My prints have gone to the pub!

One last bit of awesomeness to end the year: here are my prints hanging in the newly and beautifully refurbished The Drummond at Albury.

This glorious gastropub is nestled in the Surrey Hills and well worth a visit—not just for the prints, though it’s always nice to see them in person—I have it on very good authority that the food is delicious and the wine lists are pretty awesome, too!

Many thanks to Kim at Peach Pubs for reaching out and the lovely photos are by Case Eames.

‘English Bulldog’ open edition relief print now available

My latest commission is not a Christmas present, so I can share Huey the English Bulldog in all his handsome glory.

I’m excited to show you this print as it’s by far and away my most ambitious yet.

I loved cutting every single one of Huey’s hairs—which is lucky because there were a LOT of hairs to cut on this block!—and most of all relished capturing his expression.

Black and white relief printing is a pretty exacting medium; there’s no colour to hide behind and you’re left with just mark making to show reflections in the eyes, how muscles look under the skin, and in which direction the hair grows.

I think this is why I love it so much, it’s just me, the “sitter” (good sit, Huey, good boy!), the lino, and my trusty tools.

Huey’s owner has very kindly given me permission to sell prints of this handsome boy, if you’d like your very own English Bulldog print.

If you’d like to discuss a commission for yourself, please contact me and we can have a chat about subject matter, prices, and timescales.

How would I mount my prints?

These four prints are going to be on show atWater Street Galleryin Todmorden as part of its ‘A Modern Bestiary’ exhibition “[e]xploring the animal kingdom, real and imagined, through the eyes of artists who have a personal and contemporary take on this fascinating genre.”

If you’re in the area, do go and see them in person to appreciate all the fine detail and textural marks a computer monitor can’t show you.

That meant mounting them, so I’m finally able to share how I would mount my prints.

I really like black core mount board with my black prints. The black reveal really sets off the printing and keeps your eye in the picture plane.

Once mounted, I also like to pop these in a thin profile black frame because black goes with everything.

Of course, these are just my preference so feel free to go as wild or plain as you like with your choice of mount and frame–you do you!–but the latent graphic designer in me just loves that graphic black core.

Click on any of the images if you’re inspired to try black core mount!

‘Patterdale Terrier’ open edition relief print now available

My first commission, Scrumpy the Patterdale Terrier, made someone cry... in a good way! I’m glad this print reminds her Mum of a special little dog with a BIG character every day when she looks at this print.

Best of all, her owner is happy for me to remove the name from the tag and sell further prints from this block, so head over to the gallery if you need a Patterdale Terrier print in your life!

If you’d like to discuss a commission, please contact me and we can have a chat about subject matter, prices, and timescales.

‘Muzzle Nuzzle’ open edition relief print now available

If you love the feel of a warm velvety nose in your hand, or you know someone who does, I have the perfect print for you!

I've just listed an open edition of a new print inspired by exactly that moment, called ‘Muzzle Nuzzle’ which is now availablefor £25 + £5 (p+p).

These are original handmade prints, but the thing about open edition prints is I can print as many as I need, so they are more affordable than limited edition prints whose prices are driven upwards by the fact there will only ever be x in the edition.

Wildflowers, clouds and a photobomb

Cow parsley in the afternoon sun. The view is from the start of the flowers looking up at a summer blue sky filled with fluffy clouds

The sun was shining for the first time in what feels like ages yesterday afternoon on my walk. I spotted a few lovely things I thought I’d share in lieu of prints (which are percolating) while I work on my website and newsletter.

Did I mention the newsletter? 😉 Do sign up and you’ll receive the inaugural issue which is due soon!

My dog is largely oblivious to flowers though flowers have evolved to take full advantage of his longer hair and the “feathers” on his legs and feet with their cunning “sticky” seeds. I swear it’s like taking a piece of Velcro for a walk. EVERYTHING sticks to him. Still, this has improved the biodiversity of my garden where most of his nature finds are removed.

Anyway, on our travels in the warm sun and cool wind we saw: Queen Anne’s lace and little fluffy clouds (shout out to the 90s music fans out there!).

A close up of the disc-shaped umbel of a cow parsley plant. Umbellifers have many of these, which are made up of many tiny flowers held on short flower stalks.

Anthriscus sylvestris is important for lots of insects, including bees and hoverflies, as it’s an early source of pollen. It’s also a nectar source for orange-tip butterflies.

I rather like the most common name for this beautiful flower, “cow parsley” sounds bucolically pretty but has other common names depending on where you are in the UK: Queen Anne’s Lace, fairy lace, lady’s lace, wild chervil, hedge parsley, Keck (or Queque depending on where you are in the UK), Wild Parsley, Adder’s Meat, Devil’s Meat, Bad Man’s Oatmeal, and the worst—and yet most sensible—of all; mother die.

Perhaps Queen Anne’s Lace refers to Queen Anne’s habit of travelling the country in May, which led people to believe that these lacey flowers decorated the hedgerows especially for her. Another common name “mummy die” was presumably used to discourage children from picking these pretty flowers. For pretty they may be, but they can also easily be mistaken for some poisonous umbellifers like hemlock.

If you think you’re seeing more cow parsley than usual in the verges as you venture further afield this year, you probably are. Alas they are becoming a monoculture in our verges due to roadsides being more fertile than they were 30 years ago (agricultural run-off, cuttings left in place by local councils, and even car exhausts all contribute). Although it seems counterintuitive, many of our wild flowers needs much less fertile soil to flourish so they are doing less well on our verges.

NB this is not Daucus carota which is called Queen Anne’s Lace but only in North America.

We also saw Horse chestnut flowers (Aesculus hippocastanum):

A close up view of horse chestnut flowers showing some still with their yellow nectar guides while the majority of pollinated flowers now have reddy-pink guides

Horse chestnut flowers are mostly white (though there are some cultivated red/pink ones). The flowers have nectar guides which are yellow when the flower first opens and change to deep reddy-pink once the flower has been pollinated. Why the colour change? Well, bees can’t see red colours so they no longer visit the pollinated flowers, only the pollinated ones.

We also saw a very photogenic dandelion clock:

A dandelion clock stands along in front of the grass at the very edge of a verge.

Well, it was photogenic until the canine photobomber detonated it and it all stuck to him ready to float away merrily as we made our way home...

A black dog sits in front of the cow parsley at the edge of a verge

When “No” is not a rejection

A blackboard with previous text badly erased. The text on it now reads "When 'No' is not a rejection' "

Three “No”s in a row.

Am I disheartened? A little, but here’s the thing.

It's the same as when you make a mistake, you have to choose not to take it personally.

A gently written “No thank you. This work is beautiful, but it’s not for us,” isn’t a rejection of my work, it’s simply a gallerist knowing their market better than I do.

You see, even if I have researched either the website or the physical gallery (preferably both) to see if I think my work might be a good fit, the gallerists know their clients better than I do, and it’s important for both artist and gallery that the work will sell.

“No thank you. This work is beautiful, but it’s not for us” doesn’t mean my black and white prints won’t sell anywhere it’s simply that this particular gallerist knows that the people who buy from them are tending to buy luscious colour-rich work at the moment.

A pro forma, "We’re not taking on new artists at this time. Please check back later,” would be perfectly acceptable, but every single one of the galleries I’ve approached has taken the time to a) look at my submissions and b) write thoughtful and sensitive replies. These make the “No”s even easier to take without taking them to heart.

So, thank you very much to all the busy gallerists who make time to do this. It is much appreciated.

Onward...

PS if you happen to know a gallery where black and white prints [cough] like mine [cough] will sell, do drop me a line!

Let it go and move on

In the interests of full transparency, I make mistakes. I know. Shocking, isn’t it?

Since there’s no undo button in printing, that little “double-tap” mark could be sitting on the drying rack undermining my confidence in my ability to make any decent prints, ever again.

But I choose (and it is a choice) not to catastrophise and think like that. Instead, I let it go and move on to the next print.

I used to be a perfectionist and believed that it would take years to learn how to let things go…

And then one day I realised that it’s a choice how you react to an event. The event itself has no meaning other than what you’re ascribing to it. Revelation!

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m still human: if I’m tired, or hungry, or stressed it’s not always easy to make like a Zen master and let it go, but with practice the little “Oh poo!” followed by a shrug and acceptance becomes your default reaction.

I think what I’m trying to say is, be kind to yourself. Printing is fraught with jeopardy, especially when you’re printing a block with loads of detail on new paper that is stiffer than you’re used to, and that doesn’t fall smoothly.

Let it go and move on, your self confidence will thank you.

Cherry blossom in relief

A lino tile with a cherry blossom design carved into it. The pencil drawn outlines remain dark against the pale interior of the lino tile where it has been carved away. Although the tile is a mere 2.5mm deep, the ridges and furrows of the cut marks are catching the raking light that is falling on to the lino plate from the left hand side. As the light is low, the contrast between the light and dark sections is more obvious than it would be earlier in the day.

There’s a reason they call it relief printing. This blossom in raking light looks almost sculptural.

It’s also the reason I’ve been a bit quiet: the blossom is just a section of a new print that I’m working on.

Still a few days of fiddly, meditative carving left to go.

Please do not bend

Interesting typography in the “Please do not bend” notice on the front of a recycled brown paper envelope

Just parcelling up the latest orders and loving the typography on my latest batch of recycled envelopes!

Shame they smell like ripening cheese, though.

I think the odour must be something to do with the recycling process and not using bleach to re-whiten the pulp.

Avoiding bleach = good, smelling like the fridge at Christmas = not so much.