Saturday, October 18, 2014

Artist's Proofs

Some of the engravings available on my website are Artist's Proofs and I have explained what they are during conversations at events I have sold at, but never discussed them here - so here goes.

Googling "Artist's Proofs" is interesting, especially since the results show so many variations in interpretation. This is my practice. Say I print an edition of one hundred engravings for sale, they are signed and numbered 1/100 to 100/100. In addition I print some additional proofs which I have always regarded as being for my own use. When I started to do this, the general opinion was that these proofs should number 10% of the edition. I sign them and mark them "A/P". In recent editions, I have taken to numbering them as well ("A/P 1/10").

These are mine to dispose of. I give them as gifts, exchange them with other artists, give them to be sold for charities and, sometimes, sell them. Some of my most popular engravings, "The Fossil Collectors" and "Walking Towards Ely", and only available now as very small numbers of remaining Artist's Proofs.

Here are some more examples. They are all private commissions where there is no numbered edition for sale but I have my Artist's Proofs, which are available in very small numbers at £40 each with free postage and packing.:

 "Sparky" is an elderly Border Terrier who I eventually met in person. No longer as sparky as he once was, he was very charming. Available for Purchase here

Unlike Sparky, I never met this handsome fellow in person. Available for Purchase here

"Woody" lives close to the studio and he is strong and full of character (and not too keen to pose)
Available for Purchase Here

(On a technical note, sometimes the links to my web store lead to a "blank" page but refreshing it brings up all the details)

I should add that as an "Engraver For Hire" I do undertake commissioned work like the examples shown here but, because of high demand, I cannot always do this at short notice

My Ely exhibition is going well and still has a couple of weeks to run. Scroll down my blog for full details.

Monday, October 06, 2014

The Old Fire Engine House Exhibition 2014

This is my third exhibition at The Old Fire Engine House in Ely. It is a restaurant and gallery and I think that the domestic setting it offers presents my work very well and I am very pleased to have been invited to show there again. The exhibition contains 46 engravings and continues until 3rd November 2014. I hope that you will be able to visit.

I have included many recent pieces and some were made especially for this exhibition, including my long planned badger, which I will feature in another post very soon.

My exhibition continues until 3rd November 2014 at
25 St Mary's St, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB7 4ER
Opening times:
10.30am-10.30pm Monday-Friday,
10.30am-5.30pm Saturday,
9.30pm-5.30pm Sunday excluding lunchtime, Closed Bank Holiday

Sometimes the room is used for dining and if you are travelling a long way, you might like to check with the gallery that the prints are accessible on 01353 662582 (they almost always are).

This venue is also a fine place to enjoy coffee , lunch or an evening meal.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Open Studios July 2014 And Some Other Forthcoming Events

Here are four events taking part during the rest of 2014.

1. My Open Studio (July 2014)

I will hold an Open Studio here at Little Downham during the second (12th - 13th) and forth weekends (26th - 27th) of July. I will be open between 11am and 6pm on all four days.

I will be engraving during the weekend and will be very pleased to demonstrate the process.

"Red", the larger our the two Albion handpresses here will be working so you will be able to see prints being pulled from an engraved woodblock.

As usual, there will be engravings and cards for sale. New work will include my Peak District prints.

Details are available from the guide - or email me for directions.

Here are some photographs from last year's Open Studio:

I hope to see many of you this year.

2. Cambridge Original Printmakers (September - October 2014)

I am taking part in this event in Cambridge. This event will run from Friday 26 September to Sunday 5 October 2014. Here are the details:

Contact me if you would like to be sent an invitation.

There are also a number of talks by printmakers. I am giving one of these at 2:30pm on Sunday 28th September. Admission is free but registration is required. Find details here.

3. Exhibition at The Old Fire Engine4 House, Ely (October - November 2014)

I will be exhibiting over forty engravings at this, my third exhibition at The Old Fire Engine House.
I particularly like this gallery as it shows my work in a more domestic setting.

There is a Private View on Thursday 2nd October from 6:30 - 8:30pm.
The exhibition runs from Friday 3rd October until Sunday 2nd November.

Opening time:
10.30am-10.30pm Monday-Friday,
10.30am-5.30pm Saturday,
9.30pm-5.30pm Sunday excluding lunchtime, Closed Bank Holiday

Here are some photographs of my last exhibition in 2012:

4. Ely Cathedral Christmas Gift and Food Fair 2014

I really enjoyed taking part in this event last year and I am very pleased to be able to show my work and demonstrate wood engraving again this year.

The event will run from the 14 - 15 November 2014 with a special preview evening at 6.30pm on 13 November.
Friday 14 November: 9.30am - 4.30pm / 6.30pm - 9.00pm
Saturday 15 November: 9.30am - 4.30pm
Entry price £3.00 / Children under 16 FREE (when accompanied by an adult)
Pre booking is highly recommended: To pre book tickets please contact the Cathedral Box Office on 01353 660349 or

 Here are some photographs from 2013:

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

An Interlude: The New Cabinet

After many years of engraving, I have built up rather a lot of engraved blocks. Some were in drawers, older ones in boxes and recent ones lined up on shelves. Sometimes, I couldn't find a block that I wanted to refer to without a search - It was about time I did something.

The opportunity came when we removed some old "built-in" wardrobes from a bedroom during redecoration. We hauled parts of the carcus outside and I set to work with a power saw:

The idea was to keep the height and width of the wardrobe more or less the same but to cut it so that it was only 20 cm deep. The pieces of the sides that were left could then be cut into strips to make the many shelves that I would need. I reinforced the existing fixings with plenty of screws to make the thing solid.

I had already cleared a space in the studio so all I had to do was drag the cabinet inside, fix it securely to the wall and refit the original doors. I had drilled plenty of holes for shelf supports and once the shelves were in place, I washed over the wood to remove dust and dirt and painted the shelf edges with acrylic paint.

When everything was dry, I started to put the blocks in - each on its side, the way they should be stored.
I grouped them: illustrations, bookplates, gardens,places, people, birds and animals. Long, awkward ones were laid at an angle at the top:

I stopped counting after 350 blocks. I still have a couple of boxes of early blocks to process so the final number will be something between 400 - 450, I imagine; quite a body of work.

The cabinet works a treat - it keeps all of my blocks safely and does not impinge very far into the space of the printing studio:

I have plans for the decoration of the doors.

You can see that a few things have been pushed behind "Red" during this process and when they have been tidied away I need to set about moving that press. That is going to be interesting!

Monday, May 26, 2014

I Can See You Mister Hare

The story behind this engraving goes back to Spring 2013. Walking down into the fen with our, now deceased, lurcher Bella, I would often see a large buck hare in a field a few hundred metres from the studio.
I would see it in a field of young barley and, as the crop grew, I would see less and less of it.

The last time I spotted it, it had to sit up on its haunches to peer over the top of the barley heads and that was when, in my mind,  I "saw" the engraving that I wanted to make. I started by drawing a head:

This was an engraving that I simply wanted to do for my own pleasure and so it had to fit in as and when I had a moment - the sort of thing I might work on while taking a break in a coffee shop:

As 2013 became another very busy year, I set the project aside. However, it was the perfect thing to bring out when I wanted to demonstrate engraving. In July, I engraved the background view of Ely Cathedral during my Open Studio:

 I like to carry out as many processes as possible by hand. I reduced a drawing of the hare by "squaring down" and transferred it to the block:

I didn't do much more until November. I completed the engraving of the background at the Fine Press Book Fair in Oxford. You can just see the block in this photograph of my table in "Parenthesis 26", the latest journal of the Fine Press Book Association:

The next weekend, I was showing work and demonstrating in Ely Cathedral, which features on so much of my work:

Conditions were not great for engraving, but there was just about enough light to start to work on the head of the hare.

I next picked up the block in early 2014 when I started to plan the barley that would surround the head:

 I spent January completing my Peak District engravings and spent a couple of days on "Mister Hare" getting ready to pull the first proof

The block then sat in the studio until April, when I was demonstrating  engraving at Gallery Top in the Peak District. I completed the engraving by adding highlights to the grains of barley:

In May 2014, a year since I had planned the engraving, I finally started to print  the edition, ready to show for the first time at an art event in Bury St. Edmunds. This image has been with me on all of my artistic travels and many of you will have seen it as a work in progress.

Here is the finished version of "I Can See You Mister Hare"

The image measures 73 x 52mm (approximately 3 x 2 inches) and it has been printed in an edition of 100 original artist's prints, pulled directly from the block in my 1865 Albion handpress.

I am selling this engraving for the relatively inexpensive price of £25.00.
You can purchase it from my website and from my Etsy store

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Peak District Prints Part 2

In the first of these two posts, I described the creation of a pair of engravings which featured wildlife in a Peak District setting - a landscape with a very different character from the low-lying flat lands in which I live.
The third engraving follows a similar pattern.

3. A Peregrine On The Roaches

One of the most memorable events of my visit to the Peak District was to clamber up a ridge of rock called  the Roaches. They are spectacular in themselves but I was keen to see the peregrine falcons that were nesting there. I was not disappointed. Most impressive was the speed at which they approached the nest when they took over parental duties from each other.

I decided not to engrave a peregrine in flight. They have such a powerful presence when they stand and survey the landscape. That is what I wanted to attempt to capture. I started by making very rough sketches and then a more finished ink drawing.

I tightened the image by reducing the size of the drawing by cutting and pasting. It would still be one of my largest engravings on wood. Here is the final drawing:

I added a silhouette of a second peregrine in the sky and, beyond the Roaches, I drew the shape of a separate hill called Hen Cloud. I consciously suggested the shape of the rock formations in the pose of the bird.

Engraving was a lengthy process as I wanted to include much detail at every stage. I started with the eye and worked outwards:

Here is the finished block:

From the first proof, I was pleased with this image. I made a few adjustments to tidy some elements and balance light and dark and then it was done:

"A Peregrine On The Roaches" 
Wood Engraving.  Image size: 120 x 120mm
 Hand printed on Zerkall paper in an edition of 125 

4. Peak Post

I have already described the  making of the nine small blocks that make up "Peak Post". This was a way of including glimpses of the Peak District which had interested me but which, in themselves did not suggest a substantial engraving. 
I have also had a fascination with so called "Cinderella" stamps and have engraved them before. Here are some of my original sketches:

And here are most of the individual blocks:

There was not an issue with printing the individual blocks but I wanted to print all nine together as a "sheet" of stamps. This took a lot of careful preparation as I adjusted the blocks on the press:

It was worth the extra effort when, after careful adjustments of packing, inking and pressure, I was able to pull crisp impressions from the press:

"Peak Post"

Nine wood engravings printed as a group. Image size 130 x 175mm
 Hand printed on Zerkall paper in an edition of 125

I will add a reminder that the whole set of approximately forty engravings will be exhibited at many places in the Peak District during 2014 and that I will be demonstrating engraving and speaking about this experience at Gallerytop, Chatsworth Road, Rowsley, Matlock, Derbyshire. DE4 2EH on Saturday 12th April at the Private View, which runs from 12noon - 4pm.

***The two prints described here are also for sale at a pre-publication price in my Etsy store: