I studied fine art and printmaking at Colchester School of Art and then got sucked into the world of full-time work and mortgage payments and largely forgot my artistic ambitions. I continued to produce prints at odd intervals but did this purely for my own interest and did not attempt to sell them or show them to people. Redundancy followed by early retirement released me from full-time work and allowed me to concentrate on printmaking. I started going to St. Barnabas Press in Cambridge and took part in “The Artist’s Marquee” at Burwash Manor in Barton and Open Studios.
I did not start lino printing at college concentrating mainly on etching and drypoint but took it up many years later at a lino printing workshop run by Richard Bawden. I felt an affinity with the medium as soon as I started. I like the way that lino forces you to design and simplify and I am, at heart, a pattern maker. When I start a lino there is always a decision as to how much to design and stylise and how much to aim for realism.
I have always preferred to draw directly onto the lino block and use it as a piece of paper rather than tracing designs. I use the multiple block method of printing for colour prints rather than the reduction method (using multiple cutting and printing from the same block).
There is a tendency for lino cuts, from the nature of the medium, to be rather hard and linear with strong blocks of colour. I recently decided that I wanted to do some more delicate looking colour prints. I did this by using multiple blocks and overprinting colours and heavily adding extender to the printing ink to make the final result more translucent. I also do not completely cut away all the I lino on areas where I am removing it but leave small areas behind to overprint and add to the layers.
I was brought up in the country and especially loved a nearby wildflower meadow. I like using wild flowers in my prints partly because I feel that we do not appreciate their beauty and importance to wildlife and also because I like the curved and sinuous lines that they enable you to make. 97% of the wildflower meadows in this country have been lost since the 1930s and this is an outrage.
Last year, I installed an etching press and this has enabled me to experiment although I remain ever grateful to James Hill and Fiona Thomas at St. Barnabas Press in Cambridge for helping me with my printing technique.
I am not naturally a practical person and so I enjoy the fact that lino printing allows you to work on the prints alone with just a set of lino tools and without technical aspects getting in the way. I can put on some music in the background and just lose myself in what I am doing. That is the best part of printmaking.