Posts Tagged ‘ owls ’

It was a good year!

Too much working on art… not enough blogging about art. Oh well, thanks for keeping up with my periodical updates about what I’m up to.

Christmas time means more time spent at home which doesn’t equate to lying around relaxing. No it has meant more time to do more carving and printing of which I’ve been trying new things and resurrecting old favourites.

This is a close up of a piece I finished last week. I’d show you the whole print but I don’t want to do that just yet – some things need to be kept secret, at least for a little while. This print (which I’ve titled ‘Balancing Act’) was a large and challenging print for me at a metre squared. From trying to capture fine detail on Marine plywood to creating a mottled and vivid coloured background – which has turned into a series of monoprint styled inkings - what I planned to do and what I ended up doing has changed constantly. I wanted to add fine text to the print too, 3mm lettering to be exact. I tried my letterpress – didn’t work. I tried writing the text on – didn’t work. I tried alphabet stickers – didn’t work. Nothing gave me the effect I wanted. Then I remembered the ancient technology of Letraset.  No stationary stores had any anymore. The fellow at Officeworks said he’d not ever heard of the stuff. My outdated technology was proving elusive. Finally at a discount art supplies store I found several packets of what I was looking for. 10 hours and several sessions later and the print now had its text. So far it’s an edition of two, we’ll see if that number increases anytime in 2013.

Balancing Act

With the delays in the previous print, I spent a few days getting distracted with this one. When in doubt of what to do next… do another print of my Currawongs! Well, they’re not mine but they do come and sing and sit in the tree over the back deck every day and I’ve grown fond of their visits. Here are some that I have  previously done of them. It is a two block print (20 x 30cm) with the branch hand coloured in gouache. This one is not editioned as I pretty much did it for myself so it’s a one-off.

Currawong 2012

Back in 2011 I did some Mexican themed woodcuts. Recently the original print of the one below left me to go to a new home. Leaving me with the task of re-printing and painting some new prints. I made two and spent a good few hours again battling with the gouache to get the colours I wanted – mint green being a real bugger to nail down. Still I got it and am happy with how they’ve turned out!

El Corazon

And going way, way back. In 2009 I surprised even myself with my attempt at creating a realistic woodcut of two owls. I originally wanted it to be full colour and I even tried once with watercolours (my first attempt at hand-painting a woodcut) but I ruined the paper and it didn’t work out – and so the owls stayed black and white.  A few weeks ago, out of the blue, I decided I wanted to try to have a seconds shot at the owls. Now armed with a much better knowledge of paper, gouache and printing techniques, it was a lot less ominous a task and with a four-hour painting session one morning - I completed my two owls just as I had originally intended. Somehow though I think this print is still not finished… only time will tell on that one though.

Owls

So that’s how I’ve ended my year. Apart from two small group shows it has been me and my carving tools at the kitchen table. I do think that I now almost have enough to have a solo art show in 2013. Putting on art shows is way harder than making art if you ask me so it still could be months away. I’ll start the wheels in motion though for something in at least Brisbane and Melbourne.

Also, if you’re like me and don’t check the blogs as reguarly as you’d like, you will also find photos, updates and snippets of what I’m doing on facebook. https://www.facebook.com/againstthewoodgrain is where I hide so if you like anything here, you can go like it there as well.

Thanks to everyone who has bought, looked at or gave me feedback on my woodcuts over the last year.

Luddite: New Woodcuts by me (till 26th June 2010)

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Well the show has been going for about a week and a half and has a bit over a week till it finishes. For those who aren’t in Brisbane or simply haven’t gone over to the Doggett St website then I thought I’d put up pictures of what’s in the show. It should be said too that if there is anything that catches your eye or might look good on your wall, I have prints for sale of almost all of what’s here and you can contact me for more information.

I know everything is in the eye of the beholder and all that stuff but I figured I would also give some thoughts of what’s here too. All of the prints (except three done in the first half of 2009) were carved and created between July 2009  and June 2010.

Title: The Machine Breaking Riots of 1811-1816
Year: 2009
Size: 30cm x 30cm

These are my hands, at my typewriter which still gets used regularly to send letters to friends. It sure beats email and is the centerpiece of my prints focused on antiquated technology. I am astounded how many people have reacted to this image in such a positive way, it’s great. The title is a signal towards those British individuals that brought the word ‘Luddite’ into the common English vernacular. I also have my friend Heinz to thank for inspiring this image… even if he did so by accident.

Title: Hello, Hello?
Year: 2009
Size: 20.5cm x 38cm

This is the Palm Cockatoo from North Queensland, Australia. It’s the largest of the Parrot species in this country and is distinctive not only in appearance but in its personality. I saw a documentary on it last year and was fascinated by it. Look it up! It has rhythm and a matting call that remarkably sounds like the word “Hello?”

Title: Evensong
Year: 2010
Size: 22cm x 31cm

When I sit at my makeshift school desk come work table and spend hours staring at a block of wood, I look up to adjust my eyes and out the window, this is what I see. The view looks out north-west and for a few weeks a year the leaves all drop off this tree and I can see the currawong birds that stop in to say hello. The currowong’s song in the early morning and twilight is really beautiful.

Title: Salute
Year 2009
Size: 40cm x 32cm

This is my tribute to all things punk rock and metal. And as you can maybe tell by the cuff, anyone can make a statement if they know what they want to say.

Title: Adam
Year: 2009
Size: 28.5cm x 38cm

This is my friend Adam. This is from a photo I took of him with his band Turnpike. He’s a really awesome person and I just wanted to revisit this image. From memory, I did this all in one day.

Title: A Song For You
Year: 2010
Size: 28.5cm x 38cm

Inspired by a bet between two people that one of them could collect one million hand-made pictures of giraffes in one year. This is me experimenting with texture and detail… and the fact that I love carving pictures of animals. When I was done, I scanned the print in and sent it to the fellow collecting the pictures. It’s hidden somewhere amongst all the other giraffes here: http://www.onemilliongiraffes.com/

Title: My Fixed Gear
Year: 2009
Size: 28.5cm x 38cm

This was a woodcut made for one reason that didn’t work and I was left with a fellow on a bike with nowhere to go. So I went back, gave him a new bike and a shock of colour and off he went. I’m still not sure where he’s going but I recently found out that he’s coming back to Brisbane soon. The fellow on the fixed gear has a name too, it’s Jamie Stewart. He has a band called Xiu Xiu

Title: Lost At Sea Pt.1 (From the Series ‘Lost At Sea’)
Year: 2009
Size 18cm in Diameter

This print and this series mean more to me than one brief paragraph can explain. The three images are inspired by a tattoo I have on my right forearm, also in three parts. Many years ago, instead of getting a wedding ring, I got a tattoo. It symbolised her, me and us, it was below the water, on the waterline and in the sky above. It was about finding and it was about searching. 10 years after I get the tattoo, I made these prints. The same ideas only updated.

The compass in the center of the image above is also tattooed on my left forearm. It’s part one… where are you going? Do you know?

Title: Lost At Sea Pt.2 (From The Series: Lost At Sea)
Year: 2009
Size 18cm in Diameter

I love tall ships, I have since I was a child. They make me think of being free, away from cities, they make me think of my godfather and that makes me happy. This particular ship was the third woodcut I ever did (on a skateboard no less) but I never took any prints from it so I came back to it and this time I got an edition from it.

Title: Lost At Sea Pt.3 (From The Series Lost At Sea)
Year: 2009
Size 18cm in Diameter

…again, the wandering spirit. The wise old turtle who may just outlive us all. I love turtles as much as old ships and even stormy seas will pass if we wait.

Title: D.Black
Year 2009
Size: 18cm x 14cm

This is another friend of mine who also happens to be a great musician. This is me starting to experiment last year with colour and multiple block registration. Of course I didn’t want to make my task too hard so I went with these two colours and am happy to say that it worked nicely.

Title: Bird On A Wire
Year 2009
Size: 20cm x 55.5cm

People don’t look up enough! They should look up or around more often.

A few months back, I agreed to collaborate with a friend of mine who is a terrific illustrator in his own right. We tossed about different ideas and tried to work out what would inspire us both equally. One idea centered around crows and in my collecting and researching of ideas for the image I stumbled upon this gang of nervous birds.

Well the co-lab is still in full swing but it now has nothing to do with crows or birds of any kind. However I thought this image was strong on it’s own and so ran with it. The background is also a monoprint done on glass. Again, more experimentation in the continuing search to work out what on earth I’m doing within this medium.

Title: ’32 Coupe
Year 2009
Size: 52cm x 22cm

Again, it’s me and antiquated technologies. The theme of the show wasn’t prevalent until I had a few works laying around and I started to see a pattern emerge. This woodcut was as hard as it looks, I didn’t have a fancy tool or some trick method – I hand-carved out every single line with a v-shaped gouge and think this could be the closest I’ve come to a perfect woodcut so far. I really do love this one a lot. It might be obvious to some that part of this piece was inspired by the wood engravings of Barry Moser. He’s a truly gifted artist in this medium and he gives me something to aim for with my own expression of illustration through relief printing.

Title: My Favourite Mix
Year: 2009
Size: 20cm x 14cm

I did a series of seven prints of this cassette, each one a different colour (blue, green, orange, purple, red, black & yellow). It was a little offshoot edition to the main print run which was of 60, hand printed onto small envelopes which held an actual cassette. These all went to my friend Heinz who did the limited cassette release of his music and from what I remember, he sold out of the cassettes in about a week. This was a fast and fun project and I enjoyed being a part of it very much. It doesn’t hurt that the music in the tape was also really really good.

Title: Anchor
Year: 2009
Size: 26.5cm x 40cm

This is one of the few woodcuts that I actually had in my last show in July 2009. I did have an initial small run of 3 prints which were black on Japanese rice paper. Since then I returned a few months later when I had come across much better paper and had spent more time practicing my printing. I made this one off print with a blue/black mix of ink and wanted to show it again because I love the image. Now what need to practice is how to label the prints that I make… that seems to be more confusing than making woodcuts.

Title: Bruce ‘Utah’ Phillips
Year: 2009
Size: 26.5cm x 40cm

This like the Anchor was from last year and the previous print I had displayed was the one off Artist Print. Again, around the same time as the Anchor. I came back to Utah because I wanted to add more to him. I carved out a second woodblock so as to give him a background and he looks much better for it. This print hasn’t sold in the current show so far and that’s fine with me. I think I’d like to send it to Colorado where there is a small museum dedicated to Utah and all the amazing things he did with his life.

Title: I Will Protect You
Year: 2009
Size: 40cm x 29cm (just the owls. paper is 70cm x 35cm)

I wanted to test my skills and these Owls were a big leap for me. I still can’t quite believe how well they worked out. The print above is an open edition where each print is done on a different type of paper and no two papers are ever repeated. It was the start of an idea seeing as I knew that this image wasn’t finished…

Title: Owls
Year: 2009
Size: 80cm x 50 cm

…and so here is the second installment of my owls, with passing clouds and a background landscape from multiple blocks. Somehow in my mind I think there’s a third or fourth installment to this image. I’m going to keep experimenting until I decide on the perfect surrounds for these two, kind of like the changing seasons perhaps?

Title: WWI – Curb Your Enthusiasm (From The Series: Feel Free To Laugh)
Year: 2010
Size: 24.5cm x 33cm

Title: WWII – The Biggest Loser (From The Series: Feel Free To Laugh)
Year: 2010
Size: 24.5cm x 33cm

Title: Vietnam – Big Brother (Eviction Special) (From The Series: Feel Free To Laugh)
Year: 2010
Size: 24.5cm x 33cm

There is a hell of a lot I could say about this print and the other two above it in this series. I won’t bore you with long rants or diatribes though I do feel like saying one or two things that motivated me to make them. As you’ve seen above, I’ve done lots of birds, sunsets, people etc… all lovely or pretty pictures in some way. I decided to challenge myself at the start of the year and purposefully spend days and weeks carving out blocks of images I found distasteful, off-putting and essentially ugly. I’m not a fan of war, I don’t think most people are. But lots of people have come to a very violent end fighting for a lot of things we take for granted today. I wanted to (in my small way) make people look at these images, maybe read the titles, maybe laugh at the titles… and then ask themselves what was so funny? Some things are worth fighting for and some of the things we occupy our modern-day leisure time with are not the worthy spoils of others sacrifices…

Well there you have it, The end-point of my two years making woodcuts so far. I also have, hanging at the gallery, some of the woodblocks that these prints came from and one or two more personal prints that are to be seen more so than disseminated on the internet.

I’m part of a different art show next week, I Used To Skate Once 6. It’s a huge group show with 60 different artists. I’ll post up more details about that in the coming days. I’m also planning to have a co-lab show with a friend in November. More large mountains to climb and challenges to get my head around between then and now though. I’m off to try my hand printing onto fabric for the first time now, wish me luck…

Alex.

More Owls… and some new stuff as well.

I’ve just gone and sent the combined Owls print off to be framed.  Considering the print itself is 70cm wide, It’s going to be a big once it’s boxed and framed. I’m looking forward to putting this one to bed seeing as I have four new blocks all drawn up and ready to go…

Owls (Combined)

There’s going to be an edition of 10 for the combined Owls print. However, for prints that are just of the Owls themselves, I don’t think I’m going to edition it. What I have decided though is that each print I do of this one is going to be on different type of  paper – that way all of the prints will have a very different feel about them. This is some of the different ones:

Owls (V3)

Owls (V4)

Owls (V5)

Also in other small (but exciting news for me). A good friend of E’s, Zena, returned recently from China with a present for E. It was a carvable soapstone that you could make a stamp/seal with. I have a sneaking suspicion that both E and Zena knew where it was going to end up because once I laid eyes on it, I knew exactly what it could be used for…

And after some fine work with a scalpel, here’s what the stamp looked like:

Soap Stone Stamp

Signiture Stamp

…and the first print I applied it to was one I finished just a few days ago, it’s my tribute to the lovers of all things old but not redundant. The Luddite in all of us (well, in me at least).

This block/print was inspired by a friend of mine who so eloquently pointed out to me my inherent suspicion of all things new and technological. It wasn’t obvious to me at the time but he was 100% right.

The Machine Breaking Riots Of 1847

Owls (revisited)

A little while back I did up a woodblock of two owls for a special friend. The response I got from both them and from others that saw it was overwhelming. I had a print in my recent show and quite a few people wanted a copy even though there was only one available (sorry).

18

So I decided to revisit the owls about a month ago, but of course, I didn’t want to just repeat myself. I decided to do something a little more detailed and not quite so cute. I found some old National Geographic’s and of course (as is the way with me) let things get out of hand. The result is below and it’s a lot more detailed than I originally planned but it seems to have worked out alright.

The first one is hand painted with watercolours.

Owls Painted Sml

The second is made up of multiple blocks to show a background and mid-ground with the owls in the foreground.

Owls Combined Sml
It’s been really challenging and should I get a good print on the Dutch Etching paper I bought today, I’ll do a full print with colour. Don’t expect an edition though.

New works on show at Bleeding Heart Gallery

Recently I was part of a group exhibition at Bleeding Heart Gallery on Ann St in the city. That exhibition was a lot of fun and subsequently, the awesome folks who run the gallery and cafe have asked me to exhibit some of my prints there for the next few months.

Some things on show you might have seen before, some prints you definitly haven’t seen and there are even some new owls on show that I have been working on following the positive response to my previous owl prints.  The one comment a lot of folks have said to me recently is how unfortunate it was that my solo show went for such a short period of time, hopefully this will rectify that.

Here’s a preview of some of the works…

BH1

BH2

BH3

BH4

Bleeding Heart Cafe is in the old School Of Arts building in Ann St (between King George Square & Central Station). It’s got yummy coffee and food and is a great respite from both the bustle of the city and the encroaching summer heat!

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