Thursday, December 16, 2010

Oh Whistle, And I'll Come To You, My Lad

Writer and publisher Susan Hill has produced a book in three weeks. It is a ghost story by M. R. James for which I engraved two small illustrations. Read about it (and buy it for Christmas stocking fillers) here.

I engraved both images on a single piece of resurfaces Victorian boxwood:

It was decided to crop the image slightly to exclude the boat which made the scene too tranquil. I am looking forwards to seeing the engraving embossed on the cover of the book.

The story is apparently set in Aldeburgh and, co-incidently, we have just returned from a long weekend there, staying in the caretakers cottage in the grounds of the Red House, home of composer Benjamin Britten and Singer Peter Pears.
We were very lucky with the weather and enjoyed walks along the beach (fishing boats and Maggi Hambling's "Scallop". We also visited Snape with its wonderful expanse of reed beds viewed from the famous concert hall and shope at the Maltings.

I am currently printing a run of bookplates which marks the end of a very busy engraving year.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Exhibition/Open Studio and Christmas Cards

I will be taking part in a "Christmas" Exhibition at Over near Cambridge on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 November 11 am to 6 pm and would be very pleased to meet you and show you my work. I will be offerring some framed engravings but almost all of my output will be available unframed.

Please email me if you would like an invitation to the Private View on the evening of Friday, 26th.

Artists present will be:

Althea Braithwaite – Fused glass

Andy English – Wood Engraver

Antonia Galloway РPapier Mach̩ Sculpture

Edward Parker – Metal Sculpture

Ken Smith – Carved wooden birds

The address is:

The Studio at Beechcroft, 51 Fen End, Over CB24 5NE

I have recently been working on some smaller commissions and now I have the pleasant task of engraving our Christmas card. I do this every year and then, in subsequent years, the image is added to the group of cards that we print for sale; we are offering five this year.

Each card measures 147 x 104 mm (a nominal 6 x 4") and is printed on a very pale cream thick (300gsm) card. Every card is supplied with a matching high quality envelope by Conqueror. The cards are blank for your own seasonal message and the engraving on the front is printed by hand from the original engraved woodblock on "Red", the 1902 Albion handpress (pictured above).

Here are this years designs:

Partridge In A Pear Tree

Two Turtle Doves, Ely

Three French Hens

Seven Swans

Robin, Ely

They are all available for sale both singly and in groups in my Etsy shop, which has recently been reopened. I will shortly offer them from my website.

And now... back to this year's card!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Monet's Gardener's Resurrected

Monet's Gardeners was inspired by my first visit to the wonderful recreation of Monet's garden at Giverny, France. French gardening can be very labour intensive with many plants being lifted at the end of the year. I had seen manyimages inspired by the garden itself but none celebrating the gardeners. It took another visit and much planning before - four years later - I started to engrave the image.

(click on the image to enlarge it)

The engraving was very successful. It was voted critic's choice at the Cambridge Drawing Society exhibition and was used on the front cover of "Engraved Gardens" (ISBN 1 901648 27 3):

However, with no suitable press in my studio at the time, the block had to be burnished by
hand and there were many spoiled copies and - eventually - I stopped printing with another twenty five copies yet to be completed.

Recently, I examined the block again and pulled a trial proof using "Red" our larger Albion handpress
and a very smooth paper by Zerkall. I was encouraged by the results and, after careful preparation, I finished the edition. Here is a detail from the image:

These twenty five copies, plus Artist's Proofs, will be on sale at £75.00 each, including postage worldwide. However, I have made it my "Print Of The Month" and I am selling them (from my website only) at the special price of £60 until Christmas Day.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Catching Up: Ludlow and The Woman In Black

Back in September, after an extremely busy summer, we enjoyed a short break in Ludlow, a charming market town in Shropshire. We rented a small mews cottage that combined quietness with close proximity to the town centre. We had all the comforts we needed, including a well equipped kitchen and a 'fridge already stocked with local produce, which we augmented with a box of goodies from our own vegetable garden.

Although the castle was on the far side of town from us, it was no more than a ten minute walk to enjoy its ancient walls:

It is a short stroll from the Castle to the river and The Green Cafe. Ludlow is an important centre for the Slow Food Movement and a haven for "foodies" with great restaurants and many shops selling fine local produce.

We enjoyed a lovely Sunday lunch; Gnocchi with Italian style pork sausage and fennel ragu with a green salad and pan fried mackerel with Puy lentils and a salsa verde, all washed down with local cider.

Ludlow is a great place to eat.

While in the town, I also indulged my interested in studio pottery by visiting The Marches Pottery, run by Andrew Crouch since 1982.

Among many purchases were a generous cup and bowl. I love the faceted sides and the green glaze.

There were also some pots by Mark Griffiths for sale and I couldn't resist this wonderful teabowl:

Being a small town, nothing is too far to walk to. The market place was only six minutes from the cottage and there was a substantial flea market on Sunday.

This yielded a large Bavarian wall clock, now established at home - it just chimed the hour as I am writing this.

Ludlow Church is a delight. Being very interested in lettercutting, I particularly enjoyed the carved inscriptions:

My favourite part of the church is definitely the choir stalls with superb fifteenth century carved misericords, including green men and a mermaid:

It was a real treat to enjoy the quietness of the comfortable cottage and the opportunity to enjoy good food and do a little shopping. We were both very much taken with Ludlow and I would recommend it to anyone who wanted to slow down the pace of their lives for a few days.


Back home, I took down my exhibition. It had been a great success. I have started to frame copies of the engravings sold so that I have a complete show available. I am always interested in showing my work and am always happy to talk to suitable venues about touring my exhibition.

The exhibition of prints at Michaelhouse in Cambridge also ended. I was pleased with my sales and very pleased to see that many of Pam Hughes' works had sold to raise money for the Arthur Rank Hospice.

Our purchase awaits its frame. It is an etching of hens and is great fun:

With "Christmas Carol" completed, I started work on a set of twelve engraved illustrations for "The Woman In Black" by Susan Hill. It was time to unpack the woodblocks and reach for the sketchbook.

In my usual fashion, I designed the illustration in ink and then transferred the design , in reverse, onto the slightly darkened woodblocks:

The blocks were then engraved to the point that they were nearly finished when I took a proof which I used to make final adjustments to the block:

This work is now done and the blocks are on their way to the US, where they will be printed with the text by David Esslemont at the Solmentes Press.

This will be a fine limited edition. I will post more details as they become available.
Much as I enjoyed the challenge of illustrating two books "back-to-back", I am pleased to move one to a number of smaller projects, including images of my own.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Domestic Interlude And An Important Announcement

Late summer is productive here in the Fens and I have been nipping out to eat fat ripe figs from the tree.

Elsewhere in the garden, the courgettes, tomatoes and cucumbers are arriving in quantity and adorning our meals.

We don't own a plum tree but three huge specimens of cherry-plum hang over our garden and rather over-supply us; we are constantly picking up windfalls - far more than we can eat.

Some do find their way into jam-pots as they make a wonderful jam. I spent a day earlier this week engraving a label especially for them. These were dry today and so I trimmed them, added the date by hand, and stuck them on. Enough to last a little while but there will be other batches both from fresh plums and from the freezer.

There is a Private View in Cambridge on Monday 16th August between 6:30 and 8:80 pm. It is the summer exhibition of the Arthur Rank Hospice Charity at the Michaelhouse Centre, St Michael's Church, Trinity Street Cambridge.

It features a large group of etchings and wood engravings by Pamela Hughes, an old friend who died in 2002. It is a rare opportunity to see - and purchase - her work. I am showing a selection of my own wood engravings and Celia Hart is showing some of her gorgeous prints. The exhibition continues until 4th September. Do come along to the Private View if you can. Pamela's Prints are really not to be missed.

Click on the invitation below to enlarge it:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Art In Action 2010

The private view of my exhibition of 48 engravings was a great success but there was no time to reflect as the next day saw us heading down to Essex to a family wedding. One extra pleasure was staying at the bed and breakfast establishment of printmaker Akiko Fujikawa. She is a friend of Nana Shiomi - they had both been at Art In Action with me in 2007 - and also gives courses in hanga printmaking.

Returning from the wedding, I had just two days to collect everything together and head over to Oxfordshire again and, on the wednesday, everything was packed into the car and I set off.

It felt like home to be back in the printmaking tent. I set to hanging framed work and setting out my tables:

The tent catered for both drawing and printmaking. I could look across and see the Rochat etching press that was used for demonstrations.

Over to my side was the lovely 1876 Albion press. Next to it you can see the remarkable linocuts of Colin Moore. Other printmakers attending were Barbara Jackson (etching), Laurie Rudling (collagraph and etching), Melvyn Petterson (etching), Johanna Zhang (drypoint), Louise Hayward (engraving on plastic) and Carry Ackroyd (screenprint). We made a very varied and lively crew.

Art In Action ran for four days and it was very busy for almost all of the time. I only really sw anything outside our section if I went out at lunchtime, when it was lovely to meet up with old friends.

Drawing was also represented in our tent and included an area where people could try their hand at drawing from life:

Although food is provided for demonstrators, there were tempting alternatives and, on a couple of days, I enjoyed delicious mezze:

There is also a large market place of artist, craftworkers and sellers of materials. I treated myself to a selection of superb hand made oil paints by Michael Harding.

On the Saturday evening, there is a dinner for the demonstrators. It is a real occasion, starting with a drink and performances in the outside theatre. We then went into the marquee and were served lovely food. Wine flowed and the printmakers had a very happy time.

Afterwards, we wended our way home between illuminated tents. It was alovely evening and we only had one more day to go.

Back home, I was very tired for a few days. It was a treat to unpack and try out my new Michael Harding paints - and three handmade brushes by Rosemary & Co.

They are now in my old pochade box, waiting for a plein air painting excursion - a guy's got to have a hobby ;-)

Finally, I am back in harness and finishing off A Christmas Carol (the early images were recieved with great interest last week in Oxfordshire). Here I am engraving ivy leaves from life:

On with the work...