Sunday, 29 January 2012


After a bit of experimentation I have finally settled on the ideal paper for printing Oystercatchers.
I started with a slightly textured 250gms BFK Rives in the hope of an embossed effect to set off the jet black birds and surf. I anticipated that because the areas of relief were relatively small the pressure from my nipping press would be enough to create a good impression on this heavier paper. I was wrong, although small they are rather spread out and about 4 sheets down the line I realised it was an expensive mistake. 

Next I tried my usual favourite, a nice crisp smooth white 140gms Zerkall printing paper. I achieved a couple of good prints, but it was hard work and after a few failures I gave up with this.

I then decided to try the lighter end of the paper chain and a dug out a whisper thin sheet of gampi tissue that I had been hoarding for a while. This takes the ink like a dream, I barely had to touch it let alone apply any pressure but tissue has a tendency to wrinkle as it wafts down onto the ink, which distorts the print. I was really pleased to see a possible solution to this problem on Elizabeth Banfield’s blog and I’ll be trying this out soon. Meanwhile I’ve stashed away the few good tissue prints with a plan to mount them on some whitewashed plywood board. 

Back to producing a decent edition on paper, in the end I stumbled across a good crisp &  white 70gms paper which suits this particular print perfectly. It was a chance buy, informed by price and weight rather than any pre-knowledge of the product, which is all part of the fun of buying materials online!

Oystercatchers on Inbe Epais,

Monday, 9 January 2012

Giant's Causeway revisited

Over the Christmas break we visited the British Museum, ostensibly for our 6YO to see more of the Chessmen after seeing Chessman Unmasked exhibition in Stornoway last summer, but every visit  is made with the secret hope that something OH or I uncovered in our digging days will have found its way onto display. This is highly unlikely because the only truly great object I ever found went ping and shattered when i stuck my mattock in it - Anglo-Saxon glass, fragile stuff you know.

In the BM I stumbled upon the small temporary exhibition showcasing Hokusai's "Under the Wave, off Kanagawa" (now ended). As well as the chance to have a good close look at this iconic print (one of thousands apparently, but an early and so sharp impression) the exhibition included film footage of a contemporary Japanese printmaker using the traditional woodblocks and ink. I was interested to see him use a very watery colour medium applied with a large brush, quite different from the stiff oil-based inks I use for lino prints, and worth further investigation I think.

Inevitably seeing all that gorgeous prussian blue ink being splashed about has had its influence on my printing, firstly on a new print, the Demoiselle Crane and also on a new batch of Giant's Causeway prints. I had been planning to replicate the original batch to complete the edition (I rarely print a whole edition at once - just not enough time) as these had been popular and nearly sold out. The original version really reflects the landscape as I saw it back in December 2010,  when the sun couldn't quite raise itself above the north facing cliffs so that even at midday those dark basalt columns stood in their shadows.

This time round I used a lot less black in the mix and this really lets the blue sing out, tempered only by white, some transparent extender and a smudge of indigo. The result has quite a different atmosphere so i'll be calling it #2.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Happy New Year

A bit late because of a few technical issues (dying laptop and dying graphics card in pc - the only snow we've seen this christmas). The absence of a computer for a few days was a good thing and I managed to get on with some printing.

We have a little aviary near us stocked with lots of exotic lovelies and a talkative somethingorother. I love the poise of the Demoiselle Cranes and the striking feathers trailing back from the eyes. I planned a watercolour but my sketches developed into this three colour lino print instead.

Now available here or here


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