Wednesday, November 30, 2011

First proof

Here's the block inked up and locked onto the press bed.

The first proof. I need to do a fair bit of tidying up, removing especially the spots in the sky area and tonal adjusting generally. The edges need to be more irregular so I'll fade off the squareness a bit down that left hand edge. The forgeround lady's cap needs lightening somehow. The shadow under the wave is too regular and needs adjusting.

I'll leave it for the rest of the day and think about it.

Almost there!

 As you can see, I made good progress yesterday and just have a small area of wave to engrave, along with a cozzie and a few tweaks here and there. If I get on ok today I may be able to run off a first proof to see how the print looks.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Watery Rave? (ouch!)

A bigger view of the block this time if you click on it, so you can get a feel for the cuts. I'm loving the swish and foam of the water but having to take the cutting cautiously as I don't want to lose the light and texture.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Give us a wave!

Here's the block as it is so far sitting on it's leather sandbag alongside one of my favourite tools, the spitsticker. I've made a start on the wave and am enjoying depicting the textures and movement of frothing water.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Cutting the sky

Coming along now, the worst bit is gouging the larger areas of white. The best bit is 'discovering' nice textures and ways to depict areas like sky and water. I'm enjoying this immensely. :-)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Go for it, Mildred!

And a detail shot of the work being done on the wave and sky in the top right.

More coming soon....

Friday, November 04, 2011

Engrave the wave!

Yesterday's work saw the ladies progress further. I still want to put a pattern on the lady in front's costume and a few other bits but now I'm going to engrave the wave (I like that phrase!). Wish me luck!

By the way, the size of this block is 3" x 5" (75mm x 136mm)

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


Progress made today on the ladies...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A new engraving

Here's the latest page in my sketchbook, along with a block bearing my chosen design in black ink. (in reverse of course, so that it prints the right way round). I shall begin to engrave today, hopefully it won't take long as it's only 7.5 cm x 12.4cm.

The block is an old one made of (I think) box wood and resurfaced by Chris Daunt.

The subject matter is one close to my heart (or perhaps I should say, my belly!); three bathing beauties bellyboarding in the summer surf. I love using my wooden bellyboard and I shall be down at the beach this evening after work, surfing on it and perpetuating a tradition that has been on these shores for at least 100 years.

I shall, however, unlike these brave ladies, be wearing a wetsuit!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

More bellies

A couple more bellyboarder sketches:

The knitted stripey creation sagged alarmingly after his first heat and he had to re-tie the straps cross-wise to prevent any untoward malfunctions!

Junior (under 60s)Womens' heat. The water didn't seem too cold after the first couple of immersions!

More to come.........

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New sketches

If you want to take a peek at the first batch of my new sketches (these are about the 9th World Bellyboard Champs, that I entered) pop over to my surfy blog here: Swellchaser

The event was held at Chapel Porth in Cornwall and attracted over 300 contestants, some from as far away as New Zealand and New York. Wetsuits were banned and many came in fancy dress or period swimwear, to enhance what was a very retro feeling to this competition. Contestants ranged in age from 6 to their 80s and the contest was split into age groups: children, under 60s and over 60s (and the sexes were split too). A great time was had by all, despite the weather, which held out till lunchtime, then threw torrential rain and gale force winds at us.

The World Champion was declared to be Naomi Perkin, who accumulated more points than the rest of us! Well done to Naomi!

I was placed 86th overall (out of 329, and am very pleased with that. (Hubby came ... 87th!)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I have ideas circulating for a new engraving. I want to try and depict the speed and thrill of riding a wooden bellyboard in the surf. The sort of wave that you catch and which then carries you pell mell with walls of foam sizzling past your ears and dumps you onto dry sand! Here's a first scribble:

I might paint a watercolour of it too, as a part of the process. Watercolour by it's very nature can create unexpected and pleasing effects, something I might be able to translate into the wood block.

In the meantime, here are some more beach studies:

Is it telling that I'm drawing people facing away from me? Hmmmmm........Will have to rectify that. I'm taking my sketchpad to the World Bellyboard Championships at Chapel Porth, near St Agnes on Sunday 4th. I hope to sketch between and after my heats and to that end I'm taking my special gel handwarmers with me! Seeing as the rules don't  allow you to wear a wetsuit for your dips in the surf, I think I'm going to have to try and keep warm!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rainy summer

I feel for the visitors down to Cornwall this year. Apart from some glorious weather in early Summer, it's been unpredictable, showery, windy and dull, with the occasional fabulous day just to tease you. It's fine if all you want to do is get wet anyway in the surf, but pretty grotty if you want to sit on the beach. Beach visits are cut short by mischievous showers and the escape back to the car to sit in fug with damp gritty sand between your toes is unattractive. Especially when the last one off the beach has the car keys!

Still, one day the sun will reappear and when it does........

There's fun for young........

And younger!

Just a few old sketches......trouble is when I go to the beach, it's in a wetsuit with my board, not my sketchbook. I must rectify that on the days I don't surf.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Bookplate

Not engraved, but drawn on the computer, as my client wanted to have a rubber stamp made of the artwork so that he could print bookplates as and when he needed them.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

New Blog for surfy posts

Just a quick note to tell you I've created a new blog to cover my Surfy postings, so any further board art will appear there. The blog's URL is:

It's in early stages yet, but it'll include any surf-related vintage pieces and news we pick up. In our first post.....a couple of vintage postcards of Polzeath and Bude, showing surf bathers using their bellyboards.

This blog will continue to feature my wood engravings and bookplates. I have a bookplate to blog very soon!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Wanna see my board?

I'll give it a day for the oil to bed into the wood.....then hopefully take it to the waves tomorrow.

Thanks to Traditional Surfing for their advice re: linseed oiling. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Colouring up

This is what the board looked like about lunchtime, after a few hours work. I'm really enjoying giving it life with colour.

At the end of the day's work, it's starting to come together.

I have to go out in the morning but I shall be working on the board when I return. Will I finish it in the next session? Who knows?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

At last....time to start putting some colour onto the board! I'll start with the flesh (there's a lot of it!) and also I'll have to make sure I don't dip my brush into my coffee mug instead of the water!

That's the first two figures; I may adjust the paleness a little but will decide later, because the whole tonal range will change when I linseed the board.

Husband came home from work at that point and offered to take a photo of 'The Artist At Work'.

I have to take my glasses off increasingly for close work; obviously I need to think about a trip to Specsavers!

Here it is, ready for a colour OTHER than pink to be applied!

Another update tomorrow.....

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Onto the board... the sketch is transferred to the board using half an acre of carbon paper.....

And the seagull comes last above the sea spray.

Now for the painting! I need to keep the design simple, so black outlines and colour inside, but I plan to add some nice pattern/texture too. This is how the board was last night:

My mission today is to finish the linework and start on the colour. I shall use acrylics, in a medium-thin consistency and mixed with gloss medium, which imparts partial transparency so you can see the wood and also seems to add a little more depth of colour, waterproofing and protection to the paint. (This further to my very scientific trials, which consisted of chucking the trial offcut out into the garden during a heavy rainstorm and leaving it there overnight, wet through. Just wanted to see if the paint would start lifting off. It didn't, but the colours I'd applied using the gloss medium seemed to have bound closer to the wood than the thicker-applied paint. Probably a lot of nonsense, but there you go.) As I said from the start, I will not be varnishing this board. It will get a nourishing coat of linseed oil applied once a year. The oil won't protect the paintwork at all, just the wood. Still, I want the board to get weathered, dinged and distressed, otherwise it just wouldn't look right. 

The saddest thing in the world is an unused bellyboard!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Can you see what it is yet?

Full size finished rough on the kitchen table; it being the only place large enough to see it in full. Next.... transfer the rough to the board. Carbon paper at the ready!

Plus we have just ordered another unfinished board from Gavin at Traditional Surfing! A 'special' called 'Da Bomb', more of an animal! It's for hubby. That'll be next on the list!

Monday, July 18, 2011

How's that crab you?

You'll remember from my last posting that having obtained a scrummy bellyboard (unvarnished and ready for paint) from Traditional Surfing, I did some experimenting with paints and various markmaking options, on offcuts. (I even tried rolling printing ink onto a small indian fabric block and pressing it onto the board. I'm sure you'd get away with printing lino blocks if you use waterproof inks! That's another experiment for another day.)

Here is the original scribble design that I have chosen for this board. It shows the stampede to the waves, bellyboards clutched in anticipation of that smooth, fast glide. There are old and young, various shapes and sizes.
The Traditional Surfing logo is incorporated into the waves that the surfer at the top is launching into. A crab chases the pack looking for toes to tweak and those who know my wood engravings may recognise the sea gull cruising at the top.

Next stage was to do a full-size drawing, improving details and generally developing the composition to that it works well on the board. I intend that only the figures will be painted, and the white water. This is because I want the natural wood to feature on the top (deck) of the board and act as a sort of frame to the figures.

To get the life-size board shape the best way was to draw around it. Then I drew a grid over the outline to aid the transfer of the sketch proportions from small scale to large. As you can see from the sketch photo above, I have drawn a corresponding grid over it too. 

First in was the crab. I have so far drawn in two of the figures now, but not photographed them yet so that will be shown on the next post.