Central Fife Open Studios is opening its collective doors today for the first time - but will hopefully become an annual event on the Art Calendar.
Lots of local artists are taking part - see the website for the full list http://centralfifeopenstudios.moonfruit.com
My studio will be open for the next three weekends from 10 - 4, where you can see a variety of printmaking techniques - lino/relief prints, collographs, monoprints and lithographs.

Come along and see how the prints are made by hand on my etching press, see the prints and the plates they are printed from. All prints are for sale.
 The weather is great, so come and enjoy a day by the seaside!!

It's been a good while since I posted anything here, but I have been busy with life as well as printing. However, I can't believe Pittenweem has come round again so quickly. A combination of being taken unaware by this and being unable to download the forms for the Open Exhibition from their website meant that for the first time in years I have nothing in the Exhibition, which is a great pity. We did go up for a look around last weekend, but apart from John Byrne's work and the Danish Printmakers it looked almost exactly the same as last year. I do feel the Festival has grown rather stale (and too expensive to take part in) in its 30th year and people are moving away to fresher pastures. There is currently work on show in Elie, Upper Largo and next weekend the Central Fife Open Studios begins, providing alternative, affordable venues for artists, which must be a good thing.
That aside, I have been doing a lot of drawing, which in turn has led to more printmaking, so it has been a good creative Summer - even if the weather has not been very summery. Oddly enough, my drawings have been fairly large - A3 or A2 - but my prints have been tiny - 10cm x 8 at the biggest. I have been experimenting with "Lino" I bought on eBay which turned out to be some kind of plastic/vinyl. Not as nice to work with as traditional lino, but I am trying to find out what it does best. My first attempt was a little multi block print using three of them and a final layer of "real" lino. Quite good fun to mess about with, using a lot of extender with the oil based inks to see how the colours built up - Primrose yellow, Royal blue, Poppy red and Black .
Next I tried a small reduction print with three layers, again with mainly extender, yellow ochre for the first layer, process cyan for the second and process magenta for the third. Not too happy with the results, partly the way the vinyl cut, partly because the initial layer was just too pale. My third print is a combination of two Lino blocks, the background etched with caustic soda and printed in waterbased yellow ink, the foreground mouse in oil based Black ink. I'm very fond of his cheeky, jaunty attitude.
The 3 prints at the bottom are experimental stages for a 20 x 20 cm Exchange I am taking part in. Using elements cut out of card and inked separately then arranged on the base plate and printed onto damp paper. The little boy with the ball still seems to be featuring... I'll maybe let him catch that ball eventually.
I think I've had enough of small prints for now and am in the mood to try something a good deal bigger for my next project. Plenty of drawings to peruse for inspiration...

Pittenweem's annual arts extravaganza is here again, sadly plagued by rain this year, heavy enough to close the main car park the first time I went (a grassy field in the middle of the Village). Tuesday the sun came out so I went back and had a great time mingling with the crowds, popping into the many varied exhibitions.
One of my favourite Exhibitions was the outdoor sculptures along the harbour wall by Helen Denerley from Aberdeenshire. They are constructed from scrap metal welded into animals and birds and were attracting a great deal of attention/ photo opportunities. Beautifully made - I'd love some in my garden.
Yesterday was  a very productive and enjoyable day in my Studio. I thought I'd just print my three plate Collagraph in shades of grey, but whilst waiting for the first layer to dry I got to thinking about the British Miniprint and cut some lino, traced one of my sketches onto it and started cutting. Cutting lino is one of my favourite ways to lose a few hours, listening to radio 4 whilst working out the layers. Having two prints on the go at once meant I was printing happily all day.  I don't think I even noticed it get dark and when I did glance at the clock it was after midnight! Now that must be the definition of a day that went well.
The Collagraph is 22.5 x 21 cm and printed in waterbased inks and the Lino Reduction Print 8 x 10 cm
Having been struck down by mystery virus and ear infection for over a month now, my visits to the Studio have been rare and brief - lack of concentration and balance!
However, I couldn't help myself sketching, browsing my books and eventually cutting a new lino print. Black and white this time as my brain couldn't cope with thinking about a reduction print - though there are a few three coloured proofs when I was thinking about it.
The inspiration came from old photos of what I think was probably a baseball crowd and memories of black and white space monster films, revived through watching daytime TV during my illness. Certainly helped to cheer me up. Hope it raises a smile...
I thought I'd give my new press a good workout trying to print a Collagraph I had nothing but trouble with when I printed  it the first time round.  I added extra raindrops, then cut highlights out and  trimmed the plate down a bit as well.  I used Speedball waterbased inks and used my newly recovered brayers for the first time. The brayers worked beautifully, picking up the ink smoothly, unlike the hard rubber rollers I used previously.  The press is a thing of beauty and smooth as silk to use. I am a happy printmaker
A slightly revamped "Silver" exhibition opened on Saturday at the Rothes Halls.  It was very well hung and such a good space, airy and well lit.  We had a good crowd for the opening speech by Lindsay Roy MP and the work seemed to be well received. The Exhibition run until the 12th of May.
A great start to my week when I bought a second hand Rollaco "Classic" etching press, something I've been hunting for over a long period of time. It is in "as new" condition, even the blankets and is a good size at 18" x 36" - it is 14 years old after all.  About 46 x 92 cm in modern measuring. Nice colour too!
I'm looking forward to being able to print my Collagraphs at home and to get back to etching - on top of my lino prints! Where exactly I am going to find the time I haven't worked out yet...
Despite its difficulties I persevered with my large Collagraph.  I have done a good deal of  work with the Lascaux products, but all on a fairly small scale and they have been pretty successful. I like the idea of being able to just paint the products onto a support - metal plate, MDF or thick card/mountboard - then ink them up like an etching and print them with the aid of an etching press onto damp paper. This all sounds too easy really. The problems arise in that you never quite know how the plate will print until you try. Basically Gesso or Pastelground which appear white on the support will print as black and Stop out which appears blue will print white.  It takes a good deal of adjustment to get the tones you want by watering down either to produce a grey. Soft ground is very good for impressing textures onto the plate and gives good results if you leave it for 12 -15 minute to get tacky.  The other BIG variable is in the wiping before printing.  It is very easy to wipe too much, or indeed too little ink off the plate, leading to disaster.  Another of those things you only learn with plenty of experience.
I would certainly recommend trying these products, but don't give up if prints are disappointing to start with. The plate will be savable with more work. Persevere...
A busy time recently with FDPWs exhibition at the Scottish Art Club in Edinburgh and preparing for another exhibition in the Rothes Hall, Glenrothes at the start of April. I also did a Mangle Printing day for Kirkcaldy Art Club at the end of February. I do enjoy introducing people to the joys of Printmaking and we covered Collagraphs and Lino in the course of the day. Great enthusiasm and some lovely work produced.
 I've been doing more Collagraphs with the Lascaux products, including a large version of my "Hats". Just at the proofing stage at the moment, three tries so far, with the last providing a major problem as the surface came off in several places - something which has never happened before. So I'm at the restoring stage before I've even got a decent print! Not good. The illustration is of the first proof...
I have also been working  etching Lino with Caustic soda. Two semi-abstracted figures each printed from two blocks - one printed in yellow, the other in red. I still plan to add a third layer in blue. I particularly like the soft edges and marks the Caustic soda can provide.
Next on my agenda is doing another Beginners Printmaking course for FDPW. This year it takes place over two Saturdays, the 19th and 26th March., covering Monoprints and Relief printing. Looking forward to it!