Thursday, August 13, 2015

adventures into Printmaking

It's so exciting when the hard work, the not knowing, the blind faith and trust in intuition works out. It's magical stuff and in 2015, my Year of Enchantment, it's lovely to see where the adventure leads.

After working alone last summer on my Summer Sketchbook, sharing pages online, live as I sketched at various beaches where I live, I also showed the whole book to a handful of people. One of them was long time friend and talented printer Lisa Marshall, who took one look and said they'd make wonderful solar plates.

With no idea what she meant, I signed up for classes at Warringah Printmakers. I first heard about this communal studio years ago when I visited masterprintmaker Paul Smith's studio on a Scotland Is. For years my girls went to high school around the corner, but there was so much to do, other roles to fill. Now, with school aged motherhood behind me, I've dived in and begun studying under Susan Baran.

coffeeosophy sketch - dry point etching on plastic  

It's so great to learn the various techniques of printmaking. At an earlier stage in my artistic life I might have sought more creative direction, but now, with a collection of sketchbooks I have much to work from. So, after refreshing my high school printmaking skills with some dry point etching on plastic using one of my Coffeeosophy sketches and an intuitive moon drawing as inspiration, I progressed to learning how to make solar plates of my Summer Sketchbook.

summer sketch - editing the photocopy transparency

summer sketch - creating a solar plate 

summer sketch - inking up the solar plate

summer sketch - printing the solar plate

Solar plate or photopolymer plate making is not a complicated process, but like anything, when you don't know what you're doing, it's a lot to learn. Using UV light machines and nature's sunlight, the pre-treated plates are self etched before being inked up and printed. They can be used in a variety of creative ways but as I had existing images, I photocopied the sketches in B+W onto plastic transparency which I touched up before laying them on the plate and exposing them to light.

What's been so interesting to see, is the way the coloured pencil and gouache sketches have been transformed through this process. Sketched without awareness of this process, the tonal qualities of each colour has influenced the end result in ways drawing in graphite might not have. From a creative point of view, the content captured in the sketch is also transforming and I'm sensing a series or even a storyline emerging, something which I got only a glimpse of whilst sketching last summer and certainly nothing I intended. 

Photocopying all 84 pages of my Summer Sketchbook, laying them out on the long studio tables was a wonderful opportunity which enabled me to see which ones worked together. I then applied for and was lucky enough to be selected to Manly Gallery's "Saltwater "Exhibition.

I am thrilled as not only is it a wonderful endorsement and honour to be included with 45 other northern beaches artists, but it's also a theme that aligns perfectly with my work. I will admit to being slightly nervous, because despite showing my work regularly on the internet, it's been a while since I been in an exhibition. Fortunately, the process so far has been very smooth and I am enjoying working with a public gallery curator and learning lots in the process.

As the deadline looms and I finish my prints, I have just one more thing to decide, apart from which six prints to include. That is ... What colour is summer blue? What blue suits all the images? Are they still sketches of summer where I live or are they becoming more universal? All wonderful things to ponder between now and delivering them to the exhibition. Whatever happens, I look forward to the public's response on opening night. Yikes!

turning Summer sketches into solar prints

choosing "summer blue" - test prints on magnani paper

As if that wasn't exciting enough, I've also been playing with learning other ways to make prints from my Winter Dreamings and Doodles. Last term I dabbled in soft ground etching and aqua tint (top left and right) and briefly learnt the process of sugar lift (bottom left). 

This term, I'm back experimenting using solar plates with my Coffeeosophy series and trying some chine-colle (bottom right). Last Wednesday's class had me doing a lot of thinking backwards, working out efficiencies of plate and paper sizes and image proportion, considering how I want them to look compared to how they were created on location in my coffee sketchbook.

Printmakers mumbo jumbo, tasks and terminology that are all becoming part of my repertoire. I'm learning a whole new language and way to create and I'm excited to see how it influences and allows me to continue my love of sketching, doodling, working seasonally and thematically. I also also hope it will enable me to reproduce my sketches in a unique, hand made way.

Please stay tuned for what happens next and if you live locally, pop Oct 30 - Nov 29th 2015 in your diary and come along to the see the "Saltwater "Exhibition at Manly Gallery.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Blue Moon

I've photographed the full moon before, drawn, painted, sketched and filmed it too, I've even created some textile art, papercut and written poetry, but on Friday night it was a Blue Moon and I was thrilled to take this photograph on my iphone. I love how it looks like an oil painting and now I want to take it into my printmaking and see what I can create with it there.

Do you love to gaze at the moon, allow it to infuse into your work? Here is a list of all the places you can find my moon related works online.

Photography (in blogposts)
Summer Moon photography and painting 2014
Moonlight Dancing phtography, sketching and filming 2013
Avalon Moon photography and film 2012
Mermaids Crossing poetry and phtography 2012
Photography (on Instagram)
Blue Moon photograph 2015
Hidden Moon drawing and poetry 2014
Parting Clouds photograph 2014
Super Moon photograph 2014
Almost Full Moon photograph 2014

Film (in blogposts)
Moonlight Dancing photography, sketching and filming 2013
Avalon Moon photography and film 2012 
Film (on Instagram)
December Moon poetry and photography 2014 
Behind the Palm Tree film and poetry 2014
Film (on Vimeo) Summer Moon 2014
Aqua Luna 2013
Avalon Moon 2012

Poetry (in blogsposts)
Intuitive Drawing on the Full Moon poetry and intuitive drawing 2014
October Moon painting and poetry 2013
Mermaid's Crossing poetry 2012 
Poetry (on Instagram)
December Moon poetry and photography 2014
Behind the Palm Tree poetry and film 2014
Hidden Moon  poetry and drawing 2014
Poetry (on Tumblr) see link below

Moonlight dancing sketching, photography and filming 2013 DRAWING

Drawing (in blogposts)
Full Moon Doodling ink drawing and poetry 2014
Late Winter Moon graphite drawing 2013
Easter Moon graphite drawing 2013
Stealing the Moon ink drawing 2014
Illustration Friday "Book" graphite drawing 2012
Full Moon over the Ocean graphite drawing 2009
Drawing (in blogposts) #suzi_doodles  
Drawing (on Flickr)
Snow Barn in the Moonlight ink drawing 2014
Mountain Pond ink drawing 2014
Moonrise over the Ocean pastel illustration 2012

Painting (in Blogs)
Painting doodles on the Full Moon acrylic on paper 2014
October Moon painting and poetry 2013
Springtime Dreaming painting 2012
Painting (on Flickr)


Textiles (in blogposts)
I love you to the moon and back stitched lettering 2013
Full moon over the ocean textile illustration 
Papercut (on flickr) 
Dream papercut illustration 


To keep in touch as I create more works on this theme, please feel free to follow on the following sites: 

Pinterest: "Luna"

Instagram: Moon themed photography and artwork

Vimeo: "Minutes by the Sea" collection of one minute films of the sea

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Winter Sun

I was placing some small works out on a new studio table, when I spotted the sunlight reflecting off my jumper onto a hand painted summer sketch I did some years ago. Later, I pondered ...

There's so much to love about winter sun ..

It's not the sun that's fun,
it's the sun that feels and heals
warms the skin, softens inside.

Winter sun 
doesn't last long, 
it doesn't exhaust, doesn't excite
but also it doesn't burn or bite. 

Winter sun, 
contrasts the cold, 
crystallises the white, 
balances the long night. 

Winter Sun, 
melts the ice, 
softens the snow, 
seeps in long and low.

Winter Sun,
ventures in 
gently warms the heart,
loosens the grip,
gives light for new life.

Winter Sun,
comes but once a year,
and once it's gone, 
I will miss it. 

- suzi 2015 - 

It's nearing the end of July and it's as cold as it gets around here. It's been an amazing winter for me, doodling, dreaming and diving in, travelling, sketching, pondering, playing, filling the pages of my Winter Sketchbook. I've some lovely news to share but I need to wait a few more sleeps, until then, feel free to join me on my Instagram.

Thanks for indulging me in my restful season of poetic posts. To see others in this winter series, please click these links:

To see previous years of my Winter Dreaming, please click here

Thanks, as always for visiting. :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Winter Wandering

Travelling, further than my previous post, in bigger vehicles, with more people, from here to there and back again, I come to realise how much I miss, what and where my home is. 

In only a few days away from the coast, with the kindest of hosts, I realise I need blue of any hue in my life. Here, now in the depths of winter, it's not what we escape to but what we return to that makes things clear. How we feel on our return tells us much about who we are. 

I've had a great time away connecting with creative people but being here beside the sea relaxes me, rebalances me and its here, when I stop to photograph, that I can write poetry and its here that feel free to make art that speaks to my soul. It's like returning to the inner me as calm as I can be. 

"Back in the land of blue"

ahhhh ...
back beside the sea,
blue as blue can be,
a city in the distance,
providing enough resistance,
a wide open ocean,
to even out the commotion,
standing on the edge,
high above the ledge,
flattened waves below,
calling my webbed toes,
I can clearly see,
this is the place for me,
even if it is ...
freezing icy cold!!!

- s u z i - 2015

Do you have a place, a home that you love to return to? A place which inspires your creativity?

Thanks, as always, for popping by, I love seeing and connecting with you here.

To see others in this Winter series, please click these links:

Click here to see previous years.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Winter Beach

Yesterday, I took time, found it, right there in the middle of my day, my week. Wandering, I went a different way and in doing so, I found ... a secret beach!

I've lived near here for twenty years, so it was a lovely suprise. Of course I can't tell you were it is, but it's what happened next, when I sat there, alone and still, that made me me wish all of us could find that secret beach inside us, inside our busy world. 

- Secret Beach - 

theres a quietness, 
a peacefulness, 
to passing boats hum, 
birds squawking, 
chirping in the trees, 
on a secret beach, 
thoughts can be heard, 
there is time to listen. 

- s u z i - 2015

sketched with a 0.3 Derwent Graphik line marker 
in a Stillman and Birn Alpha series sketchbook 
with watercolour wash

To see others in this Winter series, please click these links:

Click here to see previous years.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Winter Solstice

Sitting quietly,
on the Winter Solstice.

Here, now,
through the thinnest veil,
comes wisdom and insight,
hidden in Summers glow.

Here, down below,
I can hear my hearts desires,
learn where she wishes to go.

Here, down deep,
I can share my greatest fears,
with my heart,
she listens,
she knows. 

From here on,
it is up,
days will be longer,
I will get stronger,
and the courage gained,
will stay with me,
on into next year. 

Peace be with each of you,
on this special day,
the longest of nights, 
the shortest of days.

- s u z i - 2015 

Please click here, for the first in this season's Winter Dreaming blog series,
where you will also find links to previous years.

To see others in this Winter series, please click these links:

Friday, June 12, 2015

Winter Weekend

the sun sets, 
on another week, 
winter is here, 
but all is not bleak, 
walks by the sea, 
nourish me, 
long sleeps, 
under puffy clouds, 
warm my heart, 
comfort my mind. 

there is time, 
in another season, 
to run and to play, 
right here, 
right now, 
it's time to dive deep, 
sink in and retreat. 

- s u z i - 2015 

... so begins my Winter Dreaming for 2015, a season of rest, a time to go in, to explore the inner world and it's poetic imagery. I have been here many times now, it's so restorative that I would it hard to live without. 

I welcome you to visit previous blogs in this series via the following links and whilst you are doing that, I will be quietly painting and doodling, photographing and filming, being by the sea, waiting and watching for the whales that pass the coast at this time of year.

Winter Blog Tale
A twelve part blog tale shared over the Winter Solstice of 2012 exploring the depths of creativity and living as a practicing artist, through film, art, teaching, painting, poetry and more, pulling together posts from my previous blog. To read the tale all the way through, it's best to begin here: 

Throughout the Winter of 2013 I doodled on paper with my new Lamy pen, learning to letting the image evolve. Spending more time indoors, allowing my art to reflect more of the inner world as I replenished, reconnected and listened to the intuitive wisdom that comes through at this time of year. These are the three posts I published that winter: 

Winter Dreaming
Painting and doodling in paint on fine paper, allowing poetry to flow, photographing and visiting different parts of the city, I spent the winter of 2014, the first after my mother left this world, finding out more about who I was, where I came from and what makes my heart sing, some of which I endeavoured to share in these three posts: 

For those of you where it's warm right now, I wish you a wonderful Summer and hope you find time to get out and play like I have for the six years of my 1000 words for Summer project.

Working seasonally is now vital to me, it revitalises my art and whilst it means I am not always in tune with everyone I come to meet online, it means I am in tune with where I live and the natural rhythms of the world. I invite you to do the same and see if it too nourishes you, maybe not all of your art but some small part. It really is a wonderful way to work.

To see others in this years Winter series, please click these links:

Thanks again for visiting. I love to read you comments. 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Saying goodbye slowly

We got the news the same week the storm hit. A visit to the vet confirmed it, lumps not just in his throat but his back, his legs, everywhere, tiny lumps on his bones.

Shattered we burst into tears, awakened our fears and got ready to somehow hold on tight to him, to each other, all of us in this together. This ride isn't going to be easy and it isn’t going to be long, but it is worth going through.

It’s not easy saying goodbye to our dear beloved dog, who’s been part of our family for over nine years. No one expects a dog to go so soon. My husband believes it’s the tick medicine, but it doesn’t really matter what it is, we have to go through the next bit.

You see we are also saying goodbye or rather Bon Voyage to our eldest daughter and her loved one as they head off on an extended overseas trip. Off to discover the world and our youngest is half moving out. Within months the two of us could be the only ones left at our house.

A similar thing happened some years ago when my brother died unexpectedly three weeks before my youngest daughter left to go overseas. It’s me linking these events I know, grouping trauma into one, hoping I might cope with it better, but that’s what we humans do.

But how else do we cope? How do we hide from the horrid realities we sometimes wish weren’t true. For some it’s chatter, sharing the details. For some it’s shopping, eating, rallying the troops or putting up a fight. For others like me, I’ve come to realise, it’s isolating myself, going deep and feeling what’s going on, on the inside. It's slowing things down to take each moment as it comes, to do less and experience more.


During the storms I doodled in the dark, now I find myself sketching my dog. I’d make a plaster case of his head if I could, for patting and massaging him has been the greatest comfort to me throughout his life. Stroking my hands through his thick black fur, or gently caressing his boney arms and paws.

I can see now why people stuff their animals although I'm not sure I could, but any way to preserve the memory is what I'm searching for. I did the same before my mother died, sketching her room in the hospice, all the the flowers people gave her. This is real, it’s happening, we have to go through it and sketching is my way of seeing what is in front of me.

We’ve had so many good times with our beautiful dog, playing games in our yard, chasing sticks, traveling far and wide, including a 6,500km road trip to North Queensland and back. Swimming in rivers, in the sea. We’ve taken him to my brother’s block of land, on the ferry and so many places we love to walk locally. He’s the glue in our family, the one being we all care for, the one we all love, but those times are ending and I am devastated. I am about to lose a good friend.

We first met him at the dog pound all those years ago when my girls were much younger. Before choosing him, we took him to the exercise yard and my girls tried madly to get him to run, to jump, to play. We’d had another dog who kept escaping and once, when heavily pregnant, I had to run down the street after her. I decided that was never happening again, so when he sat down quietly beside me I had a chat with him and we've been chatting ever since.

It’s a beautiful thing to have a companion that secretly knows your inner thoughts, that sits quietly by your side, that jumps up and interrupts arguments, that knows when your car turns the corner of your street. It’s no wonder ancient people kept dogs, why people still keep dogs, the relationship between humans and dogs is inexplicable.

Their unfathomable, never-ending companionship and devotion is beyond us, giving away their emotions with a simple wag of the tail. Always happy to see you no matter why, where or how long you’ve been away. Total unrequited, unexpected, limitless love.

I will miss this love, I will miss our Toby and the only words I can think of come from Alfred Lord Tennyson …

 “Tis better to have loved and lost 
than never to have loved at all“ 

Saying goodbye slowly is like placing a boulder on the ground as though it was a feather. It’s exhausting, but every step, every moment, done with awareness counts and gives us experiences that matter. They help make us who we are and whilst I dread every minute of it, I wouldn’t miss it for a second.

The next little bit is unknown, but I hope it goes gently for all of us.

We said a very sad farewell to our beloved Toby on our front deck in the afternoon sun with all of us together. It was a peaceful passing but his absence will take some adjusting and he will live on in our hearts for a very long time. Thanks to so many of you who wrote and said so many beautiful things.