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.
Wildlife Artist of the Year
Curlew art selected for Wildlife Artist of the Year
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:
- 40% of the world’s wildlife has been wiped out in the last 50 years.
- 1,000,000 species of plants, insects and mammals are at risk of extinction.
UPDATE Curlew picks up an award at Wildlife Artist of the Year . . .
Curlews in the Estuary
Curlews in the Estuary
Hand printed woodcuts
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.
Curlews in the Estuary portfolio
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
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.
Edge of Salt Marsh
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).
How I printed the Edge of Salt Marsh
- I carved 3 woodblocks. You carve woodblocks in reverse so it takes a bit of thought (text can be really challenging).
- You take multiple test prints to highlight high spots and unwanted marks.
- When satisfied with the carving you can begin the printing process. I wanted a graduated background colour so inked up a blank woodblock to get a light to dark effect.
- After the background ink had dried I was ready to ink up the master woodblock.
- I printed this on top of the background colour before repeating the process with the remaining 2 blocks.
I used fade-resistant inks on acid-free paper so the prints will stand the test of time.
EDGE of SALT MARSH portfolio
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.
I hope you enjoy this series of woodcuts.
For other series please visit HAND PRINTED WOODCUTS