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

‘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”! 😂

Do I ever use colour?

A very small pastel painting of bluebells carpeting the ground beneath three copper beech trees sporting their dark red new leaves. In the back ground are flowering shrubs and trees.

‘Bluebells, Coles’
2.5 x 3.5in (ACEO size)
Soft pastel on UArt paper

The weather is cold and grey today but it won’t be long before the bluebells are carpeting the beech woods with wave after floral wave of delicately scented colour.

This is a teeny, tiny pastel painting I did on UArt paper with the most delicious soft pastel set made by Sennelier.

You thought there was no colour in my art, right?!

Well, part of the joy of linocutting my way is the challenge of representing a world filled with colour and tone using just one colour and making a variety of marks to suggest tone.

When colour is removed the viewer focuses on the textures, shapes and subject matter instead.