Tag Archives: block prints

Hare Pair

28 Jan


Today I finished cutting the small lino block of a hare that I started a couple of days ago. When it was completed, I liked the idea of cutting a mirror image to make a pair of hares. They’re similar, not identical and I cut them with my set of Flexcut tools, using a Flexcut Slipstrop to sharpen the gouges every 4 or 5 cuts. If you let the tools get blunt, it’s a real hassle to resharpen them, much easier to keep them sharpened as you work. And they’re pretty sharp – I managed to draw blood on 2 of my fingers, despite using a bench hook to cut on.

It’s good to get back to a simple technique like block cutting. I’m a huge fan of paleolithic art and one of the earliest art forms was rock carvings, or petroglyphs. Carving into lino or wood blocks is a similar process and although there’s no evidence that prints were taken off petroglyphs, it’s a small step to carving onto wood and using pigments to make prints. Fabric printing from blocks is thousands of years old and I feel this continuity of the practice whenever I carve a new block.

Next step is to do a proof print from each block to see if the image is complete or if I need to do any more cutting.

Dark Lady

6 Aug


I’ve spent a couple of days cataloguing my work, a task I’ve been putting off for ages. I’ve rediscovered pieces I’d completely forgotten about, like this block print I made some years ago. I went through a phase of cutting nudes in lino and then went off it. I don’t  know why. Now I’ve found this again I really like it. Printed onto Zercoll 145 gsm paper with Intaglio Printmaker relief ink.

First Proof

14 Nov


Been hacking away at a lump of old plywood for a couple of days and took a first proof of it today. I used Daler Rowney block printing medium mixed with Daler Rowney lamp black Georgian oil paint and took the print using a Japanese baren onto Fabriano Accademica 120 gsm paper. I can’t get a dense black using a baren but it’s ok for a first proof. Now I can see where I need to do more hacking before I take it off to Swansea Print Workshop for a proper tryout on our old Columbian press.

Blocks And Cuts

12 Sep

I’ve been working on a set of nine block prints for some time now, picking them up and down when I’ve got time. I’ve proof printed the first three of the series, that I’ve called Voyeur and I spent this week cutting the remaining 6 blocks. Here they are, with my ‘swag’ Convers. I’ll proof print them tomorrow to see if I need to do any more cutting. I love block printing. Cutting the blocks is like drawing with knives – I think of it as a form of drawing. I’ve cut the images into 18cm square pieces of signwriter’s foamboard. I think it’s a PVC and it’s known commercially in Britain as Foamex. It’s easy to incise but quite hard to cut, so I design with this in mind, using fairly small areas of white, as these have to be cut out and I have to keep sharpening my tools every two or three cuts. Can’t wait to proof them – I’ll be covered in printer’s ink tomorrow 🙂

Draw, Print, Draw

28 Aug

Carrying on from yesterday’s bloggage about the Drawn To Print project, I’ve been immersed in drawing today too. The drawing on the left is one I did a couple of years ago, on BFK Rives 250 gsm paper coloured with metallic System 3 acrylic and drawn in Faber Castell Pitt pens. I then used it to develop into a block print, cutting the design into an offcut of signwriters foamboard and printed in black litho/relief oil-based ink onto Zercoll 145 gsm. Today, I used the print to develop another drawing, using a dip pen and Indian ink onto Fabriano Accademica 120 gsm. And next…..? Why, I fancy a screenprint. This could keep on going and going………

Bath And Voyeurs

7 Jul

In between all the photopolymer [solar] plate etching over the last couple of weeks, I managed to proof three blocks I’d cut. They’re the first three of a series based on the concept of the artist as voyeur. I lean out of my second floor studio window and take surreptitious photos of people walking below, then I do drawings from them, transfer the drawings to signwriter’s foamboard and cut and incise the image. I’m very pleased with the results – I like the way each figure is restrained within the black square. There will eventually be nine in the series and I’ll probably do an edition of fifteen prints from each block. The foamboard isn’t as robust as wood or lino so the editions can’t be particularly large.

Tomorrow I’ll be finishing off some framing for the exhibition I’m having in Bath with a small group of artists. We’re calling ourselves and the exhibition Commensalis, so if you’re anywhere near Bath next week, please pop in and see us. The opening is on Monday evening and there will be cake! It’s in a spooky old mortuary chapel that’s been converted to a gallery in the ‘Artisan’ quarter of the city. There will also be performances of poetry, storytelling and Swedish Folk/Jazz throughout the week and fellow artist Melanie Ezra and I are ‘in conversation’ on the Friday evening. After all that, I’m going to have a few days off and wander around with my sketchbook, chilling out.

A Bit Like New York?

17 Mar

Yesterday was the official opening of the new Elysium Artists’ Studios on Mansel Street. We’ve all been working on the building for the past couple of weeks to get it ready for the public and I did my best to tidy up my own studio and get work up onto the walls. It was good to spend some time going through my work and decide what to put out and also to rediscover pieces I’d forgotten about.

Here’s the view through my North-facing window after I’d tidied up. The old plans chest is one of the most invaluable pieces of furniture I’ve ever owned. During the opening, I used it for serving mocktails and home-made cake, assisted by my poor long-suffering husband.

Here’s the view from the window end, facing the door with some of my work displayed in the corridor outside. Later on that evening the place was jam-packed. I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere so crowded. It was brilliant. Someone said it was more like New York! I don’t know about that, but I haven’t been to anything quite like it in Swansea before.

Here’s some of the work I displayed; on the left a series of blockprint portraits done from my travels in Pakistan a few years back, along with some linoprints of petroglyphs carved into the rocks of the Karakoram mountains. On the back wall, two more recent full-colour monotypes. It was a terrific night but so busy that I didn’t have enough time to speak to everyone, so if you’re one of the people who came along, thank you ever so much and I’m sorry I couldn’t spend more time with you 🙂

Little Orange Kitty

7 Mar

Lino print: orange cat.


Mostly I work with human figures but now and again, for a bit of light relief I use animals as my subjects, usually cats because they have enslaved me and I get plenty of practice drawing them. This is a small lino block print I did of Sparta. It’s a reduction block print, a technique that printmaker’s often call the suicide method because you cut all the colours from the same block which destroys the block in the process. If something goes wrong, you can’t go back and redo it. I’ve used three oil colours on this on top of a creamy coloured Zercoll 145 gsm paper.

Sparta is a small tortoiseshell [calico] cat who specialises in doing high fives, being cute and wholesale murder. She also likes to dump dead [and sometimes not dead] animals on top of me when I’m asleep in bed in the early hours of the morning and sitting on the stairs and smacking people in the head when they walk past.  And biting my toes. And sneaking into bed on cold nights and sticking her icy paws in the middle of my back. And persuading local pensioners to spend their pittances on her. Maybe it’s my fault for calling her Sparta. Perhaps I should have called her Tiddles. Or Fluffy. Whoever heard of a serial killer called Fluffy?


I Knows ‘Ew Luvs Me ‘Coz ‘Ew Buys Me Chips

28 Nov

Mixed media: 'I Knows 'Ew Luvs Me'.


This large mixed media piece started as a simple life drawing in conte crayons onto Somerset paper [250gsm] that I had squeegeed with black acrylic System 3 ink mixed with pearlised and acrylic medium. This gave me a dark, uneven surface to work on. I collaged on some interesting hand-made papers I had knocking around, tearing them into tiny squares and added a couple of blockprinted skulls that I’d printed up on tissue. I like to use text a lot in my larger scale work, repeating a phrase over and over so that it becomes a rhythmic pattern across the page. I did this onto tracing parchment and pasted pieces over parts of her body. I fnished off the drawing with oil bars.


I like to use skulls / bones in my work as it’s in the European Vanitas tradition where artists would constantly remind us of our own mortality. The primitive figure to the right of the woman is a lino print I did based on a drawing of a pertoglyph, an ancient rock carving, I made during a journey around Pakistan. The petroglyphs were carved onto large rocks at the side of the road up the Karakoram Mountain range in the Northern Territories. It’s a very primitive man printed onto a highly textured hand-made paper.


The phrase I used is ” ‘I knows ‘ew luvs me ‘coz ‘ew buys me chips.” This is a well-known Swansea phrase in the local dialect and it’s meant to be a tender declaration of love in these parts. [For non-British readers – chips are fries]. 😉

The Elder in Art. Having a Rant!

3 Oct

We live in a society that does not, in my opinion, value our elders. They are marginalised from mass media; stereotyped when they do appear; and shuffled off into ‘care’ homes when they become too inconvenient. Our civilisation has an unhealthy obsession with youth to the extent that barely middle aged people have their faces fixed into a vile rictus grin with botox or surgery, fooling themselves that they look young. They don’t. Young people don’t have stretched skin. We don’t venerate, celebrate or respect age, wisdom, experience, that ability to take the long view.

As artists we should be subverting society’s conventions by giving visibility to the invisible; respect to the disrespected. I have always worked with the human figure, mostly, though not exclusively, through the nude and it’s demoralising going to group shows that feature figurative art and finding that almost all the models are young, conventionally beautiful, female and painted/drawn/printed in coy ‘tasteful’ poses which is an euphemism for soft core porn. What about elder women and elder men? Don’t they deserve to be portrayed and exhibited too? As a baby-boomer I’m acutely aware that if we don’t make a stand, then pretty soon we’ll start disappearing from public view as well.

Relief print: Elder Woman of Hunza.

This portrait is a block print I did based on a photograph I took of an elder in the Hunza region of Pakistan in the North East territories, near the Chinese border during my trip in 2007. She is wearing the traditional Hunza hat which is heavily embroidered. Women in this region are well-educated and economically active, with a reasonable standard of living and good health. Yes, her face has wrinkles but she also shines with joy and I’ve had terrific feedback whenever I’ve shown her and she’s being collected too!

I cut and incised the image into an offcut of signwriter’s foamboard and printed in oil-based relief ink onto Zercoll 145gsm paper in a limited edition of 10.


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