Monday, 11 April 2016

Last winter trip of the season

The weekend of the 18th of March we had booked ourselves on one of the ski club (ESTC) meets at Laggan, south of Newtonmore, in The Cabin, one of Edinburgh JMCS huts. It had been quite warm recently so most snow had already disappeared. Well, at least on the east side where we live but The Cairngorms had still plenty!

On Saturday early morning we started at Cairngorm upper car park and skinned up Fiacaill a' Choire Chais. The weather forecast gave us negligible wind but very thick, low cloud. We were hoping that if we got high enough we would be above it. And we were right because when we approached the steep bit of the ridge, we could see the sun appearing. A few steps more and we were witness of a beautiful cloud inversion in the valley.

Skinning up Fiacaill a' Choire Chais through clouds ©Fenfolio2016

Skinning up Fiacaill a' Choire Chais through clouds ©Fenfolio2016

Above cloud inversion ©Fenfolio2016

Skinning up Fiacaill a' Choire Chais in spring weather ©Fenfolio2016

Skinning up the steepest bit of Fiacaill a' Choire Chais  ©Fenfolio2016

After we took in the stunning scenery and soaked up some vitamin D, we headed towards Cairn Lochan, back into the thick cloud. It was constantly changing so it didn't last long until the sun was back again. Initially we planned to skin further to Ben Macdui but most of us preferred to ski down the very appealing slopes here. The snow on our first run back to the saddle at Coire Cais was so good that we did this a few times!

Taking in the views towards Ben Macdui ©Fenfolio2016

Making our way to Cairn Lochan ©Fenfolio2016

Making our way to Cairn Lochan ©Fenfolio2016

View from Cairn Lochan ©Fenfolio2016

Then we skied down Coire Raibert and skinned up the top of Cairngorm, skiing downhill on the groomed slopes back to the carpark. Down here there was not much snow left so we really had to circumnavigate carefully around the heather. Luckily the Fiacaill ridge poma was not open and it still had lots of snow so we had the opportunity to ski down here. Again, the snow quality was fantastic so I went first showing the 9 guys how you really ski, haha!! It was the perfect last run of the season.

On Sunday, we made a walk to A'Mharconaich, one of the mountains along the Drumochter Pass. Although I could still feel my muscles from the day before, it was great to be out again and walking through the snow patches.

It has been a fantastic winter season. Now it's time for other sports like cycling and sea kayaking in hopefully some decent summer weather!

Walking up to A'Mharconaich ©Fenfolio2016

Descending from A'Mharconaich ©Fenfolio2016

Me being happy! ©Fenfolio2016

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Artistic Explorations: Papercutting (1)

Recently I added a new art medium to my palette; papercutting. During a 4-week workshop run by artist Anna Shirron, I have been working on an A1 sized cartridge paper, carefully cutting out sections with a scalpel knife to create a design. Once I figured out that certain sections shouldn't be cut away to keep the design strong, I really enjoyed the meditative process. The technique is very effective, even with simple designs and the results are striking.

For my design I chose various flowers such as cow parsley and teasels, inspired by printmaker artist Angie Lewin.

Angie Lewin print

Angie Lewin print

This is my papercutting (A1 size) with a black paper as background.

Floral papercut with black paper as background

Floral papercut close-up ©Fenfolio2016

Floral papercut close-up ©Fenfolio2016

We had so much fun just taking photos of our artwork and using the light source to create various patterns on the wall! I'm already thinking of using this technique to create a new lampshade at home.

Floral papercut silhouette ©Fenfolio2016

After the workshop we put all our work in front of windows as part of the exhibition at Woodend Barn. This was the trickiest bit of all! It really looks fab and we already received a lot of feedback.

Floral papercut displayed in front of window

Exhibition papercut artwork participants ©Fenfolio2016

Exhibition papercut artwork participants ©Fenfolio2016

Exhibition papercut artwork participants ©Fenfolio2016

Papercut artwork by Elaine Reid ©Fenfolio2016

Papercut artwork by Chloe Wilson ©Fenfolio2016

Papercut artwork by Leslie Stewart©Fenfolio2016

Papercut artwork by Leslie Stewart ©Fenfolio2016

Papercut artwork by Claudia Stumpp ©Fenfolio2016

Papercut artwork by Ellie Rattenbury ©Fenfolio2016

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Artistic Explorations: Intaglio Printmaking (5)

The short course exhibition looks wonderful and if you're in the area do have a look. Such a wide variety of works and of a high standard according to some of the visitors who I spoke today during the opening. I have to come back again this week because it was very busy and you chat more with fellow students than actually take time and space to take it all in.

I promised to show some of the prints I have been working on over the last few months during the Printmaking course. Each print is a combination of two layered prints. The first layer is from a copperplate that was etched with the use of hard ground (made from wax) and an etching tool. The second layer is from a copperplate that was etched by imprinting textures like fabrics and wallpaper in soft ground.

Both plates are sized 50 x 20 cm.
The hard ground was first put on a hot copperplate and then smoked. Once cooled off I drew my design by scraping away the hardened wax. The areas exposed were then bitten by the acid, creating an indentation in the plate.

Drawing on hardground plate with initial sketch in pencil above

Drawing on hardground plate ©Fenfolio2016

Detail of drawing on hardground plate with etching tool ©Fenfolio2016

For the other plate I put on a layer of soft ground wax and placed several fabrics like scrim, hessian and lace + scraps of old wallpaper on it. Then I ran it through the press, making an imprint in the wax. After I took off all the pieces of textures I placed the plate in the acid bath, checking every 10 minutes or so to make sure it wouldn't overdo it.
The images below show the result after it has been etched by the acid.

Etched softground copperplate ©Fenfolio2016

Detail of etched softground copperplate ©Fenfolio2016

And then it was time to start printing. First I tested the hard ground plate with sepia ink.

"Glen Dye hardground proof" ©Fenfolio2016

I also made a few proofs for the soft ground plate, inking up a la poupee. It was good to test each plate individually but I had to do both in one print to actually see whether they would complement eachother. Below is my first attempt. I was not happy because the textures were too much dominating, pushing the hard ground layer (sepia colour) to the background!

"Glen Dye Artist Proof" ©Fenfolio2016

My tutor was a great help and adviced me to add more extender to the ink, making it more dilute. I was also not happy with the harsh areas in the mountain (centre and right hand side). I used a scraper/burnishing tool (see first image on top) to level out the etched lines on the plate.

After spending many, many, many hours trying to get the inking right I think I have cracked it. Below are the few prints I'm happy with and the first one is now shown at the exhibition. All have chine collé added in the form of handwritten text dated appr. 1910 taken out of a notebook I received from my father who got it from his mother. I think it was written by a friend of one of our ancestors.

"Glen Dye I" ©Fenfolio2016

"Glen Dye I ", close-up ©Fenfolio2016

"Glen Dye I ", close-up ©Fenfolio2016

"Glen Dye II"  ©Fenfolio2016

"Glen Dye III" ©Fenfolio2016

"Glen Dye IV" ©Fenfolio2016

"Glen Dye V" ©Fenfolio2016

The coming months I will continue working with these plates as I would like to experiment more with other colour schemes and printmaking papers. Hopefully I will then have a few good prints I can show during my upcoming exhibitions later this year at Art Aboyne and North East Open Studios.