I have a thing about old wooden doors so, while clamped to a heater in my workroom last week trying to ignore the miserable grey skies and cold, I thought of hot sunny days in Palma last year and did this wood engraving. It's based on a sketch I did of the chunky wooden courtyard door at my sister's house.
Reworking a block is never easy as I work using a magnifying glass (dodgy eyes) so the marks I make tend to be very close together. Opening them up can just result in a mess. With this in mind I tentatively reworked the block to lighten up areas and printed again. It works better now. When viewed from any distance there just wasn't enough definition on the original print and it all looked too dark. I'm finally happy with the print and even happier that I didn't ruin it!
Last summer I trundled up quite a steep hill to look at Racton Ruin in West Sussex. It was a hot day, I was wearing flip flops (silly me) and I did wonder whether it was worth it for a few photos.
The folly was originally built for the 2nd Earl of Halifax, either as a summerhouse or as a place where he could watch his merchant ships docking at Emsworth. Today the crumbling brickwork has lost the flint stones which covered it, the four floors inside the 80 foot tower have gone and it's now covered in graffiti. I made it to the top of the hill eventually and got my photos and ultimately my wood engraving print.
I used this drawing I did of a sunflower bursting into life up at my allotment. I'd wanted to try and do a wood engraving based around this and last week I finally got up the nerve to try it out.
I know it's best to work on a darkend block but I started off by drawing on the block and inking it up. I made a few cuts but then realised I should darken it up with ink if I was going to be able to see the marks I was making so I applied a thin coating of watered down black ink and crossed my fingers that the drawing would stay visible. Luckily it did.
As always I was nervous of taking away too much wood so I made a first proof print which was too dark. I painted over areas to show where I'd want to lighten areas and made more cuts before printing again.
The additional cuts to the block did enhance some of the highlights and I got two or three reasonable prints on Hosho japanese paper. But now I've put the block aside for a while. I still think the image is too dark but I want to give myself time to work out how I can lighten some areas to give the print more definition without ruining the whole thing!
I'm a designer, teacher and printmaker. I'm also a gardener and allotment holder, so my blog might be a mix of stuff.