Posts Tagged ‘California’

Diversity in Print

March 7, 2013



Last night saw the opening of Diversity in Print an exhibition of prints at the Royal Queensland Artist Society gallery on Petrie Terrace (Brisbane).  I’m in Sydney teaching at the moment so couldn’t get to the opening of course, but the good people there phoned to tell me I had been awarded a second prize for the wood engraving Forest Tunnel shown above.  This print was one of the ones I made in California, while at the JB Bunk residency.  I particularly like the crispness of the printed bark, that I had carefully retained on the block of birch wood as I cut and polished it prior to carving the image.  This print also makes use of  hand printing with a banana leaf barren in such a way as to produce subtleties of tone through the controlled use of variable pressure.  I’m glad to have been able to represent the somewhat neglected art of wood engraving in a show called Diversity in Print.

The show is on until 23rd March at 162 Petrie Terrace, Brisbane.



August 31, 2012

Megablah is a members project being run by Megalo Print Studio in Canberra. Inspired by Noel Counihan’s The Broadsheet publications, produced in the 1960’s featuring relief prints by Counihan and others.  Everyone using the studio’s at Megalo is being encouraged to make a megablah – or even just submit and image and they will make it for you!  So of course, over the last few weeks, a megablah has been one of the things I’ve been working on.

With Counihan’s work being the loose inspiration, I wanted to make something with a more obvious political content.  So it was, that I decided to make use of the copy of the San Francisco Chronicle I had kept from last year, along with some of the leaflets I picked up at various Occupy Encampments.  I left California in late October 2011, when the Occupy Camps were still in full swing on the streets, and it was very much an issue in the media.

I decided to pretty much make a straightforward re-creation of a selection of my source material, and let it speak for itself, but with a few twists.  So this led me down the wondrous path of CMYK screenprinting – something that has long fascinated me but which I hadn’t actually done before.  CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black – known as the process colours and used along with colour separations and halftones to print full colour images, like those found in newspapers and magazines.  When you see the separations, it can hardly seem possible that they will combine to produce the colours you want, but magically they do.  Well almost.  Printing this stuff by hand, not to mention variations in the amounts of pigment and paste, always leads to minor variations and inconsistencies.  With a lot of patience and careful testing they can be ironed out, but this was meant to be a quick fun project, so caution was thrown to the wind and I just printed them straight up.  Time for some pics-

First colour down, Cyan.  Megalo had already printed up the border for me, I just had to insert my image.

Second colour down, so with Cyan + Magenta it’s looking pretty purple.

The yellow screen, clamped in the table and ready to print.

So now with Cyan, Magenta and Yellow all printed, it’s looking pretty good (though it did end up a bit over yellow in some spots).  The final black will really make it zing, even though in this case there was a lot less on the black screen than I would have thought.

And There we are.  I just love the way the shadows under that top part of the image really make that bit of paper seem to sitting above the rest.

The final stage to complete the image was to cut out and paste in the wood engraving I had made previously to replace the main photo of some pretty heavy looking police action to clear the Oaklands Occupy Camp.

Quite pleased with the final result.  On one level it’s simply a recreation of my memorabilia, documenting a particular episode in history.  On another level, the two types of print used refer to newspaper imaging old and new, with wood engraving being the original means of producing illustrated newspapers, and of course CMYK and halftone is the current technology.

remembering san francisco

August 14, 2012

It’s been nice to be remembering my time in California last year, while I’ve had the Fog and Fault-lines exhibition on at Megalo Print Studio + Gallery in Canberra, and as I relate to the audience here my experience of the residency there.  While the works from the residency focused on the physical and natural environment, I was of course also interested in observing aspects of culture and politics etc, especially while I was travelling after the residency and spending more time in towns and cities.  So this week I’ve  been working on a new/old project, that I have had in mind since then but is only now starting to take form.  I’ve kept a San Franciso Chronicle (October 26, 2011) and various leaflets that I collected from the Occupy Camps in Berkley and San Francisco, and am planning to recreate them to produce a print as part of Megalo’s Megablah project.  So far I have made a wood engraving, based on the main photo from the Chronicle’s front page, and printed them on kozo paper, but that is only a part of the overall image, so stay tuned for more…

Fog and Fault Lines

July 22, 2012

Tomales Bay, relief print, Peter McLean, 2011

The Great Northern adventure is not quite finished (a few days left in Helsinki), but it is time to cast my mind back to California as I will be showing the work created there last year at Fog and Fault Lines, a new exhibition at Megalo Print Studio and Gallery in Canberra.  I was invited to participate in the JB Blunk Residency by the Lucid Art Foundation, located in Inverness, West Marin, and spent two productive months there.   Actually, I often cast my mind back to California, and Inverness in particular.  I felt so at home there, like that place and I were really beginning to understand each other, especially the hills and forest around JB’s very special house.  The prints and drawings that will be shown in Megalo’s gallery still make me feel like I am looking into the eyes of the spirits of the land, speaking to me with a voice I can’t quite understand.

The show will be opening on August 2 at 6pm and will run until August 18.  Megalo is at 49 Phillip Avenue, Watson, ACT, Australia and is open Tuesday to Saturday 9.30am – 5.00pm.


work on show

March 15, 2012

If you happen to be in Melbourne, Australia over the next couple of weeks…

California Vista, wood engraving, Peter McLean, 2011

…then you can see two of my wood engravings on show at Brunswick Street Gallery (BSG) as part of their annual Work on Paper prize.  I’ve entered two of the works I made while I was in California last year.  I see on my friend Annika Romeyn’s blog, that she too has been selected for the exhibition of finalists.  I wonder how many other people I know will have work there? – wouldn’t be surprising since I know a lot of excellent printmakers.  A pity it’s just a bit too far away for me at the moment.  Opens Friday 16th March, 6pm.  BSG is at 322 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.

engraved forest tunnel

February 3, 2012

A while back I shared some photos that I described as forest tunnels.  These images became a bit of a fixation for a while.  I was attuned and looking for them whenever I was out walking.  I did translate one into a wood engraving, carved on another piece of Birch wood cut from the same branch as the block for View of Black Mountain.  A number of people told me they really liked the forest tunnels, so I thought I should post an image of the engraving as well.

Forest Tunnel, Peter McLean, Wood Engraving, 2011


November 21, 2011

I’ve been enjoying a rather different enviroment to California, travelling the green (and often wet, cold, and/or windy) hills and valleys of New Zealand.  Brief and intermitant access to a computer makes keeping up with log posts difficult though.  So today I’m going to cheat, and suggest you go and have a look at a new travel blog from Rob Bertels, with whom I shared some of my last travels in California.  He writes about our shared journey here.  But that was weeks ago now – I’ll have lots of posting to catch up on when I get ‘home’ in mid December.  Inverted commas being necessary since the physical location of home is somewhat undetermined at the moment.  In the meantime Rob has moved on to Mexico, so do check out all his writings (and pictures) at


October 30, 2011

Posts have become sparse lately, a symptom of having too much fun travelling and exploring.  Recent weeks have allowed the resumption of an ongoing project that has been latent for too long.  Whenever I camp, I take a photo of  my tent to represent each nights camp.  Just now I am wondering if this project has a title?  I haven’t considered it before, since so far it hasn’t had any physical outcome, just a growing file of photo’s to be used for something one day.  They are closely tied to some past drawings titled ‘sites of occupation’ which also documented camping sites, so perhaps it is part of a larger project under that banner.  Like much of what I do, these photo’s, taken as a set, contain interesting binaries.  In this case, the consistency of my familiar* set of camp equipment contrasts with the changing locations and my old theme of Nature/Culture is there too of course.  So, as I sit in the Auckland Library, having just arrived in New Zealand, here is the USA subset of tent photo’s.


(*those few readers who are very familiar with my two old tents may have noticed I have splurged on a new one! A two man ultralight from Big Agnus with a sagebush coloured fly.  The orange tent belongs to my fellow traveller for part of the way)

open studio

September 27, 2011

Lucid Art Foundation hosted the open house and studio day this past weekend here at the JB Blunk residency.  It feels like the climax of artistic activity, since it was my chance to show what I’ve been doing.  Of course there are still a few things I want to finish in the little time left. I didn’t really manage any pictures of the crowd, since I was too busy talking and doing print demos then, but here are some from my installation.


Thanks to everyone who came along!


it comes it goes, but it’s always lurking

September 12, 2011

The Fog!  Of course the San Francisco region is famously foggy, and West Marin is no exception.  Sometimes it comes sneaking down the long narrow Tomales Bay, following the line of the San Andreas Fault.  Sometimes it comes streaming up over the Inverness Ridge driven by a cool breeze off the ocean.  Sometimes it is clear and sunny with not a cloud in sight, but you know the fog is waiting just off shore, ready to reclaim the airspace once the day cools or the wind changes.  How could I spend time here and not try to capture this ever-present but ever changing element of the landscape.

Fog drawings are chalk on black paper, and on the white paper are charcoal drawings focussing on the forest shadows.  Each sheet is 56×76 cm half sheet of stonehenge.

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