Monthly Archives: December 2013

Project 8 Reduction method linocutting


I started out with a playing card sized reduction linocut as a quick experiment:


In Project 4, I tried a combination monoprint of a piece of rusty metal from a water tank, on top of a map of where it used to be on Yarnbury Moor. I wanted to explore this idea of printing objects on top of maps further.

I started collecting maps and ideas and played around with some small reduction cut lino pieces. Because these were small, it was easy to register them by simply placing the lino on top of the paper to fit the last print.

My printing plan (modified when printing):


First two colours:


Because the ink was still wet, this has created a great mottled texture which I must try again.

Second two colours:


The final prints:


The print on the right is the closest to what I was aiming for, although the grey doesn’t work well as the last colour.

Some different colour experiments:


Maiden Castle print – 1st attempt

I then decided to move on to a new print. Keeping the same idea of related objects on top of maps of their location, I decided to produce a print of Maiden Castle (an iron age enclosure in Swaledale), with cotton grass heads on top. The maps are not shown here as they are copyrighted.

My printing plan:


(again modified during the printing process)

My best print:


This time printing on wet ink didn’t work as well. Maybe this only works with certain colours? It is certainly safer to wait until the print is dry.

I also remembered to reverse the fort sketch, but not the bog cotton heads.

Maiden Castle print – 2nd attempt

I decided to do this print again on a larger piece and with the bog cotton heads reversed.

My printing plan:


(with modifications before and during printing)

My best prints on thicker paper:


The first of these is on Arches Velin paper and I stopped at the dark green stage. The second is on Fabriano Rosapina paper with the brown on top. I like the mottled effect of the paper showing through on both of these prints.

My best print on Hosho Japanese paper:


I think the subtle colours work well on these prints and I have managed to register them quite well, although not perfectly.

Further development

I think this idea would work well with many other subjects.

Photograph and maps for farm machinery on top of a map of where it lies:


Sketch for a print of an iron age spearhead over a map of the cave in which is was found:



With this print I have worked harder to develop the ideas into a finished print. What I haven’t really done is experiment as much with the colours / processes / etc. and taken more risks, as suggested by my tutor. So, whilst I have ended up with a print I am pleased with, it is very “safe”. The next project will hopefully provide me with a good basis for experimentation.

Research point

Look at the work of Clare Curtis or Mark Hearld, both contemporary printmakers, and look closely at how their prints are created. What makes them work? Are there any techniques you could re-use?

Clare Curtis

From looking through her website, it looks like Clare mostly uses different blocks for each colour rather than using the reduction cut method, although her techniques could be equally well applied to this method. She works mainly in a single (black) or double colour and create bold and expressive work. I particularly like the way she composites different images together into a whole, such as in these prints:

Separate areas for different images

or different elements merged into one print

although I prefer the former method.

Her single colour prints are mainly the ones which grab my attention. Although I like images like, the use of lots of colours makes it look too “busy” for my liking.

Other images which give ideas are:

I like the depiction of the sun in this image, and the isolation of it in a white area also works well. I have seen these swirls around a sun used in other work, most notably for me in the paintings of Kate Lycett – see or If the opportunity presents itself in the next projects, I will try doing something like this myself.

Mark Hearld

What surprises me most about Mark Hearld is that he appears to be doing quite well as a printmaker, but has no website (or none that I can find)! How he manages to do that in this day and age is beyond me.

Moving on to his prints and working methods, the best source I could find on these was St Jude’s Prints, an online gallery.

Probably a reduction cut lino print? I like the way the cutting marks echo the design which would be a good thing to try to do.

Looking at this, it appears that he has re-used the border of the “Fest dog” print, another good tip to take from his work.

Again, the cut marks emphasise the design, leaving lines towards the centre of the flowers

I first thought that this must be a reduction cut print with all the detail which is present, but then saw the overlaid colours at the bottom of the print. I guess he has printed the light blue colour first, then the brown/black (always hard to tell on a computer screen) over the top. On close examination these don’t exactly match up which adds to the design and gives it a bit more life.,4,shop,designedfortate,markhearld

In this image he has used multiple blocks for different colours.

I like the transparent red colour which sometimes goes over the other designs and sometimes around other colours. Although this is a hand drawn lithograph, the inspiration looks like it has either come from a lino print or he has worked with lino in the past, as the print looks like he has left some of the cutting marks around the edge of the standing birds, and used these marks to add movement to the birds flying. However they were done, they both give a nice effect on the print.

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Assignment 4 – Reflection

Well I think I’m improving, let’s see if my tutor agrees!

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills

Materials: I didn’t debate much on the use of materials for these assignments, my tonal work is strongest in charcoal and I only had pencil or drawing pens with me when completing the line drawing and I prefer the clean lines of pen and it allows experimentation with the line in pencil in situ, before committing it to pen.

Techniques: I think the drawing pens are more limited in achieving a variation of line than dip pen for instance. I have used disappearing lines and did vary the pen thickness at times, but I don’t think I have varied the lines as much as I could have done. Starting with a light charcoal background on the tone drawing I think has worked well and has allowed me to get a good tonal range across this drawing.

Observational skills: I think I have got the majority of the proportions, foreshortening and perspective correct in these drawings.

Visual awareness: I have included some lines dividing the tonal areas in the line drawing, but perhaps should have experimented with how to depict these a little more before committing to pen. In the tone image I think I have captured the different tones well across the image.

Design and compositional skills: I think the two compositions chosen both worked well. Both are in portrait format, which fits the elements of the image in well and I have worked to the edge of the frame. I could have perhaps gone slightly to the right in the line image to include the edge of the chair. I think it works fine being cut off in the way that it is, but if it was an image to frame, this would be cut even further which then may look a bit odd.

Quality of Outcome

Content: There are a few areas I am not as pleased with, namely the eyebrow and lack of line variation on the line drawing and the facial expression and ear on the tone drawing. I am pleased with the rest of them though.

Application of knowledge: I guess the main areas of knowledge from the course applied here were from the measuring the figure, foreshortening in the tonal drawing, perspective in the line drawing and depiction of line and tone. I think my main area to focus on still is my use of varying lines.

Presentation of work in a coherent manner: This blog is the main record of my work, with my accompanying sketchbook.

Discernment: I think the composition and choice of materials works well, so hopefully this shows in the final drawings.

Conceptualisation of thoughts: The thinking in this image was around the composition and (with the line drawing particularly) in how to simplify the detail. I think I chose strong compositions for both drawings and I think my decisions on what to draw and what to ignore also worked well, with the exception of the depiction of the eyebrow and the decision to include the pocket detail in the line drawing.

Communication of ideas: I think the choices made in composition and the materials used make this image (mostly) work well, it is only the facial expression on the tonal image which communicates a different message than I was intending.

Demonstration of Creativity

Imagination: I guess that seeing the composition of an image, placement of elements, working out what to include/exclude, simplifying elements, etc. is the evidence of imagination.

Experimentation: This was mainly in trying out different compositions for the tonal image and different ways of depicting features with the line drawing.

Invention: I’m still not sure what to put under this heading?

Development of a personal voice: I am pleased that with charcoal I have been able to move away a bit from the detailed studies I thought I was getting drawn into – there is hope for me yet!


Reflection: Overall I think these drawings went well. They could be improved in areas, but I think I have made the right decisions in composition, materials and techniques for what I was planning to achieve.

Research: Most of my research has been done whilst working through this stage of the course.

Critical thinking (learning log): This post and the others through this stage of the course covers this.

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Assignment 4 – Tone

A2 drawing in charcoal.

As instructed, I posed my model in a reclining pose, lying on a sofa, with contrasting toned clothes and strong light one major light source from a lamp.

This drawing was also done whilst on holiday, but there were many more options to position the furniture and model (with the light source a little more fixed as it needed to be on a table). My initial sketches to try to work this out:


I experimented with armchairs or sofa and the position of these in relation to the background, ending up with the final composition of lying on a sofa looking up the model and cropped in closely.

A4Tone photographI used pencil for the sketches, but went for using charcoal in the actual drawing as I have had the most success depicting tone in this medium.

I started out by laying down a light background of charcoal as I find it much easier to work on this as it allows you to rub out lines easily and use a putty rubber to bring out the highlights.

A4Tone drawingI am very pleased with the way this image turned out, the main problem is that my wife looks like she is crying! I got a little detail into the face which looked right (if sad), and decided not to fiddle with it in case I messed it up. I also didn’t want to keep labouring the detail here as to get it right might require small detail in a drawing more about shape and tone. I think I have also got the ear a little too far back on the head as well. Overall I like the image though and think that the light from the lamp has worked really well in bringing out the shape and tone.

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Assignment 4 – Line and shape

A2 drawing in pen.

I posed my model (my wife) on a hard chair (with a cushion for comfort) at a desk reading a book with directional light from a lamp on the desk. Photograph of the image setup:

A4Line photographI did this drawing whilst on holiday and would normally have tried various arrangements to determine the best location for the drawing, however this was clearly the best location and setup to be had, so I went straight into the drawing.

I started out by drawing in the table, lamp, window (and view from it) and curtain before I sat my model down to reduce the amount of time I needed her to pose for. Then I added in the rest of the image with her sat at the table (with the view gone with the daylight). Even doing this, I needed two sessions with my model and the drawing took a lot longer than 2 hours (probably more like 6).

A4Line drawing pencilI explored a number of options of how to depict the drawing in line alone, but made most of these in pencil on the actual drawing before drawing over them in pen and erasing the original pencil lines, so have no record of them. The key area I explored in a number of ways was the hair and how to depict it.

A4linesketch1These rough sketches in my sketchbook showed that drawing in too many lines would make the hair look very dark, messy (I would have been neater and used continuous lines in a final drawing, but it would have still looked a mess I think), and too different from the other lines in the drawing. So I went for a much simpler depiction of the hair.

My final piece:

A4Line drawing penI am pleased with this and it does look like my wife. I did draw in a couple of extra pen lines which I removed by drawing over them with a white gel pen (mainly on the window lines), but the only area which I definitely should have tried first before committing to pen was the eyebrow which I think looks odd drawn as an outline.

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Miscellaneous sketches

Sketches from life drawing classes or practice sketches which didn’t fall under any course headings:

HandP1010055 Quick charcoal sketch P1010060 P1010057P1010089portraits013portraits011

In the second to last sketch I messed up the eye when I tried to add it in without reference to the person I was sketching. The last sketch was also an interesting one. I was actually trying to capture the gaunt look of this woman, but have made her younger and prettier!

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Project – Self portrait

Exercise – Drawing your face

Several five-minute sketches of my face describing different angles of my face and head:


The second sketch looks like a character from “Guess Who”! This exercise has come during Movember, so my attempts to grow a dodgy moustache gave me some added interest to capture! The last of these was the best in describing the angles as I haven’t got distracted into adding detail.

Five more quick sketches concentrating on the overall shape of the head without the neck:


I think I have quite an angular head!

The shape of my neck:


Exercise – A self portrait

First sketch using pencil:


I drew my face straight on here. The chin isn’t right and should be more angular and the nose and lips are too far apart, despite putting them closer together than was recommended in the course notes!

Second sketch using charcoal pencils:


This time I drew my face at the angle I was facing to complete the drawing, which made it easier to jump between looking and drawing. Despite that, I have managed to elongate my head and given myself a bit of an alien appearance!

Exercise – Portrait from memory

I chose to draw my wife’s dad for this exercise. The drawings were carried out in a bar whilst he listened to a show. He had his eyes closed a lot of the time which simplified the drawing of the eyes.


I particularly like the left hand sketch where I only managed to capture the eyes.

Unfortunately the lights were turned down when the show changed which made it very difficult to continue with these sketches. I looked through my photographs assuming I had plenty of him but could only find two shots which were group shots so didn’t have much detail when zoomed in.


The sketch looking down looks a bit like him, but the frontal view looks nothing like him.

I decided to move on to the portrait from memory using these sketches, rather aware than my source material was a little thin!

I decided to use the eye sketch mentioned earlier so going for a three-quarter view. I started out sketching in a head and adding features using the generic proportions as detailed in Betty Edwards book.

Adding in the features I came to a portrait, but not of him!


The glasses are too small, the face too full and the hair too dense. This is a very hard exercise to do without a model to measure off and without detailed enough sketches to work from.

Research point

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-69)

Rembrandt was prolific in his self-portrait drawings and etchings. It seems to be unknown why he did this, whether it was due to wanting to record himself aging, testing out expressions, building public recognition of himself, or due to market demand. However, having done a couple of self-portraits myself, it could just be that the model is always there and willing, so it is easy to get going with them.

Self Portrait, 1630 (etching)

This etching shows Rembrandt with an expression of surprise or shock. It has great use of line and hatching to depict his face in a clean style

Self Portrait, 1630 (oil on copper)

This painting shows a more pensive expression, or perhaps like mine he was concentrating on how to get the drawing right!

Self-portrait as a young man, c.1628 (pen, ink & wash on paper)

This is a more abstract image using bold brush strokes to depict the tone and hair, with sparse use of pen lines in the brighter areas.

Vincent van Gogh (1853-90)

van Gogh painted self-portraits due to a lack of money to pay for models and as practice studies to perfect his style. His intention being “to show that a variety of very different portraits can be made of the same person.”

Self portrait, 1886 (oil on canvas)

This is an early oil painting of himself with muted realistic colours.

Self Portrait with Felt Hat, 1887-88 (oil on canvas)

This is a later, very bold and colourful depiction of himself and I love the use of colours you would not expect to see on his face (blues and greens) but which work so well.

Lucian Freud (1922-2011)

Freud drew and painted a number of self portraits

Self Portrait, 1981 (charcoal on paper)

This image is very bold and not exactly complimentary to himself!

Reflection (Self Portrait), 1985 (oil on canvas)

This is also a very honest depiction of himself and it is very interesting to see how he has included so much detail from using blocks of colour.

Caio Locke (1980-)

Finally a self-portrait from a contemporary artist

Self-Portrait, 2002

Possibly deep in concentration? I don’t think I have seen an artist self portrait of themselves smiling – maybe it is too difficult to keep the smile up for any length of time?


Rembrandt van Rijn: Life and Work:

Bridgeman Education:

Van Gogh Museum:


Check and log

Which drawing materials produced the best results? Why?

  • I think both pencils and charcoal pencils worked well with the portraits, the pencils allowing more subtle tones and the charcoal pencils allowing a greater tonal range (which I used too much in the depiction of my thinning hair!).

Does your self portrait look like you? Show it to a couple of friends or family members and note down their comments.

  • Ish! My family’s comments where that my first self-portrait looked the most like me, but I have a squarer jaw. On my second portrait, my ears need to be bigger, I have less hair and my head is too pointed.

Did you find it easy to convert your sketches into a portrait?

  • Not really, but then I didn’t really have enough sketches to start with. If I work from sketches again, I need to have a lot more of them and I would supplement them with plenty of photographs.

Were your preliminary drawings adequate?

  • No, but due to lack of opportunity to capture them. If I had known how little time I had I might have approached the sketches differently.
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Project – The moving figure

Exercise – Sitting and waiting and Fleeting moments

I’m going to sound like a country bumpkin now, but I have a lack of access to groups of people to sketch as I live and work in a village, work in an office on my own with no communal area, and don’t even go to supermarkets!

I have combined these two exercises as I think they are very similar.

A rare training session involving a train journey afforded me the opportunity of drawing some of the passengers:

Train sketches 2Train sketches 1

The amount of detail I was able to capture depended on how long the person didn’t move for, or how long I could get away staring at them for!

Manning a gallery exhibition for a day gave me another opportunity to try to capture drawings of people:

gallerysketches003gallerysketches002gallerysketches001Gallery sketches 2Gallery sketches 1

You would have thought this would have given me plenty of time to sketch people, but it was amazing how short a period of time some people spent looking at the artwork!

And a sketch in the pub whilst waiting for my friend to arrive:


In all of these sketches I think I am trying to capture too much detail and need to try working more quickly.

Research point

People watching. I tried to approach this by doing some candid photography and then do some sketches based on these.

I tried to do this based on some photographs of my family on holiday:


A pen sketch


Then a few quicker sketches of people throwing (a welly if you are interested – don’t ask!). These are much quicker and when one works using quick lines (like the twisted body on the second page), this can work well.

As well as the difficulties in finding enough people to draw, this section is also a little sparse because this quick drawing didn’t appeal to me. I can’t seem to get the proportions of a figure correct without spending time measuring, so I am rarely pleased with the results.

Check and log

How well did you manage to create the sense of a fleeting moment rather than a pose?

  • Not very well, but best when I resorted to a very thick pencil and working as quickly as I could, otherwise I got into too much detail.

How successful were your attempts to retain an image and draw later?

  • I did this section from photographs instead as I know my visual memory is terrible!

Were you able to keep to a few descriptive lines to suggest the person’s movement or were you tempted to keep introducing more elements into your work?

  • I was always tempted to introduce more detail than I needed to.
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