catching up with the year: angus

I spent a couple of months  in Scotland earlier this year; a combination of seeing family, house-sitting and catching up with old friends. I’ve been a long time away, over 30 years now, though I visit regularly, even if it’s just for a few days at a time. But it was great to have more time there than usual. Time to wander. It was the wettest summer on record, with wild skies, thumping winds, floods and roaring rivers. I had a border collie as company for part of my stay, so I bought a good pair of wellington boots and tramped about as much as I could, working on the theory that the more I moved, the less I would get wet.

I didn’t do as much sketching as I thought I would, but I did get a lot of fresh air.

Gagie Burn, Wellbank, Angus

Gagie Burn, Wellbank, Angus

This  is of a small water at the foot of my brother’s garden; much fuller than usual, and almost submerged in yellow buttercups and marsh marigolds, bright in the grey light. Sketching this, I had to have my hood up and scarf wrapped round my face because of the biting gnats and mosquitoes. Every so often a flock of martins would torpedo down the course of the stream, only a few inches above the water, gobbling them all up.

This is a pen and ink drawing with wax crayon resist and watercolour washes. If you look closely you can see where the rain splatted the paint about.

Whilst in the area, I spent three days at the DCA with a wonderful local artist printmaker, barbara robertson. Barbara linocuts using the reduction or suicide technique. She draws directly onto the lino (‘life’s too short to draw anything twice’) and registers the many subtle layers of ink by eye. Her work is magical, loaded with her own symbolism, wit, warmth and wisdom.

I used this sketch as the basis for my own reduction linocut print, enjoying the liberation of just getting stuck in and also the delicacy of colour in Barbara’s technique. The print is not finished yet. It’s already been through the press a few times with various yellow, greens and blue. I’d like to add another paler blue to the water, vary the mark-making more on the greens a bit and add in a complementary cool brown/ochre to the fenceposts. All this at home pressing the prints by hand… I need to wait for the return of the light I think.

work in progress: reduction linocut

work in progress: reduction linocut

7 thoughts on “catching up with the year: angus

    • Instead of creating different blocks for different colours, then registering them and printing them separately, the reduction (suicide) method works with one lino plate only, cutting away shapes from the same block and printing layers as you go. It’s a bit of a rush, as every cut is decisive. Means planning ahead, thinking in layers and being confident about colour mixing. Being a textile artist, you’ll be really good at that! mini-workshop at my house?

    • I buy square 195 x 195mm size black casebound sketchbooks from seawhite of brighton. I think you can buy them ring-bound as well, but I like the heft of the board cover, keeping the pages flat with the aid of a couple of rubber bands. The paper is 140g with extra sizing, so it stands watercolour and inks very well. they come in all sizes but I like the symmetry of the format. One page a square; a non-binding flexible space. And two pages form a 2 x 1 rectangle, great for working vertically and horizontally. Best value place to buy is artesaver.

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