Sexy Peat/Tìr mo Rùin

Artist Diary 24 July - Fabric Lenny Sketchbook

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24 July: iPad to Press – Photo Polymer Photogravure

After having had a few days to reflect on my time in Scotland as part of the Sexy Peat project, I can now reveal that it was a truly amazing experience. The two weeks on Lewis exploring the Peatlands and producing a healthy body of work on paper, followed by a week working at the Highland Print Studio were invigorating and have reignited my interest in the printmaking process.

But for now, I want to share the process of liberating an iPad painting from the digital format to a rich paper print using a combination of age old and modern approaches in the form of a photo polymer photogravure plate process.

Moorland Discussion - Procreate

Moorland Discussion – Procreate

This image was fingerpainted on the iPad in the Procreate app using a range of grey-scale tones.
The digital file was then sent to Photoshop via Dropbox, and then processed through the Nik Silver effects plugin to enhance the contrast within the image. The image was then printed onto a transparency sheet with the aid of some clever under-lighting that tricked the printer into thinking the milky transparent film was more opaque than it actually was.

Printing a transparency on a large format Epson Printer

Printing a transparency on a large format Epson Printer

This transparency was then used to expose the light sensitive coating on the test plate.


Followed by the developing of the plate in water.


The test plate was then inked and printed.


The test print looked fantastic and held an amazing amount of detail, whilst adding a rich organic feel and a certain softness to some of the tones. Following this initial success a larger plate was prepared, exposed, developed and left for several hours in daylight in order for the plate to ‘bake’.

The following day the plate was inked and printed using a wonderful traditional press.

The inked plate

The inked plate

Looking pretty pleased and chipmunk-like, printing the first full image proof

Looking pretty pleased and chipmunk-like, printing the first full image proof

Print and plate

Print and plate

This was a wonderful process, taking a screen based digital image back into the traditional realm and liberating it from its locked in format. As John at the studio commented, Apple are set on producing devices that are virtually obsolete within two years of purchase, whereas this printing press is likely to be still printing in another 200 years time. Thoughts?

19 July: First Edition of 12 Screen Prints in the Bag

I am nearing the end of my time on Scottish soil for now as I move into the last couple of days of working at Highland Print Studio as part of the Sexy Peat project. Yesterday saw the completion of a three colour print run, with two more print editions and a photogravure plate (to be printed from an iPad painting source, in an attempt to liberate the file from the digital domain)  to be printed today. I fear I am now hooked on printmaking!




Blue and grey

Blue and grey

One of the Final Edition

One of the Final Edition



16 July: First Day at Highland Print Studio

A great first day at the Highland Print Studio in Inverness as part of the Sexy Peat Project. A really enjoyable return to screen printing after 20 years, and a test print made! Images below are of some of the process.



Working with a variety of mark-making mediums on truegrain film

Working with a variety of mark-making mediums on truegrain film

Checking the opacity of the image against the window before exposing the screen

Checking the opacity of the image against the window before exposing the screen

Washing out the exposed screen

Washing out the exposed screen


Clamping the screen in place prior to printing

Clamping the screen in place prior to printing

First test prints

First test prints

14 July: Last Day on Lewis for Now

So here it is. My last day on Lewis. What a fantastic experience it has been. I am really pleased with the body of work I have produced in response to the blanket bog and peat lands, and  look forward to a week in the print studio next week, wrestling with the images and making a series of prints.

The final treat for the trip was a drive out to the Shieling Village near Sgiorgarstaigh, Ness. A fantastic site with a wonderful quirky aesthetic and amazing views of the coastline.





12 July: Drawing in the Heat

I was offered a space at An Lanntair in Stornoway today so I could spread out and work on several pieces at once. It was a fantastic space with windows around 3/4 of the circular room – great light too. Despite the heat I managed to work for a solid four hours and made a series of drawings. Some of them I am REALLY pleased with!

Hooded Crow

Hooded Crow

Watered Horse

Watered Horse




Three Two

Three Two

Horse on Shieling

Horse on Shieling

Wood, Ink and Midges

Drawing continued today with further ink and Posca work on paper, followed by the cutting of a couple of wood blocks in preparation for my time at Highland Print Studio next week. I haven’t cut a wood block for close to twenty years and have no idea how well the blocks will print, but they will provide a good starting point, and hopefully be a springboard to further work.




The day ended with a walk out from the Pentland Road on to the moor, where I witnessed the dreaded swarms of Scottish midges for the first time. Rather unpleasant….. luckily the company, views and beer were all good!

11 July: Sleeping Giants

Maybe the moor is full of sleeping giants…


The Gentle Moan of a Sleeping Giant

…and shieling eagles…

Shieling Eagle by Fabric Lenny:

10 July: A steady day of iPad painting

Tuesday was a gentle day of activity, painting mostly digitally on the iPad screen whilst reflecting on the previous days trek across the moor. I have also started to read through a variety of stories and myths of the moor which have begun to influence imagery within the work. Lots of fun!


Taking Shelter Behind the Shieling ©FabricLenny2013

The Awakening of the Sleeping Giant ©FabricLenny2013

The Awakening of the Sleeping Giant ©FabricLenny2013

The Each Uisge and the Eagle © Fabric Lenny

The Each Uisge and the Eagle © FabricLenny2013

8 July: A walk to the shieling

On Sunday I headed off across the moor to spend the night in a shieling. As part of the Sexy Peat project, Lewis based Artist Anne Campbell offered each of the artists an opportunity to spend the night in her family shieling across the moor from Bragar. We set out on Sunday lunchtime, barefoot across the moor, and reached the shieling at around 3:30. This was a magical and inspiration experience. A place of tranquility and beauty, and the lovely smell of burning peat!


Looking down to the shieling

Looking down to the shieling

A couple of spectacular wrecks on the moor

A couple of spectacular wrecks on the moor


I spent a lot of time drawing, sat on top of the chunky grass covered gable end of the shieling.

Some of the drawings made at the shieling

Some of the drawings made at the shieling

The Shieling Golem - iPad painting

The Shieling Golem – iPad painting

Door of the shieling

Door of the shieling

7 July: More studio time

I allocated yesterday as a making day. Following the previous days walk on the moor my head was so full of images I just had to get them down on paper. Below is a selection of ink drawings from that process.





In the evening I was asked if I wanted to have a trip out on the harbour. It was a beautiful clear evening, and great to get a look at Stornoway from the water.

Today its back to the moor for an overnight stay in a shieling. More bog walking…. maybe I will try barefoot this time?


6 July: First walk out onto the peatlands

Working on a mixed media painting inspired by the moor

Working on a mixed media painting inspired by the moor

Today I had my first walk out on the moor with fellow Sexy Peat artist Anne Campbell. Anne has lived on Lewis for most of her life and has specialist knowledge of the Peatlands. It was wonderful to be guided through the peat roads, bog and moor, whilst hearing stories and other related information from someone with such passion for the moor. Anne crossed the moor barefoot, effortlessly making her way gazelle-like through the terrain, whilst I trudged on behind, overdressed in several layers, walking boots and gaters.  Once again I am desperate to respond to the moor through images, so plan a studio day today to start the process of transcribing what’s in my head.

Composite birds

Composite birds



4 July: A studio day

After borrowing an easel from the lovely folks at an Lanntair arts centre, today has been pretty much a studio day. Sketching, drawing, some editing, some iPad experimentation, but mainly sustained work on the piece below, and a lot of thinking….



A first look at the island of Lewis


Yesterday was my first full day on Lewis and I really felt like I needed to get out and look at the island. After picking up a few supplies I jumped in the car and started to drive. The roads were clear and the views spectacular. I spent a long time watching a murder of hooded crows mobbing a pair of large raptors above the road near Dalbeg, stopped off at a Norse Mill and Kiln, and then at Gearraanan Blackhouse. After a few hours of sight seeing I headed back across the island. It was an exhilarating drive on a single track road through blanket bog with spectacular panoramas . Awesome!

I worked into the night on a series of paper based works and a couple of iPad based paintings.

Bog cotton on the way to the Norse Kiln and Mill

Bog cotton on the way to the Norse Kiln and Mill

After getting bitten in Germany last week I was taking no chances with the Scottish midges

After getting bitten in Germany last week I was taking no chances with the Scottish midges

Raptors on the iPad

Raptors on the iPad

3 birds - mixed media

3 birds – mixed media

Silenced - bamboo pen and ink

Silenced – bamboo pen and ink

Perched on a sleeping giant - graphite

Perched on a sleeping giant – graphite

Magic Secret - iPad painting

Magic Secret – iPad painting

3 July: Starting a dialogue with nature

Following a lovely drive from Inverness to Ullapool, and a very pleasant three hour ferry journey I finally find myself on the Island of Lewis.

View from rear as we pull into Stornoway (Photo: Fabric Lenny)

A relatively modern sheiling (Photo: Fabric Lenny)

I was fortunate to be taken for a quick preview drive into the peat bog last night with Lewis based Artist Jon Macleod. I was immediately struck by the vastness of the place, the quiet and the abundance of wildlife. The image above is one of many Shielings that we passed that are still maintained and in use. The door mat here reads ‘No Junk Mail’.

Below are a few images I made as an immediate response to that initial visit to the bog. I look forward to spending more time on the bog over the coming days.


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Fabric Lenny, 3 July 2013

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