My Choice to use an Earthy Palette

Art, Creative life, Uncategorized

You may notice when you look at my art that it is often quite muted and earthy in colours, and that is a by-product of the materials I choose to use. I love bright colours in my personal life, but for my work I’ve chosen to go with a more muted colour palette, as it’s often better for myself, others and the environment. I prefer to keep my sustainable footprint as small as possible by working with found, recycled/rescued or upcycled materials where I can, and in particular ones that were made with as few harmful dyes as possible.

Of course, sometimes nature provides a way of working that gives spectularly pure colours (I’m looking at you, indigo), and some of the materials I’ve used happen to have been bright pops of colour, such as the off-cuts of industrial faux-leather I’ve used in my bags in the past.  More often though the less harmful dyes are of course, more earthy. I have used un-bleached cotton  and linen in things like my zipped pouches (I’m working on a new range!), which instead of bright white gives a lovely warm beige. Paper from recycled pulp is also often of mixed fibres, resulting in natural melange of soft colours.  I also love working with recycled paper for my lino prints and the handmade cards.

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Unbleached cotton for one of my hand-painted zip pouches

My pregnancy this year spurred me to make a change to my watercolour paint palette too. After a bit of research I am happy to have found what seems to be quite a varied palette with some rich colours, which is still less toxic to Baby Q and myself. Out went the obvious Cadmium hues and a few of the ‘older’ pigments (they’ve developed safer ones now). You can see a few changes I made in my swatch below. Scribbles look super professional, I know.

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My adjusted palette swatches.

It’s not perfectly safe, but at least I’ve chucked out some of the scarier ones. No Vermilion-induced birth defects for us (it contains mercury)! I’d love to hear from you if you know any good resources for checking what are ‘safe’, or relatively safe pigments.

Here’s a recent painting I did for this year’s Christmas cards (the robin one was a very limited run… it’s sold out!)-

laura carter illustration robin

My biggest bug-bear is that I miss a bright red. The other hues in my core palette are very lovely, as is Indian Red (or Light Red, as named by some brands), which is the red I’m currently using. You can see the swatch tucked under where I’ve crossed out ‘Cadmium Red’, which I’ve stopped using. Light Red just misses that… pizazz that Cadmium has, and tends to muddy other colours when mixed. Light/Indian Red also varies from brand to brand. So again if anyone knows of any brighter, relatively safe reds, please let me know!

Back to work!

Art, illustration, Uncategorized

I’m back in ‘work mode’ after the holidays, finally.

Can’t wait to get stuck in with my ongoing and new creative projects, I’ve so many plans!

I’m trying to share my work more with the world this year, so that people can see what it is I actually do! Some projects are too personal to share, or I can’t share them yet, but here are a few pet portraits I was lucky enough to be commissioned for before Christmas-

All watercolour, and the little wooden plaque was gouache.

Do contact me if you’d like me to do something personal for you, human or furbaby!

Happy New Year, and here’s to a creative 2018.

Laura

Home linocut: Part 1

Art, illustration

This is my first linocut in 10 years. The last one I made was at university, in a lovely print studio with a beautiful big press. I recently got into stamp carving, and thought I’d try to up my game a bit with some lino and a small handmade press I made myself (really a glorified flower press). Using a strawberry plant on my balcony as inspiration, I cut a small block to test the best setup.

I vaguely remembered lino cutting being painful, and needing to keep plasters close at hand. So I built myself a bench block, which helped a lot and actually (for the record) I DIDN’T CUT MYSELF ONCE. What.

Then I had so many variations on materials that I wanted to experiment with. I ended up dabbling around with two basic black inks: Akua Intaglio and Daler Rowney Water-Soluble block printing colour. I found barely any visible difference between the resulting prints, but preferred the more velvety texture of the Akua ink whilst working with it. Both are water-soluble and make for a quick and tidy clean-up, with no harsh chemicals that oil-based inks need.

I did the whole session on a big glass plate, occasionally putting the press on the floor to kneel on it so I could tighten the wing nuts, which worked a treat. Definitely an improvement on the low-pressure ”baren” technique. You can see from the photos that I still had issues with the paper creasing around the corners of the block, which I attribute to uneven application of pressure (I pressed too hard at the corners). I think this was worse on the Fabriano paper. I’d definitely go straight to the 100% cotton rag again; the 50% cotton Fabriano paper just gave more problems overall. It just didn’t seem to pick up the ink as well, though I did like the starker contrast between the white paper and black ink. The price difference between the two papers is worth it.

I then wanted to add colour, and kept it simple with green watercolour and red Prismacolor pencil (the red watercolour wasn’t as vibrant as I wanted). Both worked well with the ink and paper.

 

I’m pretty happy with the results. Of course there’s a long way to go until I’ve nailed a reliable setup and printing process, but I’m already happy enough to have given a couple of these away as gifts. It’s so satisfying to be able to pull multiple originals on my dining table, and I’ll definitely try it again. Small ‘snapshots’ of my balcony garden are something I’ve been wanting to capture for a long time, so I think I’ll be making a series. I’ll update with my progress next time!