Sketching in Norwich

Norwich is two hours from London on the train.

I tried sketching the landscape as it went by:

These were tiny drawings, each about 2 inches by 3inches.

Here is the inside of Norwich Cathedral.

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The picture shows the Norman nave of the cathedral. This building was started in 1096 and took about 50 years to build. The stone comes from Caen, in France, and was shaped there. It is a cladding. The structure is mortar and flint. One of the pillars in the picture has a spiral pattern on it, and is matched by another spiral one on the other side. But on the other side the spiral cladding doesn’t go up to the top, as though they ran out of the special stones. I wondered if these spiral stones are used elsewhere, or if they are still waiting at Caen. Or did someone make a mistake in their arithmetic?

I learned from the guide, Mark Hill, that a bishop is in charge of a diocese, not the cathedral. The Dean is in charge of the cathedral. The bishop has a special seat called a cathedra, which is to the right of the choir, and separate from it. And the Bishop’s seat has a hugely ornate covering.

At the Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia, there was an exhibition of sculpture by Elizabeth Frink.

I sketched her warrior figures which are called “Riace”:

They had slightly strange proportions, rather short legs and wide shoulders. All are greater than life size. There were about 5 or 6 of them, and they seemed to be moving.

Elizabeth Frink (1930-1993) was a British sculptor and printmaker. Whenever I walk through Paternoster Square I say hello to her sculpture there: The Paternoster. It shows a shepherd and his sheep. When I first moved here, this sculpture was temporarily in the Barbican, next to the Museum of London. It was at ground level, so children used to climb on the sheep and hold onto their ears. The ears were bright and shiny. When the Paternoster Square renovation was complete (2003), the statue was moved back. But it is on a high plinth, so inaccessible. I think that’s a pity. I don’t think the Paternoster minded children riding his sheep.

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The shepherd and his sheep, Paternoster Square, 2012.

 

 

Great Arthur House from the Barbican Podium

Here is Great Arthur House from the podium ramp near Blake Tower. You can see Blake Tower on the left. At the bottom of the picture is the ramp that goes down into the Car Park at Bunyan Court.

Several stories below me, at ground level, there was an assortment of discarded furniture and paint tins, and a huge skip full of Christmas Trees being collected for recycling.

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It was really cold out there. I saw a black cat sliding in between the debris.

This picture done on Fabriano Artistico loose sheet,  8inches by 10 inches. About an hour, on location.

 

New Year 2019

Happy New Year!

I made a woodcut.

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This is a greetings card, about 7″x5″.

It is from two woodblocks, one orange and one blue. Here is work in progress at East London Printmakers:

In the background you see the Albion press I used for printing. It is a wonderful cast-iron machine.

As well as the greetings cards I tried an experiment with chine collé on Japanese paper.

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And this was an out-take that I liked:

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The inks made marvellous patterns on the glass when I was cleaning up:

Perhaps I could entitle that last one “Window into the unknown”?

Happy New Year 2019!

 

In the footsteps of Nelson

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Captain Horatio Nelson, painted by John Francis Rigaud in 1781, with Fort San Juan in the background.

For our Boxing Day walk, John researched places in London associated with Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson (29 September 1758 – 21 October 1805).

First we saw some houses of the period, and then went to the various places that Nelson lived or visited in London. My mission was to draw very quick pictures. We had a lot of places to visit, and I didn’t want to hold up the expedition. Here are my sketches, in the order of our visits.


We saw and named architectural details.  On 11 Cavendish Square we noted the “blocked vermiculated columns”
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“Vermiculated” means wormlike. It’s a really useful adjective. “I found it impossible to follow his vermiculated arguments.” ” After navigating the vermiculated back alleys, we emerged at last onto the main square.”

We saw ionic columns on Stratford House. These are the ones with scrolls at the top. Above the columns is the “metope” or frieze. On this there were “bucrania” which are bulls skulls.
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An “aedicule” is a house shape with columns each side. At 37 Dover Street we saw a window in an aedicule.

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A window in 37 Dover Street, opposite Nelson’s House

Here is our route:

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It took us 5 hours and was 14km.

After the Georgian London visits in the West End, we walked to Trafalgar Square to see Nelson’s Column, and then along the Strand, where we saw the site of a silversmith he visited. Nelson went along the Strand in his carriage to receive his “Freedom of the City of London”. At Temple, the cheering crowds unhitched his horses and hauled his carriage themselves.

We arrived at St Paul’s Cathedral, where Nelson is interred.

I used Organics Studio arsenic gray ink, and a Lamy Safari pen with fine nib, from The Writing Desk. The book is a sketchbook from Seawhite of Brighton.

St Bartholomew the Less – etchings

This morning I made an etching based on a sketch of St Bartholomew the Less.

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Here’s the original sketch, which was made from the top of Maggie’s Centre in St Bartholomew’s hospital, by kind permission of the staff of the Centre.

The sketch was to explore the proportions, before making the more detailed watercolour drawings on this post:

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I thought the sketch was rather lively and might make a good etching. Here’s the copper plate I made:
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And here are some of today’s prints: (click to enlarge)

The plate needs a bit more work I think. The background could be darker and perhaps some shading on the tower itself. My idea is that I will print it with perhaps chine-collé. So I want to keep the design simple.

I just had the morning at the print studio today.

The paper is Chinese paper from Great Art. Numbers 11369 (soft), and 11565 (white, with a slight grid). The ink is Intaglio Printmaker Shop Mix Bone Black. The plate is 10cmx15cm copper plate from Great Art, which I prepared with hard ground 28 June 2018. I used the Rochard press at East London Printmakers.

 

Strange landscapes from wood

On a recent walk in Hoxton, I picked up a piece of wood. Perhaps it was part of a crate. It had interesting grain.

John cut it into smaller pieces with a saw.

Wood pieces

I was going to use them as relief blocks. Timg_06971hen I got talking to a fellow printer at East London Printmakers. She suggested I press them into soft ground and make an etching plate. Then I thought I’d use the Albion press to get sufficient pressure.

The technician, Dan, asked if I had aquatint on there, and I hadn’t. Can you put aquatint on top of soft ground? We went off to consult the studio co-ordinator. She said yes, aquatint was good idea.

So here’s the process:

  1. Prepare plate with soft ground
  2. Press wood into soft ground using the Albion Press. This makes an impression with darker places where the wood was.
  3. Put aquatint (dust) onto the plate, and fuse it with the gas burner. The soft ground burns and goes brown. The aquatint fuses onto the plate in the darker places. 
  4. Etch in acid, Edinburgh etch, for two minutes. 
  5. Clean off the plate and print.The aquatinted areas are dark.

Here’s the result.

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Wood block into soft ground. Printed from copper plate. “Strange landscapes”, on drying rack. Prussian blue ink on Vintage Paper Co paper.

Here’s the other block, with chine collé stripes added. I’m not sure which way up it should be. IMG_0696 Since this whole session was experimental, I also used some experimental paper from the Vintage Paper Company. They say on the package: “This was made some time between 1969 and 1973 as waterleaf (unsized) printing paper by J Green and Sons (brilliant but now extinct British papermakers). I had it gelatine sized in December 2017 by Two Rivers Paper (brilliant and very much alive and kicking British papermakers” and they ask for feedback. I think it worked really well, and I’m now off to write them an email.

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Towers East and Towers West – multiple prints

My idea was to produce multiple copies of “Towers East” and “Towers West”. These are aquatint plates I prepared a few months ago.  This post describes the process to produce the plates: Towers East and Towers West

The Towers are St Mary’s Tower and Peabody Tower, just to the North of the Barbican.

I made 14 reasonable prints, and 2 out-takes. I glued the out-takes into my notebook. I make one page per print session, and record what I did, what paper and ink I used, what worked and what didn’t. This is in an attempt to learn and improve my printing technique.

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Here are the 14 reasonable prints, numbered 1 to 14. Numbers 1-13 are on card 20cm by 30cm. This card size is intended as a greeting card. When folded it fits neatly into an A5 envelope. Number 14 is on larger paper. All are for sale,  £5 each plus postage. Please contact me by email via the contacts page, or leave a comment on this page. The red writing is on the online image here, not on the print.

Click on an image to enlarge it. It may take a little while to load.

The technique is “chine-collé” which is described here: The chine collé process

Here’s number 13 so you can see the format:

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Here is number 14 on the larger paper:

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These are all part of my “Towers Project” leading to an exhibition in the Barbican Library February 2019.

I work in the print studio at East London Printmakers. Prints are on Fabriano Unica Paper, using Intaglio Printmaker Bone Black ink. They are printed by hand on the Henderson press. Each print takes about half an hour to print.