Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Design transferred to block

The photos here show the design reversed and transferred to the maple endgrain block. It's just 2" x 3" but I think the bold design will carry it off.

As you can see, the design has been adjusted and strengthened by overpainting in dry white gouache. Mainly , I did this because when I darkened the block, my pencil lines all but vanished so I thought I'd take another hint out of Simon Brett's book (see last post) and use a little gouache.

It's a good way to adjust the design on block, actually. I had my doubts, but it works. If you use carbon paper or any direct tracing technique to put your image on the block, you can find the design looks stiff and lacks the immediacy of your pencil sketch. I like to sketch direct onto the block, but in this case the positioning of the elements was important so I did a simple carbon transfer then used that as a base to sketch over it in fine black pen and white gouache.

Now for the cutting, which will take a little while as I have a couple of illustration jobs to do before my holiday starts on Saturday. I shall post again before I go.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Rugby players

I've had it in mind for some time to do some engravings of rugby players. There's something very formal and dance-like in some of the set piece aspects of the game such as scrum and line-out. The players form patterns, lines and circles. Straining limbs intertwine in the struggle for the ball and knots of bodies end up on the (usually muddy) grass. Then suddenly there will be an explosion of movement as one player streaks towards the try line with the ball under his arm with a wake of opposing players thundering after him. I love it!

I wondered what it would be like to engrave from a tonal sketch, rather than a more linear one (as I normally do), as suggested by Simon Brett in his book 'Wood Engraving, how to do it'. So I've done a little sketch with the watercolour brushes in Corel Painter, on my computer............ I have a 3" x 2" maple block, all I need to do now is transfer the design.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Final cut and print

I lightened the little finger, as I said I would and I think it's made all the difference. I'm pleased by the way this went and I learned so much about working from the darkest tones to the lightest and handling the tools. The experience all stands me in good stead for my next print.

I printed this little block on Zerkall paper, using a wooden spoon to burnish it. It's an edition of 20. I didn't use my press due to the fact that this box block is slightly over type height (0.9186 inch) and my press's impression cylinder doesn't go over it. I have a little box of small blocks, all slightly over type high and will try at some stage to get them sliced down to size. That said, hand burnishing wasn't too onerous and I still enjoyed the process. I have weak wrists though, so I couldn't hand burnish a long run!

I'm in the process of organising a little 'shop' on the craft site Etsy to sell my prints. That should be up and running soon.

I have several rough ideas for engravings mulling around in my head, but few blocks on my store shelf at the moment, although I have earmarked several ancient blocks from some 28 years ago (when I tried my first engravings) for resurfacing by Chris Daunt, the blockmaker. That will ultimately give me at least 6 good box and pear wood blocks to re engrave. In the meantime I have a 21/2" x 3" maple block to play with. I'd like to try a figure or figures.

Watch this space!

Friday, August 15, 2008

motley bottom

In the far recesses of Castle Woollatt's archives, I rediscovered this scraperboard image, circa 1984. I thought you might be interested. It measures 23cm x 15cm.

In the 60's, Dr Beeching closed down innumerable rural railway lines and took away the tracks, rendering many railway buildings defunct. Some people bought up the old stations, including platforms and converted them for living, which is what these two have done. So where the 8.45 to Paddington used to thunder through, a row of cabbages now flourish.

A detail:

Monday, August 11, 2008

First proof

Here's the first proof, hand-rubbed with a wooden spoon. I'm quite pleased with it, but I am going to lighten the little finger slightly, as it's starting to merge with the background.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Almost proofing time.

I'm just cutting the background now. Briefly toyed with the idea of adding a small flying insect like a ladybird or something, flying from the hand, but decided against it this time.

I may leave some texture to the background, depending how it turns out when I proof it tomorrow. I'm going to have to proof with the wooden spoon this time, as the block's over type high and I don't have an electric saw yet. It's on the 'to get' list, along with a new matt cutter for framing.

On another note, I caught sight of one of these home-buying programmes on BBC; the punters were looking round a lovely old cottage in Buckinghamshire. In the garden was a large wooden studio and in the studio was.......a large Albion-type press! They didn't linger there to show us properly though, sadly but went off to look at the cottage wallpaper again....philistines. Whose was the press? Was it yours, dear reader? :-)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Charlie's in!

I'm happy to relate that my engraving of Charlie, above, has been accepted into the Society of Wood Engravers Annual Exhibition. As you can imagine, I'm very pleased and encouraged. It's hard to know sometimes, when you work alone, whether you're working in the right direction, even whether you're any good at all. Of course, the advent of the internet and blogging has eased that situation considerably and we can get advice and contact from like-minded people from all over the world.

The Exhibition starts on September 24th at the Bankside Gallery in London and tours round the country for a year.

And I still have a big smile on my face..................