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.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bellyboard Painting

And now, as they say in Monty Python, for something completely different:

I surf waves in the shallows on a bellyboard, a tradition that's been around for around 100 years in the UK. I used to use a foam boogieboard but just over a year ago, something changed....... I bought a wooden bellyboard.

Ever since I got my first Bellyboard (pictured below) 15 months ago, I've been hooked. I love the ride, being IN the wave rather than ON it. I love the fact that I'm riding wood rather than a synthetic material, not sure what those foam boogie boards are made of. Since I started bellying, I have only used my boogie board once. My Other Half, who normally surfs a longboard and looked down his nose at my foam boogieboard, tried my bellyboard once and was hooked! As was our son, who came down for a holiday, tried the belly and wants one! They are such FUN!

Now, being the arty type, I've quite fancied getting a blank, unvarnished bellyboard and giving it a personalised paint job. Enter Gavin Randall of the Traditional Surfing Co, a surfing pal who has started making by hand a range of very nice ply bellyboards that are made using FSC certified marine grade ply and finished with fishy-friendly linseed oil rather than varnish. (I love the smell of linseed oil; I used to oil paint, many years ago and the aroma takes me right back to the studio.)

Anyway, he had an unfinished board ready that I could buy and I grabbed the chance. It's been propped up in our lounge for almost three weeks, teasing me.

What to do with this blank canvas? What subject matter can I paint? (more on that later) What paint do I use? Not oils, too long a drying time. I have some  acrylic paints that might do. (I may try and source some more eco-friendly paints later) I've never even painted on ply before and I wanted to treat it with linseed after painting too, so Gavin kindly dug out some off-cuts that I could sand down and tinker with. I tried different paints to check bleed into the wood and when that dried I brushed it with linseed oil and polished it to see how it looked. And that's what I've been doing today.

I tried a line with thick permanent marker pen, which wasn't bad and didn't bleed much at all, but I have doubts as to it's light-fast qualities, so I opted for the acrylics, which went onto the un-primed board very nicely. They dried fast and when I wiped linseed over it only had a very small effect on the colours.

I did a fair number of sketches over the past few weeks while different ideas fermented in my head. I wanted to come up with something that conveyed the fun for all ages and the tradition of bellyboarding. I found myself thinking of the cheeky Donald McGill seaside postcards that were so popular in the 30's and 40's. I think I've come up with the answer, which I'll show in my next post.

The 'shortlist reject' ideas I'd still like to do, especially the hunky merman and the comedy apron format (take a bow, Anthony!) which you'll have to wait to see on a later post!