Monday, 29 June 2020

Sun & Moon

 Summer Solstice 2020

Funny how artworks stay with you or linger in the back of your mind and resurface from time to time. An Art teacher showed me a print of this painting on my A-level and I still think about it from time to time. Having just done an excursion to see the dawn of this years summer solstice, it seems odd to be drawn back to the moon. Definitely into heavenly orbs, though I cant see any just now through the grey and the rain!

The painting is interesting to me because of the moon, because it would not always be there. To me It seems to present the gate post, somewhere between a sculpture and a piece of set design.

Pillar & Moon

We are having a crazy mixed up summer and today is not an allotment day so I am going over previous works and ideas and these sketches are an interesting process of drawing 'in the negative'. 

These sketched were done from photos taken at Kew Gardens on an open evening to see Henry Moore sculptures flood light at night. It was a really fabulous evening and I recommend visiting museums galleries and the like for these type of out of hours events as you see the locations and the collections in a whole new light, no pun intended! I know not many places are visitable right now but make a wish list of local attractions which you can visit when the restrictions relax.

I worked from photos and used masking fluid to draw in the darkest areas of the sketches. I then went over the whole page with a roller and vivid coloured acrylic paint. The making fluid peels off revealing the black paper underneath.

If you don't have artist masking fluid, other ideas for resist drawing could be with masking tape, wax, thread, anything that will mask the paper from the layer of colour you put over the top. You could work on scrap paper like envelopes or other packaging. Talcum powder or flour could be sprinkled over paper to mask the surface, do be aware it could get messy!

The idea is to experiment and inspire new ways of drawing.

Drawing with masking fluid on black sugar paper

Monday, 22 June 2020

Book Binding

Having made lots of paper I thought it would be good to make some up into a book. I do this technique with students from time to time and its a great way of gathering lots of loose leaves of paper into a collection. 

This is an introduction to Japanese Stab binding. The stitching structure can be much more ornate and the technique is covered in many books and online. I have provided my own instructions as well as my favourite online resource for book binding.

I have started by making a hard back cover, this needs a kind of hinge, if you just use a sheet of card as per the online instructions the hinge is unnecessary.

You will lose some margin of the sheets of paper to this form of spine as the stitches take up about 1 cm.

I have used some book cloth left over from another project, but you could use some wrapping paper, just be careful with the glue as paper will tear very easily when wet.

The hard backs are made from grey board, this is available from specialist suppliers but you can start using any kind of card while you get started.

This stitch structure needs four holes equally spaced, about 1 cm in from the edge of the spine.

I put holes in the cover and then the pages in a stack, if you used a thiner card you could do all the holes at the same time and then you don't need to worry about lining them up which can be fiddly, I used 4 pins to hold the covers in place while I stacked them between the covers.

All done!

My Japanese binding instructions...

My go to online resource for bookbinding.

Monday, 15 June 2020

More paper making

Like many material processes paper-making takes time, once I had started with my last post there were still possibilities to explore with the enormous batch of paper pulp I had created. So with more sunshine I had another paper making session.


Paper making is a good thing to do from my shed, I am so lucky to have this outdoor space!

Testing if I could get water to fragment the surface, these holes actually closed as the sheet dried.



Experiments in introducing dandelion seeds. These do embed well into the paper.

Radish seeds need to be embedded in several layers, these ones will fall off with out much provocation!

Some of the sheets after drying

Good surfaces and textures, sheet uniformity not particularly consistent!

The surface is pretty rough for drawing, but I will have a go. Once I am in my studio more they will be fine for screen printing and for now I am experimenting with collage and stitch. Some of the sheets will get channelled into those pieces, and the other end use would be hand made books, another post for the future.


Monday, 8 June 2020

'Dandelion' ...come to the party

Dandelions have been everywhere the last few weeks, my daily walk to the allotment passes a church yard, a park and several grass verges, non of which are being mowed due to Covid-19 restrictions.

When I see dandelions often I remember a refrain from a story I loved as a child.

"Dandelion"... come to the party
...its like a scrap of text in amongst a collage of other memories.

The story is about two field mice, having a birthday party, different flowers are thrown out in the breeze to invite all the different animal friends, dandelion is the last flower and is sent out as a kind of wild card, with no specific guest in mind, a 'Stoat' gets the invitation and turns up hoping to eat the mice for supper....que miraculous escape.

These were great story books in my memory and researching online I have found some links to them, the author was Alison Uttley, more famous for Little Grey Rabbit books, but I remember these two mice Snug & Serena and the Little Red Fox stories. 

I just find it interesting this line runs through my head, an invitation to summer and wild possibilities.

I found a recording of one of the other stories, a nice link with anyone with small children, not sure it beats actually holding the little books but this is nicely done...


Dandelions seem to have many uses, one that intrigues me was the work of Alice Fox, here making cord from the stems... I have my own harvest of stems drying in my shed, to make cord and then possible soft basket like vessels...

The colours as the stems dry out is lovely!

While this project will take some time, I quickly revisited the block prints I did, hoping to spark something inspired by botanical drawings.


I love the metamorphosis of the flower into the seed head, a poignant reminder somehow of being stuck in some kind of limbo as we endure lockdown. While some of the restrictions are lifted, hopefully the end is in sight, there is something of an endurance as the weeks wear on.

I like to think of the seeds floating away, inviting new adventures into my sphere, if I cant get out, maybe some new adventures can come calling.


Monday, 1 June 2020

Some Velvet Morning

Mown grass...smells of summer, dreamy songs on the radio. Don't know when I'll get to see the sea!

Lee Hazelwood & Nancy Sinartra

Some phrases just stick with me and I love an obscure mysterious mention of anything 'textilee'. I use 'velvet' in some of my work titles, so this song caught at my attention, when I heard it on the radio this morning.

I have been through my archives, looking for drawing ideas, the sun is shining, nice to be out drawing at the allotment. For inspiration, a copy I had made years ago of a Rockwell Kent drawing discovering simultaneously the joy of drawing with inks as apposed to paint.

Rockwell Kent

The Tree 1928 Lithograph RK

These are some of my own studies of light and shade, attempting to draw only the darkness.

Lastly a link to an article on flow state, something I can sometimes enjoy drawing or printing.