You’ve really got to prepare if you’re going to be spontaneous
I’m preparing to print but there is a lot to get ready before I can. I’ve cut card for collagraph bases; made a registration sheet to go on the print bed; trimmed my press blankets to size; covered the bed in plastic so it is wipeable; made a board for weighing down damp paper; cut down my A2 paper to A4…
Before I can print I need to: buy some meths to dilute the shellac in; finish making and seal my first batch of collagraph plates; mix up some inks; soak and blot some paper…
Meanwhile, I’m gathering together recent stitched paper samples and experimenting a little with stitches on the prints I made a few months ago.
The weather is all over the place: yesterday it rained persistently for a few hours, then felt very spring like and I dried washing outside and took photos while there was sunshine streaming into the house, then I walked in the woods in wind and hail. In my studio I now have daylight bulbs so at least the light is a bit more consistent in there.
do something pretty while you can
Belle and Sebastian
I am always open to opportunities for creating something and this is particularly important when I’m in the middle of a period that doesn’t feel very productive creatively. I love long journeys, especially on a train (as long as it all goes to plan, but even if it doesn’t there is something of an adventure about it when you have to be flexible suddenly as things change). I love that flashing past of landscape and tiny snapshots of detail. Sometimes I’ll just let it flow past me and other times I want to record it.
I traveled to London again this weekend to be in the gallery for a day and then take down the Mall exhibition, which, by the way, was a real pleasure to have been involved in. Spending time alone is refreshing and being away from home somehow forces you to spend time thinking.
I have a little sketch book in my bag at all times. This one is a new one and has just words so far (wiggly ones as most were written on a moving train). Here are some of the words from my journey:
It has been the most sparklingly beautiful of winter days
clear blue sky all day
bright but pale sunshine and a hard frost, which has remained in place all day wherever the sun hasn’t reached.
The almost-setting sun races along on my right
sometimes almost blinding
sometimes obscured from view
by a wall or partially by the filigree network of silhouetted trees.
The shapes of the trees cannot hide in this clear light
each one standing tall and naked and still
shadows cast by the low sun turn an otherwise featureless field into a striking series of ridges
A frozen pond
an abandoned playground
an old windmill tower
all grey silhouettes
cut out shapes against an only-just blue sky
A solitary small cloud
shaped like a child’s drawing of a horse
now a camel
then some kind of sea creature
is crossed by a small flock of birds.
Where do they go with such purpose on as cold a day as this?
The fiery orange ball slips into the horizon haze
swiftly changing the mood
bleached stubble in disarray over dark earth
Suddenly the clarity is gone
a mist adds to the gathering darkness.
On my return journey it was dark all the way so I couldn’t see out of the window. Instead I read the whole of a book that I was given for my last birthday but hadn’t opened yet (see the list of books by my bed): A Bigger Message – Conversations with David Hockney, by Martin Gayford. I love the fact that you can read a whole book on one journey. I would never sit and read a book like that at home, always too much else to do.
David Hockney is someone for whom my admiration and respect grow all the time. Before moving to Saltaire I knew very little about him and, for me, his work has taken time to ‘get’. Having a major collection of his work a few minutes walk away from my home means that I’ve been able to get to know it slowly. He is such an exciting artist who is constantly pushing things. Inspiring stuff!