The artist year has it's natural rhythms with November and December being very busy with art fairs and orders. January and February are quieter so it's a great time to focus on ambitious new work.
I've been working on these new monotype landscapes for the last month or so. They're on the largest sheet of paper that my printing press can manage (76 x 58 cm). There's something about working at large scale that is very satisfying. I feel that I'm challenging myself and not compromising at all. As a Northumberland artist, these landscapes connect to my local area but are imagined rather then specific views.
I work to a number of different sizes as I want to be able to offer my customers a wide range to suit every room and also to try out different composition ideas. Having a large statement piece in your main living area can really add the finishing touch to a room and create a natural focal point.
Visitors to my studio are fascinated by the textures and patterns that I use and frequently ask me about how they are accomplished. These two videos give an overview of the stages of the process. They move along at a brisk pace so that I don't test your patience but please understand that I rarely do more than two layers in a day and most layers need 2-4 days to dry properly!
This second video shows me working on another large piece with the largest area of pattern I've ever done. It took nearly all day. The selection of patterns is very important as they need to look reasonably natural and hint at rock and earth layers.
Creating the textures is the final and most complicated layer. I must confess that I feel quite nervous getting started on the patterns for a larger piece as I know how easily it can go wrong and all the previous work be wasted. After some strong cups of tea and chocolate biscuits I can screw up the courage to get started. Once I'm underway, I try to keep moving to keep the mark-making flowing and not stilted. The inks cannot be left overnight so this layer must be printed the same day.
Having a larger sheet of paper gives me more scope to develop dramatic skies. The one at the top has four layers of ink working from light to dark. I love the gold-grey combination but I could go on for ever with all the sky variations. Each time I see a sunset or a sunrise I think I'll give it a try, not in a literal way but just the sense of the colours and soft marks. I need to translate what I see into my own style and what will actually look good in the monotype medium. If you said I had to print skies for the rest of my career, I'd be quite happy!
I've also been working on three more "ploughed fields". I'm on an endless quest to find the optimum combination of colours and patterns. A lot of you have expressed appreciation of the warm red-earthy palette that I use so I'll be sure to include those colours. Ultimately I'd like to create a seasonal collection of these square pictures.
I'll be exhibiting this work at The Biscuit Factory in June but my loyal email followers always get first refusal of new original work. So this time next month you can expect an update about them. If you're interested in purchasing any of the pieces shown here, please join my email list to be among the first to know when new work is available.