This is a picture of the back of my car. It's a big boot, thank goodness, in an old car which is now a pretty established mobile print studio. I've everything I need to teach Lino, wood cut, collagraph, mono print dry point and etching. The crates are interchangeable and organisation in based on a crucial collection of lists that have been perfected over the last couple of years. (I still forget the bin bags on a regular basis).
So I see my portable print studio as an equivalent to the mobile library that used to drive round to the out of the way places every week when I was a kid. Every Tuesday I drive out to one of the local villages to run Steventon Printmakers, a class covering every type of technique we can manage. On Wednesday I teach a small class of teenagers and then I run weekend workshops as well.
There are fantastic print studios all over the uk but unless you're really lucky to live near one, it's hard to get access to classes and equipment if you live out in the country. Especially etching opportunities because of the need for the press. So this is my mobile solution. Rural etching outreach?
Have press: will travel.
The subject of 'starting points' seems to be a particularly suitable way to start a blog. This blog is all about printmaking, especially the stuff I do which is etching. Today I have been working on a new idea for an etching and I am in the very first stages of prep for it so I thought I would write a little about how I start to work on a print.
A lot of my work is about landscapes and outdoor environments. Ideas come to me when I'm out walking or running. The process of turning those ideas into print varies depending on how I see the final print. Colour v monotone, abstracted v graphic. I would love to say that I am one of those artists who wonders around with a sketch book, leaning on a gate and drawing en plein air, but the truth is, I don't have time. I did a lot of that back in the heady days before kids. Now my work has to fit around 3 sons, teaching and the dog!
These days I rely a lot on my camera and memory. Photographs are a great reference as a starting point but over dependance on them can make the print very static. The landscapes I print I know really well, they are local to me or places I have been to many, many times. The feel of them, the weather and atmosphere is what I am trying to capture. I use the photos for structure and then go through a process of reduction, abstraction and then rebuilding marks to get to an image I am happy with. If I know I am going to be creating a monotone, single colour print I will sketch and over sketch in pencil or pen, building up tones and mark making. Today I have been working on an idea for a colour print so I worked in acrylic. I don't often do this but it's been good to build up the colours and get in idea of the final goal. Also, I do love a bit of painting!