Tuesday, 21 April 2015


Generally I think 'if you can't say something nice...' but I'm in a bitchy mood, and can contain it no longer.

I hate Alistair Sooke. I don't think this is too strong a word. There seems to be a dearth of good stuff on art  on the BBC recently, and yet he is everywhere. He seems to have the monopoly on it.

But he's charmless, unappealing, uninteresting, ubiquitous.

Why is he ubiquitous? I just had a look on Wikipedia, and yep, all is present and correct...

'Westminster... Oxford... Courtauld...' Surprise, surprise.

Still, Andrew Graham Dixon probably has a similar CV, and I love him.  He could present every programme on TV and I'd be happy.

Sooke is the anti-Graham Dixon.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Drawing at the V&A

We had a very fun day drawing at the V&A today. Safety in numbers...

We did some warm up drawings in the sculpture court (medieval and Renaissance art.)

Exceedingly rusty... it's a good job we did some warm up exercises first.

5 minutes

One minute
Five minutes, negative space drawing

Then it was break time. We had coffee and cake in the lovely cafe. (There was a piano player, he played popular tunes then launched into a medley that included Metallica and Bowie's Life On Mars.)

Then we went off to draw whatever we liked, before we met up at the end.

The choice is overwhelming, I thought I'd concentrate on Beasts, just to make it easier to settle on something to draw.  I went for a mix of 2D and 3D.

In the Asian gallery - Garuda, Vishnu's vahanca or vehicle. Whatever that means. I liked his funny feet.  I don't know why I decided to position him nearly falling off the page. 
 A watercolour of a wrestler and a tiger from the 1890s, also in the Asian gallery (I just drew the tiger.)

The tiger had very human like eyes. Although the wrestler was stabbing him with a knife, and the tiger was sinking his teeth into the wrestler, it was a curiously peaceful drawing. They looked more like they were cuddling. 

Okay, this is not a beast, but I always wanted to draw these mysterious smiling Chinese men with their tall hats on.

He is short, but I think I made him quite a bit shorter than he really is.

400 year old elephant statue. I love this, if I could choose one thing in the V&A to take home... The Lion has not survived, only a tiny part of the lion's feet remain.

 A wish fulfilling cow (as one of my friends said, we could all do with one of those.)

These are beautiful, mad, stunning Indian statues. I found it quite hard to capture.
Side view of wish fulfilling cow. There is something disturbing yet funny about her woman's face and torso.

It was all getting too much, trying to capture this elusive beauty, so I tried to draw this funny character in the China gallery. A sculpture of  a mythical animal from 450. . Again, I didn't quite capture his manic expression.

The cast gallery was mostly full of dull statues of saints on tombs, but then I came across this lovely bronze lion.

I've made him look like he's yawning, rather than roaring. You can imagine him speaking like George Sanders doing Shere Khan in Jungle Book.

I didn't realise two Indian tourists were standing behind me patiently while I drew this, waiting to take their photo with the lion.

Last drawing of the day, and the earliest  Han dynasty horse, (206 BC).

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Etched lino final week

Print from the first plate, inked up in a pale blue with extender.  Extender makes the ink more transparent.

The second plate printed on top of the first in a transparent green.

The key plate printed on top in a darker blue. This was meant to be more purple, but it's okay.

This was a really great course. Even the last session of printing, which is usually hectic, was really calm. We all had a fab time.

More info here

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Etching lino week 3

Once the caustic has etched into the lino overnight, you wash it off with water. The etched lino has turned into a layer of sludge. Once you can see the grey, you are left with the etched plate.

Steve washing off the caustic.


You also need to clean off any of the black stopout before you're ready to print. This can be done with wire scrubbers, greenwash or white spirit. 

My second plate ready to be inked up.

The plate inked up on the press.  Steve uses foam board to register the plate in the right place, and to hold the paper. Clever!

Proof of one of my plates in black.
Proof of second plate in black

This is the proof of my key plate, which will go on top and hold the whole thing together.

Steve then scanned my proofs into Photoshop, and demonstrated how he plays around with the colours to work out what colour inks he will use when he prints.

It looked so beautiful and amazing, unfortunately I didn't get any photos.

He then encouraged us to print one of our plates in red and one in blue, just to get an idea of how they will work printed together.

This is the result. It's very far away from my usual monochrome comfort zone, and very bold. But you can see how it gives a much more complex, layered image than my usual simple stuff.  That's what I wanted to learn.

Next week; printing all three blocks together... can't wait.