This Week: Sculptural Rather than Colourful in My Garden, and More Monoprinting

A few moments from my week, starting with a few things that caught my eye as I wandered around the garden this morning.

The colours in the garden have changed to their late autumn palette, and sculptural shapes become evident as leaves have fallen. Decidedly frosty mornings, with the sun is sitting low in the sky (geographically I’m at around 57°N). When I’m not wandering around the garden, the tops of the hedgerow often have lots of little sparrows sitting in them; I counted around 30 yesterday.

Inside, in the warmth of my studio, I’ve been doing some more monoprints based on a photo of the in-house art critic sitting in his comfy chair in the bay window. I’m ignoring that it prints in reverse for the moment to make things simpler for myself.

The top two are ghost prints of the lower two monoprints. The inadvertent mis-inking on the top of his head which has led me to thinking these should be titled “I’ve a hole in my head”. I was not consciously channelling my inner-Munch “Scream” but rather exploring different backgrounds to the figure. I like the softer one (bottom left) done with a cloth rather than the more graphic (bottom right) done with a scraper.

I dug out a watersoluble graphite stick pursue the idea of creating similar tones through different mark making. I didn’t push this drawing very far because I liked it so much at this stage.

There’s dry pencil on dry paper, water brushed over the pencil to create a wash, wet pencil (the point dipped into my water pot) on dry paper and on wet. It was a 4B so is quite dark though not quite as black as the photo suggests. The paper having a slight texture rather than being smooth increases the range of marks I could make.

I also discovered viscosity printing, where you deliberately make one ink less ‘sticky’ than the other and can then print two colours simultaneously. My results were dubious but did give me a sense of the technique and that it suits my impatience.

  • LEARN:
    WRONG!: Mistakes, Inaccuracy and Failure in Drawing: Livestream talk by Edinburgh-based figurative artist Alan McGowan, Monda, 11 December 2023, 7pm GMT (UTC+0)
  • READ:
    “Our species’ failure to eradicate war is a failure of the imagination, a failure to imagine what it is like to be anybody else, without which there can be no empathy and compassion — those vital molecules of harmony, the other name for which is peace.”
    Maria Popova, About War, The Marginalian 16 Nov 2023
  • READ:
    History teaches us that time can bring about reconciliations that seemed at another time impossible, but only when violence has ceased, whether by agreement or through exhaustion”
    Kathleen Lonsdale, “Is Peace Possible?”, quoted in “The Building Blocks of Peace” by Maria Popova, The Marginalian 6 March 2022,

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