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.

‘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.

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.

An epic rescue (that inspired a limited edition print!)

Magnolia tree in full bloom with water sun catching the edges of a few of the petals and lighting them up like lamps.

Much excitement here today. The male* wood pigeon which had been stuck behind the fire for a few days is freeeeee!

Once the engineer had turned off the gas and prized the fire out of the grate, I suggested I get under a sheet in case the bird flew, and the engineer (who was scared of birds, bless him) was on sheet duty. He held the sheet over the fireplace to contain it like a champ! I suspect because the bird was used to the sound of my voice it walked out of the chimney towards me and the light.

I grabbed it before it had a chance to flap, checked it over, took it outside and gently put it down on the grass. It wobbled off towards the end of the lawn then flew up into the neighbours’ magnolia and started to preen and sing, *hence I know it is a male woodie!

Maybe not the most orthodox rescue but a happy result in the end.

PS Pic at the top of the post is from the other day, I was too busy rescuing the pigeon to grab my phone and document it, so you’ll have to imagine him singing and preening!

PPS Once I’d released the woodie, he hung around for a few days and I was worried that his mate had been snapped up by another male. I could tell it was him because of the pattern of the white band on his neck. Luckily, a few days later I saw that his story had a very happy ending as he had found a mate. Seeing the two of them billing and cooing inspired me to make another print!

‘Alert’ – Limited Edition Relief Print

A black and white relief print of a male starling. He’s standing on some old, weathered wood. His wings are tucked but he is alert, and his head feathers are raised. Whatever he is looking at is out of the image and he is facing right to look at it. Perhaps he’s spotted a chunk of fat ball another bird has missed, or another starling has decided to join his feast.

Inspiration

I’ve spent a long time this spring watching the starlings picking through the lawn looking for invertebrates. They’re so gregarious and gently quarrelsome.

I love the iridescent colours of their feathers and the tawny coloured arrowheads at the tips.

It’s sad that although still relatively common in gardens, these glorious little birds have declined so much elsewhere that they are Red Listed.

The UK Red List for birds keeps track of how different species are doing, and any birds that are rated red are in need of urgent action. Shockingly, one in four of our birds is now on that list, 67 species in total.

Source: RSPB website

Design

Here’s the drawing transferred to the block (in reverse), ready for me to start cutting.

The drawing transferred (in reverse) to the linoleum block, ready to start cutting

Here’s the block inked up for the first time, ready for me to pull a proof and see what more I need to do to the block to make it print just so.

A black and white relief printing block which has been inked up for the first time. The block is of a male starling. He’s standing on some old, weathered wood. His wings are tucked but he is alert, and his head feathers are raised.

I’m not sure if the paper I use will take any kind of water based colour but once the prints are dry I might have a bit of a play with the test prints to see whether I can get away with it!

A black and white relief print of a male starling. He’s standing on some old, weathered wood. His wings are tucked but he is alert, and his head feathers are raised. Whatever he is looking at is out of the image and he is facing right to look at it. Perhaps he’s spotted a chunk of fat ball another bird has missed, or another starling has decided to join his feast.

If you would like to buy one of these prints, be quick as there are only 30 in the edition!

A close-up look at the texture of a relief printing block

The texture created in the surface of a relief printing block. The cut away parts are stained dark grey while the surface has become almost the colours of brass.

Would you look at that texture!

Usually a plate looks pretty bad once it’s been cleaned a few times but the plate for ‘The Listening Post’ looks like oxidised metal on a bronze sculpture.

This zoomed in photo of the block gives you a good idea of the marks I used to make the barn owl’s feathers in this print. Most of them are tiny and this close up they look pretty abstract but zoom out a bit and you have an owl!

The Listening Post (close up view two)

‘The Listening Post’ is available to purchase, but it is an edition of just 40, so when they’re gone, they’re gone!

The Listening Post

Jazz Hands! (Or how I keep your prints oil-free)

These are my print handling gloves. They’re simple white cotton gloves and they stop any oil from my hands transferring to the prints while I’m handling them.

This post is brought to you through the medium of expressive mime...

These are my print handling gloves. They’re simple white cotton gloves and they stop any oil from my hands transferring to the prints while I’m handling them.

It’s all part of making my work as archival and lasting as possible; give it a few years and your investment still won’t have any sticky paw prints on it.

And yes, once they are donned it is almost impossible to resist doing a fake tap dance and making “jazz hands”! 😂