Posts Tagged ‘brisbane’

passing on the knowledge

May 3, 2014

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Weekend Workshops Coming up

One of my favoured printmaking techniques is of course wood engraving, the means of creating detailed graphic images which was once so commonplace it was used to illustrate everything from bibles to newspapers.  Technology has long since passed on from the days when commercial printing was done from hand carved blocks wood.  But there are a few of us around who love to preserve these archaic methods, while putting them into a contemporary context, and for me it is a pleasure to share what sometimes seems like forgotten knowledge.  So it is time again to offer some weekend workshops in wood engraving.  I am visiting Sydney at the moment, and will be sharing this technique with students at the National Art School, and while I am here I am also offering a weekend workshop in Newcastle hosted by the Newcastle Printmakers Workshop on May 17/18.  Click on the link for more info.  After I return to Queensland, I’ll be offering the same course in Brisbane, at the newly opened studios of Impress.  That will be 28/29 June.  I look forward to seeing you there.

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woodcuts, Dürer and the desperate man

June 13, 2013

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I’ve been looking at a lot of Albrecht Dürer images lately.  I acquired a secondhand book about Dürer recently, and I already had a book of the etchings and engravings.  One day I must get the companion book of the woodcuts.  I’ve also been able to see some of the woodcuts ‘in the flesh’ a couple of days ago, since the Queensland Art Gallery has the entire Apocalypse series, plus a few other woodcuts, on display at the moment. (on show until 21st July 2013).  Dürer is of course, one of the greats of Western art history.  Born in 1471 in Nurenburg, he was part of the great revolution in image making and distribution brought about by the development of the Gutenburg Press around 1450.  One of my favourite Dürer images is the one above, sometimes titled ‘The Desperate Man’, though Dürer himself gave it no title.  It is not a woodcut, but an etching done in iron plate, and possibly his first use of this medium which was in it’s infancy at the time.  So, with all this as background, and having just bought some ply wood with the intention of making some new woodcuts, and armed with the love of reversals and contradictions perhaps common to printmakers, I set about making a new work based on The Desperate Man.

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So, in making a woodcut homage to one of Europe’s first great woodcut artists, I’ve chosen to base it on one of his etchings – a medium he seems to have made infrequent use of (there are many intaglio prints by Dürer – mostly engravings).  When I teach relief printing, I seem to end up talking a lot about ‘black line’ and ‘white line’, and indeed I thought about this again in making this print (and I wrote about black line way back here).  You see, when Dürer made woodcuts, along with those that followed for many many years, his designs were ‘black line’.  An image would be drawn on the wood in black ink, and then the negative spaces lowered by carving, so that the lines would be left in raised relief (and hence the term relief printing) where they would receive black ink to then be transferred to paper.  Lately I’ve been preferring to make images with a ‘white line’ approach, thinking of the marks made by the carving tools as positive white lines on a black ground, coalescing to create and image delineated in white lines.  This doesn’t alter the nature of the way the process works – it is still the raised areas that receive and transfer the black ink, it’s just a different way of thinking about the creation of the image.  A lot of my recent images have been made in this way, from drawing with white chalk or pastel on black paper, to the monotypes of white clouds and skulls hovering in black spaces.  Indeed with this new print of The Desperate Man, I have continued my recent liking for bleed printing, that is printing right to the edges of the paper rather than leaving a white border.  I think this enhances the idea of the white line, making up the white object floating in a black field.  Viewers are sometimes fooled into thinking these prints are printed in light ink on dark paper, so used are we to the idea that the ‘negative space’ of an image equates to being ‘left blank’.  I love to watch that moment of confusion as people viewing these works figure out the mechanics.  To come back to that idea of printmaking being an inherently contradictory beast, this is indeed the case with a relief print, in the sense that the areas that print are those where no carving has taken place, but this is often masked in the way the conceptualy active parts of a design often seem to be made up of the blacks.  In a black and white image of course, as with any binary system, one side cannot work without the other.

Confusing?  Perhaps now you feel like The Desperate Man.

The Desperate Man (after Dürer), Woodcut, Peter McLean, 2013

The Desperate Man (after Dürer), Woodcut, Peter McLean, 2013. Printed in black ink on grey stonehenge. 28x65cm

(Yes, I know, I’ve left out his head. All the better to display the wonderful pose of the hands, which somehow makes me think of Child with a Toy Hand Granade by that rather more modern master image maker of humanity, Diane Arbus.  The Queensland Art Gallery, incidentally, also has some Arbus photographic prints on display at the moment).

raw ink magazine

May 16, 2013

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You might think that something called Raw Ink Magazine might be a publication about printmaking, or perhaps tattoos.  Actually it is about neither of these, and yet both!  Raw Ink Magazine is an online publication about everything creative going on in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, especially art, design and music.  They are no flash in the pan, with this months issue (May 2013) being number 20!  Arts journalist Ruth Dunn interviewed me recently.  We talked about printmaking, walking, ecology, process and inspiration.  You can see the results in issue 20 of Raw Ink Magazine.

rawinkmagazine.com

wood engraving classes

April 8, 2013

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I began teaching a new class today at the National Art School in Sydney.  I have been working with first year students over the last six weeks, giving an introduction to woodcut and etching. Today I began working with second year printmaking students on a relief printing course and began by introducing them to wood engraving, which is one of my favourite techniques to work with and also one I particularly enjoy teaching.  I think that is partly about it being a technique that is not practiced my many people, and offered as a class quite infrequently, so I enjoy the idea of being one of the people who is keep that knowledge and practice active.  It certainly didn’t look like the NAS tools had been used recently.  I think the students were a little surprised to see how small the blocks were that they were being provided with, but I soon managed to impress on them the fineness of mark-making that is possible and they have all undertaken admirably ambitious designs that they soon realised will take time enough to carve, despite (or perhaps because of) being so small.  I look forward to seeing some of the images start to be printed some time tomorrow.

I am also offering a number of other opportunities to learn this medium in the coming months, with weekend workshops running in Newcastle and Brisbane.

The Newcastle Printmakers Workshop will be hosting me on Saturday the 18th and Sunday 19th May with more details available at http://www.newcastleprintmakersworkshop.org/Workshops.html  For enrolments contact Samantha on 0422 362 924 or samantha.powell@det.nsw.edu.au

On the weekend after (25/26 May) I will have made my way north, and will be running the workshop at the Brisbane Institute of Art in Windsor, with more information and enrolments available on their website.  The BIA phone number is (07) 3857 5377.

I will also be teaching wood engraving and woodcut as part of the NAS public programs winter school in July, with more information available on the NAS website soon.

 

last days for ‘In Place’

February 7, 2013

There are only a couple of days left of my exhibition In Place at Brisbane Institute of Art.  It is by far the biggest show I have put on to date, with 63 items listed in the catalogue, including prints, drawings and artist books. I will be in the gallery again on Saturday from 10-4 if anyone wants to come and ask questions, hear my spiel, or bring me tasty treats like Cecily and Elliot did last week – thanks so much, it was very yummy.

A few more gallery install shots for those who couldn’t make it.

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printmaking classes

January 26, 2013

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I am once again offering two day printmaking classes in the exquisite art of the wood engraving.  A traditional relief printing technique best known for the ability to capture very fine detail in small scale images that draw the viewers attention into a miniature world.

This round of classes will be offered in Brisbane on February 9/10, and Inverell (NSW) February 23/24.

For more details and enrolments for the Brisbane workshop, see the Brisbane Institute of Art website at: http://brisart.org/ and follow the links to classes.

For details of the Inverell workshop see the Inverell Art Gallery website and follow the ‘what’s on’ link.  Enrolments for this class should be made through me by email to peter.mclean@ymail.com

 

exhibition extended

January 19, 2013

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In Place’, an exhibition of drawings, prints and artist books, continues at Brisbane Institute of Art.  The BIA have just asked me to extend the show, so it will now continue for another two weeks beyond the initially advertised finish date, until Feb 6.  So if you are in Brisbane and looking for something to do, and some great art to see, then come along to the gallery in the northside suburb of Windsor. I will be in the gallery on Saturdays (as I am right now as I write) if you’d like to get the full guided tour or ask any tricky questions.  I do rather enjoy meeting the varied people who have an interest in art, like the tradie who was driving past on his round of inspections and giving quotes this morning who noticed the gallery open sign so paused his schedule to take a look, and the people doing some great art classes here at the BIA today.

Wollemi Cliffs, soil, charcoal, bone powder and relief print on canvas, Peter McLean, 2013

Wollemi Cliffs, soil, charcoal, bone powder and relief print on canvas, Peter McLean, 2013

one little cloud just refused to agree with all the others

July 24, 2010


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