My printing techniques vary but every print is taken from an image that inspires me. Once I’ve seen an image I like – normally an animal or bird (and I have always been attracted to expressions on faces) – I decide on the size of image and draw it roughly onto the lino using chalk or pastel. I then start to carve out the image – I don’t like to have my image too carefully drawn at this point as the print looses ‘life’ if it doesn’t have a certain degree of spontaneity. For me the cutting of the lino can become quite absorbing and it is sometimes difficult to know when to stop!
So, using sharp tools I carve the pieces of lino to create one or two ( or more) plates which can be used to print different colours. If I’m using two plates the first plate will usually be the colour of the background whilst the second plate usually shows the darker image (as the horse plates on the right). The areas to be left light are where lino is cut away and black / coloured areas are where the lino is left to be printed. The plate is then rolled with ink and printed using thick, dampened ‘Somerset’ paper, which I roll through an etching press. This gives the print an embossed finish where the paper has been pressed into the lino. The ink only rolls onto the flat top surface of the lino – any lino cut away doesn’t print and so leaves the paper white.
When working on very large prints I tend to ‘etch’ the lino using stop-out and caustic soda which creates a more painterly image (e.g. ‘As the Crow Flies’). I also like to add other interest and uniqueness to my prints with ‘chine colle’ using old book pages, old maps, old banknotes in the printing process. More recently I have enjoyed applying watercolour and gold leaf to my prints.
Each print is hand-printed by me and is therefore unique – no two prints are ever exactly the same.