Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘norm’

A Prelude to Printmaking – Part 2: Linocut

Following yesterday’s post, introducing my first ever attempt at etching to the world, here is my first ever attempt at lino cutting. Linocut, which is a form of relief printmaking, involves cutting into linoleum, which, while originally conceived for flooring, has been used by printmakers for almost as long because of its soft surface for cutting while retaining a sufficient durability for printing.

Linocutting is perhaps even trickier to get your head around than etching. This is because you use the same piece of lino to make a print of various colours. In order to “protect” each colour, you cut away at the lino further between prints, going from light to dark because light colours will never show up when printed over darker inks.

Cutting into lino

Cutting into lino

So to explain further, you first cut away from the lino anything you want to remain white. This is because the ink will never touch those cut away areas when the ink is rolled over the lino, so once applied to paper, the paper will remain white where the cuts are. Once you’ve got the hang of that and printed your first colour, the same then applies again to that colour – once you roll a darker colour over the lino, it will simply print on top of the first colour unless you cut more of the lino away to protect it. And so it continues for each layer of colour.

We worked with three colours, but with no forward planning on the details of my image, it was extremely difficult to work backwards and think of the image in terms of light going into shadow, and what colours needed to be preserved and what cut away. The lino also proved difficult to cut in a controlled manner.

The result is something a little coarse, but it’s a finish which I think works really well with the theme – Mexican Norm! Here is the finished print (I printed an edition of 5):

Mexican Norm (linocut print)

Mexican Norm (linocut print)

…and here is the lino after it’s final cut.

DSC07300

Linocutting was not a technique I loved as much as etching, largely because I find the process of making the image in etching easier to control. Nevertheless I was delighted with the results achieved through linocutting and would certainly like to give it a go again.

Norm prints a plenty, here we come…

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Prelude to Printmaking – Part 1: Etching

I’ve never really paid much attention to prints, and still less black and white prints which, in a gallery full of paintings never seemed to capture my attention. All of this began to change around last summertime. The first trigger was the Royal Academy’s annual Summer Exhibition where, amongst the numerous galleries full of paintings of often rather questionable quality, I found myself inexorably drawn to the print gallery, a room packed to the rafters with prints of every conceivable style, technique and colour (and in fact bought two!).

Lucian Freud, Man Posing (1985)

Lucian Freud, Man Posing (1985)

The second trigger came on a visit to the Courtauld Gallery at London’s Somerset House, where a newly acquired collection of Lucian Freud etchings had been hung. I was completely entranced by these works, which, in their monotone black and white seemed to shift focus from what is usually Freud’s fleshy textured paintwork to the almost visceral, fervid lines and cross hatchings by which Freud had reimagined many of his painted portraits in this new medium. In particular I adored Freud’s etching Man Posing (1985) in which the use of etching as a medium seemed to me so artfully applied to capture every hair, muscle and contour of the figure’s naked body.

Completely captivated, I went home and that very evening researched the internet for tips on how to etch. I very soon realised that unlike painting, etching would not be so easy to self-teach, and promptly enrolled myself for a printmaking course at the Art Academy in London Bridge (there being no introductory course dealing exclusively with etching).

Having now done this short weekend course, I can unconditionally say that I am hooked on printmaking, and on etching in particular. On the course we undertook two techniques – one was relief work (we used lino cutting – which I’ll tell you all about in Part 2 of this post); the other was the much anticipated etching technique, something which I found every bit as enjoyable to execute as I had taken delight in looking at Freud’s finished prints.

Another favourite etching - Edward Hopper, Night Shadows (1921)

Another favourite etching – Edward Hopper, Night Shadows (1921)

The process of etching is surprisingly fiddly. Of a whole day’s work in the studio, I probably spent a maximum of around 45 minutes actually drawing out my image onto plate – the remainder of the time was engaged in preparation and printing. Etching uses metal (we used zinc) and an image is etched into the plate using acid. That plate is then plied with ink and used to print an edition. So how does it all work? Well basically, once you’ve got yourself a metal plate (and carefully degreased it), you apply a dark “ground”. This is the layer which protects the metal when it is placed in acid. Once applied, you use a needle to draw your image. It is this process which reveals the metal underneath which will then be “etched” into the metal once acid is applied. So the process of drawing into the ground is a somewhat perplexing one – not only do you have to plan the image in reverse, but you’re also working in the colour negative, cross-hatching into metal to create shadows on your print, when what you end up drawing appears to be light on dark.

Anyway, I’m getting a little techy and I’m sure what you actually want to see is the result. And here it is: Sailor Norm on a beach in Mallorca (holding a fish). I probably ought to think of a better title, so any suggestions are welcome.

Here’s the metal plate with the image etched into it.

DSC07310

Then below, you can see what it looks like once printed: a series of prints which shows me experimenting with ink removal. In the first, I removed all the ink off the plate apart from the application of ink to the narrow etched lines. In the second, I left a little ink on the plate to create a moodier effect, and for the third and fourth left more and more, specifically targeting certain areas where I wanted more shadow. My favourite is probably the second or third. What do you think?

Sailor Norm on a beach in Mallorca (holding a fish) - print 1

Sailor Norm on a beach in Mallorca (holding a fish) – print 1

Sailor Norm on a beach in Mallorca (holding a fish) - print 2

Sailor Norm on a beach in Mallorca (holding a fish) – print 2

Sailor Norm on a beach in Mallorca (holding a fish) - print 3

Sailor Norm on a beach in Mallorca (holding a fish) – print 3

Sailor Norm on a beach in Mallorca (holding a fish) - print 4

Sailor Norm on a beach in Mallorca (holding a fish) – print 4

So that’s my first etching done, and with an intermediate course now booked, I cannot wait to create more and explore this new medium further. The etching is truly my oyster…

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

2012: the Norms review their year

It’s been one hell of a year for the Norms. One could almost call 2012 the Year of the Norm, except to do so would be to presuppose that no subsequent year would be equally as Normy, something which, the Norms anticipate, will certainly not be the case. 2012 has nevertheless been a year of great Normy prowess and adventure. Why 2012 was the year when the Norms headed to Italy, to Spain, to Portugal, to Holland and to France. They sailed down canals, they took part in Easter Parades, they cycled over Amsterdam’s bridges and boarded Lisbon’s famous trams. In Paris, the Norms explored the sculptures of the Musée Rodin, while back in London, they milled around in the National Gallery, became covered with Yayoi Kusama’s polka dots and ran from a fly attack in Tate’s Damien Hirst exhibition. Oh yes, those Norms are cultured little blobs, but they proved themselves to be great sports-norms too, partaking in London’s hugely successful Olympic and Paralympic games, as well as mustering the energy to stand in crowds waving the flag for Queen Elizabeth Norm’s Diamond Jubilee. So you see 2012 really was the year of the Norm, and although you may have seen them all before, here is a little review of some of the sketches which captured the Norm’s adventures throughout the year.

But that’s not all. 2012 was also the year when the Norms entered the history books, having themselves repainted in the image of some of the world’s most famous paintings. From Norms in the image of Manet’s Dejeuner sur l’herbe and, minus an ear (not that Norms have ears), in the guise of Van Gogh, to the Norm with a Pearl Earring, and the Norm with an Ermine, the Norms have recreated artistic greats such as Da Vinci, Frans Hals, Valezquez and Goya with their characteristic glowing blue complexion and their wide captivating eyes. What better time then, than at the end of the year of great Normular artistic endeavours, to take a look back at some of those paintings that made the year so artistically fruitful.

So that’s it – it was a year of fantastic Normic success, both in colour and black and white. Here’s to 2013, for a year of great creativity, activity, and a continuously abundant imagination with the power to carry both me, and the Norms to new and undiscovered heights. Happy New Year!

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

On the Seventh day of Christmas, my Normy gave to me…

…seven swans a-swimming

So on the sixth day of Christmas, poor Normy never managed to give his loved one Normette any gift at all. Or, to put it accurately, he did give a gift, but Normette would have had to fly all the way out to the Caribbean to get her hands on it, and what she would do with 6 slightly sun-roasted geese complete with an underlying taste of sun tan lotion she didn’t know. So as for the seventh day of Christmas, Normy had all 3 of his fingers and his 1 thumb crossed in the hope that his next gift would be a success, and Normette had her carefully curled eyelashes equally crossed in the hope that this time she might actually receive something she could enjoy, or at the very least get her hands upon!

Up next in the 12 days carol is the seven swans a-swimming. Normy wasn’t overly sure how to go about gifting 7 swans. It seemed altogether rather extravagant to him, and what with there being some antiquated law about its being treason towards Her Majesty Queen Normabeth II if you kill a swan in her realm (allegedly she owns them all), Normy thought he had better steer clear of the real thing. Instead he had a brainwave! He could take Normette on a trip down to the local park, where, as luck would have it, there was a “Swan Lake boating park”, whereby those Norms who enjoy bobbing around on the water, could hire a swan-shaped boat and sail around the large lake to their hearts’ content. Why, he would even hire 7 of the things if he needed to!

So off they went, Normette barely containing her excitement as they went on their merry way to collect her latest present. However this excitement was, as ever, shortlived. No sooner had they arrived in the boating park, than they noticed an ugly large sign alerting them that Swan Lake was closed! The swan-shaped boats were there, but there was certainly no swimming, or boating to be done in them – the lake was frozen solid! Poor Normy! Poor Normette!

On the 7th day of Christmas my Normy gave to me, 7 swans a-swimming (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

On the 7th day of Christmas my Normy gave to me, 7 swans a-swimming (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

However there is surely a happy ending to this story… The lake may be frozen, but just look what a magical ice-skating rink it has become. As Norms young and old set out on their Norm-tailored skates, toboggans and sledges, dancing and skidding across the lake’s hardened surface, others enjoy the festive Christmas fair which has popped up around it, complete with mulled wine and traditional Christmas toys, and behind, a ferris wheel spins Norms around at a leisurely pace, affording them the best view of the frozen lake, the market and the woods beyond.

So no swans a-swimming, but this winter wonderland must be worth some brownie points surely? Well done Normy, you’re getting there! Let’s hope his luck continues on the eight day of Christmas…

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

On the Sixth day of Christmas, my Normy gave to me…

…six geese a-laying

Now Normette would be the first to admit that her presents from Normy haven’t exactly been a huge success so far. The Norm-pear tree was pretty good, albeit that it takes a lot of watering and doesn’t survive at all well in this chilly weather, oh and the partridge perched in it keeps on attempting to peck at the baby Norms; then there were the two turtle-doves who wouldn’t fly or fit in a dove cot; the three French hens were awfully chic but ever so demanding, and as for the four colly birds – by the time they had flown from their pie, shocked the guests and splattered gravy all over Normette’s living room, they then proved a devil to catch. And perhaps it’s better not to mention the five gold rings, one of which caused an irrevocable breakdown in Normette’s trust for Normy (despite his later protestations that the fifth ring was presented in homage to the carol, and not intended for another lover!). Despite all of this, when the sixth day of Christmas came, Normette was rather looking forward to receiving another gift, and Normy saw it as an opportunity to redeem himself.

Imagine their shock then when no present turned up! Let me explain… Next on the list in The Twelve Days of Christmas are the six geese a-laying. In pursuit of six egg-laying geese, Normy called his local farmer and explained what he wanted. Farmer Norm noted down the order, but was rather busy skinning some Turkeys for a mountain of Christmas orders, so he passed on the order to 6 geese on his farm explaining what Normy wanted.

Now geese are not the cleverest of birds, and when they saw that Normy wanted “six geese a-laying”, they assumed he wanted six geese lying down. Now “lay” is the past tense of “lie”, so it’s not altogether surprising that they made this obvious grammatical mistake, especially as geese are not that used to reading… Anyway, the geese, being something of a group of opportunists, decided that since they were expected to present themselves lying down, they may as well do it somewhere nice. And seeing as Normy had already sent payment to the farmer for the geese, the very same pesky birds decided to take the cash and book themselves the first available flights to a location where lying back would be enjoyable.

And so, while the six geese should have been a-laying big eggs in Normette’s backyard, where do you think they ended up? Why, lying back having a splendid time on a beach in the caribbean, and not an egg or nest in sight!

On the Sixth day of Christmas my Normy gave to me six geese a-laying (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

On the Sixth day of Christmas my Normy gave to me six geese a-laying (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Poor Normy. Poor Normette. Let’s cross our fingers and hope that Normy has better luck on the Seventh day of Christmas…

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

On the Fourth day of Christmas, my Normy gave to me…

…four colly birds

I know what you’re thinking – is that a misprint – isn’t it 4 calling birds? Well, here’s the newsflash – 4 calling birds is wrong! And thank goodness for Normy, whose dedicated research uncovered this now largely unknown mistake!

Yes, persevering in his hunt of the gifts fabled to be given to a loved one in the carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas, Normy was researching online to find out where on earth he would find 4 calling birds to give to his dear Normette…only to discover that actually he should be giving her 4 colly birds. Various theories exist online as to why the colly of the 16th century verse gradually became mixed up and morphed into calling birds. But now that the mistake has firmly taken hold in the consciousness of so many, we at The Daily Norm thought it was about time the record was put straight. And not only that. Normy was adamant that he would give Normette a present representing the correct version of the carol.

However, despite his efforts, poor Normy got carried away with his internet research. Having discovered that the word colly derives from colliery, (which is a coal mine) and that a colly is actually another word for a blackbird, this nickname being given because of the blackbird’s coal-like black feathers, Normy then started researching where he could buy blackbirds. Sure enough, he came across that other popular verse, Sing a song of sixpence, A pocket full of rye. Four and twenty blackbirds, Baked in a pie, and quite forgetting which lyrics he was meant to be emulating, ordered 4 blackbirds baked in a pie! Imagine then the shock Normette experienced when she sat down to a Christmas feast with her friends and family only to break into a pie full of live blackbirds! I’m not sure she will ever get over the shock!

On the 4th day of Christmas my Normy gave to me 4 colly birds (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

On the 4th day of Christmas my Normy gave to me 4 colly birds (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Let’s hope Normy does better on the fifth day of Christmas…

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Daily Sketch: Milkmaid Norm

Now you see admittedly there’s a problem with this title. To call this Norm a Milkmaid is a little misleading, because he’s not a maid at all. But call him a Milkman, and you’d expect this little Norm to be driving around in an electric-powered milk van making his early morning deliveries around the towns and suburbs of Britain. He may go on to do that later of course (farms are generally short of staff these days – you know, what with all the reduced EU farming subsidies and all) but that’s hardly the point. I suppose as an alternative, I could call him a MilkNorm, but that just gives all the wrong ideas. Norms are white enough as they are, let alone being confused for a globule of milk (and it’s not as if they haven’t tried to tan, but it tends to turn them a kind of unattractive vertiginous purple rather than a butterscotch brown).

Milk(maid) Norm (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

So there we have it. It’s a dilemma which may serve to overshadow this otherwise bucolic scene of pastures green and an attractive friesian cow being milked by her proud milkmai…man…Norm… Here we go again. I give up. Enjoy the sketch while remembering an apparently important lesson in life – not everyone can be labelled. Some Norms just want to be themselves.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Daily Sketch – Norms do Semana Santa

It’s Holy week around the world, and very much Semana Santa week here on The Daily Norm as myself and the Norms celebrate the lavish spectacle that are the Spanish Easter festivities. From photos and paintings, to sketches, today the Norms put in their two pennies worth indulging in their very own Semana Santa celebration. Thus a great body of costaleros share the burden of the vast tronos upon which a canopy contains a statue of a weeping Mary, surrounded by candles, lanterns and flowers. Here too, a group of Norms dress in the capriotes of the nazareños, carrying the typically opulent accessories of the procession – ornamental lamps, candles sticks and a magnificent crucifix. In the meantime, a group of female Norms adopt the black laced mantilla and accompanying black laced outfit worn by female participants of the parades.

Tronos Norms (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Nazareños Norms (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Norms wearing the mantilla (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

See you tomorrow for yet more Easter-themed ramblings and artwork.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2005-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Norms do… Da Vinci (or Boltraffio??)

My little Norms have parodied quite a few artists and their masterpieces now. Degas’ L’Absinthe, Goya’s 3 May 1808, Velazquez’s royal portraits and Robert Doisneau’s Kiss at the Opera to name but a few. I also featured a Norm parody of Da Vinci’s great masterpiece Lady with an Ermine back in December. Well now the Norms have returned to this great classical favourite, appearing in a pastiche of that great Da Vinci work, the Madonna Litta. The only problem is, was this sumptuous Madonna and Child, usually to be found in St Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum and most recently featured in the huge sell-out spectacular Da Vinci show at London’s National Gallery, a Da Vinci painting at all?

The Madonna Litta (attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci) courtesy of the Hermitage museum, St Peteresburg

Rumour has it that the work, albeit based on ideas and primary sketches by Da Vinci, was actually completed by his pupil Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio. The Da Vinci-doubters attribute the Christ child’s apparently awkward posture to the lesser known artist, as well as a “formulaic” and “plain” landscape, and the “harsh” outlines of the characters. I’m no art history expert, and who am I to doubt these tell-tale signs. But for me the work is splendid in all its components, Da Vinci or otherwise. The landscape is fairly rudimentary, but this ensures focus is drawn to the protagonists of the tale, while providing colour balance to the piece. The sharp outlines of the characters are attributable to the dark interior background, but this is no different to the effective use of a black background in Da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine as well as La belle Ferroniere. To my mind, the problem with the Christ child is not so much his “awkward” pose as his direct gaze towards the audience, which seems at odds with the serenity of the moment as he breastfeeds from a caring mother. All in all the painting, bursting with colour, full of familial intensity, is a superb example of the Da Vinci school whether or not painted by the great master himself.

Norm Madonna Litta (after Da Vinci) (acrylic on canvas, 2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

My Norm work is every bit a homage to the original Da Vinci inspiration. At 6″ x 4″, it is probably the smallest painting I have ever attempted which made the detail of the landscape and lavish fabrics difficult to paint. The reason for this size was principally to fit a very fine mock-vintage frame I found online. In fact I am completely obsessed with vintage frames at the moment, and now have a collection, filled with little Norm takes on classical paintings hanging upon dark scarlet flock wallpaper in my hallway. By far my favourite is a frame which is so grand, so utterly exuberant, that it needs to be shared on my blog. When seeking a frame for my Doisneau Norms, I wanted something as extravagant as I could find, to mark a satisfying contrast between the 1950s image and the Renaissance style framing. I love mixing up period design in this way, and in fact my flat here in London is a temple of mixed period design. The frame I eventually found fits the bill perfectly and is by far the most extravagant frame I now have in the house. Keep in mind, this is a fairly large painting – 20″ x 24″ so that gives you a sense of the overall frame size, a frame which is so utterly exquisite in its details that my partner and I have taken to staring at it for long periods of blissful admiration in the same way that the faithful may stare in awe at a beautiful baroque altarpiece. And the best bit – it was only £85 from ebay. But don’t tell anyone!

My lavishly framed Doisneau Norms

Ok, it’s officially snowing (a bit) in London so I’m off to seek warmer climes. See you there!

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2005-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

War in my Art: WW1 Norm

My final post on War brings a little lightheartedness back to the Daily Norm. Having been chewing over the subject of war for a few weeks and having been plentifully inspired by the war art I saw at the Imperial War Museum, I was prompted to once again pick up my paintbrush and devote a work to the ravaged landscape of WW1 France. But as I am all about Norms at the moment, obviously a WW1 Soldier Norm takes centre stage. He may be just a character, but I think that through this parody, the horrors of war are still there for all to see. Hence in his eyes, a look of shock, exasperation and despair at the state of the world around him, beautiful landscape turned into hellish quagmire, human lives used as fodder for the guns. In the background, clouds loom menacingly in the sky, while before them, manmade clouds burst up from explosions, as the putrid, corpse-ridden deserted ground all around the trenches is blown further into the air and scattered like a rain shower. In the foreground poppies: traditional symbol of hope, life growing instinctively from human wreckage. In this, unique and Normy way, I remember.

WW1 Norm (acrylic on canvas, 2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)