A New Landscape, A New Approach
Encountering a new landscape when we moved home last year called for a new approach to my art.
I wasn’t satisfied with doing the same thing again. A new muse meant new materials. And while I tried to use colour to start a new body of work based on my new field sketches, it felt off. I didn’t know this new place at all, and colour was too distracting. I needed to delve deeply into my new landscape to get to know it intimately, and colour had to be removed.
So I put colour to the side and continued with monochromatic materials, like black ink, pencils, graphite and charcoal. One of my favourite tools is a black water-based marker (Posca pen). I am using it in everything from sketches to finished pieces.
A new favourite process is printmaking, particularly monotypes, and then drawing into them. What I do is I start with a monotype: I use black block printing ink and a paintbrush to paint a mirror image of what I want onto either an A4 piece of perspex, or an A3 piece of acetate.
Most of the time I remember to paint a mirror image, but sometimes I forget! But it doesn’t matter too much as I am not aiming for realism. I am aiming for the essence of a landscape, and my experience in it.
Then I press the perspex or acetate onto a piece of 250gsm recycled cartridge paper (from Artway). I might turn it around so the back of the paper is facing up and the perspex or acetate is underneath, and I press down on the paper. Sometimes I use a pencil to draw onto the back of the paper, which will print interesting marks onto the paper on the other side.
I slowly peel the paper away and I have an image to work with (the mirror image of what I painted on the perspex or acetate). If the ink has dried a bit too quickly and there’s not enough of it on the paper, I will touch it up. When the ink is still wet I will use a bit of rag and soften the mark or shape it has made on the paper. Sometimes I use a little water, too, which produces different effects. When there’s still some ink left on the perspex or acetate I get another piece of paper and press down on it to get what is called a “ghost print”.
Then out come the soft pencils like 5B or 6B, graphite or even more block printing ink, and I work intuitively. I loosely base my studies and finished pieces on sketches from the field but often I don’t even look at them when I am working on a piece. The memory of the feeling of the landscape and my experience in it leads the way.
As you can imagine, I can be so immersed in the process that I forget that more isn’t always better. I’ve overworked quite a few monotypes! Especially when I am looking to find the essence. But overworking helps me to figure out what’s too far and where I need to stop. It’s all part of the process, so I don’t get too frustrated about that (anymore!).
At other times a piece will be done quickly and with minimal effort, as if by magic.
I love those moments. They feel quite surreal and often surprise me. But I always remember that it has taken a lot of ones that didn’t work to suddenly creating a piece that does. I know other artists who can relate to this! I am always hoping to repeat that magic, and every now and then one will happen that way. Very satisfying when it does.
For this new body of work titled “A New Home, A New Landscape” I have selected 15 drawings from the multitude of work I have done over the last year. This selection, I feel, beautifully captures the essence of my walks, explorations and birdwatching in this new landscape.
Please note these original drawings are unframed for ease of sending them through the post. Free delivery if you live in the UK. For outside of the UK please email me at email@example.com to purchase a piece as I will need to add on the cost of shipping.
Framing will incur an additional cost – I would be happy to chat this through with you if you’re interested.
In addition, four of my earlier monochromatic pieces were framed and exhibited at the Whitekirk Hill exhibition over the summer. These four pieces are from their own little body of work titled “Field-ventures”. They are also available online.
Find them all in my online shop here and let me know which is your favourite, I’d love to know!