Saturday, 11 April 2015

Artistic Explorations: Intaglio Printmaking (4)

My visit to Isle of Harris (Na Hearadh in Gaelic) in November continues to give me new ideas for art projects. This time I chose one of my photos of a ruined chapel as my starting point. It was taken along the Scholar's Path. This path was once the main access (on foot) to the crofting townships along this stretch of coast, before the "Golden Road" was built closer to the shore.  It was used by school children to walk to the school at Grosebay on the other side of the peninsula, and then to Kyles Stockinish when a school was built there.


Ruined chapel along Scholar's Path ©Fenfolio2014

The vibrant colours in the picture above are the result of one of the creative features on my compact camera. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't as in this case. It just didn't represent the right atmosphere so I edited the photo into a more monochromatic one by using a few apps on my Ipad. In this way the rich, earthy textures of Harris' dramatic landscape are the main focus.


Edited photo of ruined chapel ©Fenfolio2014

Back in my studio I created a collagraph plate on a 20 x 20 cm grey board and used various materials such as netting, wood shavings, black lava gel, natural sand, Asian paper, scraps of woodchip wallpaper, scraps of fabric and dried grasses. I also scraped into the grey board with a etching needle.

Once I sealed the plate with Shellac and taped up the back with parcel tape, I inked it up with Caligo waterbased ink (sepia). Before I ran it through the press I placed pieces of my own handmade paper from an old blouse (see: Artistic Explorations: Handmade Paper (2)) with some spray mount facing up onto my inked plate. This is called Chine Collé. Finally I placed a sheet of Somerset Soft White printmaking paper on top of that and this is the final print.


Collagraph print with chine collé "Na Hearadh I " ©Fenfolio2015

For the second print I used brown/black ink, orange and green kozo-like paper and Somerset White Velvet printmaking paper. A completely different result! Now I'm vary curious to see how it will look when I use coloured inks combined with chine collé so that's what I'm up to next.

Collagraph print with chine collé "Na Hearadh II " ©Fenfolio2015

Monday, 23 March 2015

Artistic Explorations: Intaglio Printmaking (3)

Last week Gray's School of Art organised an exhibition for all students who had participated in any of their short courses. As I had mentioned in my article Intaglio Printmaking (2) I got really excited about collagraphy so the last few weeks of the course I worked very hard to get my final piece ready to be shown.

The concept was the easiest of the whole process. Little did I know then about the amount of work it would involve to actually get a good print result! Via Pinterest, where I pin down all the things I'm inspired by, I saw two prints created by artist Kerry Buck which were made up by a collection of collagraph plates and photopolymer plates.

Fields II by Kerry Buck

Hedgerow by Kerry Buck

My concept was based on the rich textures, shapes and movement I saw in the landscape of the Isle of Harris while on holiday. I made several quick compositional sketches and calculations of how big the plates should be to end up with a 20 x 20 cm print. Once I was happy I cut out the required shapes from grey board. Each collagraph plate was then collaged with different material such as dried lichen, dried plants, gel, powder filler with embossed materials, fabric, thread, textured paper and sand. One plate was made of perspex which was left blank to create texture during the scrimming process to represent the cloud formation and change of light. All collagraph plates were then sealed with multiple thin layers of Shellac knotting, made from flakes and meths.

The plates were inked with Caligo waterbased ink, then scrimmed and finally assembled onto a registration plate. Strips of mountboard were then added with tweezers to keep all the plates in place and to keep them separate from eachother. This was the trickiest bit as the strips were less than 5 mm wide and they had to fit in perfectly!

My patience was being tested during the whole process but in the end it paid off as I managed to get two prints I'm quite happy with. The first one was displayed at the exhibition last week and I received wonderful feedback from various people! The second one will be submitted for the exhibition Mark Making in Aberdeen in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support and hopefully it will be selected.

Organic Composition I in Sepia, edition 1/10 ©Fenfolio2015

Organic Composition I in Brown/Black, edition 4/10 ©Fenfolio2015

Monday, 16 March 2015

Inspirational Harris

Slightly overdue I'm writing this article about our week's holiday on Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides, in November 2014. I had posted photos on my Facebook page but I realise not everyone uses this social network. With my photos below I would like to show everyone how magical Harris is, especially in winter time when the light is at its best and you've got the island for yourself!

We set off by ferry from Ullapool to arrive in Stornoway after about 2.5 hours. Luckily the weather was fine and the sea calm.

Ullapool  ©Fenfolio2015

The Scottish Highlands at dusk ©Fenfolio2015

Our accomodation for the week was a beautiful house at Seilebost on the West coast of Harris, overlooking Luskentyre beach. Visit the website http://www.fir-chlis.co.uk/ to see photos from the house and the surroundings.

View from our accomodation towards Luskentyre beach and Taransay island
©Fenfolio2015


On our first day we were treated by gorgeous, spring-like weather, and we decided to walk the hill Ceapabhal and Toe head at the far West of the island which took us about 6 hours.


Ceapabhal and Toe Head walk ©Fenfolio2015

We could hardly believe it was November! ©Fenfolio2015

Harris coast with Chapel ruin ©Fenfolio2015


Toe Head ©Fenfolio2015

Stunning views to the other islands of the Hebrides from Ceapabhal hill
©Fenfolio2015

View to South Harris ©Fenfolio2015

The next day the weather was still fantastic for another walk. This time we chose the Coffin route; the route used by pallbearers to carry the dead from the Bays district over to the west side of Harris for burial on the machair (= fertile low-lying grassy plain).

Walking the Coffin Route ©Fenfolio2015

Signpost along the Coffin Route ©Fenfolio2015

Colourful lichen on rock ©Fenfolio2015

On the third day we explored Luskentyre (or Losgaintir in Gaelic) beach in front of our house. First we had to find our way through and over the maze of channels and islands which was created by the tide.

Hebridean machair ©Fenfolio2015

Hebridean machair ©Fenfolio2015

Luskentyre beach at low tide ©Fenfolio2015

When we finally arrived on Luskentyre beach itself I was blown away by its beauty. Everywhere I looked I saw art in nature; patters, texture and shapes created in the sand and sky by the tide and wind.


Luskentyre beach B & W ©Fenfolio2015

Luskentyre beach B & W ©Fenfolio2015

Luskentyre beach B & W ©Fenfolio2015


Luskentyre beach B & W ©Fenfolio2015



Luskentyre beach at dusk ©Fenfolio2015



Luskentyre beach at dusk ©Fenfolio2015


Luskentyre beach at dusk ©Fenfolio2015


Patterns in the sand ©Fenfolio2015

Patterns in the sand ©Fenfolio2015

Patterns in the sand ©Fenfolio2015

Patterns in the sand ©Fenfolio2015

Patterns in the sand ©Fenfolio2015

Of course the weather is very changeable on the Outer Hebrides. Most of the time a depression comes in from the West but this time it came from the East. Walking on the beach during a storm was really exhilerating!

Storm coming in over Luskentyre beach ©Fenfolio2015

Storm coming in over Luskentyre beach ©Fenfolio2015

Storm coming in over Luskentyre beach ©Fenfolio2015

View towards Isle of Skye ©Fenfolio2015


One day it was just too wet to go out, so we stayed indoors all day, watching movies and reading books. I also created some paintings of the landscape with my photos as reference and made some sketches of the collection of shells found in the house.

Luskentyre beach in watercolour ©Fenfolio2015

Still life drawing in pen ©Fenfolio2015

Still life drawing in pen and watercolour ©Fenfolio2015


Rocky coastline of Harris ©Fenfolio2015

Mixed media painting of rocky coastline ©Fenfolio2015

Derelict house, photo edited with apps ©Fenfolio2015


Mixed media painting of derelict house ©Fenfolio2015

November is a very quiet time to visit Harris. Most of the galleries, restaurants and coffee shops are closed for the season and you won't see any tourists. A great opportunity to try and spot some wildlife and get familiar with some of the local residents!


Hebridean sheep ©Fenfolio2015

Funky Hebridean sheep ©Fenfolio2015

Highland cow and calf  ©Fenfolio2015


Starling ©Fenfolio2015

Raven ©Fenfolio ©Fenfolio 2015

Golden eagle pair soaring sky ©Fenfolio2015

Whooper swans in flight ©Fenfolio2015

Before we embarked on the ferry again to go back home, we stopped at the Standing Stones of Callanish on Isle of Lewis. They are an arrangement of standing stones placed in a cruciform pattern with a central stone circle. They were erected in the late Neolithic era and were a focus for ritual activity during the Bronze age. It was generally believed that Callanish functioned as an astronomical calendar. According to one tradition, the Callanish Stones were petrified giants who would not convert to Christianity (from: Wikipedia).

Standing stones of Callanish ©Fenfolio2015

Standing stones of Callanish ©Fenfolio2015

Taking in the views of Isle of Harris ©Fenfolio2015

Stornoway harbour ©Fenfolio2015
As you can see from my photos, Harris has touched our hearts and we will definitely come back to unwind and be inspired again!