The word sincere means without wax. This is not without wax so it is insincere. I could have called it the jigsaw or getting to the bottom of things but I didn't.
This began life a week or so ago, as my first experiment in encaustic painting (i.e. painting with wax). It was a collage (a slightly bad one - literally for the purposes of trial and error - which is most things I grant you). It was made up of newspaper printed photos of a US soldier at the doctor's and a man in a hat (Sam Neill) from Jurassic Park with three dinosaurs. But you couldn't really see those things, there were hills and shrubs and sky and stuff, but they got hidden pretty completely by oil paint and tea light and natural beeswax that I was using before my purified beeswax arrived. Let's be honest - it was a hot mess. I mean, it was a colourful palette like mass of daubs with a couple of faces and a figure peeking out. Anyway I didn't have anything against it as such, but today I was without plan or thought when I took a bowl of hot beeswax, some powdered pigments and my trusty blowtorch and for a good four hours was engaged in creating and destroying many a fine abstract painting. I say 'fine' what I mean is fairly fine, obviously not fine enough as I kept going until really hungry… and my nails dug in and started to peel off the underlying collage from the canvas. Hmm what a pleasing sensation, a vision of restored clarity. A clearing of the decks, a getting to the bottom of things. The canvas was pleasantly stained in different colours and light was restored (I'd gone a bit heavy with the darker shades and it was getting too dull and without contrast. Well to be honest, if you must know, it was a constant battle between many interesting details and too much going on or just too bland and not enough going on, over and over). So after eating I put all the pieces of wax laden paper in the metal bowl and boiled it all up like George's marvellous medicine… and here we are. Wunderbar! The lovely blue green colour is actually from some tall candles I have. It finally captured my mood! But maybe you didn't need all that information… the mystery is no more. The artist's mystique of "oh well yes it's really about the post modernist alienation from honest and open communication, the dissociative habits of those who would rather not share the truth with you but shield themselves in a shroud of carefully manicured image and crafted areas for tailored speculation…" well, that too. That too.
Here is a collage of news paper and magazine cuttings from my ten year collection, which I composed, then highlighted and eventually drew over with oil pastels (created over Christmas this year and just not posted for some reason). You can barely see the collage itself now, but the contents interested me at the time and set my mind going, so that it informed the abstract image that you see before you. It sort of flows like a page of a comic from the top left to the bottom right. I have it on my wall now as you see.
Collagraph(y) is the layering of printable media to a surface... like collage and printing combined. Monoprints are mono- unique because each printing is different and impossible to replicate. The way the ink is applied is more akin to painting, more manual and randomised than normal printing, and items such as cloth, leaves, debris and feathers are used to create textures that add to an already etched surface.
I was able to go to a workshop (at the Leamington Art Gallery) in place of a friend who couldn't go. I found it really refreshing and useful to work in a different media and methodology. On the one hand it was relaxing, on the other fairly challenging. The theme was camouflage or hidden nature.
We started out printing our simply carved card with just one colour, then two, then more.. and I made a number of plates (new templates to print from). The printing inks are usually oil based though the workshop leader also brought some water based printing inks as well as your more common translucent inks that you would use for calligraphy or painting with a brush..
The set above are from my third and final plate which was just an abstract design with a sun or moon and various vertical and leaning lines - a landscape or bonfire - if anything. The plate is messy. as it got layered with paint each time it was used.
This was the first plate I made. I cut the board with a silhouette of glasses (for looking) and long grass like leaf shapes (for hiding), which makes the darker and lighter tones in the colour. and applied a mask to make two different colours on the plate hoping it would print out the same as I'd inked it up... it didn't. The red is oil based and the blue is water, so by the time I got to use the printing press, the blue had dried up. This is the plate and is far nicer than the print which was a bit of a non event to my mind. It showed me that I needed to apply the ink differently or think about how I used the ink at any rate. Also learned that the paper used to print onto makes a difference too - this paper was perhaps too absorbent. It's a lot of trial and error - experimentation, playing basically. After this I got serious (!) and wanted to try to make something look like something...
...which is where this second plate came in. I drew something to carve straight off with no prior thought, but it definitely looks Autumnal, a happy ghost or the personification of the Autumn wind. I like the red and blue print above because it is bold and clean, but the one below is more subtle, and I find it interesting because of the textures (some muslin cloth pulled a little over parts of the cardboard). The orange on the plate didn't show up throughout but left a nice random effect, like an echo of an evening sky. (Again the orange was water based and dried up more quickly) I like the brown-red colour of the oil based ink and I was pleased with how the cloth printed into patterns and textures that augment the mood of the figure.
I'll definitely use this technique again (it might be a nice different way to make book illustrations). I am pretty sure I could substitute the special inks and printing press for some Acrylic paint (or oils even?) and a rolling pin.
The workshop was run by Karen Stephenson who works out of future rabbit studio in Leamington Spa http://www.futurerabbitstudio.com/
Thanks to Kim for giving me her place on the course.
Homer or Kubrick? Is this furniture or a concept game or what? Are you still wondering? Is this a New Years card to comfort you in your intergenerational stresses or an invite to a mega battle round at Simon's. He takes his gaming seriously. Perhaps it's a metaphor for marriage, or a very posh garage sale poster. Maybe its interactive and they are doors to different worlds? I'd like that, a game where you sit in a chair and the environment manifests according to the deign principles of that chair. You can get up and walk around in that world and go back to that chair to return to the menu.
I made this one because I am quite partial to a bit of roller skating. I haven't roller skated for quite a while to be honest but the idea of it still makes me happy. If you happen to be currently near a roller disco and in need of some ridiculous fun, I say get your ankle warmers and sports jacket on and go go go.
This one's a canteen where your Tapas comes to you on a conveyor belt - as in Sushi.
I like to do my bit to promote things that will make your world a better place. Somethings are so good they are timeless.
Yesterday I wracked my brain for hours; I wrestled and worried and then the power got cut off and I went to sleep. I studied and thought and got nowhere. I looked at artists and theorists and liked some of it and didn't like some of it. In the end I wiped it all and drew some geometric shapes. Today I decided without thinking or worrying to start at the beginning and take little steps and keep on going until I got to the point where I could go no further.
If today follows from yesterday then perhaps it was Ben Okri or Descartes or Camberwell College that helped or perhaps it was chatting with a friend about a festival or just getting some decent sleep. Okri says people are the stories they feed themselves. Descartes says you must use method, Camberwell is surprisingly objective.
So the story started with a bottle of linseed oil which then became a metre of wire. It was coiled then shone upon and it became a line in ink on paper. The bottle in wire was wrapped in a vest and looked at through a flatbed scanner and the drawings were too. The highlights by colour separated and were put back together again and layered and levelled to a median. The pictures were copied and slowly, in the process, were new pictures.