October 8, 2018
I have lots of sketches on loose bits of paper. Instead of keeping them hidden...
Thanks to the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) asking for a postcard size donation I have discovered a new format. It has been great fun creating this curlew postcard, not a size I have worked with before. It is a lovely way for artists taking part in the Wildlife of the Artist of the Year (WAY) exhibition to further help the cause of wildlife conservation.
The curlew postcard shown here can be purchased directly from the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation Shop. All the donated postcards by the selected WAY artists are for sale at £60. This donation supports the DSWF’s conservation work.
I loved working on this, so ended up printing a series of Curlew Sound woodcut. Applying the ink thickly meant I could scribe words into the surface of these individually hand printed woodcuts. I like making marks in the ink and the textural effect that creates. Inspiration comes from my views across the Severn Estuary. A very stylised Denny Island has sneaked in as well. I can never resist a shapely island! Now I have discovered the joy of this smaller format I will be doing some more.
It is always good to have curlews represented at major exhibitions to draw attention to their plight. So I am delighted that 2021 Wildlife Artist of the Year (WAY) selected these two curlew woodcuts.
However, it is a bitter sweet moment. It is always great to have your work chosen, but sad that the curlew now “qualifies” in the Facing Extinction category. Just a few years ago “facing extinction” seemed reserved for exotic creatures in far flung locations. The big hitters like elephants, rhinos and gorillas but now it has reached the curlew on my humble salt marshes.
As a Curlew Action Ambassador my aim is to raise awareness so thrilled that it is on show here and will be seen by lots of people.
The Mall Galleries in London usually hosts this exhibition but this year due to COVID it is on-line. The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation who organise this exhibition quote some alarming statistics:
Curlews in the Estuary – but for how long? This new generation of prints has the curlews’ tale scribed into the ink.
A winter’s walk along the salt marsh path as the tide rises is an experience like no other. As the water moves closer and closer so do flocks of redshanks and flings of dunlin. It is a mesmerising sight . . .
. . . and then you hear them. The stunningly beautiful calls of curlews. A stranger stops to ask what it is making that sound and you tell them the story of the curlew. A story which we must keep telling so others too can love this iconic bird. . . Then perhaps between us we can save them.
Our curlew population has halved in 20 years – what happens in the next 20 is up to us! Scribed into the ink of each print is a different aspect of the curlews’ plight.
I will add more of Curlews in the Estuary – but for how long? as I finish them.
Curlews in the Estuary
Due to the restrictions of COVID-19 this series has not been exhibited yet. Their first outing will be at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge when the exhibition is rescheduled. So hopefully these curlews will get to fly out of my studio soon.
I cut several wood blocks for this series of Curlews in the Estuary so I can swop them to achieve different results. I only mix small batches of ink at a time and apply this to the woodblocks using either a roller or paint brush.
You can use the same block multiple times on each print so you can apply different colours and build up textures. I press the paper onto the blocks by hand so I can alter the pressure and create different textures. It is impossible to produce the same effect twice so every print is different from the last.
Gallery 1 – the colours of the salt marsh are generally quite muted, after all this is no tropical paradise, especially in winter! I used more thalo blue than black to give a bluish hue.
Gallery 2 is still muted but with more raw umber for an earthy pigment.
Gallery 3 – sometimes I fly curlews across the margins so it adds to the sense of movement and reflects what I see on the marsh.
So I wanted to recreate this impression on some of the prints. It is always a bit of a gamble printing in the margins as you can so easily smudge a curlew or two and spoil the entire piece. But sometimes it is worth the gamble.
You can see more woodcuts on my Hand Printed Woodcuts page
Teal in the Estuary is the latest series I am working on. These are the first two prints from this series. I will add more here as I finish them.
Teal are one of the smallest and fastest flying ducks which come to our shores. They arrive in winter as it is warmer here than in the arctic north and there is more food. When the days lengthen again in March or April they will head back north to nest.
They are a pretty little duck, the males especially with a teal stripe on a chestnut head. Both the male and the female have a distinctive teal green wing patch. They jinx this way and that, so I love watching the teal in the estuary to-ing and fro-ing along the edge of the salt marsh. On this stretch of coast there are three starboard-hand buoys so shipping can safely navigate into Royal Portbury Docks. So it is a frequent sight to see the teal passing these green buoys.
Lapwing and snipe are two of my favourite waders and typically seen in this wetlands habitat. I love the watery reflections and the muted colours here.
As a child, I used to see hundreds of lapwing in freshly ploughed fields but they are in decline now. Numbers are so low that they are on the RSPB Red List of species causing the greatest conservation concern.
Those that still come are mainly winter visitors to wetlands and salt marshes. I so look forward to their arrival each year but sadly as time passes fewer and fewer come. From flocks of many hundreds in my youth to just a handful fifty years on.
In this area the lapwing population has fallen by a massive 88% in the last 25 years. So there is a project to bring lapwings back to the Gordano Valley led by Avon Wildlife Trust in the hope of reversing this decline.
With a long beak snipe are easily identified once you manage to spot them! They are so well camouflaged that it can take a while to get your eye in, but it is worth the effort. These are common snipe although not as common as the name suggests. They are on the Amber List of critical species so not quite as threatened as the lapwings.
The setting is a stubble field on the east coast of Scotland. This is a place for curlews and hares and the interaction of species is always something that interests me. Though in this instance I have engaged in a bit of artistic licence putting them together. Both the curlew and the hare are quite mystical creatures and sadly both have declined in recent years. Curlews are now on the RSPB Red List of threatened birds.
Who doesn’t like chattering goldfinches? These cheery birds regularly feed on the many seeds which the salt marsh offers. In winter they flock here in large charms. Unlike the wading birds here they are not at risk. In fact in the last 50 years their population has probably doubled. It is nice to have a success story!
The prints are giclées and limited to only 25 prints of each painting.
A giclée is a very high quality, fine art, inkjet print. What makes this sort of print so special is the use of fade-resistant inks on acid-free paper. So this means the print will last for very many years.
The word giclée comes from the French verb gicler meaning to squirt or spray and was first coined by French printmaker, Jack Duganne, in 1991. An inkjet printer sprays ink onto paper to produce these archival quality prints.
To find out more please email me.
I am still setting up this website so this page is still under construction.
This is a hare seen on the Somerset Levels. It is available as a giclée print.
I love the act of carving wood, it is meditative and calming but that is just a small part of the process. When it comes to printing there are endless possibilities.
I love this view of a yacht passing Denny Island. What began as a simple watercolour sketch was finished with oil pastels to give texture and soul.
This is a giclée print.
This is a new website so this page is still under construction. I hope you will come back another time.
Edge of Salt Marsh is a series of hand printed woodcuts and because they are hand printed each one is different. When you apply more ink and press firmly you get a solid imprint. When you apply less ink and press gently you get a lovely texture. To make this series even more special I hand printed free-flying ducks in the margin.
Because no two are the same in either texture or colour the Edge of Salt Marsh prints are classed as variable edition prints (V/E).
I used fade-resistant inks on acid-free paper so the prints will stand the test of time.
The colours vary from mainly magenta and cyan in Gallery 1 . . .
. . . to more cyan than magenta in Gallery 2
. . . then more cyan and black in Gallery 3
. . . and finally more black than cyan giving a predominantly monotone effect in Gallery 4.
For other series please visit HAND PRINTED WOODCUTS
If you want to know what exhibitions I am doing and where I have exhibited before, this is the place to find out.
As everyone knows 2020 has been disrupted by COVID-19 so planned exhibitions have changed. Art trails in my home are out as social distancing is not possible. But am hopeful that the exhibition at WWT Slimbridge will still go ahead.
Originally due to start in June it has been delayed due to COVID-19. However, with luck this exhibition at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust HQ at Slimbridge will go ahead later this year. I am looking forward to exhibiting with Shelly Perkins again as it was such fun before. We were last together at Slimbridge in 2016, though it doesn’t seem like four years ago!
This time I will be showing my original woodcut prints as well as my paintings, so something new to see. I printed the Curlew in the Estuary series of woodcuts especially for this Slimbridge exhibition.
I have been lucky enough to exhibit at a number of venues across the UK. These exhibitions include:
I have also hosted a number of art trails in my home studio. These are great fun as it is an opportunity to demonstrate my work and have a chat with visitors.
This is a special place as it is situated in a stunning and beautiful estuary.
The Mall Galleries is one of the most prestigious exhibition venues so it is a great place to have your work hung. This is where the Society for Wildlife Artists (SWLA) hold their annual open exhibition. The redshank was one of the paintings selected for the exhibition.