Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Artistic Explorations: Monotype Printmaking (1)

As you know I have been printmaking since last year. Recently I signed up for the follow-up course at Grays School of Art which runs from October until March. When I saw a printmaking course advertised by Bridge House Art, owned by Eleanor White who I met a few years ago during another workshop, I realised I didn't want to wait that long!

Entrance of Bridge House Art ©Fenfolio2015

So from 13 until 17 July I travelled to Ullapool and learned all about monotype printing from printmaking artist Kittie Jones who was our tutor. The course was very well organised. They had given each of us (10 ladies in total) their own art box. Every day we started with a slideshow of work by various artists to give us an insight in their processes and inspire us. We then had a coffee break with freshly made cake and for lunch (mostly outside!) we had delicious homemade soup and salad. The use of the printing studio was also included and was a great space because it used to be a petrol station/garage!


Etching press in printmaking studio ©Fenfolio2015


Old etching press in printmaking studio ©Fenfolio2015


The studio is a converted petrol station ©Fenfolio2015

Vintage petrol station in front of studio ©Fenfolio2015


We were really lucky with the weather and it rained just one night only! Every morning I walked to the studio and back along the sea and river and enjoyed the wonderful views. Perfect to tune in for a creative day but also for winding down after a day of focussed work.


Great views during my morning walk ©Fenfolio2015
Ullapool ©Fenfolio2015

A lovely footpath along the river ©Fenfolio2015

On the first day we travelled to Rhue, North of Ullapool, for some sketching exercises en plein air such as blind contour drawing, continuous line drawing, gesture drawing and drawing from memory.

En plein air at Ardmair Bay ©Fenfolio2015

My office at Ardmair Bay ©Fenfolio2015


Sketch I made in charcoal and ink on concertina booklet ©Fenfolio2015

Close-up of sketch in charcoal and ink ©Fenfolio2015

Close-up of sketch in charcoal and ink ©Fenfolio2015


Unfinished sketches on back of concertina booklet ©Fenfolio2015

One of my gesture drawings ©Fenfolio2015

On the third day we travelled to Ardmair Bay for some colour exercises. Some how I really struggled with that. We were supposed to focus on large shape sand colours, but instead my attention was on every detail I saw in the landscape. In the end I was very frustrated (and I was not the only one) and destroyed my sketches and paintings. A glass of wine is then the only remedy to relax again!

The perfect remedy after a frustrating session ©Fenfolio2015

Kittie showed us the process of monotype printing with and without press and intaglio printmaking with a collagraph plate. Here she demonstrates how to make a hand burnished monotype print with a perspex plate, oil-based ink or oil paint, linseed oil, Zest-it, a brush and a cloth. This method gives a painterly effect and is very easy to do at home.

Kittie demonstrates application of paint onto perspex
©Fenfolio2015

Kittie demonstrates markmaking in paint
©Fenfolio2015

Kittie demonstrates pulling print and making adjustments
©Fenfolio2015

Guided by our sketches from the days before we started working. Here are a few of my monochrome prints.

Printed with oil-based ink and hand burnished from perspex
©Fenfolio2015

Printed with oil-based ink, chine collé and hand burnished
©Fenfolio2015

Collagraph print, run through press ©Fenfolio2015

Display of work from participants ©Fenfolio2015

After we finished our colour exercises outside we went to the studio for monotype printing with oil-based etching ink, rollers, masks/stencils, hand burnishing and etching press.


Inking table ©Fenfolio 2015

Hard at work in studio ©Fenfolio2015

Here are a few multi-layer monotype prints I created without the press.

Multi-layer monotype print, hand burnished ©Fenfolio 2015

Mult-layer monotype print, hand burnished ©Fenfolio 2015

And these are my multi-layer prints that have been run through the etching press. I also made some ghost prints (more transparent due to less ink) after I had run the first print (opaque ink). For both prints I then added a new layer in a different colour with new marks and different masks.

Mult-layer monotype print, run through press ©Fenfolio 2015

Multi-layer monotype ghost print, run through press ©Fenfolio 2015

Multi-layer monotype print, run through press ©Fenfolio 2015

Multi-layer monotype ghost print, run through press ©Fenfolio 2015

At the end of the week we were asked to set up a small exhibition in the workshop so that we could see everyone's work and get feedback from Kittie. It was quite overwhelming to see so many beautiful prints in different styles and hear the positive feedback from the expert!


I love the abstract style in Cath's work ©Fenfolio 2015

Beautiful colours and markmaking in Jennie's prints ©Fenfolio 2015

Attention to detail is Margaret's forte ©Fenfolio 2015

Julia's prints are captivating ©Fenfolio 2015

Hilary's style is very expressive ©Fenfolio2015

Painterly quality in Val's prints ©Fenfolio 2015

This print (hand burnished) created by Jane is my favourite of all!
©Fenfolio2015

After a very intense and fantastic creative week I was exhausted but also very inspired to continue experimenting with this medium in my own studio and at Peacock Visual Arts in Aberdeen. I might even have a few new prints ready for North East Open Studios which is coming soon now!

Monday, 1 June 2015

Fabulous Fabric: Party dresses

It all started with vintage shoes my mum was about to sell. She had bought them in the early 60's but had hardly worn them. The moment I saw them I fell in love, bought them and a new creative project was born as I didn't have anything suitable to wear with them.


I decided to make an evening dress and initially chose a McCall's pattern. After 6 trials in old curtain fabric I realised I wouldn't feel comfortable in it so I chose a different design and went for the pattern from Butterick 3080. Aberdeen unfortunately doesn't have a wide range of shops that supply dressmaking fabrics and after a bit of research online I found
The Dress Fabric Company based in Edinburgh. The owner was able to advise and source a wonderful drapey fabric (100 % polyester) that would perfectly suit the colours of my new shoes, all by email and phone!

As there was no gala ball to go to (we decided to pass on the one organised by Jaap's employer) I had plenty of time to finish it...and this is the result:


Front view wrap evening dress ©Fenfolio2015

Back view wrap evening dress ©Fenfolio2015

Close-up front view wrap evening dress ©Fenfolio2015

Close-up side view wrap evening dress ©Fenfolio2015


Close-up back view wrap evening dress ©Fenfolio2015

To make it really stand out of the crowd I made a clutch from the dress frabric I had leftover. I bought the PDF pattern online via Etsy.

I used the same buttons as the ones on my dress, only one size larger, supplied by my
local craft shop. It was quite tricky to get the pintucks perfect, even after pressing, as it's 100 % polyester. I used a tricot stitch as this fabric tend to pucker easily.

Front side evening clutch ©Fenfolio2015
Back side evening clutch ©Fenfolio2015

Close-up wristlet evening clutch ©Fenfolio2015

Close-up evening clutch ©Fenfolio2015

I applied two magnetic closures for the flap. For the interior of the clutch lining fabric
(100 % viscose) was used which I had bought for the dress based on the McCall's pattern.


Magnetic closure flap evening clutch ©Fenfolio2015

Interior evening clutch with pocket ©Fenfolio2015

Evening dress with clutch ©Fenfolio2015

After I completed my gala outfit I realised there wouldn't be many opportunities to wear it. I  was also left with a lot of lining fabric which I didn't want to go to waste so I decided to sew a cocktail dress with a lace overlay. I used the pattern from New Look 6261. It was hard to find the right scalloped lace fabric in the UK so I bought it from a supplier in the USA via Etsy.

To check whether the measurements were correct I quickly made the dress in old curtain fabric (looks like satin). After I made some adjustments onto the pattern pieces I started the project. Well, little did I know how difficult it is to sew lining and lace fabric! The mesh of the lace fabric was very stretchy so even cutting out the pattern pieces was really tricky. Also pressing with a low heat iron seemed to stretch it so I had to be very careful.

The pattern allowed for quite a bit of ease but I like it more tailored so during this project I had to make a few adjustments, meaning cautiously ripping my seams. Luckily I was sensible to baste everything first so it was easier to make changes if it wasn't right.

In the end, by being patient I was able to create a wonderful dress I'm really proud of. I have already worn it to a ladies night out. They adored it and were gobsmacked to hear I made it. They even asked whether I would take any orders! I don't have any intention to become a professional seamstress as I would have to give up all my other interests, but their feedback really made my day.

Front view cocktail lace dress©Fenfolio2015

Back view cocktail lace dress©Fenfolio2015

Close-up sleeve cocktail lace dress©Fenfolio2015



Close-up waist cocktail lace dress©Fenfolio2015

Close-up scalloped edges cocktail lace dress©Fenfolio2015