Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Cowprint Sketchers

This year, Cowprint members started a new activity. Once a month we go on an outdoor sketching session - a bit like Urban Sketchers but mostly not city scapes. Parks and woodland seem to be the favourite. This month we visited the shore (how lucky we are to live on the coast!).

Here's a selection of drawings I've made over the year. I really struggle with drawing landscape type subjects. And buildings. Give me a naked person and I'm fine but these outdoor drawing sessions are really outside my comfort zone. Which proably means I should do a lot more of it...

Thursday, 11 October 2018


Work in progress. Every minotaur needs a labyrinth.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Drypoint beginners

Another clever bunch of printmaking beginners at Red Hot Press. I've just done a couple of sessions of drypoint with them - some good results.

Really sensitive use of the roulette wheel here.

 Looking forward to seeing what they do with etching over the next two weeks.

Friday, 28 September 2018

Kate Watkins

Kate Watkins, Clevedon Pier. Gocco print

Local artist and printmaker Kate Watkins gave a very inspiring talk to the artists' group this week. She spoke about her 'creative journey' to date focusing on her time at Winchester School of Art doing an MA in printmaking. It was here that she developed her interest in coastal themes, making a panorama of Calshot (read about in on her website here).

Kate Watkins, Flip Flop. Solvent transfer and pencil study print

Kate Watkins, Super Strong. Solvent transfer and graphite

Since then, Kate has continued to develop this theme in her work, using objects found on the beach to make solvent transfer prints over which she uses graphite. She has also created a seres of abstarct images based on coastal themes.
Kate Watkins, Weather Worn Circle. Monoprint and ink transfer

Kate Watkins, Weather Worn IX. Monoprint and ink transfer

I really like the fact that Kate mixes different techniques together (something I often do in my own work) to layer up imagery and create rich colour and texture. I was also very impressed by her drive and motivation to create her art, regardless of the various constraints we find ourselves under these days. Wish I could be as focused!

Monday, 24 September 2018

Southampton Wayzgoose

What a great day we had and what a diverse and interesting bunch of people. There were over twenty stalls selling letterpress artwork and equipment, artists' books, an altered book project that people could participate in, antique books, original printimaking (us!) and all manner of print-related goodness. 

Stall holders came from far and wide - even as far as Scotland. There was a queue to get in at 10am so the free goody bags went instantly, and we were busy all day. 

We were selling work by twelve members of Cowprint on our stall - sales were much better than expected. Thanks to Irene who minded the stall with me all day and was responsible for making the stall look so attractive. And thanks to Katherine Anteney and the British Printing Society for organising the event.

I was particularly pleased that all three of my Pop-up Prometheuses sold, as well as one of my folded books. Very encouraging for my first foray into this area.


Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Work in progress

Pop-up prototype. Watch this space.

Friday, 7 September 2018

Pop-up Prometheus

Started fiddling about with pop-ups... Here's my first attempt; pop-up Prometheus with a twist. Literally.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Virginia Woolf: an exhibition inspired by her writings

Gwen John, Self-portrait, 1902, oil on canvas
Tate. Purchased 1942 © Tate, London 2018

Took a trip down to Pallant House Gallery in Chichester last week as I felt the need to look at some paintings and thought the current exhibition, Virginia Woolf: an exhibition inspired by her writings looked promising. 

Hmm. Sadly, it fell somewhat short for me. There were paintings, including the one above which was great to see in the flesh, having seen reproductions over the years, but I didn't feel they were the best examples of those artists' work. There was a lot of contemporary stuff as well which didn't appeal for a range of reasons. I felt the link with Woolf was a bit tenuous too; better to have billed it as an exibition of work by female artists from the 19th and 20th centuries without the Woolf element which didn't really add anything or make the work cohere any better. Just my view though. I find I struggle more and more with contemporary art these days and there was a lot of it in this show. Is this an age thing I wonder...? Yours, Grumpy Old Woman.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Open Studios

Having had two summers at Hilliers, Open Studio is back at Red Hot Press this year.

Come on down this weekend to see - and buy - work by workshop members. Open Saturday, Sunday and Monday, 12 - 5pm.

Meant to post this on Friday so apologies for lateness. Still time today and tomorrow to see the show though. A good way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Folded books

Have been thinking about making some artists books for years now but never quite knew where to begin. Seems like a logical progression given my work is largely about narrative and stories. 

Started cutting up some monoprints that have been lying around, not good enough to frame or mount for sale. Ideal for experimenting with. So here are my first attempts. Great fun - I could get addicted to making them. Need to sharpen my folding skills though; they're looking decidedly rough around the edges.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Susie Turner

Susie Turner, Cotinous Grace, photopolymer intaglio print, 2013
Interesting talk last Friday by printmaker Susie Turner who visited Red Hot Press to give a solar plate masterclass over the weekend.

Susie talked about her processes and the ideas behind her work. She is particularly interested in nature and the changing seasons. There seems to be quite a pleasing conflict in some of her work between order and chaos. She arranges many of the elements in an orderly, systematic way, but nature will do its own thing and always brings a little disorder to the images. At least, no two elements are the same, whether leaves, feathers or seeds, no matter how regular the pattern they're arranged in. 

Have a look at her work on her website here.

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Wayzgoose goodies

I've suddenly got some time and head space for creative things so have been beavering away in the studio, making monoprinted bookmarks and gift tags for the Wayzgoose in September. Never done this sort of thing before - and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. More coming soon.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Bursledon Brickworks

 The returns are done, we made our deadlines and apart from a few mop up tasks and a final report to be written, we can leave the data mines behind (for now) and resume what passes for normal service. 

To mark returns completion, we paid a visit to Bursledon Brickworks and had a most enjoyable afternoon poking about amongst the old machinery, brick moulds, chimney pots and finials. The dragon is a particularly fine example.

There's also a great collection of chimney pots which was the Reverend Valentine Somebody's personal collection. Apologies to the late Rev and family - I can't remember his surname.

The highlight for me though, were these two old boilers (below). Weirdly, I'd been thinking a few days before about the old boiler in John Steinbeck's Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday. In particular, the scene where Doc calls on Susie at home in the boiler. She peers out through the fire door but can only see Doc from below the knees so has to crane her neck round to look up at him. She invites him in so he has to get down on his hands and knees to crawl through the door - and in so doing, catches his trouser leg on the corner of the door, pulling it shut on his leg. He's stuck and Susie tears his trousers in getting him free. So funny, so brilliantly written. And this is Susie's boiler. I can feel a print coming on...

Visit the brickworks if you're in the area - and read John Steinbeck if you're not.


Friday, 27 July 2018


Ever wondered what a Wayzgoose is? Originally it was some form of entertainment in the printing trade. A master printer would provide it for his workers to mark the beginning of autumn and working by candle light. Later it became an annual dinner or outing for workers in the printing trade usually held at the end of August around St Bartholemew's Day, he being the patron saint of bookbinders (and leather workers, tanners, plasterers...).

The British Printing Society's Wayzgoose won't be quite like that but there will be lots of interesting print related stuff to see and buy, so come along on 22 September and join in the fun. Cowprint will be there with a stall.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

George Shaw: My Back to Nature

George Shaw, 'The Living and the Dead', 2015–16
© The Artist and Wilkinson Gallery, London

Managed to steal an hour out of the data mines on Friday to visit the art gallery for an exhibition of paintings by artist George Shaw.

There are a number of different elements to this exhibition: paintings and drawings by Shaw, a couple of paintings from the National Gallery’s collection from which he took inspiration (see below), a collection of works from Southampton City Art Gallery’s collection curated by Shaw, and a film about his ideas and processes.

Hendrick Van Balen the Elder, Pan pursuing Syrinx,
after 1615, oil on copper. National Gallery, London

The main exhibition was made up of a series of paintings of trees and woodland settings which he had made whilst on a two-year residency at the National Gallery. Inspired by works in the gallery's collection, Shaw created paintings that 

'offer a contemporary response to the mythological landscapes painted by masters such as Titian, Poussin and Constable.
Shaw is interested in how the stories in these paintings – often featuring violence, illicit sex and drunkenness – have parallels in the way that people might behave in the woods today, when they think they are unobserved. This is complemented by Shaw’s interest in Christian imagery, especially how landscape artists of the past often alluded to the Crucifixion in their depiction of trees.'

Sebastiano Ricci, Bacchus and Ariadne, 1700-1710, oil on canvas
National Gallery, London
Interesting idea which enriched my experience of the paintings (links to Greek myth grabbed my attention immediately of course) and encouraged me to watch the 15 minute film (below) in which Shaw talks about his ideas and processes. Also, he visits a Humbrol enamel paint factory! Worth a watch.


Shaw also selected various works from Southampton City Art Gallery's collection displayed under he title ‘A good day for looking out’, a phrase used by his mother for bad weather days. I didn't find this group of paintings terribly interesting  though I liked what Shaw said about it, particularly this:

Looking back at my selection I can see that it has an air of sadness about it. It is one of the few national characteristics I’m content to inherit so I make no apologies for the gentle beauty of the show. Perhaps it is evidence of Edward Thomas’s ‘melancholy wrought magic’. Or perhaps it just comes from the weather and not getting out much. In the end it is the transformative influence that painting has to take the mortal facts of the world and concoct a heady, strange and enduring potion.

The exhibition continues until 1 September 2018.