Yesterday was both physical and smelly. I was intent on finishing the preparation of 18 etching plates . I began by polishing each with Brasso which made the 20th century gallery reek of metal polish. Then I degreased all 18 plates with cream cleaner and the lemon smell was everywhere. Finally I brushed hard ground onto each of the plates, dark and treacley, leaving me, and the visitors, slightly heady, to say the least. The white spirit finished us off nicely.
Today I worked on four monotypes, developed two stencil drawings, and started a digital photo documentation project of museum visitors. The four large monotypes were soft edged, velvety black and white. The first was produced, kneeling down, the plate on a tray in front of me, looking directly at an 18th century jug behind glass downstairs. This was the least successful. I found that the other three, of stacked cups, a banding wheel, and a flute edged plate, were much stronger because they were interpretation of conte crayon drawings. The drawing process was essential as a middle stage to find the essential information needed to convey the essence of the form. The paper was dampened and the monotypes taken through the etching press, and the results dried between boards. A direct and immediate approach. The black and white impact is so striking and the press picks up the delicacy of the marks. I have always admired the monotypes of Degas.
I then played around with the stencils I had made a few weeks ago. These are possible ideas for a series of etchings. I am trying to really work the drawings so that there is no room for error at the etching stage. These I have put up on the studio wall to live with before I make any decisions.
I then moved onto my linocut. Many jug profiles had been drawn on with carbon paper. I realised that if I trimmed the lino down to a square format, three profiles remained which interacted beautifully, with three generations of jugs superimposing each other, and occupyiong the space. I cut the lino down therefore, and used my Dremmel tool to work the lino. I just had time to do a quick proof, too grey, but hey, and was delighted with the impact. A strong white line on a black background. It isn't far off to being printed onto Japanese paper next week. I shall print 20 initially, rest the block, knowing that the edition may reach 100.
Finally, throughout the day I started an ongoing digital photo project called 'Museum Visitor'. Since my studio is close to the exit I have been asking visitors at the end of their visit if they would very much mind if I record them a) looking at the Worcester Porcelain collection, and b) looking directly at me. 99% have kindly obliged. I have noted down their names, occupations and where they are from.It is a great way to start a conversation! Talking to one American lady from the East coast, her sister's ex husband is Professor of Painting at KU University, Lawrence, Kansas, where I currently have an exhibition!
I shall be gathering this information over the ten months. It will be fascinating to see the range of places and occupations of the visitors. Yesterday the visitors came from Vancouver, Monmouth, and Maryland Delaware, and occupations ranged from ceramics restorer, to retired IBM/RAF, to welder! Fascinating.