Since being back from the winter break I've been very busy trying to earn my way back into the green (via the call centre, PrtScrPress, and some workshops), this has meant I haven't had much time to actually get myself down to PCA. Also, I've spent the last two weeks doing my new quarterly commitment of producing the Loophole Supplements, these are now at the stage of being complete meaning that I'm now free for the next month and a half (on Wednesdays and Fridays thanks to my new shift pattern at the call centre) to concentrate on Public Notice.
Work/work balance aside, I've also been busy with developing much of the backbone to Public Notice. I've created the first 'work' (planning notice), which was placed in Haldon Forest a few weeks back. It was made from air-drying clay and white acrylic paint and proposed a ludricous plan for the soil network underneath Haldon's trees. More will become clear if you see the pic, also once the work is in the dossiers (and on the website). Until then I'm staying schtum.
I've decided that the notices are going to take three forms in all:
The three forms are going to be used in different scenarios, depending on the context and aim of the notice. The clay ones are strong handmade objects and contrast completely with the feel of laser cut perspex, they offer up the chance for an aesthetic or conceptual choice for the most planned notices. The Riso print notices will be for 'on the spot' notices, these will be for far away or spontaneous works.
I've also finished the design of the logo for the Dept, see my image gallery
On a related but separate note, the dossier's cover materials and design are all purchased, complete and waiting. The covers are going to be plywood (3.5mm) this choice is based on a variety of reasons:
Anyways, I feel that's enough updates for now. More will follow.
I plan to be in PCA this Friday (to get to grips/get used to screenprintin) and then Wednesday, Thursday, Friday of next week too. My aim is to get the dossier covers printed and possibly laser cut too (this depends on a few factors, but aim high I say).
Once this is complete, I will then be straight onto thinking through the next way to use the PCA facilities. That workshop idea needs following up for one...
I spoke to a lady on Twitter yesterday who runs a lovely interview site called 'Drowning Dogs'. It's named after a dog that is in one of Goya's Black Paintings. After complimenting her on this name, I then mentioned that if it is a metaphor for artists trying to keep their head above water and sustain their practice, then I feel more like a chihuahua in a washing machine. At least I'll smell clean once this cycle has finished.
Yesterday was very successful in my campaign to engage with fellow students. Having typed out an invitation to art students at Coventry University, informing them all about AA2A website started to see a few students signing up. It did not help that most the students where not in uni due to doing their dissertations, so my wondering aimlessly around the five floors of Graham Sutherland Building to find hardly any students to talk to about this amazing network for artists had a slow start. Every day would wander up to the top floor to see if any one had signed up yet, then down to the basement to come across another not signed up list. I did not give up and then went into the second years lecture ( when not really meant to be there but no-one seemed to mind), at the end of any questions raised my hand to inform the students about this web site page. After the lecture was approched by a few students who I gave out the information to. Then towards the end of last week after chatting to fellow students was delighted to see the first third year student had signed up for more information, so I put a smiley face and a tick next to the name and left a thank you note and hoped by winding my way to the basement would find some more names added to the list oh well what a dissapointment well one can dream. On Monday finally managed to actually see some students in the basement and asked if they had not seen the notice or where not interested and surprized at the response that they had already applied on their own and found it to be a informative website. One student had his own blog page and would be looking into using it as a link in the future but thought it too early to be worring about networking yet. This is where I said it is never too early to network and get your art practice out there for all to see and have a taste of your newly forming talents. On Tuesday was really delighted to see not only had students signed up on the top floor but also had now signed up in the basement and got a few more students than thought to sign up have given the students the deadline of signing up by 30 January so that can then e-mail these details on to the correct person. In all it has been a long but very intresting way of conecting with students and also talking to them about own art practice which I thought was not progressing very far. With showing drawings, research and documentary research books was encouraged to trust in my own convictions more that I have done a lot of research and the small amout of art work that I have explored has the development to go further and not to deter off this journey but to keep on with the small discoveries am making as it is all part of the learning curb. Although this I have found a lot like trudding through treacle with keeping a diary of my thoughts is helping me to negotiate my way but needed some one else's input to see the woods through the trees.. I intend to continue with my essential reading even it I find some of the unusual material really does push the boundaries. At the moment have just started to read See Yourself Sensing: Redefining Human Perception written by Madeline Schwartzman and printed by Black Dog Publishing. This looks at Reframers, Environments, Tools, Mediators and Speculations in the extremes of the use of the body its interactions with computers, interactive robots. Ann Hamilton;s "Face to Face images. 2001 an eyes view of how they view the world in its distorted black and white photographs encapsulates how as a person with dispraxia often views the world and gives me the opportunity to explore this further through out my own practice in visual imagery.
After the successful experiment with Akua Intaglio water-based inks, I decided to invest in a set of the inks so I can play til my heart's content. The Akua Intaglio inks will give me the best of both worlds in that I can use them straight out of the pot for painting on the plate for monoprinting, but I should also be able to use them for rubbing in to the collagraph plates and then putting through either the intaglio or relief presses when I have acces to the printroom. Sounds perfect.
I have ordered 6 inks to give me a minimal, natural palette. I can mix a selection of other colours then as needed. I've also ordered the Transparent Base.
Can't wait for them to arrive so I can start using them.
Today was the first time all the artists met at Chelmsford college and what a great experience that was! We each gave a short presentation to students and why is it I always manage to forget half what I planned to say? Apart from that, it went really well and I got a real buzz from seeing the other work, such diversity but connections too. I strongly feel the possibility of discussion, crits and collaboration. This is getting better and better!