Saturday, September 29, 2012

Art Collaboration With Richard Wong, Watercolour Painter

The summer is a creatively inspiring time for me.  Yes, the warm sunny days seem to fire up my creative neurons.  But summer is inspiring for another reason - it's a popular time for art shows!  Doesn’t viewing other artists' work get your creative juices flowing, too?  Perhaps someone else's use of colour will inspire you... maybe it will be the use of an usual painting material, perhaps a new type of paper for water media... or a technique that is freshly interpreted.  

At this summer's art shows I met many artists and found them to be of generous spirit and genuinely interested in helping their fellow artists.  For example, I met Richard Wong - a local oriental brush and watercolor artist who has developed an unique style of painting on a special type of paper.  During October Richard will be having his first solo art show "Songbirds of Victoria" at Island Blue Art Store here in Victoria, as well as showing some of his work at The Gallery in Oak Bay Village.   Here's a look at some of his work --

"Finches & Sunflower" by Richard Wong; watercolour on masa paper

"House Finch" by Richard Wong; watercolour on masa paper
As you can see, Richard uses a special paper prepared in a unique way to create a "batik" type of background for his paintings.  Interesting effect, wouldn't you agree?

Richard and I discussed our mutual belief that there's a great benefit in artists working together - collaborating on projects and assisting each other toward mutual goals.  I was honoured when Richard asked if he could use some of my bird photos as inspiration/source material for some of his "Songbirds of Victoria" paintings.  Here are three paintings inspired by my photos:

"Chickadees 2" by Richard Wong; watercolour on masa paper 

"Robin & Blueberries" by Richard Wong;
watercolour on masa paper

"Thirsty Sparrow" by Richard Wong; watercolour on masa paper

Richard has many more paintings posted to his website (  Which is your favourite...?  Personally, the "Thirsty Sparrow" is my favourite... but perhaps when I see his next group of paintings I may decide I have a new favourite!  : )

I hope you've enjoyed being introduced to Richard's work.  I know I'm looking forward to seeing what he creates next, and to collaborating on future projects.

What's inspiring you creatively lately...??
: )  Fern

Friday, September 21, 2012

Experimenting With Print Making

When's the last time you tried print making?  For me, it was high school and back then we called it lino printing.  I was pleased to learn that old fashioned lino printing has become much easier and more enjoyable thanks to new and improved materials.

Recently a friend suggested taking a workshop in printmaking from Jennifer McIntyre.  I'd not really thought about doing printmaking before my friend expressed an interest in the workshop, but when opportunity comes knocking I've learned that it's a good idea to hop on board.  (Oops... mixing metaphors there... but you get the drift, right??)  We showed up at class clutching a selection of B&W images (photos converted to B&W and printed on everyday letter sized paper), cutting tools and pieces of thick, soft, easy to cut vinyl.

I chose to base my piece on a photo of Mount Baker, taken from Cattle Point just outside of Victoria, BC.

It took me much longer than my friends to get my image carved and ready for printing.  I probably should have tried something a bit less detailed for my first attempt at printmaking after all these years... but I see a pattern developing in my life...  I tend to jump in at the deep end of the pool when I learn new things by starting out with a challenging project instead of wading in gradually with something quick and easy.  (Note to self... you have permission to not do things the hard way!  Lol...)

Part way through the carving process, Jennifer (our instructor) suggested that we could print an "artist's proof" to get a sense of how our image was developing.  The first picture on this post is one of my artist's proofs. Jennifer showed me how to ink the vinyl "plate" with a "rainbow roll" - multiple colours of ink on the brayer that created a gradation of colour on the printed image.  I am completely in love with that artist's proof with it's rainbow roll!  Oh, and the light purplish line you see in the foreground of the print...?  That's colour that transferred from the black Sharpie marker I'd used to draw my carving lines on to the vinyl.  It wasn't intended to be part of the print, but I happen to really like how it looks.  Hmm... maybe I'll have to try other prints with deliberate Sharpie marker line transfers in them!  : )

Back to carving away more of the vinyl... and soon I was ready to make a print of the finished plate -- this time all in black.

So, what do you think?  The black and white image is very dramatic.  Very different from the softness of the artist's proof at the top of this blog.

Jennifer suggested that the sky could be inked a different colour.  To do that I ran a utility knife between the land and the sky and completely cut off the sky portion of the plate.  (It felt a little strange to cut apart the thing you'd just spent hours to create!!!)  When we printed it, the bottom of the plate was inked with a dark colour (that came out looking black) and the sky portion of the plate was inked with another rainbow roll.  The two pieces of vinyl were nested snuggly beside each other like puzzle pieces before the paper was laid down.  Here's the result...

I really like that effect, too.  Oh... the possibilities...!!!  : )

At the end of the workshop Jennifer had me print a handful of copies in light grey of just the bottom of the plate (without the sky).  These prints are for me to hand colour with watercolour paints.  Once they're painted and dried, I will over print them with black ink.  That should be interesting... we'll see how it turns out.  I'll keep you posted!

As always, I hope you're taking/making time for some art in your life.  It really can be an uplifting break from the stresses of everyday life!
: )  Fern