Sunday, 19 November 2017

Woodcut workshop with Gary Shinfield

PCANZ (Print Council Aotearoa New Zealand) members have recently been lucky enough to participate in a series of workshops tutored by Australian printmaker Gary Shinfield. Workshops were held in Wellington, Hawkes Bay, Kawhia and Auckland. As Auckland rep for PCANZ I was responsible for organising the Auckland workshop, held at Westlake Girls High School for the weekend of Nov 11, 12, 2017. 

Gary Shinfield is a printmaker from the Blue Mountains region in Australia. He is known for his large multi-layered printed works on paper which are inspired by the landscape and environs. His workshops focused on woodcut techniques but also included some caustic etching of lino. We used brush painting onto fine Asian papers as a starting point to generate ideas through mark-making with a nod to the theme of "mountains and valleys".

To see examples of Gary's work please visit his website:

Border Lines, woodcut and photopolymer plate etching on
8 sheets of handmade Thai paper, 150 x 214 cm, unique state print, 2017.

To begin we were treated to a slide show of his work followed by demonstrations of the processes he uses to prepare drawings, techniques to transfer the drawings to the wood and the process of carving away either the positive or negative areas of the image. We were also introduced to his technique for etching lino using caustic soda.

Once we had enough info to be getting on with we were all completely engrossed in our own work. Our first task was to paint freely and spontaneously onto small sheets of our Asian paper. I found this to be an incredibly relaxing and meditative exercise - note to self - do MORE of this as an exercise for loosening up, generating ideas, getting "unstuck", embracing "play"...

Everyone was heads down and engrossed

Clockwise from bottom right: ink drawings, drawing glued to woodblock
and being carved, tools and sharpening strop, lino prepared with wax
for etching with caustic soda.

Gary Shinfield demonstrates inking up.

Gary Shinfield demonstrates his registration process for
multi-colour, mulit-block images.

Lino blocks being etched with caustic soda solution.

Etched lino block, cleaned and ready to print
by Toni Hartill

By the end of the weekend everyone had generated multiple images, experimenting with overlaying images, repeating images using ghost prints and generally playing with the techniques, exploring the many possibilities. As always in a workshop like this I am interested to see how everyone brings their own ideas and ways of working into the mix and how varied and diverse the work produced is.

We finished the weekend with shared nibbles and drinks and welcomed in family and fellow printmakers to see what we had been working on. 
Gary generously gave another brief talk, showing a small selection of his works. 

Gary Shinfield presents examples of his work.

by Gary Shinfield

by Gary Shinfield

by Gary Shinfield

by Gary Shinfield

by Gary Shinfield

So, what did I learn from the workshop?

I approach workshops as an opportunity to learn and trial new processes. I try to avoid the temptation to try to produce finished works and am more interested in exploring and documenting  the processes with a view to taking what I have learnt and working on it further in my own time and space. I think that if you get too hung up on whether what you are creating is "good" or "bad" you may miss the chance to push your skills in new ways. So, nope, I created no masterpieces but I did discover some really interesting combinations and processes I will definitely be adding to my practice. Especially, as you will have seen in my previous post here, I am very interested in exploring a more painterly and experimental approach to my printmaking.

I thoroughly enjoyed the liberating nature of painting with ink. I added colour using dyes, watercolours, gouache and gesso. Working on multiple sheets of paper helps to not be too precious on any one piece.

Ink drawings by T Hartill

I took one of my ink images and used this as a basis for the image I had in mind. In retrospect, having viewed more of Gary's work and watching how others worked in the workshop I would now take a completely different approach in how I approach the layers and the carving however it was good to follow through with my initial ideas to see how the processes would work in general.

Wood block by T Hartill

Etched lino block by T Hartill

Carved lino block by T Hartill

In this image the paper has been stained with loose washes of colour prior to printing.
I had envisaged all along that the etched lino would print in a lighter colour over the other colours. I particularly liked images of Gary's where he had printed white over other layers.

Carved lino + carved wood by T Hartill

Plus etched lino by T Hartill
Nothing spectacular here but little glimpses of deliciousness - the rich colours coming through from underneath, the fine lines apparent from the etched lino, overlapping patterns visible through the layers of ink. I also like the cut lines of the wood block - the wood is like butter to cut and so works wonderfully for "taking a line for a walk" (Paul Klee).

Again this image started with stained paper. I layered the carved lino then the carved wood. The patterns happening at the bottom were interesting but otherwise, not great colour combinations. So, I layered the carved lino back on top using white. I really liked the lines and the patterns that this achieved and could easily see how working more abstractly would create many opportunities for experimentation.

Carved lino + carved wood over stained paper by T Hartill

From this point I experimented with layering and overlapping pattern.

Stained paper, carved lino block, repeated by T Hartill

Stained paper + cut lino block.

Plus ghost print of cut lino block.

While playing around with inks and dyes I began also playing around with over-painting with gesso and acrylic and then printed in white over the top of everything to see the effect on the underlying layers. This created some really interesting tonal patterns and textures which, I think, show potential.

There is definitely a lot to be said for working spontaneously and responsively when using these techniques. Leaving plenty of opportunity for the "happy accident" to occur makes the possibilities very exciting.

by T Hartill

by T Hartill

by T Hartill

Thanks to Gary Shinfield for a great workshop!

Thanks also to Kathy Boyle, (PCANZ President) for making it happen!

Thanks to everyone who took part - 
it was a really fun weekend spent with wonderfully creative, like-minded people.

Monday, 16 October 2017

First Impressions III: National Printmaking Exhibition

Exhibition opened Wednesday 4th October, 2017
On show until Friday 20th October.

This is the third "First Impressions" exhibition and the second time I have taken part. The previous time I entered was in October 2013, when I was very new to printmaking. This time I had two works selected. 

These works were something of a trial to create in that I had decided that I was going to push my comfort boundaries to create works that are bigger than I have previously worked in printmaking, and involved multiple experimental processes. I didn't have a particular image in mind from the start (a very new way for me to work), just a sense of trying to capture a place, (a real place: Karangahake Mountain), from my mind's eye and the accompanying emotion to communicate the message I was seeking to convey. 

This theme came about as a result of another research-based project I have been involved with this year and which I will write about at a later date although this link will provide some context for my inspiration and why it has moved me to create this work. If you would like to add your voice to this very real and current concern, please visit the link to Protect Karangahake.

Working to this size is now possible because I bought a larger press! This one is actually a "real" etching press which allows me to do things I can't do with my mangle - a) because its bigger! and b) because the rollers can be raised or lowered, allowing for finer control of pressure. (This does not mean I will be parting with my beloved mangle any time soon though... just in case you were wondering.)

I worked on 4 prints simultaneously, building layers and responding to the marks as they were appearing. By working on 4 sheets of paper I was more able to be patient and to not overwork one piece for too long in a session. I was stressing the paper progressively by applying multiple layers of inks which needed time to be absorbed by the paper and so needed to dry between layers. As I discovered in a previous trial print, too much ink and the paper would stick to the printing matrix and begin to delaminate! It was a very fine line! It was constantly possible that I could ruin the image for any of a number of reasons, at any time. I worked hard to try to feel the fear and just go for it! Each print went through the press at least a dozen times. 

I used a combination of collograph plates, caustic etched lino plates, lino cut textures and monotype processes. The result is a more painterly approach to printmaking, a direction I have been endeavouring to explore for a while now and which I will continue to develop. I especially enjoy the effects that can be achieved with many layers of translucent inks creating a variety of sheens across the surfaces. They really need to be viewed up close to be able to see all the textures, colours and layers. It was therefore great that this exhibition stipulated for unframed works although photographing the works was a real challenge. As printmakers know, it can be very frustrating  peering at a print under glass, trying to decipher what the processes may include.

Below are my two entries to the exhibition. 
There was a LOT of dithering, (one of my greatest talents)
trying to decide which of the four prints I should enter.

"Tears of Hinemuri - When is enough enough?"
Monotype, collograph, linocut by Toni Hartill, unique.

"Tears of Hinemuri - When is enough enough?"
Monotype, collograph, linocut by Toni Hartill, unique (detail)

"Tears of Hinemuri - When is enough enough?"
Monotype, collograph, linocut by Toni Hartill, unique (detail)

"Tears of Hinemuri - (When) is it too late?"
Monotype, collograph, linocut by Toni Hartill, unique

"Tears of Hinemuri - (When) is it too late?"
Monotype, collograph, linocut by Toni Hartill, unique

"Tears of Hinemuri - (When) is it too late?"
Monotype, collograph, linocut by Toni Hartill, unique

My statement for both works

Ohinemuri is the river, Karangahake is the mountain. The people of Karangahake are fighting for their mountain’s protection from mining, again. This is conservation land that is still recovering from the goldmining of the last century when the government declared the river a “sludge canal”. The river and the mountain are under renewed threat as New Talisman Gold Mines have consent to sample mine and are doing so right now. We do not need to search far to find many rivers and many mountains that are under similar, or worse, stresses.

According to Maori legends many of our nation’s rivers were formed from the tears of ancestors. These tears are joined by the tears of many as our waterways are continually under stress despite the cry that enough is enough.

Inspired by trying to capture the emotion of the tears, these images are built up from many, many layers of texture and colour, each layer responding to the layer before, each layer a risk-taking moment where full control is not possible due to the nature of the processes. How much ink can the paper absorb? How much stress can the paper endure? How do I know when to stop? How much is too much?

When is enough enough? 

(When) is it too late? 

Following are imagesof the exhibition in the two gallery spaces.
Steve Lovett and Emma McLellan were on the selection panel 
and the winning works were judged by Dr Carole Shepheard. 

There were 70 works entered and 49 works exhibited.

Premier Winner: Jacqueline Aust
Merit Award winners: Suzette van Dorsser and Hamish Oakley-Brown.

The exhibition is hosted by Mairangi Arts Centre and runs until Friday October 20th.

                                                                                        Photo supplied by MAC

Below is a video provided by Mairangi Arts Centre. 
It shows an overview of the exhibition.

To hang these works we were required to attach paper tabs to the backs of the works. 
I explain how I did it HERE.

Hmmm, now where to present the other two prints?