Thursday, August 26, 2010

Art School

After leaving my graphic design job, I was lucky enough to get my portfolio accepted into the Visual Arts undergraduate course in Pittville Art School. Pittville is an awesomely cool campus at the University of Gloucestershire in Cheltenham, UK.

It was a childhood dream to go, not only to art school and paint, but to go to this actual college. I have memories of driving past the college as an elementary school student, thinking how lucky the students were to be able to paint ALL day! The miseries of math were far behind them and that alone sounded appealing.

I loved practically every minute of my time at Pittville, it was like everything had finally clicked into place for me. Well almost everything, I was a mess in the print room but somehow managed to scramble at the end of each semester to pull it all together. Ceramics seemed too easy at times, I should have found more ways to challenge myself, but painting and printmaking gave me the stimulation I was looking for and it was good to coast for part of the time. I made it a habit to work on paintings in the morning and ceramics after liquid lunches at the college bar LOL.

I could write pages of my experiences at Pittville and the things I came away with, but it is so big that I would not know where to start and would not know where to end. I will just say that I have never experienced anything that felt so right for me, nor having had a feeling of complete belonging, as when I studied as an undergraduate there. I am just so incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to have studied at Pittville.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Final layer 8 in blue

Quick update with the comparison of the blue and green editions. First green,



Then (with bad lighting)the blue;



Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Final layer!

I marked out the areas that I wished to keep black, took a deep breath and hacked away at the last of the matrix.




I had originally intended to have a thick black layer, that heavily outlined the peacock. After watching the layers build up, I made a late decision to keep the lines relatively thin.

Here is a test run of the black:


And here is the final "Green Peacock" print.



I will post the blue version with this green one for comparison later.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Alternate layer 7

I finished my transparent yellow layer for the green peacock edition, then moved on to make a smaller edition of blue peacocks will there was still enough of the block to print.

For this blue edition, I made a prussian blue and mostly scarlet blend to hopefully add the same level of dimension that I had in the green edition.



It is hard to see here, but the red really pops over the under layer of blue. Using the Prussian blue in the blend helped me keep a good contrast to the background, which was the opposite effect to the green peacock edition.



Wednesday, August 4, 2010

From printer to graphic designer

After completing my 2 years in commercial printing, I moved to Gloucester in the UK to study full-time Graphic Design. I have had a love of letterforms for most of my life, mostly down to a family friend who is a calligrapher and stone cutter and through growing up in the leading area of the Arts & Crafts Movement. Alex O’Sullivan is more than just any calligrapher; he is a 2nd generation calligrapher. This means he stems from the father of modern calligraphy, Edward Johnson. Johnson taught Eric Gill the famous typeface designer and sculptor, who then taught Alex O’Sullivan. Alex lived and worked in his studio near our home.


We spent many of our summer evenings in the Sullivan’s typical English/Irish cottage garden with him and his wife sharing wine with my parents. For me it was a magical place filled with the smells of drying petals and the sounds of the spring running through the flowers and tree lined banks. I loved the curios within the studio at the end of the garden, all sorts of interesting brushes, pens and inks would be on the work tables. The walls were lined with chisels and blades of his stone cutting and an ancient stone wheel was outside partially lost in irises for sharpening the tools. From this early age I imagined my adult life would have such a leafy studio hideaway.

Somewhere around the age of 13 or 14, my mother horrified at the state of my handwriting, sent me to Alex for some calligraphy classes. My handwriting remained bad to terrifying, but I did learn to appreciate the beauty of letters and just as important, letter spacing. I used my new skill to enter poetry and art competitions in one of the local villages and amazingly won prizes. Rather amusing when I still had such a horrific scrawl for my school book work. I wonder if that makes me a 3rd generation calligrapher to Edward Johnson? Hmmm, I never thought about that, I have a pedigree!

Jumping forward 4 years to my Graphic Design course again! In the UK, it is possible to take courses that concentrate on a given subject, without core requirements outside of the subject area. Everyone studying that subject take the same set of classes from 9-4 every day (with a lunch break) for the 2 years. As a group we got to know each other pretty well and lived the ups and downs like an ongoing soap opera.

Subjects covered were elements and fundamentals of design, communications, black & white photography, illustration, print media, relief & screen printmaking, drawing and life drawing, typography and computer graphics. There were probably more subjects, but I forget! The second year was mostly project based where we designed as though for clients. It was a tough course, everything was so tight, even letters as small as 9pt had to be hand rendered for text. Critiques were rough too; the lecturers really pounded everything to make sure we could back up our designs with the appropriate bullshit.

I completed the course, but I can’t say I was an outstanding student. After being a commercial printer, I had thought the course would be a means to make art while being paid a salary. I found the boundaries of design constricting and dulled my spirit. The precision involved was tiring and frustrating and once I started work I realized how important it is to produce someone else’s dream and not my own in that line of work.

Computers gradually became the main system of working and drawing boards became something to display the finish design work rather than a work tool. I burned out totally and hated the fact I had to sit at a computer day after day.

So I quit…

layer 7

I have divided the prints up so that I have two different editions. The first set I printed up with a translucent mix of yellow. Just clear enough to show a small amount of the blue underneath to create a green. I am hoping to get the feel of the irridescent look of the feathers on a real peacock.


Here is the yellow (it looks less green then on the photo).



After I rolled out the ink, I dabbe areas that I wanted to show threw clearer. I paid attention to the neck and eye in particular.


Here are the results. The green layer 7 is shown in the centre, the blue layer 6 is to the right for comparison.