Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Double chocolate please, hold the optimism

I thought I had it all worked out there, didn't I? Ho ho ho. Luckily I have Mr Willis to help me, because otherwise I'd still be ignorant...

It turns out that in addition to ALL the other mistakes I made last week printing this damned edition, I used too much chalk when dusting the plate just before printing. The chalk has mixed with the ink and set hard on the plate. I thought I'd cleaned the plate off successfully every couple of pulls and didn't worry about the 'blackness' still in the etched lines because in my (apparently limited!) experience the lines often 'go black', but it turns out the lovely aquatint I put into the lines is clogged with a baked-on mixture of ink and chalk.

I'm currently experimenting with various solvents to see which one will break down the mixture so that I can clean the plate off properly and start again! And I've put some tonic water in the freezer to cool down so that when I've finished my nightly taxi service, in a few minutes, I can have a large gin and tonic, because I feel like a twit. I'm saving the chocolate I mentioned until a bit later on... when hopefully I'll have a clean plate.

The nice thing about Willis is that although he always gives me a quizzical look when pointing out my mistakes, he manages not to be a patronising bastard about it, for which I am very grateful. It means I only feel slightly smaller. Anyway, Willis is about to embark on a fun-packed trip to the USA and UK, where he'll combine putting work into an exhibition that has been conceived of by Julian Schnabel with not one, but two, artists' residencies, so good luck to Willis and let's hope that I don't muck anything else up while he's away!

Monday, July 28, 2008


There are times when nothing will do except chocolate and I'm sure there are as many men as women who would agree (although I haven't met any of them yet).

I'm STILL in the middle of printing my edition, which adds up to 8 days of effort so far which can be broken down as follows: 1 day of easing myself into it, 1 day of super success when every print I pulled was good, 1 day of not achieving much because of family responsibilities followed by an evening in which I managed to pull 1 decent print and was about to pull another when I... managed to forget to put the etching paper on top of the plate and printed an excellent image onto newsprint. I went to bed, tired and frustrated. Unluckily for me, when I started again on Thursday I got it all wrong and pulled a series of awful prints on Friday, Saturday and Sunday as well.

It is only today that I've rediscovered my sanity, having worked out that of all the possible variables EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM needed some slight adjustment in order to get things back in order. What a pain it has been to work it all out... but now I have, I'd better pull off one last print before bed!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Personality DNA

I had fun this evening with a post I found on Jan Allsop's blog... I don't usually take much notice of personality tests but found the visual nature of this one very appealing, and slightly surprising since it concludes that I'm "very feminine", which is news to me! That's after doing a test a few years ago that identified that I have a 'masculine' brain with unusual (for a female) abilities in terms of pattern recognition, spacial awareness and map-reading skills which would, apparently, make me ideally suited to being an engineer. There you go!

My personalDNA Report

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Getting ready

I can tell I'm procrastinating when cleaning the crusty saucepan that's been soaking in the sink for a day seems a more attractive proposition than snapping on my gloves, turning on the hot plate and starting printing my edition! But tomorrow I shall have no more excuses as I've torn all the paper, sorted out blotters and boards and tissue and dabbers and those little bits of card I use to put the ink on the plate. I've cleaned my work surfaces, put fresh water in the paper bath, mixed the ink and pulled the blankets into place on the press. All that remains to do is to make the damned prints, and it's the 50-odd hours of work in completing the whole edition that's bugging me, because I'm essentially a lazy creature and think that it sounds too much like hard work!

I had a lovely meet-up with Jan Allsop in a delightful coffee shop called 'Cocoa' on Friday, and how nice it is to re-connect with someone you haven't seen for ages but whom you suspect sees the world in much the same way that you do! We talked about all sorts of things, but in the end the conversational topic I keep grappling with, because it is at the core of my existence as an artist and many other things as well, is how to position my practice centrally when that seems to entail just the sort of selfishness that makes me feel uncomfortable, and which my mother told me wasn't anything to do with being a woman. I was brought up to do everything on the 'needs doing' list first, and if there was any time left once all the chores had been done then I might - if I'd been good - be allowed to do something for myself for a change. And I struggle with myself daily, usually because I don't realise that this is exactly what I'm doing, all too well! And then I find that I'm spending all my spare time moaning about not having enough time to do anything because of all the chores and I slip into being just the sort of boring person I can't stand...

So I'm trying really hard to stop myself, and came to the major decision that I'm going to reduce the amount of ironing and other disagreeable activities that I do, and try hard to do/make/enjoy some more art instead. Hoorah! Now that has been established so easily I'm going to procrastinate my way to bed.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Time flies...

... whether you're having fun or not, I think. I'm startled to see that it's over a month since I posted on this blog although I have managed to keep my 'daily drawings' more-or-less up-to-date. Things have been a bit tricky in the last little while, with Michael being very ill again, but hopefully we're over it now as we have a diagnosis and a treatment plan and Michael is responding well. Phew, because it was touch and go there for a while.

Anyway, from an art perspective a few things have sorted themselves out in my mind, the first of which is the progress of my PhD. You may remember that I am - allegedly - doing one. But if you're wondering what happened to it, I put it formally 'on hold' while moving over here, to give me a chance to settle into being in a different country and completely altering my life. Despite my good intentions and the intentions of my colleagues at UWE, however, things are not really working out. The sheer distance to travel to see anyone is a huge block to face-to-face communication, and electronic communications via email and the post-graduate forum have failed to take off not least because my UWE email ID was rescinded as soon as I put my PhD on hold! The consequence is that I have exchanged very little apart from vague Christmas greetings with my colleagues at UWE in the last year and I have had to reconsider my options. I should add, at this point, that I'm not criticising my supervisory team: it's obviously very hard for them to keep tabs on a candidate so far away, especially when that candidate wanders off for a year and says, 'see you when in 12 months' time'! So what's the answer? Well I think the answer is to move my PhD to a local institution, and Southern Cross University in Lismore is the likeliest candidate. I have explored the possibility with them, since I have links with Tim Mosely and Associate Professor Jan Davis, and the signs are encouraging although I obviously have to got through a formal application process. I am sad to be losing that link with UWE, which is a great place for visual arts, printmaking and artists' books but hopefully the professional connection will survive the cutting of PhD ties!

Meanwhile, if you read this blog and are interested in book arts in all their variety you might be interested in a new forum on the 'Ning' network called "Artist Books 3.0", set up by Robert Heather in Melbourne. Check it out and join us if it's up your street! I know that on-line networks aren't for everyone, but I find them incredibly useful (although I withdrew from Facebook about a week after joining up because it was such a pointless waste of time!!! Obviously I'm not sufficiently cool...), for a sense of community and as a source of information.


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