Ideas? Technical issues?
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By: Clare Mills
Fine Art, specialising in Printmaking
# 13 [29 February 2012]
A quick update:
1. I've spent the last 2 days printing my panels for my degree show piece. It's a lengthy process and takes 2 people to set up and print due to the size of the screens I'm using and that they're being printed onto canvas covered boards meaning the frame is set really high up and you therefore need someone to help hold it down as you pull the printing arm across! It's really crazy to think that just a year ago I was only printing A3 pieces and now I've printed wallpaper, 3m long canvases and now a huge panneled piece! I can definitely see a huge progression in my work and it's really fun with all the new challenges!
2. I have my degree show space, it is between 2 huge windows, in a really high ceiling room - it's fantastic! It is exactly where I had envisioned my work right from the outset. I'm really looking forward to our group meeting for that room next week and finding out what other work is going to be displayed in there.
3. I'm going to be running a screen print basics workshop for a school so I've been trying out new techniques of printing that I haven't tried before and managed to dig out some drawing fluid and screen block so I'm messing about with that at the moment. The school I'm going to doesn't have any chemicals to reclaim screens and quite frankly it would be impractical and a health & safety issue to have such strong chemicals in a school, so I'm hoping that I can come up with some really interesting, creative ways to use drawing fluid, paper stencils and a few other bits and bobs.
4. Lots of photos of my work coming along at the weekend once I've photographed the prints nicely.
# 12 [24 February 2012]
I have been busy preparing 3 of my drawing screens this week; projecting the drawing up onto the wall to draw up the transparent positive for exposing, retouching the lines on the lightbox and finally getting them onto the screens ready for printing!
I have chosen to only do 3 lace screens & 3 drawing screens to start with to test out the colours and make sure that everything is going smoothly before embarking on the full thing.
Today we had a talk from Simona Dell'agli from ArtQuest on self-promotion and artist's statements. I have been to 2 of Simona's talks before and they are always really well informed and packed with useful information for the upcoming artist. I reccommend every art student and new artist to look on ArtQuest and find out all the in's and out's of art law and how to promote yoruself professionally as it has been so useful to me and given me an insight into the business side of being an artist.
One of the things she brought up was being a part of a network, a-n magazine being one of these networks. I was able to tell people about my role as a student ambassador and about these blogs as being a great way to document your practice and promote our degree show, and with a free student subscription which is even better! Not many people on my course had heard of the degrees unedited blogs so it was a good chance to tell others about this, hopefully I'll have a few fellow course mates joining me on here in the next few days.
# 11 [16 February 2012]
Yesterday I spent a few hours mixing up colours and trying to choose between shades of grey for my final piece.
My world is looking fairly monochrome after staring at so much grey but I have finally settled on a colour and got everything ready to start printing now! Just need to finish exposing my 18 screens!!
The printing begins next week and is going to take quite a while because not only will it be difficult to store each of the boards somewhere to dry (they're too big and heavy for the drying racks) but also because for each panel I am using a different screen so I will be spending a lot of time setting up and cleaning down for 1 pull of the print with fingers crossed that it comes out perfectly each time because if it doesn't it'll be a quick wipe down and then having to repaint it with primer and wait for it to dry and be sanded down again before I can reprint it.
I'm going to London next week to see the Lucian Freud exhibition which I am looking forward to. I'm going with a friend who is a portrait painter and makes very traditional work; I'm then taking her to an exhibition in Camden to see some completely different work. We'll be going to The Art of Front exhibition in a pub in Camden, 18 artists have taken a cover of Front magazine (a kind of alternative lads mag) and turned them into 2 colour screen prints which they are selling for the Keep A Breast campaign. Not only is this using the same photos of girls that I have been using but also using screen printing to transform them into a new piece of artwork, it couldn't be more perfect.
Although I take these photos and turn them into rather stylised drawings, placing them into feminine and feminist contexts whereas these are kept for the male audience in an alternative venue, with the same attitude and audience as targetted for the magazine readers - I think it fits really well with the work I've been doing. It will be the first exhibition that I've been able to see so directly related to the work I have been doing throughout my last 2 years at uni and will be great as some primary research. I'm really looking forward to seeing it and have managed to get the press release and some extra info sent to me as well.
# 10 [10 February 2012]
Today I took a trip to Cambridge to see the Curwen Print Studios. We had a talk about the process of stone and zinc plate lithography from Mary Dalton which was really interesting. We also got to have a look through lots of artist's work including Paula Rego, Stanley Jones and Rolf Harris's print from his Rolf on Art tv series.
We're going to have an induction into stone lithography so that we can learn the process after hearing about it and seeing what you can make today at the studio. We're going to create a special collection box of all the prints that we make. As we're only going to do black ink I think I will create a screen printed colour background to print onto with the stone litho. I would also like to try colouring it in by hand maybe with watercolours afterwoards as well just to see the different effects that you can create.
I love learning a new printmaking skill and it was such a good introduction to the process seeing some famous artist's prints and of all different styles coming from an amazingly skilled technician who creates their multiple edition copies.
# 9 [7 February 2012]
This week I have been continuing to prepare my canvas boards for screen printing onto next week. I have painted them "light portrait rose" which I would describe as baby pink. One comment I had today is that they were "fleshy pink" which I think is very relevant considering what will be printed onto them. I hadn't really considered the fact that I was using a paint designed for portraits and painting skin tones to create a base for my outline drawings of girls who are naked or in just underwear. This added an element to the work that I hadn't been able to see for myself and had originally chosen on the fact that it was that cliche pastel pink that every girl is categorised with when they are first born (and forever more if you ask people off the top of their head what colour do they associate with females).
The boards are having their final coat of primer painted onto them this week and I am trying to figure out how to cut my lace to print the net curtain. I have a few initial drawings done for the girls that will be printed behind but cutting the stencils up for that will be even harder as the picture will be split between boards - bringing up the problem of whether I keep the drawing whole and simply cut it into the 60x60 squares or whether I take the window frame idea into this and say well the gaps between the boards represent a window frame so you can't see through it, meaning that there would be pieces of the drawing lost behind the "frame" which is the gaps between the boards. It is something that needs a lot of thought before I am able to start printing.
I still have to create a pallete of colours that I want to use, getting the perfect tones so that every detail is visible yet still subtle will be challenging. Then starting to test print on Monday. I can't wait to get into the screen print workshop again and get some pattern down on these plain pieces of canvas!
# 8 [7 February 2012]
My aim from doing an art degree is to eventually become an art teacher, I have a passion for the subject that I want to share with others, inspiring them and helping nurture the passion and love of art in others. Last week I was at an interview for a teaching course, one of the things that they asked us to do was to talk about how our own practice could influence a lesson. I decided to talk about technology's influence on art.
I hadn't really realised before but my art is incredibly reliant on modern technology and computers. I source my material from the internet before printing them out and creating drawings using these photographs. I will then scan the drawings and edit them in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to make them absolutely perfect - I like to make the lines crisp and smooth, taking away that hand drawn feel. I then have these printed bigger onto acetate and drafting film before putting them onto silk screens for printing. I then photograph the work and edit the images to put onto the internet.
This struck me as being actually incredibly reliant on technology and learning technical skills to be able to make my work in this way. So how has technology influenced art over the last few decades? Even in the last 5 years the programs have come a long way, Photoshop is now a predominant program that is used even in schools. When I was doing digital photography in 6th form my teachers didn't know how to use Photoshop, me & a friend taught ourselves, I can't imagine not treaching children how to use this now, it has beome so important and everybody expects you to know how to use at least the basics.
Artists use a web presence like this blog site as well as Tumblr, Facebook and personal websites to promote their work which involves not only photographing the work but being able to manage online content. Another skill that children are picking up younger and younger and I believe is going to be a key part of their learning in schools the further along they get. I want to look at the way technology is influencing children's perception on art and the work that they are making; this stemming from my own work. Printmaking is such a traditional skill and technique going back to Albrecht Durer and his prints, yet now we are able to add a modern twist.
My own work would not be possible without the aid of technology to create my designs, I wonder how my work would differ if I wasn't able to use Photoshop and whether I have become overly reliant on this as a tool for making my work? I am very interested to know how other students feel their work is influenced by technology, more so with people using traditional techniques such as drawing or painting. I think that people would be surprised at the amount of computer work that is involved in making a lot of art work.
# 7 [27 January 2012]
Installing exhibitions guide:
We were linked to this great guide on how to install exhibitions today, I've found it really useful and very clear (even for the non-DIY crowd out there!)
# 6 [23 January 2012]
The preparation for my degree show piece has begun!
Here's a few snaps from the studio today, sizing up my boards ready to cover with canvas and then just getting a quick look at a hint for the final thing - laying it out and seeing it for the first time has made me realise actually how big it is! (I'd only drawn it out on the wall before!)
I'm taking a trip to London on Wednesday with a friend to go and buy my canvas, it's all very exciting now it's starting to come together. I'm hoping to find some interesting exhibitions to go and see as well. On Thursday I'll be covering the boards and priming them ready to start printing!
# 5 [16 January 2012]
On this day in 1970: John Lennon's Erotic Art is confiscated by Scotland Yard
This very appropriate article is currently in the Time Out blog today, the questions of what makes art erotic and is it acceptable to be shown even in an art gallery was as strong as ever. But have our views changed now? This is one of my main questions of debate with my own work, is it acceptable to use women from pornography if I am showing them through an artistic medium (the women are drawn and then screen printed) and is it ok to show it in an exhibition held in an art gallery (my degree show will be held at the university and open to the public, but should the public be in open to all imagery because of the social construction of a gallery envrionment?).
# 4 [9 January 2012]
How creative people find their inspiration.
I read this article on The Guardian website today and it really stuck with me, I relate to this so strongly in the way this artist works and find myself doing the same so it was reassuring and rather comforting to hear a professional say it (especially the parts about daydreaming and being messy!)
Susan Philipsz, artist
• If you have a good idea, stick to it. Especially if realising the project is a long and demanding process, try to keep true to the spirit of the initial idea.
• Daydream. Give yourself plenty of time to do nothing. Train journeys are good.
• Be open to your surroundings. I try to find inspiration in the character of the place I'm exhibiting in. It helps me if I can respond to something that is already there.
• Always have something to write with. I seldom draw these days, but I need a pen in my hand to think.
• I like reading and watching movies, but mostly I find that it's things I have seen or read a long time ago that come back to me. The things that you found inspiring when you were starting out usually stay with you.
• Keep it simple.
• Be audacious.
• It doesn't always have to make sense.
• I love silence. I can't listen to music while I work and I need to be alone.
• I go through messy phases and tidy phases. Being messy during a tidy phase is never good, and vice versa.
I'm a fine art student specialising in printmaking. The majority of my work is made by screen printing onto a variety of surfaces and materials. My work currently explores the cliche representations of women in art, looking in detail at the use of women's sexuality and the female form.