Gossip!

I have been making some new collagraph blocks/plates this week.  They are only 10 x 4 cm in size, so they will be affordable if I take them along to sell at craft fairs. Even though they are small, I forget how fiddly they are to make and therefore much more time-consuming!  These faces belong to my “gossip” series.  The idea for these faces started out as a rough doodle, while I was feeling a bit uninspired a while ago.  I was wandering about the house, feeling restless, needing something to kick start me.  I drew the silhouette of the 2 wine glasses sitting on my kitchen windowsill, then I absent-mindedly added a nose and some lips – just playing about really, but it was fun – and my first “gossip” print was born.  This week, I am adding 6 more to my initial collection.  I hope to finish the plates by the end of tomorrow and apply the shellac varnish, so hopefully I can see how they print up next week!

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In praise of Mabel!

Lucky me!  It’s pouring down outside and my lovely husband, who is working from home today, took Mabel out for her morning walk.  Usually it’s my job during the week.  We have had Mabel for a year now, and she is our first dog.  Neither I nor my husband grew up with dogs, so this time last year we were really “in at the deep end”.  Mabel has become a part of our lives now, and I can’t imagine life without her.  I find the walking routine helpful during the dark winter months – I know I have to go out, regardless of the weather, and I feel so much better for it.  It gives structure to my day, especially now I am a full-time artist.  I used to find January a tough month to get through, but now I find it inspiring!  I am noticing the bare trees and have been photographing interesting ones to use in my monoprints.  In the past, my “forest” monoprints have featured quite abstract trees – I either tore strips of paper to represent the trunks, or I hand-cut the trees with scissors like Matisse’s cut-outs (I went to his recent cut-out exhibition at the Tate, by the way, and it was amazing!).  I was working on a larger plate.  This year I have just started using a much smaller plate – only 22 x 17 cm – so I can sell affordable prints at craft fairs.  As a result the trees are now cut with a craft knife, and suddenly it has opened up a whole new world.  I can now photograph a particular tree from a favourite walk and trace it onto card/paper and create a stencil.  Each stencilled tree can only be used for one series of monoprints, because it gets all inky and has to be thrown away.  I really enjoy collecting natural materials like leaves, and using them in my monoprints.  However, this is best done in the Autumn months.  At this time of year I can just focus on the structure of bare trees.  “Two walks a day” is a new series of small monoprints which feature Mabel and my husband walking in Pamphill, near Wimborne.  My monoprints are more about the sense of light at different times of the year, and I suppose I just want to create an “atmosphere” rather than rigidly reproduce a scene from a photo.  I like to use colour to embellish the mood.  The  full series is now on my website: http://www.genevievelaversprintmaker.co.uk

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New Year’s Resolutions 2015

I have been VERY quiet on social media recently!  I went away to Wales for a very relaxing Christmas week.  We stayed in a remote cottage which had no mobile phone signal.  I find it comforting to be “out of reach” occasionally – it gives me a chance to recharge my creative batteries.  We did some lovely walks in the Forest of Dean with Mabel the dog!  Now I am fully recharged, and have got off to a productive start in 2015; I am aiming to spend two days on the press per week in January, just producing as many prints as I can.  I hope to sell at some craft fairs in the summer months, so I have reduced the size of my monoprint plates to 22 x 17 cm.  Smaller prints are more affordable at craft fairs, and easier to display. I have decided to pull out of the “interrogating materials” project run by Dorset Visual Arts.  I think it’s a great idea to get together with other artists to collaborate, but faced with a room full of people at the first meeting in November, I realised that I prefer to network on a smaller scale – one artist at a time.  Last week I got together with Donna Enticknap (www.donnaenticknap.com) who does amazing detailed pictures.  She paints with tea – so unusual.  A very talented artist!  We have a few things in common: a love of trees and forests, an interest in the Orient, and we are both experimenting with printing using cut-outs and stencils. We hope to collaborate soon and share techniques.

In the meantime, I have kept to my resolution so far this year.  These photos show the results of this week’s efforts.  I will photograph and upload them to my new 2015 Gallery on my website next week:  http://www.genevievelaversprintmaker.co.uk

Two walks a day! (monoprint)DSC_0983

Almost back to normal!

I said I would get the decorating finished by last Tuesday, but in the end I was putting the final coat of paint on the hall skirting boards at 10.30 pm last night!  What a relief.  Please remind me not to consider any more decorating ever again.  Each time I come up with the idea I seem to forget just how exhausting it is.  The new flooring goes down in 2 weeks time.  I can’t wait.

In the meantime, here are the little collagraph stars I was talking about:

Mini star collagraph blocks.
Mini star collagraph blocks.

The photo quality isn’t great.  I hope to ink these up next Tuesday.  It will be a fiddly job, especially wiping all the edges! I might live to regret this one!  I am waiting to see how they turn out – a little Christmassy experiment.  I don’t usually enjoy working on such a small scale, but it was surprisingly satisfying.  The limited space on the star forced me to keep it simple.  Sometimes the best results occur on the simplest plates!

I drove to Dorchester with my artist friends Babs and Amanda on Wednesday.  We went to the first meeting of the Dorset Visual Arts “Interrogating Materials” project.  As a project member of Dorset Visual Arts I can now attend these meetings spread throughout the year and learn techniques or gain inspiration from being with other like-minded people.  There were a several sculptors, a few potters, textile artists and silversmiths.  Some already seemed very established as artists, having exhibited widely ….

I am quite intrigued to see how these meetings develop – the next one is in January – so far it has just been a chance to find out what will happen in the coming year. The DVA projects have been set up to encourage artists to network, share, pool ideas – how this process actually happens is really up to the people sitting in the room and how they choose to interact with each other.  If the chemistry is right, people will begin to connect with each other and the magic will flow ….  On Wednesday, we all sat and listened to the project manifesto, all very reserved!  In January we should take along a sketchbook with ideas, or something to show.  I can’t say I left the meeting feeling excited or passionate about the project I have joined, but I think the next meeting will be more interesting when people start to come out of their shell.  There was a lot of arty jargon being banded around, all very loose and vague.  What does it all mean?  I am not used to being amongst a large group of artists.  I am wondering if the title “interrogating materials” is a little too vague? The other projects are: “interrogating landscapes” and “interrogating the human figure”.  I think the artists in these projects will have an easier job of defining and deciding how their project develops. Anyway, I am keeping an open mind for now!

Decorating update!

Finally, after a week of sanding and filling the skirting boards in the hall and dining room or “studio”, I am now underway with the painting! My fingertips are raw and my back is achy.  But I am determined to finish by Tuesday .

Here is a BEFORE picture of the dining room.

Take a look at the red wall before it disappears!
Take a look at the red wall before it disappears

Trying to decorate with a dog is worse than decorating with toddlers in the house – I have done both!  Mabel has absolutely NO IDEA  when it IS and when it is NOT appropriate to suggest a ball game!  Several times she dropped her favourite little “indoor ball” suggestive on the floor between my face and the skirting board I was attempting to smooth down!  She is now sporting an attractive left ear with cream paint flecks stuck to her wispy bits.

No Mabel!  Not now!!!! Not a good time!
No Mabel! Not now!!!! Not a good time!

It’s amazing how much light has flooded into the room now the red wall has gone!

Can you see me in the mirror?
Can you see me in the mirror?

I have painted all the skirting boards cream.  It looks really fresh and airy now.  A much better working environment – now I can actually see what I am doing!  I have just got to work my way round the skirting boards in the hall, then I can get on with some printmaking.  I have made some tiny little collagraph stars and I am intrigued to see how they print up!  I will upload some photos in the next few days, and also some photos of recent prints so you can see the types of prints I am doing now.  I am going to my first meeting for the Dorset Visual Arts Project Group on Wednesday with another artist friend.  We have both signed up for “Interrogating Materials” – it will be interesting to see who else has signed up for this project and what comes out of it.  I will let you know after I have been.

Welcome to my blog!

Thanks to my eldest daughter I am officially a blogger; she recently started a great blog about her low FODMAP diet she is following to combat IBS.  As a university student on a tight budget this has been a challenge!

(read about it on: http://www.textbooksandtapioca.wordpress.com)

Anyway, to follow her blog I had to set up my own blog – I have only just recently started using a smart phone and Facebook! I spent most of the summer building my own website (using a template on Moonfruit), so I have really been dragged into the 21st Century at lightning speed!  As I write this first post, my daughter is sitting next to me on the sofa with her laptop.  She is posting about the delicious soup she made for lunch, and the chocolate brownies she baked using sweet potato.  It feels quite convivial, blogging together! Anyway, I need her to sit next to me at the moment because I am a virgin blogger and haven’t a clue what I am doing!

Using the roller for monoprinting.
Using the roller for monoprinting.
My intaglio printing press, ready for action!
My intaglio printing press, ready for action!

Don’t expect too much in the way of printmaking content until I have repainted the wall in the “studio” (dining room!) – currently it’s bright red, but it is too dark and I need a colour that reflects more light.  I have been focusing on doing my printmaking workshops since August, but I have no more bookings for this year (people need to save their money to buy stuff for Christmas, I expect) so I can now start to think about my own printmaking projects:  I have written a short story and want to do some small prints to illustrate it.  I also have a list of animals I want to have a go at:  parrots, owls, crocodiles …….

I recently did a walk on Holt Heath, near my home in Wimborne.  I took a photo of a beautiful white cow grazing on the heather.  I need to check what breed it is. I want to see if I can produce a collagraph of this cow with only 3 materials:  PVA glue, carborundum grit, Polyfilla.

So many ideas!  Not sure what comes first and when, but as soon as the decorating is finished I am going to get started.  2015 will be a year of creativity for me I hope.