Week 1 Not in Florence

Slow progress, but five prints that all need further work. These are all around ideas of Moonspinners making the moonpath as they spin the moon down and mermaids catching the moon in their mirrors. These are all monotype with some relief print and some chine colle.

I need to go to the beach again and draw stones and seaweed to develop these images.

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Not in Florence

This is the second year when we ought to be in Florence, making prints in a workshop with our international group of friends – but we must wait! So once again I’ll try to work to the Florence workshop timetable for two weeks. I’ll start from where I am and I’ll try to experiment and develop ideas, as we do there.

I do, thankfully, have some studio space, but the house it’s in is being renovated for us to live in and is a building site now! From my window I see the concrete mixer and several old, broken chimneys that have come down from the roof (destined to become plant pots). I look over these and have a lovely view of Mount’s Bay.

My starting point for this workshop is a painting that started one night when the full moon cast a path over Mount’s Bay that led to the rockpools below my window where the moon was caught neatly in a rockpool. I thought of the Mermaid of Zennor a few miles from here and imagined her catching the moon in her mirror to keep it in a rockpool.

This painting is almost finished. It’s quite big, 4 feet tall by 18 inches wide. There are monotyped rocks and mermaids from a woodcut, collaged onto board alongside acrylic painted elements. I’m not at all sure what I’ll do next, but I’ll report on progress in a few days time!

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Moving on

We’ve seen the end of a very difficult year and feeling hopeful in 2021. We’ve moved to live and show our work in Cornwall, where both Paul and I find so much art inspiration! Here are my last three paintings from this year – all about the Merry Maidens stone circle, where girls were turned into stone because they danced on the Sabbath!

Each painting has a paper layer in the centre which is a monotype. It is layered in with acrylic paint and clear varnish, all on board. I’ve been interested for a while in how to combine monotypes with painting and these are the first three successful ones.

It feels positive to be developing new techniques and moving into a new location – roll on 2021!

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Last Days of Florence Workshop, until next year…

This print is from the final days of the timetable that I would have been following if we had been in the Florence printmaking studio, as planned. Usually, towards the end of the workshop, I try not to ‘finish’, but to open up new ideas to give some direction  to re-start work in my studio at home.

This print is different – darker and heavier than the previous prints, but it opens up the suggestion of a conversation between figures and stones, an idea that I might pursue. It was hard won – it went through four quite dramatic changes from an image that was just too pretty, through becoming dull and toneless, before it regained it’s vitality.

This previous print was more like the earlier ones, urging me to change the way I was working to develop a new direction.

Now I have several prints that I need to think about, that will set my work off again, but a little differently, developing the range of ideas in my home studio. I am glad that I gave myself the structure of a timetable and a limited range of subject matter – but I do hope that I can go to Florence for next year’s workshop!

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Florence Workshop Days 7 – 10

I’m following the monotype workshop timetable that I would have been working in Florence this year. I have made four more prints in this second stage, building on the ideas that developed in the first group of prints.

This print has a group of prehistoric goddesses from a carved drawing in Les Combarelles cave in France, set into a shape as a relief print and used here as a chine colle (this is like a collage, but embedded in the ink layers of the print). A small Snake Goddess, a relief print of another prehistoric image, is ‘visiting’ them. The setting is a monotype top and bottom, with the large circular etching plate of hydrangea flowers printed as intaglio.

There was enough ink left on the etching plate to print the ghost here, where I have added a chine colle (again a relief print) of three dancing women from Mycenae, this time with the larger Snake Goddess who is also an image from Mycenae, a chine colle from a woodcut.

I used another of my earlier plates for this print, the large woodcut of a hydrangea, printed on a fine Chinese paper to use as a chine colle. The two Snake Goddess figures are also each chine colle from relief print.

I was surprised to find that there were still traces of ink on the etching plate, so I printed yet another ghost from it and strengthened the top and bottom monotype setting. I added a chine colle from a life drawing, putting her in a lovely warm glow.

It’s unlikely that I would have made these prints if I had been in Florence and not in my own studio, because I would not have had any of my old etching or woodcut plates with me, only the prints that I had thought I might use in chine colle. It’s interesting how much the studio offers opportunities to influence my art choices.

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