Two good printmaking courses

Art, Printmaking

1. Linocut printmaking with Hugh Ribbans

Hugh Ribbans is a printmaker with a fine sense of design and pattern, whose work I discovered on my first visit to Faversham in a very interesting hat shop in West Street.

Kent Wildlife by Hugh Ribbans

Hugh Ribbans | Kent Wildlife

That was two years ago. I’m not saying that it was Hugh’s work that brought me to live in Faversham, but it was part of the realisation that the North East Kent coast has a strong creative heart.

When Creek Creative teamed up with Hugh last autumn to run a linocut printmaking course, I was thrilled. A group of six very different but very eager students flourished under Hugh’s guidance and encouragement. The course was a great success and there has since been a second beginners’ course and a special one-day workshop concentrating on multi-block printing.

The nicest thing to come out of the course is that the six of us continue to meet up for a monthly printmaking day at Creek Creative.

It took a while to get my head around the reductive method of working – cutting away the whites – when I am more used to drawing on white paper. My first linocut “Beware of the Man” was perhaps overambitious, including reversed lettering, but I got there in the end. An “art cartoon” as it was described and I’m quite chuffed with that description.

Beware of the Man

Mike Roberts | Beware of the Man (linocut print)

My second linocut was completed after the course had finished and was inspired by a dog who followed me along the footpath over the marshes, constantly searching for bigger sticks to present to me. “Stick!” was accepted for exhibition in the East Kent Printmakers Exhibition at Herne Bay Museum & Gallery.

It was a strange experience seeing my work in a gallery – with a price tag on it! Will it sell before June 1st?

Stick!

Mike Roberts | Stick! (linocut print)

2. Silkscreen printmaking at the Print Block, Whitstable

Emboldened by the linocut course I took things on a step further by signing up for one of Suki Hayes-Watkins’ screenprinting courses at her Print Block studio in Whitstable. Located on the East Quay, it was a rather bleak winter setting on dark and windy Tuesday nights! But inside the studio, a warm and happy atmosphere welcomed.

Dancing Man in Whitstable

Mike Roberts | Dancing Man in Whitstable

Assisted by Karen Radford, the course took us through paper stencils, painting directly on to the screens and finally making photostencil screens.

For my photostencil screenprint I took a piece that originated as a doodle which I had already worked to full colour in Adobe Illustrator (for my business card) and pared this down to five spot colours. I printed out each spot colour as black on my inkjet printer to make the artwork for five stencils.

At the Print Block, working with five colours of ink that I physically mixed myself and knowing the order to print them was a new challenge.  It was only when the fifth colour was on that I knew for certain the colours had worked well.

Silkscreen printing at the Print Block

Silkscreen printing at the Print Block

Beach Boy

Mike Roberts | Beach Boy (silkscreen print)

The Print Block was a great place to work: Suki and Karen were expert and supportive teachers and it was inspirational to see the work of people that they print editions for, including Paul Bommer, a favourite a mine.

Total! badged up job

Art, Cartoons

Total! badged up job
For a couple of years in the early 90s I created pixelly ‘sprite’ illustrations for Total! magazine, dedicated to computer gaming. Here’s the free badge that came with one issue, featuring the constantly bemused Andy and Steve.

The artwork was created using Deluxe Paint… on an Amiga 500!

Cartoon stereotype

Art, Cartoons, Illustration

Just Amazing: the Frenchman who ate everythingJust Amazing. TV Times 1984. More art from the miketoons dusty archives. An illustration to accompany programme details in TV Times. Apparently the man featured in the programme ate bottles, bicycles and even a light aircraft. Cartoon stereotype of a Frenchman? I admit I’ve never met a Frenchman dressed like this.

Thanks to Elliot Elam for pointing out the Frenchman was Michel Lotito – Monsieur Mangetoute!

Exhibition sketchbook: Ronald Searle ‘What? Already?!’, 90th year exhibition, Wilhelm Busch Museum, Hannover

Art, Cartoons

Exhibition sketchbook: Ronald Searle – self portrait, originally uploaded by mike(toons).

2010 has been a year of rediscovery for me. And the greatest of these has been of Ronald Searle’s work, made possible by exhibitions in London and Hannover in honour of his 90th birthday.

The fact that I could still draw, after a decade of beating ever increasing amounts of type into smaller text boxes (sometimes laughingly described as graphic design), was also a rediscovery. The joy I felt at sketching these drawings by Searle was astonishing. I burst into tears at one point. Something had been re-established in me.

These sketchbook drawings are not intended to give a wider public much information about Searle’s work. They were really just for me. A way of connecting. Better sources for actual examples of Ronald Searle’s work are the Ronald Searle Tribute and Brian Sibley has written several pieces about him. Worth a look.

And if you can, get over to Hannover before 30 January 2011 to see the exhibition!

Exhibition sketchbook: Perhaps His Majesty's Minister is not aware of the grave displeasure with which the Primrose League views the Government's sunflower scheme.
Exhibition sketchbook: Perhaps His Majesty’s Minister is not aware of the grave displeasure with which the Primrose League views the Government’s sunflower scheme, originally uploaded by mike(toons).
Exhibition sketchbook: Ronald Searle - And this is Mr Eccle Shave. He wants a bloody revolution.
Exhibition sketchbook: Ronald Searle – And this is Mr Eccle Shave. He wants a bloody revolution., originally uploaded by mike(toons).
Exhibition sketchbook: Ronald Searle - Layman's Guide to the Warrior's Anatomy & Artist's Anatomy
Exhibition sketchbook: Ronald Searle – Layman’s Guide to the Warrior’s Anatomy & Artist’s Anatomy., originally uploaded by mike(toons).

The right hand sketch (above) is missing about 30 arrows linking the artist’s attributes to his head, which I lazily omitted to draw.

Exhibition sketchbook: Some corner of a foreign field that is for ever England... (Telescopic photo taken through the open window of the ladies room of a well-known Port Said hostelry)
Exhibition sketchbook: Some corner of a foreign field that is for ever England… (Telescopic photo taken through the open window of the ladies room of a well-known Port Said hostelry), originally uploaded by mike(toons).

Exhibition sketchbook: Clown by Ronald Searle (1971)

Exhibition sketchbook: Clown by Ronald Searle (1971), originally uploaded by mike(toons).

I love the contrast between the sober normal world seen in the businessman’s clothes hanging on the pegs and the ludicrous clown in a purple striped dress.

Exhibition sketchbook: two cartoons for Le Monde by Ronald Searle

Exhibition sketchbook: two cartoons for Le Monde by Ronald Searle, originally uploaded by mike(toons).

The cartoons done for Le Monde, over the last 15 years or so, show that Searle’s powers are undiminished. These are my two favourites but there were many more in the exhibition. Top: “Au suivant!“, bottom “Foubelle“.

Exhibition sketchbook: Ronald Searle - owl in ink and scribbled colour pencil
Exhibition sketchbook: Ronald Searle – owl in ink and scribbled colour pencil, originally uploaded by mike(toons).
Originally posted on miketoons.blogspot.com – Thursday, 9 September 2010

Roger Frames buys Budjit Games

Art, Cartoons, Illustration

Roger Frames - masthead

I’ve been scanning in old art commissioned by Commodore Format magazine in the early 1990s. At the time, Future Publishing was probably my best client and I was producing artwork for many of its magazines.

The regular project that I enjoyed the most was illustrating the pages where the low-cost (Budjit) computer games were reviewed by the fictitious young, accident-prone kid – Roger Frames.

Issue #1 of the magazine saw Roger in basic black and white line but very soon – by issue #4 – a couple of full colour illustrations of Roger’s antics appeared every month. This increased to as much as four illustrations in some issues.

I’ve chosen a few of my favourites: some are scans from the printed magazine because the artwork was either not returned or been lost.

Roger Frames - snotty nose

Roger Frames: Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside

Roger Frames: Commodore 64 sand sculpture

Roger Frames: Computer Sand Sculpture

Roger Frames: All at sea

Roger Frames: All at seaRoger Frames - Hospital VisitRoger Frames: Hospital Visit

Roger & Debit watch the Chancellor's Budget Speech

Roger Frames: Roger and Debit watch the Chancellor’s Budget Speech

Roger Frames: Arrested for Begging

Roger Frames: Arrested for begging

Roger Frames - Asleep in the sun

Roger Frames: Asleep in the sun

Roger Frames - Sunburn

Roger Frames: Bad Sunburn

Roger Frames: The Untouchables

Roger Frames: The Untouchables

Roger Frames - Batman and the vicar

Roger Frames: ‘Batman’ and the vicar

Roger Frames - Batman and the vicar

Roger Frames: ‘Batman’ and the vicar

Roger Frames - Hanging on

Roger Frames: Hanging on

Roger Frames - Beach Treasure Hunt

Roger Frames: Beach Treasure Hunt

Roger Frames - Bath Tub Sub

Roger Frames – Bath Tub Sub
Originally posted on miketoons.blogspot.com – Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Quick Brown Fox

Art, Illustration

Quick Brown Fox
…and Lazy Dog.

Scraperboard illustration in a woodcut style which was used as the logo for Quick Brown Fox (typesetters and pre-press company in Manchester, UK). It was based on a colour painting by another artist, whose name I don’t know.

It was done in my first years working as a freelance illustrator. Back then, if anyone asked “Can you draw wildlife?” (or virtually anything under the sun), I’d answer “Sure!” and worry about how I was going to do it when I got back home with the brief and the purchase order.

Apologies for the intrusive copyright notice. I’d prefer a lighter touch but I’d like any rip-off merchants there might be out there to have to work for their ill-gained goodies.
Originally published on miketoons.blogspot.com.

Assassination of the pretender

Art, Fine Art

Assassination of the pretender

Assassination of the pretender. 25cm x 21cm.

Sketchbook work.

Some time free from the clutches of the Digital Life. Using inks which I’ve had for over 15 years. And they still work.

Playtime with the materials… slowly evolving from the colours and shapes.

Originally published on miketoons.blogspot.com.