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So far, during the Southampton Solent residency, I have steadily gathered material for my Itchen Valley project e.g. the Wingnut Trees just outside the City of Winchester. For this I took snapshot photographs and used parts of them for the three, textural, screenprints (see previous blog): Wingnut, Red Spot and Autumn Wingnut.
Also, I made a collection of the location drawings (see location drawing blog entry) of contractors working in land managed by the Hampshire Wildlife Trust.
Now I am in the final two months of the residency and in this time I am expecting to create prints that bring these two aspects together dramatically. I have made expressive trials using wax resist and ink, compressed charcoal and wax crayons, sepia ink and watercolour. My expectation is not forming just yet. Meanwhile, I have hung prototype drawings on my wall and am looking at all I have done and watching to see what exactly is developing that goes into new ground for me.
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.
'Red Dot' is the second screen print I have produced on the subject of land around the Itchen Water Meadows. This makes a second print specifically on the theme of trees and the woodland/forester's marks for management. A red dot on the trunk, I understand, signifies that surgery is needed, whereas a short stripe indicates felling.
The look of my prints is not my usual hand drawing. It has turned out this way because it has been so wet to work outside in the field. In its place I took photographs of areas that are designated for tree clearing and, for the sake of moving the project forward, I have used close-ups of the photographs to create colour layers for the prints. This method has challenges in pre-deciding areas and boundaries of the colours (no more than four) and to overlay them successfully.
Over the last few weeks I have read 'Water Meadows', History, Ecology and Conservation, Edited by Hadrian Cook and Tom Williamson, published by Windgather Press Ltd, 2007.
Whilst studying the subject and starting again to draw on location, I am also mindful of how I am going to artistically interpret all this information. Some trial sketches of men working are shown with this entry and artists I am looking at are Bruce McLean, Josef Herman and John Constable. Stephen Chambers' recent show at the Royal Academy, also, has helped me considerably in creating the layers for the screen prints.
To have access to Southampton Solent University printmaking department has led me to screenprinting and exploring photographic textures. This is a new approach and was waiting to happen. The image has led me away from figurative work and into the close up. I have worked with only three colours so far, and white if you call it a colour, and mixing these colours to overlay successfully is challenging.
I visited Stephen Chambers' exhibition at the Royal Academy. Not only was it beautiful to see but also very helpful to see the artist's use of layers in printmaking.