Entries in printmaking (7)


The Windmills of Montmartre

Hello! Belated November greetings, in part due to my poor old iMac dying a wheezing death and my website become partially inaccessible. I’m now up and running with a new iMac and all the latest whizz-bang software, so I am delighted to bring you this charming illustration of two black cats and a windmill.

I love the wobbly, hand-drawn text, the roughly-hewn windmill and muted colour scheme in this screen print. It’s easy to see the inspiration behind the vintage-style illustrations and fonts that are so in vogue today. The nostalgic charm with which they imbue designs is very appealing and uplifting.

I’ve not been to Paris, so it was interesting to read that once there were thirty windmills standing atop the hill of Montmartre – it must have been such a distinctive sight, though now there is only one functioning windmill left.

I hope you are having a happy mid-November!



Last weekend I visited the Castlemaine Autumn Festival for a daytrip with two of my sisters and my brother-in-law (the chauffeur). We had a lovely time wandering around this quaint country town, listening to some great music, enjoying some delicious food, browsing in vintage stores and quirky boutiques, and gallery-hopping.

Out of all the galleries that were within walking-distance, the exhibition I most enjoyed was Carolyn Graham’s linocuts in Between Daylight and Dark, showing at the Falkner Gallery.

It’s not often I go for landscape art, but these are anything but traditional with strong and stylised shapes in a palette of grey and green. Most of the pieces were landscapes of rolling hills, and stark silhouettes of trees, but there were a few enjoyably quirky creatures too, such as this rabbit (below). It’s refreshing to see linocuts as opposed to etchings (as much as I love these) and prints that take such a painterly approach too, thus achieving a softness that is rarely seen in linocut printing. 


Heart Transfer

Laser print transfer to glassine paper (the background is an old potato print) – both coincidentally use a heart motif.I’ve been working on collages recently utilising found paper, ink drawings and thread. A few years ago I had been working in a similar vein with laser-printed tracing paper incorporated into my collage. I decided to revisit this method, but this time I wanted to use glassine paper (that thin stuff between the pages of old-fashioned photo albums – you remember hard-copy albums, right?).

Glassine is too thin to go through a printer however, so alternative methods were called for. I also wanted something a little less hard-edged than a flat laser print. A transfer was the answer: a direct contact print onto a substrate. You can use many types of substrates, from art paper to fabric, wood, or metal, all with differing results.

Nail polish remover, a cotton swab, a spoon – and the great outdoors.After researching transfer techniques and realising I had none of the proper materials (and being impatient to start), I decided to experiment with other mediums. Transferring requires using a carbon-heavy photocopy (the primitive type found in public libraries rather than the posh laser printers in offices) for best results, but I decided to give the laser print a go anyway. The fresher the print is, the better.

I didn’t have any oil of wintergreen either (or methyl salicylate if you want to be a show-off), so I decided to try acetone – or good old nail polish remover, something every respectable girl artist has in her pencil case. All else you need is a cotton swab, a spoon, and good ventilation so you don’t get sick and die from inhaling all the deadly fumes.

Hey presto!I went out on the balcony armed with some ok quality illustration paper, my Sally Hanson nail polish remover, a Johnson & Johnson cotton tip, an old spoon left over from a photoshoot, and my fresh laser print of an old sketch of heart-bedecked trees. I placed the print upside down onto the paper and applied a little nail polish remover to the back. (The acetone will soak through the paper immediately, and become transparent.) Using the back of the spoon I burnished while the paper was still wet, which meant going bit by bit, as the print won’t transfer after the acetone dries.

It was like magic! The print was smudge-proof too. I immediately attempted a transfer onto the glassine – with poorer results unfortunately. The transfer was patchy, with lines that had bled a little, but perhaps in my excitement I was more careless with my burnishing. A friend has since kindly supplied me with some very pungent-smelling oil of wintergreen, so I’ll be playing with the real thing this weekend.

A transfer onto Canson 250gsm illustration paper was much more successful than those made using the glassine substrate.


Japanese Elegance

Afternoon, one of Hiroshi Yoshida's Dai-oban 1926 Sailing Boats Series prints Today I had cause to search online for Japanese woodcuts, an artform I have always admired. I particularly love the texture this ancient form of printing creates, and it’s something I often try to emulate digitally in my own illustrations. Of course the Japanese aesthetic is also very elegant and spare. The lines are eloquent; the colour palette often limited which adds to the quiet austerity of the images. Here is a little collection of prints I admired.

Click images for links.

Seated Cat by Kiyoshi Saito, 1955Woodcut by Koich, (early twentieth century?)Print from One Hundred Flowers series by Kono Bairei, 1880sRapid sketches made in the Asian Art Museum, by Teesta Rongbuk


Variations of a Dream

I assembled this random poem earlier this week and was very pleased with the combination of word scraps. However, I found it a more difficult proposition when it came to creating the image. There were plenty of magical phrases to inspire – purple words, roses and violets, magic carpets, dream weavers – but it was difficult to encapsulate the dreamy feeling of the poem visually without distracting from the actual word collage.

Fairly early on I decided to use a page from an antique copy of The Arabian Nights that I have. The texture created by the foxed tissue insert was interesting, but I still didn’t quite like it.

Who but Scheherezade was the greatest dream weaver of all?

Then I had a eureka moment. Of course! Who but Scheherezade was the greatest dream weaver of all? The stories she told the Sultan every night caused him to fall in love with her – and, incidentally, saved her head from the chopping block. (Let’s not deconstruct this scenario too much or the illusion of romance will be quite evaporated.)

I removed the veil (so to speak) and revealed the etching in all its glory. It is the only illustration in the book, and it is singularly apt to illustrate my poem. I like the cultural weight this iconic book brings to my poem – they tie so well together, a bit like the vintage Mills & Boon page coupled with my poem on brides in the previous story.

Scroll down to see the other variations.

Version 1: the image was actually advertising bathroom fittings! I had to tear around a bathroom cabinet. Just not romantic enough.Version 2: the first incarnation of the page from The Arabian Nights – I wanted to show some of the image, but it didn't quite fit with the cut paper words – the flow was interruptedVersion 3: Perhaps a vintage postcard of roses and violets combined with my handwriting? Too messy.Version 4: Or a simple oil pastel background with my handwriting etched into it? Too simple and unsatisfying, I felt.