Please transfer your allegiance to my new blog, thank you

Frontispiece by Martin Dace from A Mermaid in the Bath by Milton Marmalade

My new art blog is at daceart.wordpress.com. Originally I abandoned Wordpress because I found it difficult to use, but while it takes a bit of getting used to, it allows me to display my work in a more professional form. It also means there is lots for you to look at even if I don't manage to post very often.

Milton Marmalade's blog is at miltonmarmalade.blogspot.co.uk. Milton Marmalade is the author of A Mermaid in the Bath, for which I did the illustrations. It is the story of how a rather dull and ordinary man is transformed by his heroic rescue of a captured mermaid, and it is full of love, life, random experiences of higher consciousness (that is to say, consciousness), together with quite a few jokes.


Kitchen lithography

I should like to draw your attention to Émilie Aizier's method of kitchen lithography. The technique involves the use of non-toxic materials to be found in an ordinary kitchen.

Stone lithography printing allows unusual freedom of expression. Images can be drawn or painted and the range of marks possible is immense. I learned stone lithography at Morley College in London some years ago, but I have not been able to practise it since, because it requires several things I don't have, that is, sufficient space, a lithography stone, a litho press and a supply of nitric acid. Therefore I was very interested to learn of a method of lithography that uses such friendly materials as aluminium foil and cola.

Perhaps when time allows I'll have a go, meanwhile for those who are interested you can order the book (available in English, French or Spanish) from the author.


'A Mermaid in the Bath' available later this month

Cover image for 'A Mermaid in the Bath' by Milton Marmalade

The cover of Milton Marmalade's soon to be published novel 'A Mermaid in the Bath' is based on a lino print. I did some tinkering in Affinity Photo. (Affinity Photo does what Photoshop Elements does, but keeps working even when Apple upgrades its OS, and costs less than Photoshop Elements). 


Would you know what to do if a mermaid turned up in your bath?

'A Mermaid in the Bath' (previous title 'A Fishy Tale'), the humorous philosophical-spiritual novel by Milton Marmalade, will be available on e-readers and in print soon. To read it now completely free go to: http://www.wattpad.com/story/7410604-a-mermaid-in-the-bath-or-how-to-achieve-your

Here is my work on the cover. This version is not used on Wattpad because of Canadian sensibilities regarding nipples, where I have had to superimpose a scallop shell bra, which is totally against the principles of mermaids and of fairyland in general. 

First the pencil sketch, contrast-enhanced and with text added in photoshop:

I traced the design onto tracing paper and copied it in reverse onto a sheet of lino (see previous blog entries on lino printing for method). Since my printing press is in storage I had to use the back-of-a-spoon method for printing.


Exhibition "Views of Richmond" 7 February - end May 2015

Gate on the River Thames as seen from Buccleugh Gardens, Richmond-upon-Thames. Oil on canvas 12 x 10 inches (350 x 252mm) unframed size.

This painting has been accepted for the Richmond Views open exhibition which will run from 7 February through until the end of May 2015 at Orleans House Gallery, Twickenham.


Commissioned lino print as a wedding gift

The image size is 8x8 inches (200x200mm approximately). 
The brief was to design and make a lino print for the client to give as a wedding gift. The image was to have associations with Thailand - the honeymoon destination - and to incorporate the couple's names and the date of the wedding.
Altogether three prints were pulled: one for the couple and one each for the two sets of parents.
The image includes two fish meeting over a lotus flower - this is a Buddhist symbol.
According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashtamangala#Fish) the two goldfish represent fearless suspension in the ocean of things that happen (samsara). You can see that I have put in some ripples, which the client liked in my mermaid pictures. The fins make a heart shape. The male's tail fin rises protectively above the female's.
The lotus is a beautiful flower that rises up through the mud (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashtamangala#Lotus). 

The knots symbolise love and eternity (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashtamangala#Knot).


Yet another mermaid lino print

Well all right I'm a bit obsessed with mermaids right now. Maybe I'll get over it in time. Image size 6x4 inches, lino print on acid-free tracing paper.


Making a lino print - 4

This picture may look confusing because I have rolled out the ink onto a piece of mirror. I used to have a slab of flat glass for this purpose which is better. Don't roll the ink out too thickly or the ink will spill over the edges of your design and blur the image.

Here is a palette knife, which I find useful for spreading the ink onto the glass and also for picking up bits of dust that sometimes get stuck onto the surface of the inked lino despite all my care to keep everything clean.

I use a small roller press but you don't have to have one. If you do, you will find that it takes a number of trials to get the right balance between the amount of ink and the pressure on the rollers.

Another very good method is just to rub the paper with the back of a spoon.

Here I lift up a corner of the image to assess progress. In this case the image is too light. The paper can be smoothed back onto the lino for further rubbing without losing registration, as long as only a corner has been lifted off. However in this case there is not enough ink. 

The best papers for lino are smooth surfaced. Below I am experimenting with acid-free tracing paper. I can see exactly what is happening and the finished print can be reversed if destired!

Sometimes an area that has been cut away gets inked up by mistake. This can add to the effect, or you may prefer to cut away the unwanted inked area.

Here is the final image:


Making a lino print - 3

Here she is, all cut out. Now for inking up. Ooh, this is the exciting part.


Making a lino print - 2

Having inked the image onto the lino, I start cutting away the areas I want to be un-inked (in this case it will be a black-and-white image, so I cut away the areas that are to be white).

Instead of the usual lino cutting tools I use Japanese wood block tools (see picture). I am told that tools for Western hardwood woodcuts are fine too. Not only do the usual tools not cut well, they are also not particularly cheap. 

For all things printing-related, try Intaglio Printmakers in Southwark Bridge Road, London.

If you have regular lino cutting tools you may find cutting easier if you warm the lino with an iron. However this interrupts the work and with proper tools it is not necessary.

I use the little v-shaped tool almost exclusively. This gives as fine a measure of control as you can reasonably expect with lino. I start with the mermaid's face because this is the part of the image that is most critical and if I mess up here I shall have to start again. I tend to cut away a little less than may be necessary since corrections can be made later, whereas if I cut away too much, nothing can be done.