A collagraph is a print made with a collage plate, using textured surfaces to produce the image.

I followed the process from Jackson’s Art blog, with help from Harriet Hedden from the Mary Ward experimental print-making class. So a huge thank you to both!

I started off by drawing the image by drawing a grid over my photo and the mount board plate. I’d inverted the image to make me look at if differently, in terms of textures. I coated the ‘plate’ with gloss medium.

Coating the plate with gloss medium allows for scoring the surface and removing surface areas – which will give a contrasting texture to hold the ink.

As well as wallpaper samples (from eBay for £3 – enough to do a dozen plates), I used fine sandpaper and gloss vinyl (used for sign making, and I cut it using my Silhouette vinyl cutter). The wall paper and sandpaper was stuck down with PVA glue.

The glossier the surface, the more ink will rub off when scrimming, and the rougher the surface, the more ink will remain on the plate for printing. Sandpaper will be dark, and gloss vinyl, packing tape, sellotape will be light. The textured wallpaper will have light and dark areas as the ink is held in the crevasses. Even if using packing or sellotape for light areas, a crisp dark line will appear around the edge.

Don’t forget, everything needs to be back to front, especially if you have text. I made the rookie mistake in my first plate – but the inked plate once dried, has an amazing metallic feel to it, so I will be framing that as a collage piece (image at the very top).

Once I had the collage complete, I lacquered the whole plate with polyurethane spray (outside), and let it dry for a week. After that, you can score into the plate for fine line work, much like a drypoint.

Once the plate is complete, I covered it with intaglio water-based ink, and scrimmed (rubbed the ink in and off, with gauze called ‘scrim’) for about an hour, before putting it through the etching press with soaked and blotted paper.

 

Here’s the finished print – this is the first print (a ‘proof’ print) – and the results from further prints should be even more interesting.

One thing I did learn – don’t try and glue food (rice, lentils) or leaves to the plate, as they will rub off when scrimming. It seemed a good idea for the trees, but for the second plate, I used paper, which had a much better result.

The Mary Ward Centre has just announced a new course – 3 days of intensive and advanced Printmaking techniques. I’m currently doing the 3-month term of 1 year introduction to printmaking, and absolutely loving it. The group is just lovely, and you couldn’t wish for a better tutor, Harriet Heddon.

Here’s what their website says:

Advanced Printmaking

3 intensively creative days of printmaking
using traditional or non-traditional printmaking
techniques. You will be able to explore and
experiment with some exciting methods and will be
encouraged to develop new ways of working.

Available Classes:

Who is this course for

3 intensively creative days of printmaking using traditional or non-traditional printmaking techniques. Experienced printmakers will be able to explore and experiment with some exciting methods and will be encouraged to develop new ways of working!

What does this course cover

On each day you will have 3 hours in the mornings of creative stencil / plate making, or colour testing and print planning, followed after lunch by a glorious 3 hour session of pure print! Morning coffee and afternoon tea breaks will be included in the sessions, and you will be able to work at your own pace to develop work or explore as many (or as few) of the techniques shown as you like. You can even invent your own! The course will be taught and facilitated by an experienced printmaking tutor who will be on hand at all times offering guidance, advice and support for you and your printmaking project. On the afternoon of day 2 you will be able to take advantage of a group critique to consider your print work, and this should enable you to develop the work for your project. At the end of 3 days you should expect to leave with a portfolio of completed prints, and some work in progress. The course aims to deepen your existing knowledge of techniques or methods, and have you leave inspired to do more.

Art Bunce invited me to the ‘Works on Paper’ – after I befriended him on Facebook after seeing my picture on his wall!

Wow! What a show!

It’s an art collectors show – the exhibitors are dealers, there to sell their works. This particular show, at the Royal Geographical Society, is mainly 20th Century (and 21st) British art – though there were some really interesting Japanese wood blocks there too.

I’m used to seeing exhibitions – but those put on for the public – I worked for ten years  for the company that sponsored the Royal Academy – I’m used to, and love, exhibitions like Hockney, Van Gogh, Degas, Manet – and the regular museums and art galleries showing British work like Spencer, Turner etc.

I’ve never been to a dealers show.

It was so interesting – incredibly eclectic in terms of approach and subject matter, as well as having a large supply of monotypes, lithographs, etchings, drypoint and all the ‘more unusual’ media that I’m practicing at Mary Ward Centre’s Experimental Printmaking course. The show really got my creative juices flowing.

I really enjoyed seeing the Edward Lear watercolours from Eton College collection. He is one of my favourite artists and characters, I’ve read his biographies and have many of his books. His life really inspires me.

For my birthday two weeks ago, I bought an electronic paper cutter with the money I got from my parents. It’s like a printer, connected to the computer, but it cuts rather than prints. I can’t wait to try it out on something as ambitious as this, from one the exhibitors:

There was an amazing young man, M J Forster who paints breathtaking scenes of Scottish mountains on large format watercolour. You could instantly feel the temperature and atmosphere of his landscapes, which were incredible simplistic and yet startlingly realistic. I asked him how he kept such large sheets of watercolour paper consistently wet “it’s the temperature – when you’re painting a mountain in the cold, the paper doesn’t dry out so quick”.

Freyor Mitton kindly provided Art with the tickets (pictured).

Tickets are charged at £20 for two, but next year, if Art doesn’t invite me, I’ll go through the online catalogue and ask an exhibitor for a ticket – as they seem to have them to hand out to their prospects and clients. I’m definitely going to make this an annual date.

I was at my sister’s last weekend, for mum’s 91st birthday (don’t tell anyone – she pretends, and looks, much younger!). My sister said ‘art collector Art Bunce has hung a painting of yours in the old family house he’s just bought, and put it on Facebook”. I didn’t recognise it. I must have been 15 when I painted it for his aunts. I was no child prodigy when it came to Art – I just enjoyed it, but at first glance I was surprised by it – it wasn’t s awful I thought it would have been. I hadn’t seen the painting since I did it.

I loved his aunts, as everyone did, and I loved this house – though it doesn’t have Ivy growing on it anymore as it was damaging the chalk.

I didn’t judge my art then (I don’t think?) – and I wonder if that’s what kicked in after art college in Plymouth, when I stopped painting – or whether it was just that life took over, or moving to London offered too many distractions.

I started painting again in 2012, just after volunteering for the Olympics. After 4 months rehearsals, and the opening night (what a night!) I booked a trip to Beirut, and spent one of the best weeks of my life soaking up that beautiful country, and taking thousands of photographs (for the picture library I’m with). When I came back I signed up to an outdoor painting class with the Mary Ward Centre, but not enough people registered, and the teacher wasn’t interested in letting me recruit enough people to keep it going. So I assembled a smaller group of friends, and met the amazing Angela, my painting buddy – and we went out painting, in a different spot in London, every Saturday for the next two years.

I still judge myself, and think I’m pretty rubbish compared to the art I like. I used to get embarrassed when we were out painting, in Kew Gardens or Trafalgar Square, when tourists would gather round and say ‘that’s amazing!’. I don’t think it was amazing – but one day, on the tube, I got it: Angela and I were carrying all our gear, and someone in the seat opposite said “you paint?!”. In that moment I realised how odd that is – and how unusual it is to be so odd. As kids at school, we all paint – the whole class. No-one is left out. When we’re adults, how many people do you see painting? Was it educated out of us – or did something happen when our brains developed, or our social behaviour?

Even when Angela and I were in Marrakesh, where every 6′ has a different workshop, when a man crafts leather, steel, wood, silver – or some other amazing handicraft. We sat in a square painting one of the amazing gates all day – ten or twenty people would be gathered around to watch us! The barber even brought us hot Moroccan sweet tea and a rug to sit on. I’ve never been in a town so creative, and yet the sight of two pale tourists painting was a strange site.

I guess I always wanted to be an artist. Seeing Art Bunce, an enthusiastic art collector, hang one of my painting in a house full of masters, gave me the confidence to start this website. So here it is. Afterall, I paint for fun, relaxation and meditation – and the boards and canvasses and building up in the cupboard – many unfinished. So this will, hopefully, be an opportunity to get rid of some. Also, I joined up again this year to the Mary Ward Centre – this time to do experimental printmaking. Something I’ve been wanting to do for years. I’m impressed with all prints, I don’t judge them as harshly as paintings, I think the texture that the print making process produces is just gorgeous. So here they are too.

Photos © Art Bunce