I spent a few days soaking, stretching and preparing some sheets of paper, Fabriano and Somerset, coating them with several layers of rabbit skin glue [smelly] and then applying random washes of thinned acrylic paint in yellow ochre, permanent rose and pthalo blue respectively, making sure they were translucent enough to create randomised colour combinations. I’m working from life drawings to create large-scale fully worked up drawings in charcoal and oilbars which in turn will be the templates for three-colour reduction monotypes. Here’s a picture of me just getting under way first thing today; I’ve covered the paper [it's Somerset 250 gsm] with a lightly applied layer of willow charcoal and I’m about to transfer a recent drawing of the soldier who models regularly for our life drawing group at Swansea Print Workshop.
I spent ages trying to get it ‘right’ – it has to be drawn to fit the perspex matrix that I will use for the monotype, but in order to do that I had to do a certain amount of distorting, which I baulked at at first. By 10.30 I was pacing around the studio like Lady MacBeth declaiming ‘Why am I doing this? Why don’t I just stack shelves in Sainsburys?’ Then I dipped into Nigel Spivey’s most excellent book, How Art Made The World, as I remembered seeing something he wrote about how artists have always distored the human body, like Michaelangelo and Schiele, and that gave me a lot more confidence to loosen up and not worry about keeping to accurate proportions.
It’s quite revolting really to use rabbit skin glue, but I haven’t found an alternative that gives the effect I want. I know the rabbits were killed for food, but it still makes me feel like a bunny boiler.
This evening I went to a meeting at Swansea Print Workshop; we had a marketing consultant in to help us with future planning and marketing. It was very useful and we really need something like that because we’re run almost entirely by volunteers with just an occasional drip of project funding and we need to become better at making money if the Print Workshop is to flourish. So if anyone’s around the Swansea area on 12th and 13th of May there’s a terrific short course on creating artist books with Edinburgh-based Printfest Printmaker Of The Year, Kelly Stewart [click for more details]. You’ll end up with a terrific hard-bound artist book and help to support Swansea Print Workshop too.