Friday, November 30, 2007

Dedicated to Ammu

I had the sudden urge to draw pictures of my family from old family photographs yesterday. I quite like these. I think I may have to do a few more and then frame them up all in a row :) These ones dedicated to you, Mum!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Life drawn ...

Have been feeling a little 'blah' all week ... dunno why. Was not really with it at life drawing today either, so everything is quite sketchy. Nothing I'm proud of, but thought best to post anyways. The top two are actually about A3 size and the others A4. Mostly Indian ink and washes on stone coloured sugar paper; and the bottom two with white pen on black sugar paper.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lithography introductory workshop

This week's workshops were in the lithography studious. The artist that I've chosen to do my pastiche on printed using lithography, so I've decided to do the same. What you see above is one of my final prints on off-white Somerset Satin paper. I hope to add a bit of colour to it eventually. This time too I remembered to take my camera along so you can see a bit more of the process.

Below is what my drawing looked like (you can see the original sketch here). I enlarged my original sketch using a photocopier, then dusted underneath with a red powder called "dragon's blood". Using it like a form of 'carbon paper', I transfered my sketch onto an aluminium plate. I then drew directly onto the plate using lithographic crayons, and special ink called "touche".

This morning we treated the plates with rosin (to preserve the fines lines), talc (to help the gum arabic to adhere to the plates) and gum arabic with phosphoric acid (which makes the non-drawn on bits of plate repel ink and attract water). After the gum dried, we washed all the crayon and ink off using something called "wash out". Below is my freshly washed plate.

Here's our plates on the old 1920's newspaper proof printing press.

We then learnt how to wet the plate and ink it up - see how its started to pick up ink on the dress where I had painted with "touche"?

The ink gets picked up on the 'blanket' on the roller of the press - it's basically a PVC-coated drum of fabric.

And then prints onto your paper which has been placed next to (not on top of) the plate. Below is my first print (proof). After several more applications of ink and printing, the dress ended up taking on much more ink and thats what you can see in the final print at the top pf this entry.

Next week, relief printing ...

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Woohoo! I used my Gocco set for the first time today!!! I've been meaning to make some Christmas/New Years cards for AGES, but now that I've realised how close the postal deadline is, I finally got my act together and did it. I think I've been avoiding it as I was worried about using my Gocco and making mistakes and wasting screens and bulbs - they're not the cheapest things in the world! Fortunately that trip to see Xtina back in August was really helpful. I went through all the photos I'd taken that day and the notes I'd made and that made my first excursion into Gocco-land nowhere near as daunting as it could have been.

I'm quite pleased with how they've turned out too - you can just about see in the photo what they look like - I've had to obscure them as I don't want to spoil the surprise ;)

I still want to do a bit more to them and I'll post some finished cards at Christmas - so you'll just have to wait till then (or some of you lucky ones will be getting one in the post)!

Friday, November 23, 2007

I've been tagged AGAIN ...

Alrighty then ... over the past year I've been tagged FOUR times (in May by both Carole and Marie-Dom, in August by Nicky, and most recently by Milla) to do those "5/7/8 weird/random things about me" memes. I'm afraid if I don't do one soon I'll get spammed by bad luck for the next 3 years and be chased by snakes and rabid dogs (or something like that!) .

So here goes ...

1. My parents are first-cousins. Ie my mum's dad and my dad's mum are brother and sister. Takes the term "kissing cousins" to another level, doesn't it? Being a biochemist I can tell you that genetically speaking spawn of first cousins don't always get the best deal - but I think I've done OK for myself (people who know how tall I am might disagree with me on that fact!).

2. Did I just say "being a biochemist"? Oh yes, PhD infact ... I am Dr LittleMithi ... but please don't ask me about that boil on your foot - I'm not THAT kind of Dr!

3. I was an only child for 11 years 6 months 1 week and 2 days. Then this little (OK, so not so little...) lovely came into the world :) This means I can be a bit of a loner at times, enjoying my own company and doing my own thing; and also strangely, although I'm in no way ready to have a family yet, I have very little fear of babies and looking after them, having been more of a second mother rather than a big sister to the little one.

4. All my life I thought I'd end up with someone older (or at least born in the same year). I had equated age with maturity - BOY was I wrong! I went out with a 38 year-old, who acted (and still does act) like a 22 year-old. Sunshine is three years YOUNGER than me! Hurrah for my toyboy! ;)

5. I have hyper-extensible elbows. That means when I straighten out my arms, the angle at my elbow is a little more than 180 degrees. This seems to freak a lot of people out. Not anything amazing for me - but works as a good party trick :)

6. Speaking of good party tricks, I can do that tie-a-knot-in-a-cherry-stalk-in-my-mouth (ala Audrey Horne in Twin Peaks) thing. I don't know if this amuses anyone else - but it sure amuses me!

Well, I'm going to stop there as I think 6 facts is a nice average between 5, 7 and 8.

I'm also not going to tag anyone else because I don't want to put that pressure on them - but if anyone reading this feels they want to take up the meme - Go Ahead!

Toodle pip all!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Screenprinting introductory workshop

Note: photo taken under bad light - will retake in better (daytime) light and update the blog entry tomorrow.

The last two days we've had screenprinting workshops and above is my final print. I'm quite pleased at how it turned out - and plan to tweak it a bit (change the lettering!) and re-print more, hopefully for sale :)

Anyways, the process started yesterday with us drawing onto something called "Mark Resist" (it looks like tracing paper with a bit of texture on the surface). The tutor showed us the kinds of marks we could make using graphite sticks, chinagraph pencils, litho crayons, TG1 ink (with methanol as a diluent or Lipsol as a retarder) and process black acrylic paint. Apart from dip-pens and brushes, you could also get lines and textures by scraping into ink-painted areas with sharp implements or even sandpaper. I had my bird sketches on me so decided to make a design based on that; trying out the various techniques on the different birds. Below is what it looked like in the end.

Today we learnt how to coat the screen with emulsion; how to expose the screen using our drawings from yesterday; how to mix up the paints; and finally how to print. Now that we've had our introduction, we've basically passed the health and safety requirements they need us to have for insurance purposes - so now I can go and used the screenprinting studios anytime! Yippee!!!

Next week - lithography ...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Quick bird drawings

All based on photos on our Flickr site.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sea Dreamer

I was inspired by last week's attempt at collage using hand drawn textures, and started playing with making random ink marks then cutting those out to make a picture. The "swirly-whirly" lines inspired the sea theme, although for a while I was contemplating making that into someone's hair. I'm quite pleased with how it's turned out, especially the layers. I think I might try and explore this technique a little more ... Below is an angled photo so you can see the 3D-ness of it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Drawing for print

For the next four weeks, we are getting our inductions into the print studios. For two days each week we will be rotating through the 1) etching, 2) lithography, 3) relief printing and 4) screenprinting studios. As an initial introduction, this week we've had a workshop in 'drawing for print'.

1) Intaglio (etching)

Intaglio prints are where the ink goes into the groove of the mark thats been made into the printing plate. Find out more here.

We will mostly be doing acid etching, with which you can get different line qualities depending on how long the metal plate is exposed to acid. Our first exercise was to experiment with drawing using different line weights.

Etching is also very 'line' based - with virtually no flat areas of tone. You have to build up tone using just lines and making textures using lines (eg cross hatching). So the next exercise was to do that (can't say I'm very good at cross hatching!).

There is a way of adding flat tones to etchings, and its called 'aquatint'. To think about how that might work, we did an exercise in drawing with line and washes of tone.

2) Lithography

Lithography gives a much softer quality of print. It works on the principle of drawing with wax (or anything greasy) onto a smooth surface; then after treatment, greasy ink gets rolled onto the surface and only sticks to the greasy wax marks. Prints are made from this. Although possible to cover whole areas with a lithographic crayon, it wasn't advised, and we did an exercise making a tonal drawing using a black wax crayon and seeing what kinds of textures we could get.

3) Relief printing (collagraph)

Relief printing is the opposite of intaglio - as in the ink goes on the raised surfaces left after a tool has been used to remove bits of the plate. For example lino printing and the old childhood favourite of potato printing.

Collage is another way of building up layers of texture (or relief) which you can then ink up and use to print (see my collagraphy from my foundation year here). Apparently thats the kind of relief work we'll be doing so we had an exercise which involved making up bits of paper with some drawn textures (imitating the bits of texture from fabrics or found objects we would have used in a real collagraph), then cutting bits of those and making a collaged image from those.

4) Screenprinting

Traditionally silkscreen-printing was done with lots of stencils. You can get nice blocks of flat colour with this technique, as did Andy Warhol.

Apparently at the UWE screenprinting studios they really focus on the more modern photo-stenciling method. We will be given a transparency-like sheet which we can draw straight onto - using all kinds of media. So our last exercise was to do a drawing using a mixture of graphite and wash and ink etc.

I start my rotations with the screenprinting studios next Monday, so come back then for a more detailed account of the process and what we get up to.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The colour of skin

More coloured pencils on a tonal background today. This time I had a 45 minute pose to really have a go at something I really want to learn - colouring skin. I love how portrait painters especially, seem to be able to see so many shades of browns, beiges, yellows, pinks, reds and even sometimes blues, greens and purples, in skin. My brain only ever sees the one colour - "skin". So this is my attempt at breaking skin down a little bit. Still experimenting ...

(click on the picture for a larger view)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Pastiche update

As I've mentioned before, one of our 15-week projects for this term is to do a pastiche of an artist of our choosing. I've now moved on from drawing dancing people to experimenting with painting those figures in the style of Paul Colin. We're going to start our print workshops in a couple of weeks and I'm hoping to work up one of my paintings into a proper lithographic print. Can't wait!

See here and here for examples of Paul Colin's work that I'm referencing.

More bird studies

Sure do love those red breasted cardinals! This one based on this photo taken at the London Zoo this summer.

Looking at other bird-related things, like their life-cycles.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Life on mid-tones

At life drawing today I came across some stoney coloured paper and decided to work on that instead of my usual white. What a difference it made to be able to do highlights!