Broken oak tree

March 12, 2014 | Comments: 0 | Categories:

broken-oak

Words probably won't add much here, but just to give a little context, this is an oak on the Dalkeith Country Park Estate, in a large area of ancient wood pasture which was once a deer hunting forest.  The wood continues to be used for cattle grazing but is managed for conservation - this tree has broken in half very dramatically, but the dead wood will not be cleared away or otherwise tidied. Instead it will be allowed to slowly decompose and provide habitat for countless millions of other organisms as it does so.  Not to mention also providing both shocking and endlessly beautiful subject matter for freezing artists in the winter months. 

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Adventures in photopolymer printmaking

March 10, 2014 | Comments: 0 | Categories:

In November last year I did a weekend course in photopolymer etching at Edinburgh Printmakers and now I'm properly hooked!

inking-up

I've been back regularly to practise, putting my new knowledge to the test and diligently checking the notes every time I move through the process.  I've loved the whole atmosphere of the place - it manages to be both highly professional and very friendly, with a sort of background hum of intense but enjoyable creative activity.  The other printmakers I've met are generous with their knowledge whilst being humble about the challenges of being a printmaker.  I've also really enjoyed the physicality of the processes in the efficiently designed workshop - reminds me of my days at Manchester Polytechnic in the ceramic studio or the metal workshop, the smell of wet and dry, oiled machinery and funny coloured chemicals.

I know it's early days in my learning, but I set myself the goal of having some prints to show in my next exhibition, 'Figured wood', in April, so I've been working like a mad thing to find what works for my images - you'll need to visit the exhibition to see whether I've succeeded, but here's a few process pictures to get you started...

bart

'Bart' the historic printing press

printing

Lined up and ready to print

prints-drying

Proofs fresh off the press!

See here for more information about this printmaking technique and that course I attended.



Figured wood at Dawyck Botanic Gardens

March 09, 2014 | Comments: 0 | Categories:

Dalkeith burred oak

Solo exhibition featuring charcoal, pastel and line drawings inspired by trees and influenced by the figure.

Opening event Saturday 5th April, 11am - 1pm at Dawyck Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre.

The exhibition runs from 5th April - 3rd August 2014.

More information about all my exhibitions can be found here»



Hanging decisions

March 06, 2014 | Comments: 0 | Categories:

work-laid-out

Which to frame, what kind of frame, how many to hang, which to hang where? so many decisions...and then so much maths once you've decided.  They never taught me this at art college!



A long time in the planning

March 03, 2014 | Comments: 0 | Categories:

meffan-model-1

It may be only a 50th of the actual size but this is the best planning tool I've used yet!

Having two solo shows booked for 2014, I thought I really needed to make myself a plan to guide my work and preparations.  However, the two dimensional methods I'd used before just weren't up to the job, particularly for the Meffan Gallery show which has a flexible panel system for hanging work.  So, it may have been my three-dimensional design training or perhaps my childhood love of doll's houses that prompted me to find some foamboard offcuts, some dressmaking pins and a calculator to translate a 2D floor plan into a proper 3D model.  I can't lie - it was fun and I did spend longer than strictly necessary viewing it from all angles at eye level. Even made a wee person too.

Once I'd printed images of the potential works to scale it was a doddle to hang and rehang, play one piece off against another and generally visualise the exhibition as a whole. It was also obvious where the gaps might be and where I should focus my efforts with new work - it's so easy to get carried away with exciting new experiments but I also have to make sure I have work to put on these walls.

meffan-model-2

There's no substitute for seeing the actual exhibition space if it's possible, so I spent an afternoon at Dawyck Botanic Garden, measuring the gallery and meeting the lovely staff.  They'd just finished hanging the current show, Remarkable Trees, which is on until the end of March.  My show 'Figured wood' follows it, opening on the 5th April.

dawyk-6

Now I have two little scale models to reassure me when I think I don't have enough work, don't know what I'm going to do, think it'll all go wrong - those creative insecurities don't ever go away but some practical planning really helps me to ignore them!