Travels with my wife.

Ran across a sketchbook I took with me the last time my wife and I travelled overseas. Over two years ago now. Must be having fun because time has really flown since then.
Thought I’d share some of the drawings. Nice memories in these. All are drawn with felt/fibre tip pens and are on paper 21cms x 15cms in size.

Good art – gold.

“Ideas about ‘good art’ are not formed by themselves. They are the result of a complex system of patronage, ideology, money, and education supported by uni courses and museums all of which guide our sense of what makes a work of art worthy of attention.”  Alain de Botton
Sort of makes judging snowboarding in the Olympics seem simple.They just worry about tricks, execution and variety, and amplitude.
Here’s a print I have done. Feel free to judge it with either criteria.
 Granite Island. Reduction linoprint, 20cms x 13cms.

Monotypes, monoprints and me.

Over the past six months I have in my spare time been working with monotypes. In my ignorance I have always called them monotypes but I have just recently learned of the distinction between monotype and monoprint. Monotyping is a type of printmaking made by drawing or painting on a smooth, non-absorbent surface. The surface, or matrix, was historically a copper etching plate, but in contemporary work it can vary from zinc, glass cardboard, wood or acrylic glass. The image is then transferred onto a sheet of paper by pressing the two together, usually using a printing-press. Monotypes can also be created by inking an entire surface and then, using brushes or rags, removing ink to create a subtractive image, e.g. creating lights from a field of opaque colour. The inks used may be oil based or water based. With oil based inks, the paper may be dry, in which case the image has more contrast, or the paper may be damp, in which case the image has a 10 percent greater range of tones.Monotyping produces a unique print, or monotype; most of the ink is removed during the initial pressing. Although subsequent reprintings are sometimes possible, they differ greatly from the first print and are generally considered inferior. These prints from the original plate are called “ghost prints.” Stencils, watercolor, solvents, brushes, and other tools are often used to embellish a monotype print. Monotypes can be spontaneously executed and with no previous sketch.
Here are a couple of examples I have done using either a glass or cardboard matrix.
I like this technique. There is a chance element which makes the process exciting and there is the experimental side where one image can be changed and manipulated by different inking, painting and drawing methods on the matrix.
Examples of this can be seen by clicking HERE
Historically, the terms monotype and monoprint were often used interchangeably. More recently, however, they have come to refer to two different, though similar, types of printmaking. Monoprints, now refers to the results of plates that have permanent features on them. Monoprints can be thought of as variations on a theme, with the theme resulting from some permanent features being found on the plate—lines, textures—that persist from print to print. Variations are confined to those resulting from how the plate is inked prior to each print. The variations are endless, but certain permanent features on the plate will tend to persist from one print to the next.

Black watercolours

After three days in hospital (all right now) a cracked bone in my arm and the rest of the week 39 degree days I’m back in the studio. Have been doing some more drawing experimenting etc. I enjoy drawing most using pen and ink, brush and ink and felt pens inspired by Van Gogh’s drawings and Chinese and Japanese brush painting. Here are a couple of examples of brush and ink drawings I did a while ago now.
Both are based on landscapes not too far away from where I live. I am particularly happy with these as sometimes my patience is not up to that which this technique needs.
Interestingly I have just finished reading a book about Paul Klee who did watercolours just using black in various shades – tones as I have. He called them his black watercolour paintings. I sort of like that description.

Arles Pilgrimage.

A couple of years ago I was lucky enough, with my wife, to visit  Arles in the south of France. It had been something I had wanted to do since I was a teenager having just read the book Lust For Life the fictional re creation of Van Goghs life.
We only planned a couple of days stay based on advise from some friends that Arles was not all that interesting, a small industrial town. But I wanted to go anyway just to say I had walked the “same” streets as Van Gogh.
The exact opposite of the advice was true. We both found the old town a fabulous place even excluding the Van gogh connection. We could have spent at least a week there exploring the narrow streets, the Roman ruins and the few places haunted by Van Gogh that still exist.
Van Gogh seems to take second place to The Roman ruins in a historical sense but various plaques around the town show places he frequented and spots where he set up his easel and did paintings.
One such spot we stumbled upon. Walking down a street we glimpsed a garden courtyard through some archways. On going in we discovered it had been the hospital Van Gogh had gone to just after severing his ear. A plaque shows the spot he did a painting of the garden from and from the reproduction of the painting it appears the garden has changed very little.
I was inspired to do a sketch myself later back in our hotel.
As you can  see I’m no Van Gogh but this and a couple of other drawings I did around Arles at the time are part of a long time ambition achieved.

Patio Shadows.


Patio Shadows is a linoprint printed some years ago. It is based on the shadows from a frangipani tree we had growing in a small patio next to our house. Both have since disappeared to make way for extensions as our boys grew and needed more room.
The image is 12cms x 7cms in size, printed in an edition of 8.
Similar to most of my work it is small. I’ve always worked small. My drawings are never larger than A4, my etchings usually not more than 12 – 15cms in any one direction, and my lino prints usually 22 – 25cms in any direction. This is deliberate, partly these days due to the size of my studio, etching press and other equipment but also I like to think that by working small I can invite viewers into a more personal, intimate relationship with the work. In a world that grows more chaotic, in a world where we are bombarded with imagery artworks in small scale allows the viewer a place to retreat, where time has stopped. A bit like a quiet patio at the side of your house maybe.
This print is available for sale ($60.00AU) in my online gallery/shop. Click HERE for more details.


This is a short video of the first proof print taken from the third plate in my Pond series of etchings.


Proof prints are taken to check the plate either during or at the end of the etching stage. I enjoy this stage of the process. There is great anticipation to see if all your decisions so far have been good. Many times it is accompanied by a wow moment as sometimes unexpected biting of the plate during the etch can produce better than expected results.
This one thankfully turned out good so no extra work on the plate is needed.  Now I will work on adding some colour using a second plate wihich I will proof leading into printing the final edition.