Into the woods

I did a drawing I was pleased with, because of the trees, textures and path. It was pencil, but when I took a photo of it in less than perfect light conditions, it turned sepia, which suited it, I thought.


I’m now trying to turn it into a print, drawing it again, simplifying and changing it a bit, ready to be cut, possibly as another black and white print using both wood-cutting tools for removing the large areas of light and wood engraving tools to make patterned textures and greys/mid tones. I’m not experienced in doing this, so it’s exciting, but could be a disaster.


I’m using vinyl flooring again. It’s a surprise how well wood engraving-type cutting prints on this stuff. You’d think fine lines would fill in, but they didn’t on the last plate I made using this method

This is how the latest one turned out, after a long time removing the sky to show the trees with lino cutting tools and using the same plus wood-engraving tools on the foreground.



I was pleased with the print, but wondered how it would look if I made a second plate with more trees on it. I printed it first in a light grey, then printed the main trees on top. I spent a long time fiddling with the tones, and trying to stop the light grey trees showing through. Where they crossed the black trees there was a kind of ghost image, but I don’t think it matters – it looks a bit like shadows.


More handmade books


I’ve improved the method. On the plus side the books hold together better and are stronger and neater. On the negative, they still take a long time to make, even when I do several of the same size at the same time. For each book Somerset paper is torn by hand  into 15 pieces, which are then folded and smoothed flat with a bone folder. They are carefully sewn together on to an inner spine of bookcloth. Boards are cut for the covers with bookcloth cut to fit between and hold them together, then two prints are cut to fit front and back. A liquid wax-like coating is then brushed on to the print to protect it.


New tree

There’s an amazing tree on a lane where I live in Devon. It arches over the road and fills the sky. I wanted to portray it, but not on its own as I usually do, so I’ve put it in its landscape.

I drew straight on to the plate, which is a piece of smooth vinyl flooring, using soft pencils and a little white pen for highlights. The image below is in black and white – the plate is actually blue, as you’ll see if you scroll down.


I thought I’d cut the tree out as a silhouette, then if the rest of it went wrong, I could perhaps trim the plate and save the tree to print on its own.

I also thought I’d try using some wood engraving tools alongside the usual wood-cutting ones, so I could add texture and some greys on the fields and hedge, so it would work as a black and white print, but I might also add colour somehow at a later stage.

Anyway, the cutting has taken a week – pretty quick for me.

From this:


To this:


I wasn’t convinced the fine texture on the fields created with the wood engraving tool, would actually print, as it could hold too much ink and just turn out blobby. The pic above doesn’t show the final version, as I also cut texture into the road and the hedge.

After lots of fiddling and problems, the print looks like this:


Still more fiddling to do, e.g. on tree and a bit on the hedge and fields, but I’m pleased, as it’s exciting to have some success with the wood engraving tools adding texture and greys.

Drawing to print

I’ve turned another drawing into a print, this time I’m more pleased with the result, which is a bit of a colourfest for me.



I started with the drawing above and did four layers of colour, each a blended roll from light to darker at the front.


I also tried to use cooler colours blues and purples in the distance and warmer yellows, oranges and browns in the foreground. I’ve missed the second step out. The third is below.


And here is the fourth and last.



It’s a bit odd-looking, and I’m not so happy with the blobby cutting in the trees, but overall I’m enjoying the oddness.

Reduction linocut

Having done a drawing I was reasonably pleased with, I’m in the process of developing it into a linocut, which is tricky as it’s my first attempt to represent trees in this way, i.e. not winter skeletons, but full-blown leafy summer trees with their puzzling patterns of light and shade.

Devon fields

I’ve scanned it, reversed it, printed it out and copied it on to a piece of lino – actually not lino, but vinyl flooring which I prefer. I’ve just traced the outlines on to the plate at this stage, as I only need to know where the edges of things are and the drawing will probably rub off in the printing process.


Now I have to work out how many colours I can use and what they’re going to be, or, rather, what I’m hoping they’ll be, as there’s only so far you can control them in this method.

I printed a warm light grey as the first colour (it’s actually lighter than in the pic), then cut away the sky. Next I printed a blonde brown cornfield-like colour on top and cut away some of the fields. Then I printed a light green, leaving me at the stage shown in the pic below.


Next I cut away the remaining field shapes and the lightest tones in the trees and hedges, giving me roughly…….



And then I cut away the next lightest tones in the trees and hedges, a bit randomly, then I mixed a bluey-purple colour with lots of extender, so very light, to give a darker green layer. That ended up like this…


Then I cut away again and inked the plate with a cold blue, and thought I was finished, but decided the final shadows weren’t dark enough, so cut away almost everything, leaving just little shapes in the parts where deepest shade should be, I hoped, and inked again with a cold blue and got:


I wished I’d left the final shapes slightly larger, as I thought these last spots of dark green were good and in retrospect I would have liked more of them in the foreground, but it was too late. That’s the thing about reduction ….. you can’t go back. Next time I’d have more contrast in the trees and maybe some detail in the fields.

Mixing colours


I spent some time today using my Caligo Safewash printmaking inks like paints, mixing greens, browns and golds from warm or cold blues, reds and yellows, with the aim of building up charts of of colour mixes I can refer to.

It quickly became bewildering, so not sure if it’ll work, but I quite liked the look of the bits of cartridge paper I mixed the colours on.