At the lovely Royal Birmingham Society of Artists gallery on Brook Street right now is their fantastic Print Biennial - with evert type of printmaking and many amazing artists it's well worth a visit - oh, I think they may have a couple of my prints up too....this 'Big Cat on Stilts' is there...
I could have called this post ...'progress' instead of 'process' , but progress is all relative isn't it! So it's process instead.
My main process is carving out lino, for a lot of time, in a happy bubble of my own. And that is nearly enough in itself....but I do like printing too. Above is a picture of a just inked 'new' print - such a glorious moment in any piece of lino's life. This happens to be of a ferocious cat intent on destruction, but it could just as easily have a been a sweet kitten, slightly bedraggled by a Spring shower.
My second main process is looking through drawers to find the piece of lino I now need to print and that I do know is there. Somehow there isn't a logical filing system for multiple pieces of grey lino, all living in sets of grey drawers - should it be by size/species/age/weight? I just don't know, but looking through drawers is a big part of my week!
I've been framing (assembling, someone else made the frame bits - I just do the cleaning up, putting in, taping down, adding fixings, undoing again to get that stray bit of fluff out, putting back in, taping back down, re-doing the fixings and final polish up...).
It is fair to say that it has taken me a long time!
But that means there are also a lot of pictures now in frames.
One boxful went off this morning as a mini-exhibition and some of the others will go up later in the week ready for our local arts trail and the local exhibition I'm in for the rest of the month.
Practical tasks ticked off the list - back to doodling now.
I am being pulled towards the allotment, I just want to go and plant things, it really is compulsive and it is a great time of year to spend alot of each day outside. I know there are lines of bunnies, pigeons and slugs watching my every move, but for an hour at least order and abundance remains...
It is also the month of our local arts trail which is always a blast, with music, art and food featuring all around the area, and this year our venue is letting us turn the weekend into two weeks, so we are having a 'real' exhibition alongside it - hooray...
You can see the giant poster already, so I will only say that I'm very excited, as there is going to to be some pretty fab work and I love hanging out with all these folk, so what a great excuse to do so.
It's sunny, I've been printing (how unusual...) and I'm waiting to hear about several little schemes in the next couple of weeks, so I'm also twitching.
When I opened my print drawer a few days ago it seemed quite empty and I have had a flurry of printing to fill it back up again. I have even branched out into midnight blue as a change from always black (can you see the cards in the above photo are blue? It was quite a radical move for me and I'm not sure that I will be able to sustain such impulsive ways of working).
I've also painted my garden gate blue today, but that is so bright in its blueness that it isn't even registering on my camera. I hope that the neighbours recover. I blame the sunshine and will try to reign it in for a while.
Many months ago now, on a wet and windy day, I was taken on a thorough tour of the village (and parish) of Pucklechurch in South Gloucestershire. Starting next to the church and then working outwards, past houses old and new and out to the sites of the local mines, whilst finding out lots of the significant events and history of the area.
I'd been given a fantastic commission - to create an image that was part map, part history of the village, that could then be given to Pucklechurch's twin town Pringy in France to commemorate 25 years as twins!
Having attempted to absorb the entire history of the area, as well as remembering significant local buildings I then set to work, sketching a road layout and incorporating as many of the features that 'make' Pucklechurch (some historical events, some distinctive houses) as possible.
After a fair amount of head scratching and liberal use of tracing paper I settled on a layout that looked like Pucklechurch and had a good mix of historical and present day features.
Then to the real fun - carving this out of a sheet of lino, blade of grass by blade of grass...
Lino and wood printing blocks are often works of art in themselves, hand carved for many hours (as a mirror image of the final printed picture) and it is a nerve wracking moment when an ink roller laden with printing ink is first rolled over the lino block and the image is revealed as every raised area takes up the ink....but I think Pucklechurch is looking great here, even in reverse!
Then on to the job of printing all of the copies needed for this edition. The carved lino block needs re-inking every time a print is taken and I printed this image using a boxwood burnishing tool rather than a press as it allows me so much more control over the pressure applied to the paper as the image is printed.
I've printed Pucelancyrcan/Pucklechurch as a limited edition of only 50 limited edition prints on Somerset Satin paper from St Cuthberts Mill in Wells.
Thanks to Gail Boyle for having the idea for such a great project!