Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Art In Action 2007

Well this entry has turned into something of a saga so you had better make yourself a cup of tea and get comfortable.

I set off at lunchtime on the wednesday and had a pleasant, gentle journey across country to Oxfordshire. The weather was fine and, after depositing my equipment in the Printmaking tent, I drove to the campsite and found a patch of ground at the higher end of the field - a good decision, as it happened. As you can see, my '76 VW camper isn't the smartest looking vehicle but it has character. The refit had cost more money that I could really afford but I spent five very comfortable nights in the van.

I walked back to the Printmaking tent - a sizeable marquee - and started to arrange my things.

I started by arranging framed engravings on the stands at the side:

Next, I covered the tables and arranged unframed prints in my browsers:

I was sharing the space with nine other printmakers (select printmaking in the drop down menu), an etching press and this magnificant 1876 "Super Royal" (ie. biggest) Albion Handpress:

What a beauty!

I hung my framed "Walking On Water" as my entry in the "Best of the Best" exhibition and, after dinner, since it was still fine, I made use of the framing workshop in the back of my VW:

A beautiful sunny day with many visitors and pleasing sales. Here are some of the visitors taking refreshments in front of Waterperry house. Art In Action takes place in the grounds around the house and surrounding fields and orchards:

Ten hours of rain! Here is the morning view from inside the camper (which amazingly no longer leaks), accompanied by Radio Three.

Meanwhile, in the Printmaking tent, the water rises!

Intrepid visitors arrive...

...and the ground starts to turn to mud!

Notwithstanding the rain and mud, I enjoyed Friday. There were fewer visitors, but they were not only intrepid but also interested in the work we were doing. There was time to have conversations and give one-to-one demonstrations. Here is my working area set out with sketchbooks, blocks and works in progress:

However, by the end of the day, the inside of the tent was ankle deep in mud!

We arriveed to find the situation no different and so decided to sort it out ourselves. Printmakers are such capable, practical people. Laurie (collagraph and etching), Chloe (lithography) and Nana (traditional and modern Japanese printmaking) are seen here bringing in the first barrow of straw. Many other barrows followed and we covered the floor. The whole tent had (for now) and pleasant, comforting rural aroma - rather like a dry barn or stable.

Saturday was a surprisingly good day, culminating in a marvellous meal served up for the artists and craftspeople who had been demonstrating at the event.

When the tent was opened on Sunday morning, the smell was enough to take the back off your throat; the mud-soaked straw had produced the unmistakable aroma of cowshed!

We set out in search of more straw and, once again, the Printmaking tent was a pleasant place to be. Sunday was busy but I found a little time to wander round and look at the work on display. Here is the etching press:

And the beautiful 1876 Hopkinson and Cope Super Royal Albion handpress that I used for demonstrating printing:

At lunchtime, I spent a few minutes exploring the lovely gardens of Waterperry House:

Soon, the last visitors left and we packed away our things before clearing the tent. I set off in my camper but soon found that the heavy rain was starting to take its toll:

I decided not to risk the floodwater in a 30 year old van and turned round to seek another route. Around me was evidence of the devastating floods that are now still affecting large areas of southern England:

All in all, and despite the weather, Art In Action was extremely enjoyable. I couldn't have hoped for more cogenial companions than the other printmakers. I enjoyed demonstrating engraving and also sold a pleasing quantity of prints. Without hesitation, I would recommend Art In Action to anyone with an interest in arts and crafts.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Off To Art In Action

I'm off to Art In Action, having worked all hours under the sun and the moon to refit the camper. Check out my last post to see the "before"... this is the "after"

I have packed just about everything except the Albions (there is one there in the printmaking tent). I'll report when I return.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Open Studios: Weekend 1

Last weekend, I took part in the first of my two "Open Studio" weekends. Actually, this year I have not opened my studio due partly to accessibility issues and I am sharing Gallery@12A in Fulbourn, near Cambridge, with Sue Rapley, a painter. It was a rush (as always) to get everything together but, in the end, everything looked good:

There was limited wall space but quite enough to show an array of framed work:

Since I wanted to demonstrate the process of engraving, I set myself up at the end of a long table:

Further along the table, I made a display of bookplates so that people could pick through them and appreciate the quality that a hand printed piece has:

On the long table were three "browsers". I was particularly pleased with them as I adapted them myself, buying three "racks" from Habitat, turning them upside down and setting them into bases cut from curved shelving of a similar wood that I had stored in my garage. I thought that they looked very professional:

And here is a general view of the space. The paintings on the right are by Sue Rapley, holding her first exhibition. Apart from being a fine painter, Sue is also great company.

We are open this weekend (14th - 15th July). We would love to see you there. Details can be found here:

Its all go here. I am engraving a highly detailed business card and working an a design of an intriguing bookplate, combining many different interests of the recipient. I'm also getting ready for Art In Action at Waterperry near Oxford from 19th - 22nd July. Details can be found here:

It would be great to see you if you attend - do drop in and see me in the Printmakers tent.

During Art In Action, I will be living in my 1976 VW camper van - trouble is, the inside looks like this at the moment:

NOT really suitable for an engraver of a certain age and so, dear reader, I am also working every hour under the sun and the moon to refit it.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Mathematical Bridge - Finished

I have finished the engraving of the Mathematical Bridge that crosses the River Cam in Cambridge.

I stopped engraving a little before completion and there is a good reason for this - it is a lot easier to remove wood than to put it back. The latter is not exactly impossible but is, of course, something that I want to avoid. Here is the block , inked and fixed in the bed of the press:

My preference for proofing sooner rather than later usually results in the first "state" being fairly "flat". I normally take four proofs of each state - here are the first ones on the drying rack:

This is a good time to take a break, pour a nice strong cup of tea, and look at the image with a critical eye. I work through the print systematically, noting all of the changes and developments that I wish to make.

Next, I wipe the ink from the block with a clean soft cloth and make the adjustments that I felt were necessary. In this case, I wanted a lot more light in the reflections in the foreground, so I recut the lines:

After this I took a proof of the second state and planned further revisions. I worked through six states before I was happy. The last ones only made tiny changes which were not really very noticeable but I would not have been happy if I hadn't made them. I was pleased with the final image:

Its been a while since I followed the story of an engraving on my blog and so here is an offer for my readers only.

I am selling five of my artist's proofs in my website shop at a much reduced price of GBP25.00, including shipping. This is about half the selling price for the edition. Please note that these are artist's proofs - identical to the selling edition but marked "A/P" instead of the edition number.
They are for sale HERE as Item "Blog Special No. 1"