This section describes some of the technical and material process that I use within my work as well as some of the materials themselves.
Illustration/works on paper:
I am cautious about the materials I use in my illustration work, favouring watercolour, acrylics and graphic pen to create with. I tend to work on heavy watercolour paper which is always acid-free, as are any graphic pens used in a drawing. To preserve the life of these works they are stored in plastic presentation sleeves inside a portfolio case to protect them from any unneccessary exposure to light.
Oil paints, primers and supports:
As my work has progressed over the years I have made every effort to ensure that I use the best quality materials that I can in making my paintings. The most significant development in this area for me has been using rabbit-skin glue and linen when making new supports and canvases for my paintings. Rabbit skin glue, or 'size', is made by melting crystalised rabbit skin flakes with water over a gentle heat. When applied to a piece of linen or canvas the glue dries hard thus creating a lasting barrier between any oil-based paint mediums and the canvas or linen itself. After two coats of size have been applied the canvas is then given two coats of oil primer - a medium that creates a hard wearing and silky painting surface. The quality of surface can be controlled by the number of coats applied, with two generally being sufficient. Oil based mediums give great longevity to a painting but without something to protect the cloth underneath the oil would eventually eat through the support and destroy the picture. The use of oil based primers is advantageous when using oil paints as it gives the surface of the painting a distinctive sheen and luminosity that cannot be achieved through acrylic mediums. For an overview of my creative process in making a painting please visit this page: 'Birth Of A Painting'.
Framing and framing materials:
I undertake the framing of all my artworks myself which often means much problem solving and developing new techniques to frame artworks on unusual supports such as small panels or leaves. but my basic principles are always the same - framing is not only decorative but a way to preserve a work for years to come. This means that it should be sealed against anything from the outside getting in and whatever a picture is housed in should contain no materials that may harm it from the inside. I tend to favour box frames and float mounting as they allow the art within to become an object of beauty. When I am framing, conservation is always a primary concern and so I use PH neutral tape to mount a work as well as PH neutral papers and museum board to support a drawing, for example. The reason that works on paper can become yellow over time is because the acids within the paper begin to destroy its structure, often through an adverse reaction with light, and so obtaining the correct materials for the job is always a key issue. Conventional tapes such as masking tape, sellotape or parcel tape should never be used during the framing process but all to often people do. I use a hard wearing framing tape to seal the back of the frame once the backing board is fixed in place - this ensures a neat and tidy finish and that the work is properly sealed against dust or dirt getting in. In my experience proper framing material suppliers are hard to find. I use London based firm D & J Simons who have a trade counter.
Screenprinting is a mechanical form of production often used in commercial printing for its accuracy, speed and large print volumes. Essentially ink is forced through the tiny holes in a very fine silk screen that has been stretched over a wooden or aluminium frame using a rubber blade, or 'squeegee'. Inks may be water-based (acrylics) or oil-based and images are fixed to the screen through either a photo-sensitive emulsion, a solid paint or 'screen filler', or rather more crudely - a stencil attached to the screen itself.
Linoprinting is a traditional form of printmaking where a piece if linoleum is carved into using various specialist tools and gougers. The areas that have been removed of lino material are negative spaces and therefore will be left as bare paper once printed - producing an image. Prints are achieved by rolling an oil based relief or 'block' printing ink over the lino plate, placing thin printing paper over it and rubbing with a Japanese tool called a Baren, a process which draws the ink from the linoplate and on to the paper. In some cases complex multi-coloured prints are produced by printing each piece of paper with a number of different lino plates, each of which have been carved out in specific areas to build up a single image. The process for producing lino prints is much the same as for creating woodcut prints.
A Giclee print is a high quality digital print using inks with a high pigment content which results in a long lasting and hard wearing image - resistant to fading and light damage. Giclee's are printed on papers with low acidity which again extends the lifespan of the image and its resistance to light degradation. Giclee printing may be used to reproduce an original drawing, print or illustration or as a form of image production itself.