Thursday, 29 December 2011

40C and I'm working on my sketchbook!

It said on the news last night that yesterday, at 39.9C, was the second hottest day of the year.  Well, today feels hotter, apparently because we have cloud cover and this is sealing in the heat, and making it humid into the bargain.  As a redhead with blue eyes, I'm only designed to live in a cold half-light - and I'm finding it hot!

Jim and I virtuously went for a swim this morning - 30 minutes on the bikes to Riverton, 30 minutes swim, then 30 minutes to bike home.  It always makes me feel better, although I scurried into the shade as soon as we arrived back at the flat. 

I've spent a fair amount of time playing with my sketchbook the last couple of days.  I seem to get a lot of my ideas when swimming up and down the 50m pool.  So yesterday, I went to Perth, and bought some Quink ink, and spent the afternoon making up some backgrounds in my sketchbook.  Doing washes of ink and water, tends to make the sketchbook pretty damp, so I can't get on immediately and work into them.  I left the pages overnight to dry (one good thing about the heat here).  I had used various dilutions of ink and bleach, and various brushes.  I have a fan shaped brush which when wet, forms small points, which create rather lovely lines.  At this stage I was planning for the sketchbook to dry completely so I could cut into the pages.  But today I pulled out a couple of pages and stuck them to the edge of other pages, forming a pull-out section.  I really like the effect of the different types of washes, so I worked into them with bleach, and black and white pens. 
Messing about with Banksia Baxterii leaves

Version 1 of the pull out page

Version 2.  It's all a bit too wide to get the detail.

I'm exploring the effect of layering pattern.  It takes some time, especially when I need to wait until each layer has dried before I can work into it again.  Although I dislike black and white as a colour scheme, I've been working with black and white for a couple of reasons. Firstly quink ink is effective, available and cheap.  It handles well with bleach, which gives positive and negative design implications.  Also when working up designs for screen printing, you need to create a black image to use to expose your screen.  I am very pleased with the effects I am getting on the backgrounds with the black ink, so am now wondering if I should go into Jacksons, the art shop in Perth, to get some coloured inks, to expand the scope of what is in my sketchbook.  I did some lovely coloured backgrounds with the inktense pencils, but I can't bleach into them, and this reduces the ability to work freely in positive/negative.

 The idea of bleaching back into ink, has parallels with using discharge solution when hand printing.  You need to be sure the fabric will change colour with the discharge solution, and I wonder about dyeing my own fabric to be able to work up colour versions of my designs.  I like the uneven background where you might choose to discharge back into it, then overprint a positive image so that the image varies in focus and clarity. 

I suspect my hand drawn designs with the fluid coloration of the background, would be easier, and quicker to produce as a digital print.  But I don't want to do this.  I want to develop hand printing skills.  I haven't finished thinking about this yet.  Digital is the way of the future.  Hand printing is best for small print runs, that are or need to be non-standard in some way.  There is something about the mental state that I achieve when I am creating something.  There is a state of peace/ conduciveness / wholeness that I reach when hard work and inspiration, and more hard work and development, and more hard work and creativity come together for a successful outcome.  Digital is not what I want - photoshoping designs pinches a nerve in my neck and is agony.  It's the hand process that gets me to my state of nirvana.

And in Perth, at a humid 40c, Einstein would agree: "Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration".

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