I made these solar plates some time ago, but I didn’t initially have a place to print them. Unfortunately the venue where I used to do my print-making disappeared, and I haven’t found another one. I printed these on a friend’s press, but she doesn’t have the space for viscosity printing as you need a lot of room to lay out all the inks. I am interested in colour in print-making, and if I can’t use a lot of colour, I quickly lose interest. I will try them again with a colour roll.
This plate was made using a sketch I did in Sicily. This cafe always had a tray of oranges outside, so it was only yesterday I had the time to colour the oranges (with watercolour) on the print.
The second print was more an experiment. I did the original sketch (the second one in this post) with a twig. Some other Urban Sketchers use a twig, and mostly they sharpen them to a point. I have been doing this since I was at art school, and mine is not sharpened. It is just the end of the twig, how it comes off the tree.
I photocopied the sketch and altered it to a size that would fit my A5 plate. Then I drew into it to extend it a little. After that I traced it onto drafting film using black acrylic ink and a twig. The twig lays down a lot of ink, and unlike the original surface, the drafting film doesn’t absorb the ink. It just lays on top. When I expose the solar plate to the sun, the inky side of the drafting film is next to the plate. In the time under the hot sun, the ink melted and stuck to the plate. I wasn’t totally surprised. In the processing, I used some muslin to try to correct the areas, so that they would hold the ink.
Sometimes it can take a couple of prints from a fresh solar plate until it gets into all the crevices. This one certainly improved from the first one. But it needs colour! I might have a play with watercolour until I get a chance to print it again. It is the greengrocer’s shop in Castiglion Fiorentino.
I had never liked the previous cover of this book. The grey of the book board showed through the white of the paper, so I gave it a coat of shellac. This book of toned papers has been going for quite a while. I used it recently with my Volterra series, and I decided to replace the covers and give it a new lease of life. I used another piece of itajime paper, but this time I covered the boards with white paper first.
I don’t know who made this itajime paper. I asked the friend who I thought made it, and she said no. I remember a few years ago accompanying her to a place where she taught a workshop, so perhaps it came out of that day. Anyway it suited my mood.
I haven’t sealed it. If it gets dirty, it gets dirty. This sketchbook is nearly half full already.
For the inside of the front cover I used a solar plate etching of a gang gang cockatoo – a proof, with some Gelli printing over the top. Inside the back cover I used a piece of credit card paper.
Now I can get on and fill it up with sketches on toned paper.
Oh, Sunday was the last day for this year of my opportunity for printmaking. I enjoyed it sooooo much. I only go three days a year, and I missed one because of travelling. I needed to make some new plates, but what with the rain…it wasn’t easy.
One drawing had been transferred to drafting film for a week or so, but the other (the Bali one) was only finished on Friday. Saturday was, to put it mildly, changeable. I waited till after ten oçlock for enough strength in the sun to expose the plates, but then the clouds came over. I did the one of the Balinese carving from the gate at Kalibukbuk first. While I was exposing the plate to the sun, raindrops starting falling on the glass, and I would quickly wipe them off with my apron. (I wear an apron so that I can put my timer in the pocket).
After some rain, finally it stopped and I exposed the Barberini door drawing anyway, though there wasn’t much sun. As you see, it is fine. While you are exposing the plate, you just have to make sure you are not holding it anywhere where shadows might fall. Once the plate has been put through various processes inside the house, it is time to post-expose it in the sun. Hmmm, yes, the sun came out but the whole courtyard had trees dripping on it. Water ruins solar plates. so I had to wait till the late afternoon when the sun comes to the front of the house, put the plates outside and sit just inside the front door, guarding them.
Luckily, it was all worth it, both plates were fine. I am really pleased with both of them. Of course I can’t take credit for the beautiful Balinese carving, but my interest was in rendering the way the light fell on it.
Last week I went printmaking again after a very long break. I have missed it. I only had this one totally new solar plate, made from my sketch of the western door at Palazzo Borghese. I hope to do a small series of the big doors of the palazzi of Rome. This one is from a sketch I did while I was in Rome and I plan to make another solar plate from my Palazzo Barberini sketch for when I go printmaking at the end of November. And I have lots of photos of doors from various places in Italy.
You have probably seen a print of this gymea lily before. I sketched it in the Botanic Gardens some time ago. But you will have only seen it in this colour before, and I far prefer this version. It is amazing how different they look in different colours.
The other one is from a sketch of the Trocadero building in Newtown. It was printed quite some time ago, but only in one colour which I watercoloured. This is the first time I have had the opportunity to print it in glorious technicolour.
If you look on the glossary page, you can see a little bit about how I make my sketches into solar plates for printing.
I’ve been slow to post this week but now I have a few things to show you. I’ve been a printmaker for about 10 years now, as well as all the other things that I do. I’ve accumulated a lot of prints over that time. About six months ago I had a big sort-out. I put into a plastic bag all the proofs and other prints that just didn’t quite make it. Prints that I hadn’t liked the colours, or that had got some sort of mark on them. I thought “What CAN I do with these prints?”.
I found a use for them. I Gelli printed layers over the top. I didn’t cut around the print, but just divided the paper into a size that was manageable on the Gelli plate, so in many cases there will be an embossing mark through the finished print. Then I set to making greetings cards from them. I also plan to make matching gift tags. I already had some greetings cards, so I got out the circle cutter and inserted small prints inside the card. It needed more, so I glued another piece of the same print onto the front. A loose insert of plain paper inside and I’m finished. This first one is from a proof of this print of a machine at the Heritage Shipyard.
The red card is done over an animal print lino of a series I did at COFA in a rush and liked none of. Far prefer it this way. The blue one was a proof of a solar print from a tyre and other marine stuff at the Heritage Shipyard. The original photocopy that the plate was made from was not good and it is long thrown away.
I had some larger pieces I liked so I had a hunt on the website of Artwise the Amazing Paper Shop. I found some cards in white and cream that are designed for photographs, and they look great with the prints in them, teamed with really bright envelopes that tone with the prints.
I really like this one made from a proof of my pomegranates print. This one illustrates how the embossing mark created by the edge of the plate is 2/3 way across the print, yet it works fine.
The second one in this format is from a proof also. Again, the photocopy the solar plate was made from was poor. This was in the early days when we were still finding our way around solar plate etching. The layering on top of the original print has come up with some beautiful subtle colours. I’ve made a LOT of these cards & still going, but this is just a small selection for you to look at.
Only a very few posts to go now until the giveaway. Maybe there might be something else to give away as you’ve all been so patient.
This one I drew from my kitchen window on a Sunday morning. I had to get on with it as I was going out. There was only a tiny band of cloud low in the sky, so I enhanced it, then soon noticed it had gone completely. The building in the foreground is my neighbour’s house and the one in the background is Royal Prince Alfred Hospital away in the distance. Don’t be misled by the palm tree -it’s winter and it’s cold.
That afternoon three of us went to a talk and workshop at the National Maritime Museum. They currently have an exhibition about the Fish in Australian Art. The talk and workshop was with Roger Swainston. So interesting. Roger draws coral reefs while under water. He uses pencil on architects drafting film. He sets up a grid of ropes so that he can find his place again. If you take this link and click on the top small image you will see what I mean.
In the workshop we drew fish using Roger’s method. We first pinned out the fish so that the fins were displayed to advantage, then we pinned a cord across fish to mark the centre line. After that it was all measuring with callipers. We were sharing a fish between four or five of us, so we took turns in the measuring. Quite soon we got very confused with where we’d just measured and what it related to with our drawing. It was fun though and Roger is a good teacher. I didn’t finish mine, but if I want to do it at home, I’ve got the skills.
Alissa was with me and she got to take the fish home. You can see her fish drawings here.
Another thing that came out of the day was that we had a talk to Roger about solar plate etchings. When we make solar plates, we put our drawings onto architects drafting film to expose the plate to the sun. We asked Roger if he ever did any printmaking & he said no. We explained how easy it would be to expose his existing drawings, and he said he had hundreds of them. He’d brought some of them along, and there was a large one of a lobster that I was just itching to make a plate of and print with sanguine ink. He is from Western Australia so I do hope he finds a printmaker over there, who knows solar, and hooks up with them.
Last year when Robyn (Have Dogs Will travel) was visiting Sydney from Italy, we met up near the Maritime Museum and talked our heads off. As well as sketching, we have printmaking and artist’s books in common.
Robyn has been here again and last Thursday we had a solar plate printmaking day at Annie’s place, as she has her own press. Solar plates, of course, are supposed to be exposed in the sun. It bucketed down all day Wednesday and was gray, sprinkling and miserable on Thursday early. However as we got to Annie’s place the sun came peeking out. Robyn had a drawing ready on architect’s film, so we got her to expose her plate right away before it rained again. My drawing of the White Bay Power Station was also ready, so I got Robyn to expose that plate for me too as practice. After we do all the bits and pieces to our plates, we have to leave them out in the ‘sun’ for an hour. No sun, but we left them out there anyway. While they were ‘cooking’ Annie exposed a plate too.
While we waited we did some printing of existing plates. I did one of my gymea lily for Robyn to take home. I just inked the flowers in red and the rest in green. Worked well.
While our first plates were cooking we had to rescue them from tiny sprinkles of rain. They marked the plates, but strangely don’t show on the prints. The sun was out (coming & going) as well, so it was impossible to tell if it was raining. After lunch, I took a chair outside & became ‘rain monitor’.
I exposed my Trocadero print in the afternoon and managed to get a print of each new plate. Robyn prepared another drawing, made a plate and printed that. Solar plate etching is coming to Tuscany.