Location:United Kingdom

An avid tea-drinker who likes nutmeg in her coffee and warm lavender-scented quilts. She knits, crochets and partakes in random acts of craftiness (and kindness). She likes obscure works of literature, philosophy and the idea that her mind exists separately from her body. She enjoys moving furniture around, literary criticism and baking bread. She writes haiku about nettles, would like to swim with seals and become completely self-sufficient. She writes as if her life depends on it, listens to beautiful music, and loves her darling husband Mr. VP.

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Saturday 27 May 2017

Lino no-no (aka That time I decided to use oil-based printing inks for the first time)

If you have noticed a dearth of lino-related posts, it’s because I had a huge creative surge and then… nothing. I think I experienced a bit of ‘creative burn-out’ after going non-stop lino loopy for the last few weeks. I even took my lino stuff on holiday with me in the hopes that I’d get a chance to do it but on the evenings I did get some time, I chose to spend it staring at the amazing view (Scotland, I love you), drinking a lot of cups of tea and talking to Mr VP about the amazing view. Oh and trying to photograph buzzards. But yeah, not much on the lino front.

I tried the other day to draw something I’ve been trying to draw for ages, except I just couldn’t get the proportions right. Knowing I needed to get the drawing right to be able to print it, and after a lot of effing and jeffing, I gave up in frustration. It was starting to get me down, as I am not a natural artist so I have been flippin amazed quite chuffed with what I’ve been able to achieve so far. So I decided to go back to what I knew, to show myself that I *could* still draw something. So I took inspiration from nature – the root of pretty much everything I do – and doodled some flowers, leaves, a bleeding heart plant and a snail. I continued until I had filled the lino ‘page’ and then I cut it out. It was one of the fiddliest plates I’ve done but felt so good to be doing something creative again.

A while ago, I got some new inks but hadn’t had the chance to use them. They’re water-washable oil-based relief inks by Cranfield/Caligo and they’re what Professionals use (ha!). I thought as Toddler VP had gone down quite early I’d have the time to sit down and have a bit of a dabble printing before I had to go to bed, so I set off. The results were amazing. It’s totally different in feel and look to the water-based inks I’ve used before; the results are crisp, it has just the right amount of transfer and tack and I really liked using it.

So having done my first proofs (and seeing where I needed to do some revision cuts,) I realised it was approaching 10pm and time for bed. So I took the inking plate and roller upstairs to the bathroom to be washed (as the inks contain chemicals I don’t particularly want in the kitchen). According to the manufacturer, it’s a case of wash off with detergent and warm water. Well, I did that and nothing happened, except covering everything in a layer of thick black oily goop. My gloved hands were covered, the inking plate was worse than before and the roller looked like it had taken a dip at La Brea. Ack! Trying not to make any noise because there was a sleeping Toddler VP in the next room, I roused Mr VP’s attention and urged him to Google something FAST. He found the PDF explaining the cleaning procedure and mentioned using a brush. We didn’t have brushes, but we did have a sponge scourer so I gave one of those a try. Finally, after getting myself into a muck sweat, it started to come off. Enough to allow me to put it away and call it a night. Obviously Professionals have a proper sink and the right cleaners and brushes and aren’t trying to do it at 11pm next to a sleeping child’s bedroom. Ha!  I’m not sure my inking roller will ever be the same (then again after the other night I’m not sure I will be either)!

However, as for the results, I think it’s one of my favourite pieces yet. Full of the things in nature I love the most. Most of all, it might not be what I had intended to do but it gave me a bit of faith back that I could do something. And most of all I really enjoyed doing it. Except the cleaning up bit…

Wednesday 3 May 2017

Sunflower garden

One of my most recent lino pieces was this garden scene. It shows some development in the way I’m approaching things now – paying more attention to light and dark. I also decided to try watercolouring one of the prints to see what it’d be like. It’s interesting. I’m not sure I’ll go down that road for each print, as I’d quite like to start overprinting using multiple plates per print to build up the image. But I was surprised how much the watercolouring changed the feel of the print. There’s a lot of power in black and white too, and I still prefer that starkness I think.

Sunday 16 April 2017

Adventures in lineoleum

It has been years since I picked up pencil, notebook, blank lino and an eraser and set to work. Years. But it was so good and just as much fun as I remembered it being. I fired up iTunes (how enjoyable is it to just press shuffle and listen away?!) and got to work. This exercise was of course punctuated by the cries of our teething toddler whose molars are just coming through; but after drawing out my picture, I got reacquainted with the smell of lino (it’s delicious and linseedy) and the different lino cutting tool blades. I remembered vaguely that tilting a No. 2 blade to one side will ‘shave’ an area whereas the tip will take a deep, wide u-shaped cut if used with any force.

I love lino printing, I really do. I might not be any good at it, but I love doing it. I think printing and print-making is nothing short of magic. It’s not black and white; while you remove bits and keep others to create an image, even the bits you take away leave lines that can – depending on how much you take or leave – be seen in the resulting print. It has more motion and life than a simple drawing. And everyone can do it; it’s not expensive – you can start carving erasers, or even potatoes :)

By the time I was finished and had done 3 proofs – two pencil rubbings and one ink-pad ‘print’ – it was 12:05am. The latest I’ve been up for a good long time!  I looked down at myself and realised I was covered in bits. I got up first thing this morning and finished tweaking here and there until I was happy with the level of detail.  The result? Well, I think it’s my best to date :)

(Some of the) Music that has been played while printing:

Saturday 14 November 2009

The brite lite series (part 1)

Spending an evening locked yourself away in a darkened room, with William Fitzsimmons (he is really good!) playing in the background, as the wind whips around outside is quite magical.  Especially when your only source of light is a string (or 8) of fairy lights.

No, I don’t give up on the fairy-light front.  Sometimes we all need to see the tiny glimmers of light in an otherwise totally dark night, to remind us of the simple good things.

Tuesday 18 April 2006

Culture Vulture

I must say, that there is no better way to spend a gorgeous 4-day weekend than the way we spent ours. Apart from the hard garden-related work, Sunday was a day when we could both chill out completely and do nothing but potter around the garden (and eat easter eggs in bed…), spending large periods of time with our feet up, laying serenely back in garden chairs, constantly commenting on how gorgeous the weather was, how lovely the birdsong seemed, and “Look! Look! Over there, a butterfly/seeds are coming up/is that a chaffinch?” etc.

Monday we decided we wanted to do something but we didn’t know quite what. It had to avoid major roads, major tourist attractions, and be a little bit more cerebral than shops or the cinema. So, at The Fiancé’s behest we dug out the ‘Visitors Guide to Newcastle‘ (although the Fiancé does work there, we decided it might give us some insight as to things we could do) and had a look…

After an exhaustive search, we came up trumps with the Laing gallery, right in the centre of Newcastle itself. Cerebral? Yes. Interesting? Oh, most definitely. So off we poddled. It is absolutely fabulous, to see artwork in such close quarters, reproductions of images are nothing compared to seeing them firsthand. There were lots and lots of paintings, new and old, famous and not, and very few that I didn’t like. They had a whole room dedicated to Pre-Raphelite and Romantic art, which have to be my favourite genres, as well as a really interesting and informative watercolour gallery too. We saw a Degas, a Rubens, a Van Dyke, a Gainsborough, a Singer Sargent (which was enormous and beautiful)and so many more…

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[John Singer Sargent – Ena and Betty, Daughters of Asther Wertheimer]

Some of the pictures there were so intricate, so well thought out, so moving. The watercolours were a nice addition to the gallery, featuring William Russel Flint’s beautiful ‘The Great Lavoir, Antibes‘. I also got to see a painting by an artist I’ve admired since I was quite young, Edmund Blair Leighton, called September, in which women are seen gathering fruit from an orchard, which although the canvas wasn’t large, made a huge visual impact.

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[Lone St. Mary’s by Tom Scott]

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[Woman Knitting by Clara Klinghoffer]

But my favourite of the day has to be the collection of John Martins, whose themes and scenes of Arthurian legend and Welsh storytelling were exemplary. In particular ‘The Bard’ and ‘King Arthur and Aegle in the Happy Valley’, the latter of which was breathtaking. The only image I can find online is teeny, but the original is just spectacular. The painting, like alot of Martin’s work is based on a poem, this one based on ‘King Arthur’ by Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton.

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[The Bard by John Martin]

(and one of my favourites…)

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[King Arthur and the Ægle in the Happy Valley by John Martin]

I now have the taste for art galleries, and will try to get down to London at some point to visit the many galleries they have there, notebook and pencil in hand!

Monday 30 January 2006

In the post

Who is a lucky girl, then?! That would be me :-D Receiving wonderful things in the post. From the lovely Natalie@NeboPeklo one of her absolutely gorgeous gocco prints and she included some really stunning art cards too. Thanks! Your prints will be in the post as soon as I can find an envelope of the right capacity!

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