Last week I went to the Mitchell School of Arts summer school in Bathurst. Over two hundred people spent the week there, creating, learning, and talking about creating and learning.
My workshop was with Graham Marchant, a very experienced artist and teacher, who draws, paints (oils and watercolours) and prints. Graham has given me permission to include some images of his work here.
The slideshow above includes one of Graham’s large watercolours. It includes a length of draped fabric – a frequent feature in his work, the folds created using a lengthy process including layers of glazes which he demonstrated during the week. There is also a sliver of window, what Graham described as an exit of the picture, and a favourite compositional device. With my current preoccupation I note the painting includes an eclectic collection of vessels.
I’ve also included two lino cuts. The coloured one used multiple blocks, out of scope for the workshop but it’s interesting to see similar ideas in a different medium. Quite a bit of of class time was spent working with lino cuts.
See Graham’s website for more information and images – http://grahammarchant.com.au/
The class description offered printmaking and further layered processes including collage and painting media, using our own drawings and photographs as source material.I worked with an image from my Broome to Perth trip, the same banded ironstone formation I used in the last assignment (30-Dec-2015 and 31-Dec-2015).
There were eight in the class and we began with a large (around A3) lino cut, but after that Graham supported each of us in developing our own path. My lino cut went through a series of states and refinements, with final prints on 300 gsm (I think) German Etch and a rice paper.
At my request Graham gave an extended introduction to basic watercolour techniques. The little square shown here was one of my samplers, working with colours and lines that could be useful in my picture. Reminder to self – I’ve since realised I should have included the technique of random splattering masking fluid with a wash over, for a nice rocky/crystalline effect.
In the event I didn’t get to use most of the ideas. I used some 300gsm Arches medium texture watercolour paper, around 57 x 51 cm. The underlying thought was to used mixed media to present multiple views at different scales in a single work. After a base layer of watercolour mulberry bark was glued to the page to suggest the rock bands. More colour was added, plus some mottled baking paper from the natural dye day last year (4-Apr-2015). In the final moments some grasses were added in an attempt to pull the page together. There wasn’t time for the detailed painting or perhaps drawing I intended. At the moment I think it was a mistake to put colour on the mulberry bark, as I’ve lost the lovely sheen. I’m out of ideas currently, so this might stay as an unfinished exercise.
Back home today I wanted to try printing the lino block using my own resources.Carbazole violet Akua intaglio ink was rolled on and the print taken on cartridge paper using a baren. Graham did one print like that in class, basically to show us that you can’t get a quality print on even medium weight paper without a press. It’s not necessarily an issue in this current course, as printmaking is only one step in the creating process, but I’m planning to follow up on some possibilities to get occasional access to better equipment. The second print was on rice paper. The colour is still patchy and light, but there is a soft, atmospheric effect on this thin paper. I think this is the most successful print of the block, although that’s not so clear in this photograph.
The lino block is larger than my gelatin plate, so only part of the image is included in the final prints.First I rolled the gelatin with a mix of pyrrole orange and red oxide Akua liquid pigments. The uncleaned lino block was pressed in, then a print taken on cartridge paper.
The colour is not sympathetic to the image and my hand pressing of the lino block was uneven. There is some lovely crisp detail of the cutting, and the incidental marks work well for the subject matter.Again with no cleaning, I rolled a mix of lamp black and red oxide onto the gelatin. Only a few drops are needed, but I accidentally used more. I pressed the lino block into the gelatin using an mdf board to ensure pressure over the full area.
The lino lifted off with a squelch due to the excess of ink. The overall picture is lost in all the incidental marks, but there is some lovely patterning at the detail level.I rolled on a smaller amount of ink in the same colours. The print is still not clear. I will probably use this technique again, but on a slightly smaller scale.
All this detail on the physical products of the week doesn’t do justice to what was a great experience. Graham was a generous, knowledgeable and thoughtful tutor, with lots of little tips and insights as well as the major demonstrations. The class was diverse, and the discussion and sharing in the group was both enjoyable and instructive. It’s going to take a little time to rebuild energy – it was exhausting mentally as much as anything – but I’m hoping to see ongoing improvement in my sketchbook over coming months.
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 5: A final piece
Graham Marchant – Exploring Mixed Media workshop