1. Linocut printmaking with Hugh Ribbans
Hugh Ribbans is a printmaker with a fine sense of design and pattern, whose work I discovered on my first visit to Faversham in a very interesting hat shop in West Street.
That was two years ago. I’m not saying that it was Hugh’s work that brought me to live in Faversham, but it was part of the realisation that the North East Kent coast has a strong creative heart.
When Creek Creative teamed up with Hugh last autumn to run a linocut printmaking course, I was thrilled. A group of six very different but very eager students flourished under Hugh’s guidance and encouragement. The course was a great success and there has since been a second beginners’ course and a special one-day workshop concentrating on multi-block printing.
The nicest thing to come out of the course is that the six of us continue to meet up for a monthly printmaking day at Creek Creative.
It took a while to get my head around the reductive method of working – cutting away the whites – when I am more used to drawing on white paper. My first linocut “Beware of the Man” was perhaps overambitious, including reversed lettering, but I got there in the end. An “art cartoon” as it was described and I’m quite chuffed with that description.
My second linocut was completed after the course had finished and was inspired by a dog who followed me along the footpath over the marshes, constantly searching for bigger sticks to present to me. “Stick!” was accepted for exhibition in the East Kent Printmakers Exhibition at Herne Bay Museum & Gallery.
It was a strange experience seeing my work in a gallery – with a price tag on it! Will it sell before June 1st?
2. Silkscreen printmaking at the Print Block, Whitstable
Emboldened by the linocut course I took things on a step further by signing up for one of Suki Hayes-Watkins’ screenprinting courses at her Print Block studio in Whitstable. Located on the East Quay, it was a rather bleak winter setting on dark and windy Tuesday nights! But inside the studio, a warm and happy atmosphere welcomed.
Assisted by Karen Radford, the course took us through paper stencils, painting directly on to the screens and finally making photostencil screens.
For my photostencil screenprint I took a piece that originated as a doodle which I had already worked to full colour in Adobe Illustrator (for my business card) and pared this down to five spot colours. I printed out each spot colour as black on my inkjet printer to make the artwork for five stencils.
At the Print Block, working with five colours of ink that I physically mixed myself and knowing the order to print them was a new challenge. It was only when the fifth colour was on that I knew for certain the colours had worked well.
The Print Block was a great place to work: Suki and Karen were expert and supportive teachers and it was inspirational to see the work of people that they print editions for, including Paul Bommer, a favourite a mine.