This week the model was willowy, so different from the solid man last week whose bulk naturally filled an A4 page. The page was mostly space. By the time we reached 20 minute poses my charcoal and conte pencils were blunt and I was trying fine lines with the edge of conte blocks. Mostly I could not wrap my brain round how to draw her. She had a lively curious face, holding a pose while her eyes darted across us. I wish I could have captured that.
I found an advertisement for a Meetup for weekly life drawing. 90 minutes, starting with 2 and extending to 20 minute poses. Taking my lead form Rosie Scribblah, I worked in black, sanguine and white conte crayon on toned paper.
In the 1927 film Metropolis, Maria captivates the workers through libidinous behaviour and leads them in a destructive orgy until, fearing for their families, they turn against her. Bound and burning, unrepentant, she is revealed to be a robot, a doll, a false prophet manipulated by the ruling class. The true Maria defends her honour on the cathedral roof until rescued by the hero.
This corny myth could be used to signify the whole history of the 20th century and from any perspective.
My aim was to deconstruct the lino printmaking process to reflect the destruction of the robot. I experimented with sprinkling the block with a little finely crushed salt but this near completely prevented transfer of ink to the paper. I also worked into the paper with white conte crayon, which works well as a resist with watercolour, but this failed to inhibit printing of the water-based, but much thicker, printing pigment. So I resorted to cutting back into the lino, extensively removing the image, then rebuilding it in gorilla glue. Activated with water, this adhesive froths and expands before drying. I sliced it level with the lino leaving a minutely cratered printing surface. I cut back into this to restore some of the lines. I varied the inking and pressure to get different effects.
Here is the an image from the dream sequence in the 1927 dystopian film Metropolis. For some reason I could not fathom, the hero sees the figure of Death approaching him playing on a flute made of a human femur.
The top two pictures here are the final version printed on white and on brown recycled packaging paper. I am trying to build textures: glue and salt have been applied to the lino after the final cut, allowed to harden and then shaved flat leaving an irregular, partly resistant, surface to take up the ink.
The gallery shows the series, starting with the charcoal, graphite and white ink sketch, the first cut, including an image printed on tracing paper, second cut and the final version after manipulation with glue and salt.
The twitter hashtag #WOMENSART brought to my attention the poem Dangerous Coats by Sharon Owens linked to a surveillance photograph of suffragette Olive Beamish from 1914. In this linocut I don’t capture her facial likeness but I have explored textures of the coat with large pockets.
Here are a range of sketches I undertook.
From Wikipedia I learned of the Cat and Mouse Act passed by the Liberal government, legislation designed to thwart the suffragettes on hunger strike in prison.
In her poem Sharon Owens equates “sedition”, at that time, with commonsense, fairness, kindness, equality. Faced with a law-breaking, lying, callous, killing government, we may all need pockets to promote these values.
Here are more dog pictures (drawings done in the time it takes for a spaniel to get bored), drawn in hard charcoal, some coloured in after, using conte crayon over a dampened surface.
There is not much detail on this one (above) – as a guide I am on a path looking at a footbridge over a stream, which is behind the trees.
This is a linocut version developed from the dog sketch below.
This version, I printed the foreground tree first in brown before overprinting in black.
This is the press I built this weekend. This 12mm plywood base is blued onto a support to lift it from the table. Two long nails, with their head sawn off and a paper frame act as guides.
Plastic packaging that coincidently arrived with a new barbecue (because, guess what, we can see family again, but only in the garden) works well as a blanket to apply even pressure. You can see ink through this only because I am printing on the reverse side of an earlier failed experiment.
The pressure is applied to the top plank using two slats of wood from an old bed frame. These are pre-tensioned and bowed slightly to take weight. Here the convex side is downwards so pressure at the ends will also transmit to the middle.
Pressure is applied through 4 small G clamps.
The first attempts were disappointing. This was solved by using the plastic blanket and switching the bowed slats to run longitudinally rather than across the upper plank. The effect was dramatic, with the printing paper recessed all round the lino block with, but not without, the blanket.
The next two versions are shown (made to guide further cutting of the block). The one directly below used brown ink contaminated with black from the first attempt. There are cuts in the tree that have failed to print as white gaps, but create a more interesting texture, somehow selectively attracting the black contaminant. This is worth exploring further.