"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Coot Number 2

I have returned to the coot sketches and am planning another print to be a companion to Rook. I am not sure if or when I will be able to find the right sort of wooden typeface so might just have to cut it myself. I have doubts about my ability to do this but it would be good practice.

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Black and white thumbnail.

I made a rough proof and scribbled on it a bit with white chalk to  see what more I need to cut away. I made quite a few colour roughs but in the end decided it will just be black and white this time, like Rook.

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Inked up plate and first proof

After a bit more cutting away, proof number two.

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Lots more experiments to come with this one :)

Friday, 13 June 2014

The Blue Hedgehog

On Saturday we went to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. It is so many years since I was last there and I had forgotten how rich and wide ranging is the scope of the museum.
I found many more wonderful beasts from all over the world, but the best of all was the small blue Egyptian hedgehog.
We do love our hedgehogs but I had no idea that the Egyptians revered them as symbols of regeneration.

In the subdued lighting of the gallery the hedgehog has a certain mystery. The museum’s record, brightly lit and with its measuring scale and all the chips so evident is not quite so magical.


Fitzwilliam Museum photo

Faience hedgehog
Tomb 655 Beni Hasan Egypt
length 6.25 cm
width 3.75 cm
Twelfth Dynasty
Middle Kingdom
Date 1976 B.C. — 1793 B.C.

After a bit of research I found quite a few other  Egyptian Hedgehogs. Most surprising is the real and long eared Middle Eastern hedgehog.

Berkah.13.Kookherd_كوخرد

This little chap is from Iran: photo Berkah.13.Kookherd from Wikipedia

A quick internet search shows that some ancient hedgehog figures do have long ears.This little faience amulet is from the Pelizaeus Museum  Hildesheim.

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from the Global Egyptian Museum

My initial sketch of the short eared Fitzwilliam Hedgehog more as I saw it, in the tomb like low light of the museum display.

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Then some sketches :

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And then a quick reduction print:

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The Blue Hedgehog

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The little blue hedgehog on a windy moonlit evening with swaying palms. Reduction Lino image 6 x4 inches

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Some Snippy Characters

Cutting out shapes for the dragon leaves lots of bits over. So,  in a time honoured bit of creative play and something I have done over the years with students to get some random ideas going, here are some assembled “creatures” from the detritus.

Snippies… They are whatever you would like them to be :)

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 snippy-7 snippy-8 snippy-9 snippy-10

I love them! Taking them the next step, adding texture colour and maybe a bit of animation can really make them live.

Go Snippies…..

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Some Slow Dragon progress:

I’ve been laid up for a few days so progress with anything has been slightly delayed but last week I did get round to thinking about the Dragon Puppet. So far I have just played around with paper and scissors. I am basing the first version of puppet on the old woodcut of the Henham Dragon and it’s going to be just a simple articulated 2D shape.

Dragon: First steps

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Taking shape

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benign…

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heraldic 1…

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heraldic 2…

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fearsome…

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cautious…

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with enticing biscuit….

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Ready….

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steady ….

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leap …

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Beginning a Puppet.Some Initial Thoughts.

The end of June is the deadline for Clive Hicks Jenkins’ and Peter Slight’s Online Puppet Challenge.
I really wanted to contribute to this so have been mulling it over for a while now. How? Why? What? The theme was “Myths and Legends” and I have chosen the legend of the Henham Dragon ( see my original post here)

I don’t have much time but enough to get some ideas down on paper, even if few of them actually get made and  just researching another art form is a delight.

2D or 3D?

Because I am really a 2D artist I am starting with a simple articulated paper puppet. Clive makes beautiful articulated maquettes which he uses for his own work. These  forms can be arranged in different positions and so acquire a curiously appealing life of their own.

They are not quite the same as shadow puppets but have the same feel about them.  Shadow puppets from Turkey, India and China are sometimes painted on treated hide which makes the skins transparent, allowing the colours to glow when lit.   See an article on the Karagoz puppet tradition in Turkey here.

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Image by Tom Brosnahan who wrote the article. His website “Turkey Travel Planner” is one I will be returning to as we plan to get to Turkey next year.

I am not sure yet what exactly I will do but this is one of the forms I will be exploring.

Pinocchio
The whole subject of puppets is fascinating and if I were to consider 3D I could look at the traditional marionette. I have never made one,  but have  using puppets as inspiration in my work a few times. I also made sample drawings for a version of Pinocchio many years ago.  

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Rough for Geppetto’s  workshop. pencil drawing.

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Pinocchio and Jiminy. Watercolour

For my research I had visited The Little Angel Theatre in Islington and taken a few photos. Yesterday on a rainy Bank Holiday Monday I found them again. It was all long before computers and digital photography and most interesting is the photo of the “inspiration” wall, a collection of magazine clippings, cards and real photos.

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Photos from the Little Angel Theatre..more years ago than I care to remember.

It’s all so inspiring…. I am now wondering about a 3D Dragon.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Coot and Willow Print

I’m still working on the lovely cootses and as it’s a while since I did any lino work I made a quick trial reduction print to work out some ideas. It’s an image I want to develop along with some others. I like these neat birds.

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I did a few initial drawings and tonal sketches for what will be a 3 colour reduction.

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Various first stages and the lino block

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Some final stages with various different colourways.

I like the image, but the printing needs work :). Maybe one really good one out of 6.

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Coot and Willow..  image 6 x6 inches

I see the coot pottering about on the shoreline here, in and out of the willows. There is always a fisherman somewhere. The coot is large, the willow tree is small. That’s just how I wanted it.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Some Coot, Coots or maybe Cootses

The Coot, Fulica atra, the dark waterbird.

Coming back from holiday always takes a bit readjustment and I am well behind in my various projects. I didn’t get any sketching done in Amsterdam so output was low but input very high. The Museums, bars, canals markets, food and people were so much fun and so interesting, even in the rain, that we are going back in the autumn. However it was my turn over on Beautiful Beasts last week and after seeing a feisty coot on one of the canals I decided to do some coot sketches.  You can read more about these sketches on Beautiful Beasts: see Canal Coot and A Cute…ah no….a Coot Chick.

Near the Rijksmuseum, sections of the canal have been planted with nesting platforms of water plants, just a few feet from the bank. This small coot was very busy chasing anything and everything, including us, away from her nest which contained at least one not-very-pretty little chick.

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Her ugly baby 

But I am very fond of coot and see them all the time round the reservoir. I had made this sketch of one of our local birds last year.

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It’s also also given  me the opportunity to finish a trial scraperboard of a coot chick which I had started some years ago.

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Scraperboard on the desk..

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Scraperboard 4 x 5 inches

In reality the very small chicks are odd looking, with their red/orange bald head and a halo of yellow feathers. They lose these quite quickly. The characteristic white shield of the adult bird, which gives rise to the old saying “as bald as a coot” takes about a year to develop.

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Coot are comical and very attractive. I am fascinated by their feet. I am planning a print.:)