March photo walk

I recently took some photographs of the exterior of Stockport College in anticipation of the redevelopment of the site. There is currently a lot of building work taking place in town such as the soon-to-be build Stockport Bus Interchange on the existing site next to the railway viaduct. I hope to use some of these images as inspiration for future prints.

Visit to Bury Art Museum and new etching

Last Saturday at the printmaking workshop, I started a new etching plate which is the first for 2022. The new plate once completed will depict the White Lion public house which has now been turned into swanky apartments in the centre of town. The plate is slightly larger than the normal 18 x 12 cms I usually create etching prints from. I have gone for a larger printing plate so I can add more detail. Below is a photo of the plate which has a coating of hard wax to protect the plate when it has its first dip in the acid bath early next month. The first acid bath lasts about 15 minutes which allows the outline of the drawing to be defined more strongly on the plate.

White Lion etching plate (17 x 26.5 cms)

Yesterday, I visited Bury Art Museum to swap a small number of etchings for the shop that is based on the first floor. One of the prints I submitted was of the cage at Lyme Park.

“The Cage at Lyme Park” Etching Aquatint (c) Neil Robinson

The museum has a collection of paintings by JMW Turner. One of which is this work I saw in the main gallery (see below)

Calais Sands at Low Water: Poissards Collecting Bait by Joseph Mallord William Turner RA (Bury Art Museum collection)

Map of Stockport

Over the weekend, I took part in a large drypoint print workshop with a small group of artist/printmakers.

My objective was to create a large map in drypoint depicting landmarks of Stockport. I had never printed anything larger than about a3 size in print form before and my last large print was a drypoint of the viaduct using a metal plate. This time around, the printing plate would be flexible plastic sheeting which was 75 cm x 55 cm in size.

I decided on the idea of a map sometime ago and knowing that a 2-day large printmaking workshop was going ahead, I ensured I booked a place as soon as I got the notice.

I began by prepping the map by creating a printed template in reverse that I had sourced a day before the workshop. I used a combination of Photoshop Elements and PowerPoint to tile the large map and print off sections onto manageable a4 paper prints so I could tape them together afterwards.

On Saturday, day 1 of the workshop, I added reversed text and images of landmarks which I etched into the plate using etching tools from roulettes to diamond point tools to get different textures and patterns.

Printing plate 75 x 55 cms

I placed the template I had created underneath the plastic printing plate while I etched the design onto the plastic.

The process took me approximately 9 hours to prepare the plate (1.5 days). I had to carefully placed where all the text and images of the landmarks would go.

Finally, on day 2, I could ink up and print my plate with the assistant of my friend Alan Birch, using a large etching press which we had hired out for the day from an artist studio down the road in Waterfoot, Rossendale called ‘Valley Studios’ only a few minutes travel from Prospect Studios.

I created an artist proof print (AP) using cartridge paper and then managed to print off my first good print on Fabriano paper.

I reckon there are another seven prints I could produce from the plate before it wears out.

The process was long and challenging but the results were very pleasing indeed and well worth the time taken.

Here are some photos taken of the printed map.

Map of Stockport (Proof drypoint on cartridge paper)
Map of Stockport (close-up)
Map of Stockport (close-up)
Map of Stockport (close-up of title)

Pyramid print

‘The pyramid’

This is an etching aquatint print I created early on in the project which I seem to have not shared before in this blog.

I used a combination of printing inks with black ink printed first, then leaving the remaining black ink on the plate, I then inked up blue ink and printed again to get the desired effect of deep dark shadows and lines with the black ink and light highlighted areas with blue ink.

April photo walk

I received an email reply from the organiser of the Cotton-on-Manchester open exhibition which I recently submitted work to. The rejection email was pretty upbeat. They offered me feedback on the two etching prints I submitted which were from this project and also to have my work displayed on their exhibition website as a consolation, which sounds good to me.

Recently, I learnt that Stockport Art Guild will be hosting their 100th annual art exhibition from Thursday 20th May to Friday 16th July 2021. I still haven’t decided what I will be submitting to the centenary exhibition. I may experiment with a mixture of paint and printmaking techniques for my submissions.

I managed to submit two digital artworks for Stockport’s Giant Leap Ahead project; one for the NHS, and one for the Eco frog. Not heard any news as yet, but reckon there was a lot of competition in the designs submitted.

At the end of next month, I will be resuming my visits to Prospect Studios to continue working on my etching print series for the Stockport In Print project. It will be my first visit since autumn of last year. Social distancing and precaution such as wearing face masks and the installation of clear plastic screens will still be in operation. I hope to continue where I left off with my last etching depicting the river Mersey.

The other weekend, I continued my photo walks around Stockport and this time I have captured ‘The Blossoms’ pub which is on the A6 main road which is south of the town.
During my visit, I took many photograph’s of the pub and also a few of the abandoned pool hall directly opposite which used to be a cinema in it’s heyday. Below are a selection of photographs taken on the day.

Enjoy.

Mailbox Stockport Lino-print

Mailbox Stockport apartment block
Reduction Lino cut ‘Mailbox Stockport’

In the months of July and August, I have completed a 7 colour reduction lino-cut print depicting the Mailbox Stockport apartment block which is a former post office building that had been abandoned for years. The building is located in the centre of Stockport just off the A6 main road not far from the railway station. The new building has real foliage and bright green tiled walls on it’s exterior.

I used oil based inks from Hawthorn Printmakers this time apart from the green which is a mix of water-based Pea green and oil based Titanium white. The effect of mixing a water based ink with oil based printing ink is very interesting in that it creates a unusual pattern when the print dries.

I created a total of 10 prints from the plate which I cut down until only a few pieces of linoleum remained. The red colour used in the print was added with watercolour paint.

Returning to the studio

Social distancing screens installed in the studio

On Sunday I attended a printmaking workshop for the first time in over three months since the lock down began on 23rd March in the UK. My printmaking friend Alan Birch organises weekly workshops for individuals and school groups. Times have been tough for the creative industry during lockdown and my friend has had to install measures such as screens dividing work areas, the use of hand santisers and the 2 metre social distancing rule. During my time away from attending studio workshops, I continued printing at home using my own portable press and hand printing Linos using my handmade printing jig. You can see the results of my efforts in previous posts.

“The secret doorway”

Since my last visit, I have completed a new etching for the forthcoming Towneley Hall exhibition which will open in August (see image above). The print is titled “The secret doorway”.

My latest etching features the river Mersey taken from one of my archive photographs. I hope to complete the print on my next visit to Prospect studios.

Mersey print in progress
“Mersey and Regent House”

Bus etching

‘192 bus’ (close-up)
Etching Aquatint

I have been busy working from home during the lockdown as I my day job is as a Software Analyst. Today was my birthday so I decided to get my portable press out and do some printing.

Last month, I managed to complete all the aquatint tones on my print depicting the 192 bus. I usually attend a monthly printmaking workshop organised by my friend Alan Birch at his studio in the Rossendale valley. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, I have not been able to visit my friend in over a month due to lockdown restrictions, so consequently my bus etching was never printed until now. I am hoping to create some more prints in the coming weeks on other subjects related to my printing project. Look out for further updates! Bye for now.

‘192 bus’
Etching Aquatint