Media of the Week

Screen printing

https://pin.it/2awPBeB

I am nearly totally in the dark on this one as I have only done it once before a long time ago at school. Today screen printing, or silk screen printing is usually referring to a process used to print textiles whereby a fine mesh is used to deliver ink, using a squeegee which squeezes the ink through the mesh onto the surface you want to print.

The key thing to remember are that you do need to use specialist ink and your squeegee needs to be kept at a 45° angle as you pull the ink across the mesh as evenly as you can. I hope it will prove ideal for stencils, shop bought or otherwise, but if not I’m sure homemade stencils will be fine.

The kit you see above I bought about a year ago but still haven’t tried it as life events and other interests got in the way. I picked printing for my first Media of the Week specially to dedicate at least one day to using this kit and now the day has come at last to try it. I would be interested to hear if you’ve tried or are trying alternatives to the ink or if you’ve made do with the squeegee you used for cleaning windows.

While some motifs are used to make posters in this medium it seems most artworks are made from plates using a photograph for their designs, that’s not to say they’re not interesting, especially in the case of collage type montages, merely that it’s not all you can do.

Photos are used as they can be made into CMYK plates which the artist can then alter to change both the composition and or the colours used. Printed circuit boards use screen printing too among many other things.

I wanted to encourage people to use their own drawings to make stencils, not just for jazzing up some plain fabric but so people can make their own posters for special occasions and events from village fetes, fundraising events, a family celebration to a school sports day or even as notices about a lost pet. You’re not working with mirror images with screen printing, making it ideal for lettering, logos and much more besides. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if local independent craft shops or all local shops and small businesses hand printed all their own posters? It’s likely to happen, but I like the thought.

Some stencils I’m using.

All you need to do is tape a sheet of paper to the frame on the side of the screen. Insert your masks and stencils between the paper and the mesh. Turn it over and Kay it on a pile of newspaper on a flat smooth table or worktop. You then lift the mesh frame to arrange your design for your first colour. Pour some ink at one end of the frame and using the squeegee drag the ink across the mesh just once.

Things to watch out for are that there is nothing shape that can damage your mesh at any point. The only thing to master is how much pressure you need for an even coat of ink across the whole page and how much ink to use. You then carefully lift the frame and remove your stencils and you’re ready to go again.

If you want to do a print run of the same design then stick your mask to the frame, not the paper you’re printing on and for registration, just ensure your print page is slightly larger that the frame so you can mark exactly where the frames corners sit on you page. Then you are free to swap it for a new piece of paper to repeat the process.

I’m currently having a late lunch after doing 30 prints with my foam board plate but while that’s drying I am to start screen printing, after clearing the last of this morning’s work away.

Media of the Week

Masks and Stencils

To start where I left off from yesterday, I intend to do a few variations of this chap, some without using masks and others to demonstrate one use for them. I love this piece by Salvador Dali just as it is but by making separate blocks for each colour for my rendition of it, I have an opportunity to explore different colour combinations though I very much I will prefer any.

I rarely attempt to duplicate anyone’s artwork, in fact I’ve only done it once before and on both occasions it has been in a different media. As I started to draw this piece I knew I wanted to alter a handful of lines slightly but the more I drew the more my respect grew as I began to realise that the tiniest alteration can have a devastating impact on the final piece. I never set out to be accurate but I ended up half wishing I was. Results should prove interesting one way or another. Watch this space.

Mask printing

A quick and easy mask print using just torn up and cut newspaper.

What’s the difference between a mask and a stencil? Not a lot really. A stencil is a specific design to only allow ink to be applied in certain areas whereas a mask can be as simple as a sheet of paper that just covers up half the print area to act as a barrier to protect an area you want to leave untouched.

You might want to try other barriers and resists such as drawing with melted down batik wax, candle wax or beeswax, using masking tape and masking fluid. The aim is to get it off again but sometimes you’ll find you’ll need to adapt when it just won’t do that as often occurs with newspaper.

I did the above this morning and have just finished cleaning up everything to return to my reduction and registration printing. Mask printing like this often leads to happy accidents like newspaper, hairs and other unintentional debris landing where it shouldn’t… Like on you print. Normally you’d take great care to remove these things to keep your print crisp, clean and sharp when doing precision work. However if you like experimenting go with it.

Here for example the newspaper wrapped itself round the roller. Where you peel it off or not inking up again without cleaning the roller will result in different marks being produced. The only thing to really try to steer clear of is anything hard sticking to your roller that might damage it. You can peel off the newspaper and pop it on a fresh piece of paper for a new print.

Remember on Monday I suggested placing a plastic bag on your ink plate before rolling out? The texture from that alone is great for use as backgrounds invoking clouds, water, woods, mountains etc. And again from monoprint don’t firget you can draw with the edge of your roller, scrap ink off either the ink plate or your print for scraffito effects and so on.

Will be adding another page later today when I’ve cut a few more stencils out and done some more printing. Hope you pop back, but you can use all your off cuts from making stencils to make more printing plates or indeed as masks.

Stencil making

Art Talk

Art or Artist

Following a chat with professional artist on twitter, (Ian Pearshall see links page on this site for his), where I outlined what some of the factors that made me like a piece, I got onto the subject of whether or not it was important to me to know about the artist behind it.

I went through several instances of paintings I was drawn to without knowing a thing about either the background or the artist at all. Is it necessary I argued that we know anything? Can we not just value the work without any information? Is it always the case that after the initial sight of a piece we want more information about the artwork and or the processes, things that inspired it and lead to its creation or the life of the artist who created it or both?

Beata Beatrice

Gabrielle Dante Rossetti

This famous work by Gabrielle Dante Rossetti I got a print of years ago, framed it and it hangs on my wall to this day. For many years afterwards I knew nothing about either the painting or the artist, and was not in the remotest bit interested in finding out more other than to look for other works by him. None I found had the same effect or impact on me which is not surprising when I tell you why I love it to this day and why I didn’t want to know more for a long, long time.

I was blown away by this painting when I saw for the first time and continue to be so for one reason and one reason only. So much so in fact that I nearly cropped the print I had of it to just this.

That expression for me on it’s own is sheer genius because it doesn’t just capture a moment of time but a nano second and I’ve seen no other painting before of since to have merited that response. All the other elements Rossetti carefully and painstakingly took to the time to include irritated me. At the time this was painted a universally understood language of symbolism existed which to the modern viewer is largely lost, but I’m not about to spoil those new to this work to share what symbolism Rossetti included and meant to say by using them.

I felt that if we saw Beata like this as a film held on pause and then moved forward frame by frame the next few frames would reveal much more about what she was both thinking and feeling and that is what makes this painting so extraordinary in my opinion.

Rossetti himself might be mortified by this if he were alive today, or simply delighted to hear I enjoy it so much. I came across it around the time I was studying Art History at A level so had got into the habit of reading up on works and the artists who create them so had to make a conscious effort not to regarding Beata Beatrice, until one day I thought it unfair on Rossetti not to.

The value of the new

When an unknown artwork comes to our attention we know nothing about them or the story behind the piece. Many prefer to keep such things to themselves and we largely don’t expect to learn more. Why then has it become the norm to expect professional artists to bear their souls by revealing their inner workings, thoughts, feelings and entire life history in order to to be able to sell their work? Some don’t if course but the majority end up doing so.

My art history studies at school started, as was normally the case back then with European Art,  and with the Renaissance and Giotto because up until that point in Europe no one had really studied folds in the clothes worn before attempting to  represent them accurately. It sparked folk doing so and from there we whizzed through to the High Renaissance and the explosion of genres, styles and movements that then ensued. Each one was a reaction to something before it either by rejecting the fashion of the time or by developing a style from any period.

As time passed in that chronological journey, the techniques used began to become of paramount interest to successive artists because back in Giottos day if you wanted to do a realist artwork absolutely everyone needed to learn how to draw and paint everything they saw from scratch as no one had even thought if it before. Some started to focus more on perspective to get that right, others explored colour and so on. To this day techniques remain among the top things those interested in art ask about for for exactly the same reason… They want to have a go themselves.

Interest in the life of an artist really started to take off at the of the High Renaissance as by then it wasn’t just religion that people wanted depicted; wealthy patrons and families wanted commissioned pieces and if you were an artist then you started to promote your wares by sharing more about yourself to make a living. But it’s really only become the norm when agents got involved a couple if centuries ago as more and more people began to afford to buy pieces. My next Friday piece will explore further about how we quantify creativity in ‘Art Worth’.

Feel free to comment on anything you see on here that sparks your interest at any point. I can’t promise to respond quickly, but will do my best whenever possible.

Media of the Week

Registration, linocut, multiple blocks and reduction printing method

One of my favourite lino print artists is Edward Bawden and many of his works were used to illustrate books and posters. Popular at the moment is Angela Harding and Angie Lewin.

So far I haven’t talked much about registration which is just the term used to describe aligning plates so that they are positioned in exactly the right place with each new colour. In the print industry they use registration and cut marks. The cut marks are guides for where to cut a page to the correct size.

Registration marks help the print minder to adjust the settings on a printing press when the colours aren’t aligned. There are numerous ways to ensure that your print is aligned perfectly every time. You can use a block of wood with a right angled corner screwed to it which you place your plate hard up against and then your paper to match up.    

You can use pegs to align your paper too, but remember it’s not only your paper that can move but your printing plate too. As a general rule if you plate is thicker than about 3mm you will need some device otherwise place it on a board, mark draw a line round it and tape it onto a board. Now all you have to do is line up you paper on top. You can simple use a hole punch to punch a hole in each corner of your paper prior to printing. Pop it onto the board where your plate will sit, tape it down and draw through the holes. Every time you use that piece of paper, so long as you holes match up to the marks on the board and you carefully tape it down it should line up.    

Another method is to use a hinged frame for the top of your paper but you still have to be careful that the sides don’t slide so you need to ensure there is some sort of guide for that. Finally it is best to always have the top of your image facing away from you and mark the back of your paper at the top to eliminate the risk of your second, third or fourth colour being printed upside down.

So far this week, I have concentrated on patterns and nothing pictorial, and with abstract patterns you can get away with poor registration a lot of the time for a single print, less so with repeating patterns. For pictorial work it soon becomes vital that your registration is spot on.

A selection of my old lino tiles

Artist of the Week

My choice this week is Tim Gustard who is another of my followers on Twitter who has supplied me with both images and text and is especially for all Realism and Still Life fans out there who are up for a treat as his work it quite extraordinary. Thanks Tim.

Tim Gustard

Tim Gustard was born in 1954 in Lincolnshire, the son of a railwayman and amateur artist. He often went to work with his father who taught him to draw and paint in between trains. By the age of six he had conquered perspective and by seven he was painting in oils, not always completing the works mind. At fifteen he began selling his work and by the sixth form he was commanding up to a princely £50 a painting, not bad for 1972 and 17 years old.
He attended art school in Staffordshire and gained a BA (hons) in fine art. Here he met his wife Marion who had the most profound affect on the quality of his work, appearing in three paintings at his degree show.

Fast forward to the late 1980s and Tim was exhibiting in many prestigious open exhibitions around the country notably the RA, RGI, ROI, RI and for eleven successive years the RSA. It was in 1990 he painted his first still life as a present for Marion, enjoying painting it so much he just carried on with one still life after another. Soon he was spotted at the RSA by a succession of galleries and was able to become a full time professional in the early 90s.


Moving to the Lake District in 1997 his work was already in great demand and from the bespoke studio at the bottom of the garden he paints in acrylic in a somewhat traditional manner, but with a modern twist, never photorealistic but certainly realistic tempting the viewers to try and pick an object or piece of fruit from the surface of the painting; titles, often humorous are mainly courtesy of Marion.
He paints the most beautiful and precious of items from life, carefully composing them in his studio which is a cornucopia of antique silver, porcelain and glass, some ancient artefacts are early Greek and Roman and all appear in his work sooner or later.


He has had many solo exhibitions all over the country with many selling out immediately and he regularly exhibits at the Royal Institute of painters in watercolour at the Mall Galleries.
He paints almost every day, Marion keeping him tied to the easel to keep her in the manner to which she has become accustomed, occasionally allowing him a few hours fishing when the weather is suitable.

The paintings illustrated can be purchased from Beckstones gallery in Cumbria https://t.co/uL0AUUSUpo telephone 01768 483601.
Tim can be contacted via Tim Gustard fine art on Facebook, you will also find him on Twitter and Instagram.

Media of the Week

Printing blocks and repeating patterns

A printing block is simply another form of printing plate. They tend to be made from more durable material so that you can clean them thoroughly to use again and again. Wood and lino are favourite materials of print artists to make their printing blocks for precisely those reasons. As I’ve never done a wood block, wood cut or wood engraving, I’ll not be covering that for a while. The principle is the same though for how to use a wood block.

However, in my guide to novices to printing this week, as I don’t want you to waste money on expensive materials until you’re sure that printing is for you, I’m also not using lino today, I’ll be covering that tomorrow. I’ve choosen two methods the uses foam sheets. Specifically the sort that has a sticky back to it which you can find readily available online, in most well stocked craft shops and among the goodies in some toy shops.  Ordinary foam sheets will do but you will need some glue to stick them to a board.

The advantage over lino is not just cost but it’s far quicker too. The disadvantage is it won’t be easy to achieve really fine details because of the spongy property that foam has, but you can add fine detail using a cardboard plate after you print gas dried. For the finest details even linocut artists often switch to wood and other methods which I’ll mention at the end of this week.

There are several ways to make your block using foam sheets. You can cut them with a pair of scissor and space them out slightly. Or cut out the shapes you require before sticking the to your board but you might want to draw your design on the board first so that you can place them exactly in the right position. You can stick the foam onto your block and then draw your design and cut it out with a sharp craft knife or you can draw your design on the back of your foam cut out the pieces one by one, peel the backing off and stick the pieces down.

If you want to get two for the price of one to get two blocks made from the same design, then using tracing paper make  two copies of it onto two pieces of paper or thin card – you can flip your tracing paper if you like for the second copy. You don’t have to do any of this but it helps you to position the cut pieces more accurately as to you cut each piece out. Now just stick your paper design on two pieces of wood with your design showing.

The foam sheets as described above you can, if you are very careful with your cutting, make two printing blocks for the price of one. One will be a positive plate the other will be a negative plate see below. (I recommend a simple design for your first attempt with very little detail.)

So, back with your foam sheet. Cut your design out carefully. As each piece is cut free, peel the backing off it and stick those pieces onto the blocks you prepared. And piece by piece you stick the waste from one on one of your blocks for the negative block and the rest on the positive block. Use the roller to apply the ink, slap a piece of paper on. Rub or roll the back of it with a clean roller and hey presto, you’ve just done your first block print. If you cut your whole design out first… Good luck matching where they need to go as you now have two jigsaws on your hands with all the pieces of both mixed up, but if you can’t take a joke then perhaps you shouldn’t be following me.

If you find you don’t want to do two block from one design then save any pieces you’re not using anyway as shapes to make a new design.

The nice thing about these foam sheets is you can always replace any pieces that fall off or get damaged with new a new piece which you simply cannot do with linocuts.

Remember those thick cardboard printing plates from yesterday? Stick them on a block of wood and you’ve turned them into a printing block. If you only used thin paper and card to make your printing plate, oil based ink is best to use but you can always add more layers and fine details with more paper, sewing thread, lace, thin netting etc.

Remember those prints which haven’t worked out but either had too much ink, too little or were just texture or colourful…sifft through them for those you want to use as backgrounds and save the rest for another day. They’re useful for all sorts of projects not just print.

Tomorrow I will be using some lino prints I did years ago to expand on how to get even more from your block prints. On Sunday I’ll share the results of my attempt’s of this week’s experiments as a sort of finale in a gallery.

Here’s a few more ideas for you to consider trying. You can use a printing block to produce a repeat pattern or as an element to make a new pattern either by making several blocks and overlaying each one or by turning your block 90 or a 180 degrees away from you last impression. This second method is easier than the first because aligning your block to something you can already see fully as you position it generally is.

By such means fabrics, wallpaper and many other thing besides came into existed many centuries ago. At the beginning it was a labour intensive process that required steadily required increasing skill as designs became ever more elaborate. Some designs instead of repeating by align the next row exactly above the last moved the block half way along just as bricks are laid.

Then someone came up with the brilliant idea of putting the design on a roller which was a much easier way to do a repeating pattern. Firmly stick a piece of string to an old rolling pin and voila! You’re away. The bigger the diameter of your roller the bigger your pattern could be and the larger the gap before it repeats. From there just about everything that was being printed them got mechanised, the skill and craftsmanship and delightful little quirks from mishaps soon disappeared as mass production took over to enable everyone to get the same product to the same standard everywhere they went. Nice in one way, but dull in another.

One of the properties of foam sheets is that you can bend it easily, so if you want to make a roller use an old bottle, tin can, used paint tin from decorating your home and… I think you can work out the rest. For more ideas take a look at my Artists that Inspire page at Edward Bawden. I’ll be adding a few more print artists later this week.

Will be adding more to this post a bit later. I had a very late night last night, not just printing, but clearing up, sorting and preparing to make more print blocks. It’s always best to keep plate and block making well away from wet ink as bits can easily end up in the ink, on your prints and get lost.

Media of the Week

Printing plates and stamps

A printing plate is different from the ink plate you roll out ink on for monoprints because the plate is your design and unlike monoprint this method enables you to make many copies of the same design. How many depends on what you use to make the plate from. Even in the print industry plates used for millions of impressions eventually deteriorate.

In the art world this is often what is behind limited editions but also because as artists we often just want to move onto a new piece.

Printing plates enable us to really go to town using colour too but I’ll get to that a bit later on. For now all you need to know is how to make a plate. There are hundreds of ways you can make your own unique printing plate from all manner of materials, but for this post I’ll be concentrating on just one way of making them from things you have at home making it as cheap as possible but you will need:

  • Some scissors or a craft knife
  • some thick card, a board or some wood to act as a backing
  • some strong glue
  • rubbish
  • Some imagination and a sense of fun

If you have ever done any collage work you know what’s coming. The difference is you need to ensure that the end product has a raised surface which picks up the ink leaving the rest of the surface to remain ink free. You can roll the ink straight onto the plate but it tends to result in gumming up the whole thing so your carefully planned masterpiece looses all its detail. Much better to roll out the ink and the using the roller once it is loaded up with ink to apply ink to your printing plate.

What’s the difference between a stamp and a printing plate? Not a lot really. Think of stamps made from cutting a potato in half and then carving a design into the flat side, inking it up and you’ll get the idea. A stamp you press onto the paper. With a plate you do the reverse although you can use some plates as stamping blocks too. You apply the paper to the plate and by using a clean roller on the back of the paper or by gently rubbing the back of it you get you print.

So first select your materials that you want to use for your design from normal household rubbish that is flat and clean. You can choose and I recommend a mix of materials especially from packaging, with some being more suitable than others. Shiny surfaces like foil resist ink but you might want that to happen in some areas but it can be difficult to stick to anything. The same is true of most thing plastic… What are you left with paper, card, netting, labels, strings, threads, dried organic matter, scraps of fabric which all come with a range of textures and absorbancy just perfect to make a very interesting printing plate.

You lay out your design and stick it down piece by piece. If some of the glue oozes out from underneath from a piece you are sticking down, wipe off the excess but try not to leave it on the surface of your printing plate although some are happy to leave it. I use a strong PVA glue but some materials need heavy duty stuff and you then need to be aware of how some of them react. Some cause a chemical reaction, some will melt plastic and polystyrene so check the label and test a tiny drop of it out side, wear heat resistant gloves if in doubt and armoured plating it your that unsure, though frankly if you’re that scared… perhaps you should simply avoid those glues. Large blogs of glue take ages to dry so wipe them of. Let your masterpiece dry and then you are ready to print.

As you’ll be applying the ink with a roller onto your plate it gives you the opportunity and choose where to apply the ink. If you want to save an area for a different colour, cut to the shape required before applying any ink, place over the area you want to keep ink free, ink up your plate, pop your paper on top and rub the back of the paper or use a clean dry roller on it. You can also mix up colour using your roller. You’re done and so on for adding more colours.

The only snag is that you have to line up your print exactly each time it you want your print to have another colour added. Aligning your print to a plate is what is called registration. And with these types of plates you have to wait for the ink to dry as washing off ink from a plate made of cardboard will result in the cardboard getting soggy and disintegrating. If you’re using oil based ink this can take days in some cases.

More on registration and why the thickness of your plate matters tomorrow. Don’t fret though save all your plates as different methods can be used for different thicknesses which I’ll be explaining as I go along this week. But I end this post with other ways of adding colour that don’t require registration.

One of my favourite print artists is Edward Bawden. And he often used a block of colour in the background in many of his pieces. Before using a second third, fourth etc plate to build his images up. This is why the convention is to start with you lightest colours and end with your darkest. You simply cut out the shape you want from a piece of paper and use the hole to print your block of colour, not the shape you cut out. Bawden then used registration in most of his works but many artists don’t.

The the other way to add colour is to use stamps and yes you can buy them but tomorrow’s post will enable you to make more of your own. So don’t rush out to buy them for basic shapes like circles, triangles and rectangles. Ink up bottles, boxes, and others shaped items you’re about to throw out. Save our pennies for stamps with more detail. Bear in mind though the general rule of the greater the detail you want the less ink you apply. This is why a lot of stamps come with an ink pad to dab the ink onto to the stamp before use it on your artwork. Otherwise use oil based ink rolled very thinly. Once dry you can apply colour with any media you like but be aware many inks can smudge to muddy the work because they are either not dry or are waterbased.

Media of the Week

Printmaking

For my first choice of week long exploration of art mediums to kick start this regular feature I have chosen a massive genre. I have done this for two reasons the first being I have been itching to do a week of it for a while, but what with getting a car again after a long gap of not having one at all and launching this website I hadn’t got round to it.

The second reason is that it seems to be so poorly represented on social media. At time of writing I have very few Printmakers following me and those I have rarely appear in my Twitter feed which is a shame as it’s a medium I particularly enjoy doing but don’t often get round to yet always enjoy looking at.

This week I hope to touch on some of the many different forms of printmaking out there for artists because of course it’s and industry as well. Sadly for me I don’t have all the different types of equipment here, nor the room to house them for all the types of printing there are.

It does mean however that the artworks I do produce this week and techniques used can all be done at home, without the need for large presses and as an introduction to printmaking I’ll be touching on different methods used to introduce colours and textures into your work.

However before starting any potentially messy project I first clear everything I can out of the way put down lots of newspaper to cover all surfaces, get out my scruffiest clothes already covered in paint splashes, ink, glazes stains etc, get out a pair of reusable rubber gloves ensure I’m not wearing anything I can accidentally dangle or drape onto my new work and so forth. This week because I’ll be doing most of this in my living room on my newish carpet it’s especially important to prepare to avoid spillages and mishaps and I also put down a firm board. If you’re messier than me, I suggest investing in a full biohazard suit.

Print can be terrible messy when you first try it but with experience you will get to realise the tidier and cleaner you keep things and the more methodical you get the better the results. But you don’t need to worry about that if all you want to do is just have a go at it for the first time or just have fun.

The only special bit of equipment you might need to go out and get is a printing roller. Like the one on the right. The one on the left with green ink is also a printing roller but it is not what you’ll need for the experiments I’ll be covering this week. So if you haven’t got the right one ask for a printing roller with a rubber roller not a sponge or fluffy roller that you would perhaps use to decorate you house with. You can get these for under £10 from many craft, art shop and online. The rest of the materials you will be using largely consist of things found at home but there will be extras on our travels. None of them cost much and where you get them from is up to you entirely.

Printing inks for artwork come as water based or oil based and each has different properties and just like paint their is a wide variety of printing inks to choose from some are specifically designed for particularly printing methods but most are versatile enough to be tried for this week’s experiments. Check with a supplier for a general purpose one before purchase. You can use acrylic so long as it’s neither too runny nor too thick. It’s usually just fine out of the tube or pot though.

Take your time and go at your own pace as this post will always be here to refer back to. So to begin…

2 minute monoprint done in a life class using just line

Artist of the Week

Egon Schiele

Egon Schiele was an Austrian painter, a protégé of Gustav Klimt, Schiele was a major figurative painter of the early 20th century. His work is noted for its intensity and its raw sexuality, and the many self-portraits the artist produced, including nude self-portraits. The twisted body shapes and the expressive line that characterise Schiele’s paintings and drawings mark the artist as an early exponent of Expressionism. As a child, Schiele was fascinated by trains, and would spend many hours drawing them, to the point where his father felt obliged to destroy his sketchbooks. To those around him, Schiele was regarded as a strange child. Shy and reserved, he did poorly at school except in athletics and drawing, and was usually in classes made up of younger pupils.

When Schiele was 14 years old, his father died from syphilis, and he became a ward of his maternal uncle, Leopold Czihaczek, who, like his father was a railway official. Although he wanted Schiele to follow in his footsteps, and was distressed at his lack of interest in academia, he recognised Schiele’s talent for drawing and unenthusiastically allowed him a tutor, the artist Ludwig Karl Strauch. In 1906 Schiele applied at the Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Arts and Crafts) in Vienna, where Gustav Klimt had once studied. Within his first year there, Schiele was sent to the more traditional Akademie der Bildenden Künste. His main teacher at the academy was Christian Griepenkerl, a painter whose strict doctrine and ultra-conservative style frustrated and dissatisfied Schiele.

In 1907, Schiele sought out Gustav Klimt, who generously mentored younger artists. Klimt took a particular interest in the young Schiele, buying his drawings, offering to exchange them for some of his own, arranging models for him and introducing him to potential patrons. He also introduced Schiele to the Wiener Werkstätte, the arts and crafts workshop connected with the Secession. In 1908 Schiele had his first exhibition, in Klosterneuburg. In his early years, Schiele was strongly influenced by Klimt and Kokoschka but soon evolved his own distinctive style. Once free of the constraints of the Academy’s conventions, Schiele began to explore not only the human form, but also human sexuality. Schiele’s work was already daring, but it went a bold step further with the inclusion of Klimt’s decorative eroticism and with what some may like to call figurative distortions, that included elongations, deformities, and sexual openness.

Schiele began experimenting with nudes and a definitive style featuring emaciated, sickly-coloured figures, often with strong sexual overtones emerged in 1910. His unconventional style went against strict academia and created a sexual uproar with its contorted lines and heavy display of figurative expression. At the time, many found the explicitness of his works disturbing. In 1911, Schiele met the seventeen-year-old Walburga (Wally) Neuzil, who lived with him in Vienna and served as a model for some of his most striking paintings.

They wanted to escape what they perceived as the claustrophobic Viennese milieu, and went to the small town of Krumau, the birthplace of Schiele’s mother. Despite Schiele’s family connections they were driven out of the town by the residents who strongly disapproved of their lifestyle. The couple moved to Neulengbach, near Vienna where Schiele’s studio became a gathering place for Neulengbach’s delinquent children. Schiele’s way of life aroused much animosity from townspeople and in April 1912 he was arrested for seducing a young girl of 13, below the 14-year-old age of consent. The police seized more than a hundred drawings which they considered pornographic. When his case was brought before a judge, the charges of seduction and abduction were dropped, but the artist was found guilty of exhibiting erotic drawings in a place accessible to children. In 1915, Schiele chose to marry the more socially acceptable Edith Harms, but had expected to maintain a relationship with Wally; she left him and never saw him again.

​Three days after his wedding, Schiele was ordered to report for active service in the army where he was initially stationed in Prague. During the war, Schiele’s paintings became larger and more detailed, his female nudes became fuller in figure, but many were deliberately illustrated with a lifeless doll-like appearance. By 1917, he was back in Vienna and able to focus on his artistic career. His output was prolific, but in the autumn of 1918, the Spanish flu pandemic that claimed more than 20,000,000 lives in Europe reached Vienna. Edith, who was six months pregnant, succumbed to the disease on 28 October. Schiele died only three days after his wife.

In the Beginning

Bear with me as I get to grips with this new site of mine. A long time ago I attempted to study fine art and after years of neglecting doing drawings, paintings and some print making have finally got back to it because during lockdown like many, I found an app that helped me to get drawing again.

That app was https://sketchaday.app and you can chat to them on Twitter or Facebook about what they do. I am very grateful to them for two reasons, the first being it got me drawing, and second being it inspired me to develop my own website, but sadly that website has just about done my head in. So I’ve started this one to take over from it bit by bit.

I still pop into SketchaDay but quite often I found the prompts weren’t inspiring subjects being either too specific or too ambiguous, but as they told me on Twitter, they didn’t like to make things too easy which is fair enough except that if your aim is to get folk to start drawing, the subject matter I think should not be difficult to grasp. What to draw can be a problem for artists of any level of experience and I did enjoy challenging myself to try to think out of the box for a while.

The main reason for starting my own website was to ensure I did an artwork each day for a year and to share a bit more info about art and the subject matter I found interesting, challenging or inspiring. So I launched https://sketchsocial.weebly.com/ at the beginning of this year to do just that. Sorry Weebly fans but this free platform is not for me and if free versions annoy you, then I don’t then pay for a better product from the same provider. So I’ll see how I do with WordPress but am much more hopeful already as it’s much easier to navigate.

So there you have it my story so far and here’s where I’m up to with my self imposed challenge of doing an artwork a day.

https://sketchsocial.weebly.com/prompt-ideas.html

This page is just a gallery of images with my prompt ideas but the journal page has been sharing techniques, and some of my favourite artists works which I’ll be devoting separate pages for in here in due course.