Archives for posts with tag: Art

As part of my NY resolution (not really, I don’t make them, but I did have a vague feeling I wanted to Do Something Different) to be more creative/find other ways of being creative, I booked an “Introduction to Etching” weekend, at Edinburgh Printmakers.  Never having done anything remotely similar, I had no idea what to expect (apart from acid baths and bits of metal) and I plunged into the decision with all the confidence of the Truly Ignorant. Had I known the extent of the process, the number of steps and stages, the tiniest part of which was actually coming up with the design/artwork, I probably would have hesitated. I am thankful that I was clueless as it was the most absorbing, inspiring, and mind-boggling creative activity I’ve undertaken since the photography degree! Probably more so, as I at least knew how to work a camera  beforehand, whereas I knew nothing about copper, zinc, hard ground, soft ground, stopping out, acids, intaglio (is that a pasta?), aquatinting or texture imprinting prior to Saturday morning.

Not really knowing what kind of subjects or approaches would work best with the media,  I  took a few of my photos that I thought might work/be the easiest (!) to draw on metal. I also started drawing again, about three weeks before the course, so took a couple of those to work with. I hadn’t drawn in many years, was never brilliant at it anyway, so took myself off to an evening of drawing with Jake Spicer, at Cass Art, Islington, in preparation, which was great fun. It started me down the route of trying continuous line drawing, which freed me up from self-doubt/expectations of being rubbish, as the end results couldn’t possibly be terribly realistic.

Day One

So, armed with the photos and the line drawings I turned up at Edinburgh Printmakers on Saturday morning. Scarily, everyone else on the course had been to art school, most were working artists, one a retired art lecturer, and at least half had done etching before, though back when it was more toxic.

Nae bother! Everyone was really friendly, the tutor, Jess, was brilliant, and, although it would have been nice to walk away with a masterpiece to hang on the wall, the real objective was to understand the process(es) so I could go away and have a think about what to create which would work best as an etching.

That said, I was quite chuffed with the results.

The first plate of two was zinc, to which I applied hard ground, cooked in the oven, cooled then ‘drew’ the line drawing onto the plate with a scraper tool. It was then etched (i.e. dipped in acid), then could be used to make an artist’s proof.

This is the line drawing I used (Man on the Cardiff Train!).


Thank you to the man sitting opposite me on the London to Cardiff train a couple of weeks ago!

The second was a copper plate, onto which I applied soft ground, and worked directly on that to create the line drawing from this photo.

Marawa the Amazing, Jacksons Lane © Jane Hobson.jpg

London, UK. 16/07/2011. Marawa the Amazing, semi-finalist in Britain’s Got Talent, performs at Jacksons Lane, as part of the Postcards Festival.

Having etched the drawing into the plate, here’s the artist’s proof of this first stage.


(The horizontal lines were caused by a fellow course member shoving it off the newsprint it was resting on whilst I made a packing tape ‘tail’ for the plate, in order to suspend it in the acid bath. Whilst disappointed at the time, I actually quite like the accidental marks, particularly in the finished piece).

Day Two

Buzzing with excitement after day one, I still had no idea what the textures and aquatinting processes would be like for day two. The zinc plate (with the man on the Cardiff train) was to be coated with soft ground, and textures chosen from an assortment of bubble wrap, wallpapers, ferns, feathers, netting, etc) to ‘colour in’ sections of the image. This was the bit that really turned the creative switch on in my head – the possibilities of this are endless and my fellow course members were creating some fantastic images using the textures as integral parts of the design. The person next to me had drawn a rural scene – a munro, a glen, some sheep, and used textures brilliantly to add in the grass, clouds, trees etc. Beats cross-hatching the entire plate! I had plenty of empty space in my design, but no real purpose for the textures, so went a bit abstract with mine! Hardened in the oven, etched and cleaned, the plate was ready for the printing press.

Here’s the final image for Man on the Cardiff Train.


The copper plate was used to demonstrate aquatinting, which sounds like you are applying colour by hand, but is actually much more complicated. Airbrushing acrylic particles evenly onto the plate, the design is then ‘zoned’ according to how light/dark you want the various areas and ‘stop out’ is used to mask off areas in order of light to dark (the longer the plate is in the acid, the darker the areas go, as it bites deeper into the plate and, therefore, carries more ink – the opposite of exposure in photography!). I used three steps in my aquatint of Marawa and this is the result.

Firstly, the copper plate itself.


and now the Big Reveal:


Marawa the Amazing, Aquatint Etching. © Jane Hobson, 2016

The course fee also includes three months’ membership for Edinburgh Printmakers and I can’t wait to go back and try something else. At the moment, I am thinking of creating a set of circus etchings using aquatint.

If anyone is thinking of doing a printmaking taster course (or even summer school), I can highly recommend Edinburgh Printmakers.


As usual, the rate of work increased and I couldn’t keep up the running commentary via this blog. so, here’s a round-up of some of the work I had published during the Edinburgh Festivals 2015, in no particular order. Hopefully, there’ll be a follow up post with some of the pictorial highlights, given that the best work is often not published!

a Girl Is a Half Formed Thing, Traverse, Guardian, 09.08.15 Adrienne Truscott, Guardian 08.08.15 Aisling Bea, Gilded Balloon, Observer, 09.08.15 Aisling Bea, Guardian online 13.08.15 Ballett Zurich, Playhouse, EIF - The Guardian - 29 Aug 2015 - Pa Bryony Kimmings, Traverse, Mashable, 13.08.15 Joe Lycett, Pleasance, 27.08.15 Spillikin, Jack Dome, Pleasance, The List 12.08.15 Spillikin, Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh Guide, 23.08.15 Swallow, Traverse, FT, 07.08.15 The Christians, Traverse, The Guardian 10.08.15 Alasdair Gray, Telegraph, 23.08.15 Marriage of Figaro, Festival Theatre, EIF, Guardian online 14.08.15 Ballett Zurich, Playhouse, EIF – The Guardian – 29 Aug 2015 – Page #48

You wait for ages then three turn up at once.

This week’s photocalls have been a bit bunched up, which makes for a pleasantly varied week! Tuesday was the completely frantic day, with Julius Caesar at the Globe in the morning, Nederlands Dans Theater (full dress) at The Wells in the afternoon and New English Ballet Theatre (full dress) at the Peacock in the evening. It made for round-the-clock working (editing, processing and outputting taking longer than the shoot, FYI) but the effort was well worth it. The Shakespeare was exciting, and the two dance productions beautiful and emotionally charged.


Beware the Ides of March! Caesar is assassinated!

Beware the Ides of March! Caesar is assassinated!

Nederlands Dans Theater, SCHMETTERLING, Sadler's Wells

Nederlands Dans Theater, SCHMETTERLING, Sadler’s Wells

So far, the published results have been three from NEBT, in The Times (large picture, surrounded by terrible news), The Guardian (uncredited, grrr) and the Financial Times.

New English Ballet Theatre in the Times

New English Ballet Theatre in the Times

New English Ballet Theatre in the Financial Times

New English Ballet Theatre in the Financial Times

New English Ballet Theatre in the Guardian

New English Ballet Theatre in the Guardian

Wednesday saw the launch of the Barbican’s new exhibition, Digital Revolution, which is mainly in the Curve gallery, though extends out the back of this space, down to the Pit theatre, in the open space outside the front entrance to the Curve and also to a site in Finsbury Square. The Barbican’s exhibitions are always intriguing and this one was no exception. It was notable that this digital exhibition was being examined, processed and enjoyed in a digital manner, with people taking photos of the installations on their mobile phones and even posing for selfies with the Pac Man arcade machine! My favourite pieces were three interactive art exhibits: Petting Zoo (‘snakes’ which respond to movement in not-always-predictable ways), Pinokio (a Pixar-esque lamp that follow your face), and birds made from mobile phones which spring to life when you dial their numbers). Ingenious and fun!

Digitising the digital at Digital Revolution, Barbican.

Digitising the digital at Digital Revolution, Barbican.


On Thursday, a tiger came to tea at the Lyric Theatre, where “Thriller” happens every night. I photographed the author of the book, “The Tiger Who Came To Tea”, Judith Kerr, last year at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and she was lovely, so it was an especial pleasure to be able to do the production photography for David Wood’s adaptation for the theatre. With children’s productions, the shoot is often straight after a morning performance and it always takes me back to my own childhood when I enter the auditorium to the wails of tots, reluctant to leave the magical world behind. As David Woods noted in a newspaper interview this week, children’s theatre is hugely important. I am not going to get into a whole diatribe about the importance of the arts to human imagination, creativity and downright happiness here; suffice it to say they are! That given, engage them early, before adults have taught them that “that’s not for the likes of us” and you have a new generation of theatregoers who want to see something live on stage, and feel the emotion of a production, without a physical fourth wall of glass or screen to hamper that engagement.

Tigerobics with The Tiger Who Came To Tea at the Lyric, Shaftesbury Ave.

Tigerobics with The Tiger Who Came To Tea at the Lyric, Shaftesbury Ave.

“What do you do when you’re not working?” is a question I get all too often. What the inquisitor usually means is “what do you do when you’re not shooting?”, as if that is all a photographer does all day. It’s an infuriating question. If they bothered to stop and think, they’d realise that running a small business entails way more than the principal service or product you are providing. This means that my working week, rather than having oodles of free time, as I am sure some of them imagine, I work longer hours than I did in previous jobs (and that’s not easy, given I was working in advertising at a senior level, which entailed stupidly long hours). So, for the rest of the non-shooting week I have been doing the painful, unglamorous, but utterly necessary tasks of …..chasing late payments, invoicing, marketing (that’s a chapter in itself), supplying print-ready files to clients, negotiating, travelling, researching, recceing, accounts updating, social-mediaing, expenses updating, sorting out equipment and making sure batteries are charged and everything’s working, packing, unpacking and re-packing camera bags, etc etc. Not to mention the editing, processing, captioning, keywording and outputting, which takes longer than the shoot. Those files don’t just instantly come out of the camera ready to be used as some might imagine! Also, the nicer activities of keeping in touch with colleagues and clients, and talking to potential Leading Ladies and other interested parties about said LL project. Over the last few weeks a few more fabulous LLs have agreed to take part – I am not going to reveal who until after they have been photographed and I am happy with the results though! Still a long way to go on the project, but 15 wonderful people have taken part so far with many more lined up. Watch this space!