Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Illustration - commemorating a recurring funny family event

Every year, on the 1st of January, we celebrate my father-in-law's birthday by going on a tramp (hike) together. In the days leading up to the tramp a decision is made, among the more "experienced" trampers of the family, as to where we will go. While the children were smaller we would choose more "tame" locations but as the years have passed and they are all now teens, we have been able to be a bit more adventurous. 

There is now, however, the consideration of aging knee joints and hip replacements so it is still a requirement to not choose anything too onerous, ie. steep! And so... every year we set off, three generation in tow, to enjoy a day together in the great outdoors. Only hitch is, every year the tramp seems to get steeper and steeper to which my father-in-law replies, sucking his teeth and shaking his head "Schhh.... I don't remember it being this steep Toni!" (I'm the one with the dodgy knees by the way.) 

Well, last year's tramp was the pinnacle of choices, for want of a better word. Two minutes into the walk we found ourselves at the top of a flight of stairs leading down, down, down as far as we could see. As we would be returning to the cars via this same route in reverse, the reaction was instant and universal. Needless to say I felt I simply HAD to record this recurring event for others to share. The scene is in fact entirely made up and yet I think (and the family concurs) that it captures the occasion to a tee! Although I was percolating ideas for some time my final inspiration for the composition came from an old favourite - the Berenstain Bears "The Bear's Picnic". 

It was a "sweet" moment presenting my father-in-law with the framed drawing on his birthday this year and watching his reaction as he slowly registered what he was looking at, then the eruption of hysterical laughter. Priceless! The family tells me I should do a whole series. There is certainly enough material there for inspiration, and no, I don't need them to "create" moments - it comes naturally with this family!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Drypoint Prints - Pohutukawa Leaves

These are prints that I created during a workshop with printmaker Alexis Neal. They were my inspiration for the print I created for the International Print Exchange. These leaves are however 235mm tall while the leaf for the IPE is only 10mm tall.

In the workshop we were learning how to combine a variety of techniques including drypoint, chine colle, colour roll-up and collographs. Initially I created another image and experimented with mixing up and layering the techniques until I had a "feel" for what was possible. I have an aversion to using a rectangular plate so I wanted to create something where the shape of the plate was an intrinsic part of the image. Drawing on my love for the pohutukawa trees that line our coast here in Auckland, NZ, (they provide me with constant inspiration in my artwork), I created this image shaping the plexi-plate with scissors and smoothing off the edges with sandpaper to remove any burrs.

The top two images were inked with one colour, a deep red-purple. The image on the left is printed with a chine colle background of bamboo paper which was cut to the shape of the plate. The right-hand image is printed with a colour roll-up of a sepia tone applied once the plate has been inked up in an intaglio manner. I finished off the print by adding some soft hand colouring to the flower and a gentle wash of colour over the stem and leaves.

The bottom two images are inked up "a la poupee" meaning that more than one colour is used in the inking process, applying a richer red ink to the flower. Both images have then had a colour roll-up applied to the plate and the right-hand image has been completed by adding some soft hand colouring to enhance the image.