Author Archives: smallwindowstudio

About smallwindowstudio

I am a printmaker and occasional painter, educated at the Batley School of Art and Bretton Hall College in West Yorkshire and Leicester Polytechnic (now De Montfort University). I worked initially as a graphic designer/illustrator before teaching in secondary and further education. I retired in 2011 and since then have concentrated on my art work. Making prints affords opportunities to create images through a range of methods which have unique qualities. There is a fascinating contrast between the preparations of an experimental plate and the precision and order required to produce a clean print. I work mostly in collagraph and drypoint using card, metal and Perspex usually acquired from the floor of the framing room, purchased at little cost as printer’s offcuts, or from DIY stores. These simple materials allow the use of traditional practice, for example using etching tools and scalpels to incise images and also the creation of texture through abrasive sandpaper, collage and the application of carborundum and chine colle. Some of my work is produced from plates which are a combination of one of more of these methods or multiple over-printed plates. Not all my prints are flat; I have been experimenting with simple folded artist’s books which bring particular challenges in preparing plates that print in the correct orientation for the folds. My work has always been influenced by an unwavering belief in the importance of observation and drawing and almost always starts with something I have seen. My source of inspiration is constantly the ‘things around me’. My main home is in Lincolnshire, with its living skies, where the seasons are always apparent in the farmers’ fields. I also have a home in North Yorkshire, which provides a contrasting stimulus in the rugged coastline, isolated communities with tumbling houses, and the wild moorland. The endless possibilities and challenges provided by printmaking keeps everything alive and fresh.

July

A busy month in both the garden and the studio amid changeable weather.

From the small window studio garden

There is a mass of clover in the front lawn and so we decided to leave it un-mowed and as a result had a lot of very happy bees. In the fruit and veg plot we have spent long hours picking  and freezing blackcurrants and raspberries. We made several batches of raspberry vinegar.

The full moon on the 5th of July was the Wyrt Moon – I included some busy bees which was quite fitting in relation to our wild lawn.

Most of this month in the studio has been taken up with a project for the arts magazine ‘Critical Fish’ they asked for written and visual responses to the river Humber. I explored the foreshore at Hessle by the Haven which has a lot of remnants of the shipbuilding industry and the old Barton upon Humber to Hessle ferry. The shore has broken wooden structures, large chains and metal remains in addition to pebbles and sea glass, rope and rusty nails and hinges. These, coupled with dramatic skies which blend with the water, provided a great inspirational resource.

My response comprises three artists books and two final prints; Ghostly Remnants and Silent Witness. The books explore the selected area, they contain drawings, paintings, monoprints and found objects. The prints are monotypes using Yellow Ochre, Red Oxide, Paris Blue, Dense Black – Hawthorn Stay Open Inks on Fabriano Unica Cream 250gsm.

Here are a selection of images from the books:

Ghosts and Remnants

Edge of the Water

 

Exploring the Hessle Foreshore

 

Monoprints – Ghostly Remnants and Silent Witness

See you next month.

 

 

June

Flaming June – some glorious weather and rain and thundery storms too. The world continues to reel from this terrible pandemic and I am increasingly relying on nature, walking the dog and experimenting with painting and printmaking to keep balanced.  I am also drinking more wine than is strictly necessary and using Zoom!

From the Small Window Garden

The garden is blooming. We are harvesting raspberries, blackcurrants and rhubarb and the beans, tomatoes, blueberries and strawberries are growing at a very quick pace. There are several clumps of potatoes emerging from those we missed last year.

We saw a full moon on the 5th of the Month and Litha – The Solstice at sunrise on the 20th and Midsummers Night.

Rose Moon

Litha

Titania – I know a bank where the wild thyme grows

I am getting a lot of pleasure from the fields and the farms at the moment watching the changes in the hedgerows and the growing crops. I have been painting and making monotypes. to add to the series:

On the Farms of Lincolnshire

Monotypes top and watercolour with inktense below

     

Monotypes from Inktense and Watercolour 

L

Nature Monoprints

 

When I make the nature monoprints I coat the natural form by placing it on a sheet of inked up Perspex, covering it with newsprint and using the inky roller, roll over the top of it. This ensures the form is coated but you get an accidental by product in terms of an inky impression. I have started a series called ‘Accidentals’ where these get utilised in another form. One of them came out so well I entered it for the weekly ‘Header’ competition on ArtistsHour page and it won I am delighted.

Here are few more accidentals – and an folding book I made.

  

We are emerging from lockdown on the 4th of July with pubs and restaurants opening up….will report next Blog.

May

From the Small Window Studio Garden

A glorious month for weather, lots of growth in the garden, house martin’s nesting in the front gable and messing up the window sills, and frogs back in the washing up bowl ‘ponds’. There is a rookery in a nearby wood and we have had loads of rooks, crows and jackdaws making a racket and eating all the bird food early in the mornings – oh but what joy! We even spotted woodpecker yesterday too. I have been sitting out in the secret garden painting,, drawing and thinking.

Jackdaws and Rockery

       

The full moon on the 7th May was the Mothers’ Moon. We have also enjoyed clear views of the Space Station whizzing by.

Mother’s Moon  (Watercolour, Inktense and Pen)

I have been in my print workshop experimenting with some small monotypes on old store cards. The plastic is perfect for holding carborundum with PVA and engraves nicely with a soldering iron. I made a few gestural marks and then inked up as for a monoprint. The wiping is quite tricky because they are so tiny. I like the clean edges the card gives and the perfectly rounded corners.

Monoprints

   

There were also some lovely ghost prints to play with. Very subtle.

 

Walking with the dog I am keeping my eye on the beautiful rape seed fields which, in this last week, are fading. I made two more pieces in the ‘Farms of Lincolnshire’ series.

Yellow Flash (Monotype)

The road to Barton upon Humber (Watercolour, Inktense Pencil)

As the yellow fields give way to green I am concentrating on the abundant hedgerows next and also the cow parsley which is glorious.

The new series ‘Not Out of the Woods’ has a new pieces, it is quite an angry pen and ink drawing. It is how I feel about the political unrest and the disregard for lockdown.

Jackdaw Meet 

I made some new cards, actually this was a commission for ten of them. The rape fields featured large. I have found that if I am careful, on a long piece of perspex, I can monotype three or four cards at once!

The seasons are rolling on – summer is a coming in

 

April

 

From the Small Window Studio Garden

I love my garden but at this troubled and dark time in our world it has been a blessing beyond measure. We have had good weather for most of the month and some much needed rain in the last few days. The tulips have put on a beautiful and brilliant show; painted below in watercolour and inktense pencil. The top ones are Queen of the Night and are the darkest purple which isn’t really showing up here. I have been in the garden most days followed by some half hearted housework and many experimental afternoons in the studio and print workshop. I have also learned to use Zoom!

 

The Budding  Moon appeared this month in all it’s glory on the 8th – there was a super moon the night before.

The Budding Moon

I have started work on two themes . The first is quite dark which reflects the times and is called Not Out of the Woods. It has resulted in some moody, sinister monotypes and monoprints and a pen and ink drawing to date.

In the Night Wood 1 and 2 

Rook Nest and The Unholy Trinity Meet

   

 

To try and lighten my mood and lift the spirits I have been observing and enjoying the beautiful fields of Lincolnshire. At the moment they are the brightest yellow with the rape seed and rich brown from the plough complimented by some blue, clear skies. Most of the work in this theme: On the Farms of Lincolnshire, has been from memories made walking the dog and few poor photographs on my phone.

We Plough the Fields

 

Yellow Sea and Yellow Glory

 

 

Field Edge 1 and 2 – Monoprints on plywood and paper

I am working on a commission for 10 handmade cards and have just submitted work to the Licolnshire Art Society annual exhibition which this year will be on line. There has been a spike in the creative work on social media, art, poetry, musings and song which is wonderful. It has provided a counterbalance for the dark times we are in.

Thank you to key workers all and folk who are helping each other and to my soulmate Nick – my love, my rock.

See you in May

 

March

From the Small Window Studio Garden

Here is the view looking from the end of the veg plot to the actual window. A lot of work in there this dark month while we remain at home. However I have had time to get used to the new layout and picture insert on this blog which is supposed to be easier!

The Plough Moon

Small watercolour for the full moon on the 9th March

U

Night Watch

Attended a workshop on ‘Atmosphere and Narrative in Drypoint Etching’ with the talented Lindy Norton. The workshop took place in early March before the lockdown.

Flooded Fields

A series of monotypes depicting the flooded fields around my home. 

 

MoonHare

Another monoprint – I am practising mark making!

and finally in the spirit of Social Distancing I came across a field of very well sapced out scarecrows. Here is the Sketch and the Monotype

Social Distancing Scarecrows

See you in April.

KEEP SAFE

 

February

From the Small Window Garden

We have had so much rain this month the soil is a soggy mass and the little frog ponds have flowed over (these are sunken washing up bowls). However, things a are springing up and sprouting. Here are the usual three watercolours.

Daffodils and Crocus

Snowdrops

Tusky (Rhubarb)

Still enjoying very much the All about Monotype group and having some great learning experiences and contacts from it. I decided I would try out some atmospheric monotypes on a long sheet of Perspex which I could then cut up and make into cards. I am long overdue a batch of cards for the shop in Whitby so I had a mammoth few days on this matter.

Before I cut the cards up I realised how much I liked the long sort of panoramic print and made a note to try one later.

Cards – Spring 2020

I am making a painting for each full moon of the month – linked to a song where I can, this doesn’t have a song! It is a watercolour and inktense on Cottman 300gsm

Snow Moon

I tried this out as inspiration for a monotype

MoonHareField

I had a couple of small window print workshop days on monotypes here are the results – I am working in a palette of Indigo, Yellow Ochre and a bit of Red Oxide which I like very much.

Edge of the Field

MoonFloodField

MoonTreeField

Finally, here are my pieces for the Four Seasons exhibition, they are drypoints, I felt they were more effective than the monotypes I made earlier, well I hope so because they are with the framer!

In the Bleak Midwinter

The Summertime is Coming

A busy month – Here is to a creative life!

January

Happy New Year

From the Small Window Studio Garden

The garden is a bit bleak while most things are still sleeping. There are snowdrop now which are lovely and such a joy to see. More unusual are the daffodils which are well up, I hope we don’t get a cold spell now.

Bay with Berries

Wild sky behind the hedge

Verbena – faded blooms

Took a while to regain my creative energy after Christmas and the onslaught of dry January but a bit of fiddling with a woodcut soon did the trick. It started with a small watercolour of a fox – inspired by the wolf moon in early January and the song’ The Fox and Goose’

Fox went out on a chilly night

Watercolour and three prints from the wood cut block

I have joined a Facebook group called: ‘all about monotype’ I am really enjoying seeing this type of work. I posted a monoprint I made on plywood and had a great response except one person who ranted on about it being a ‘PAINTING in printing inks’ (in capital letters I guess to indicate shouting!!). I didn’t respond….

Anyway, that aside I decided to try a monotype approach to the Whitby artists’ group project for our spring exhibition. It is called ‘The Four Seasons’ we all picked two out of a hat with no peeping! I got Summer and Winter. I am using two poems/songs ‘In the bleak midwinter’ and ‘Wild mountain thyme’ as the starting points and intend to include some of the words in the finished piece. Probably use my old typewriter.

Summertime

Midwinter

Looking forward to the spring.

December

A very Merry Yule and Winter Solstice to you.

From the Small Window Garden

Lots of activity today – there are sparrows, blackbirds and thrushes as well as wood pigeons and collared doves. Earlier we were treated to two magnificent jackdaw feeding off the table. I have tried to be a bit more positive with the little illustrations and focus on resting and regrowth rather than mouldering foliage!! We are still getting a fair amount of rain but some very clear nights and sharper temperatures which are welcome.

Mad Pampas

Olive and Camellia

Christmas Tree and Cotoneaster

Painted three different Christmas Cards – Watercolour, pen and inktense on an A4 sheet which my printer reproduced on some lovely textured card. I cut them up and sent them off.

Yule 2019 (above)

Figgy Pudding

Light my Path

My dear friends continue to provide inspiration from their beautiful photographs; here are two watercolours courtesy of Hilary Robinson in NZ

Wild and Windy Night Ahead

30 Seconds Later

A selection of watercolour, pen and inktense from Tess Ratigan in the West Riding.

Hall Bower Trilogy

A pen and ink piece courtesy of Anne Lee in Leigh on Sea

ZigZag Moon

and finally – I have to report the death of my dear friend, the poet Reuben Woollley. We worked together on several collaborations, He is a great loss.

RIP Reuben some-time-we-are-heroes….you-always-were

Well here I sign off for Christmas looking forward to a creative 2020.

November

It seems to have been raining forever. Taken some very soggy walks with a displeased staffy!

From the Small Window garden

Looking out this morning everything is dripping. There is an abundance of very wet leaves coating the drive and paths which seem to reappear when they have been cleared….
In the early evenings there has been quite a peculiar light – sort of pale orange, which looks well with the remaining colours in the garden plants. The rain filled skies have been indigo as well as grey. I have managed three small watercolour pieces which reflect the state of the garden. I am trying to approach the onslaught of winter as a time of things returning to the earth to rest then re emerge as opposed to a decaying mess!!

Melting Pumpkins

Sunflower Goes Down

The Last Blooms

Have added to my card collection for the shop in Whitby – at Future Health. I worked on both an Autumn and Christmas theme.

Autumn

Christmas

I have had a piece accepted for the Ferens Open Exhibition in 2020 which I am pleased about. It is one of the Edgelands pieces – Humber Edge – Moon Reeds

Not much else to report this month, looking forward to December.

October

Sahmain greetings

Winter is creeping in, a bit of respite from the increasingly early dark nights are the light mornings and our 21st wedding anniversary.

From the Small Window Garden

Everything has shed or is shedding leaves – the colours are glorious and the birds are still chirping away. We have three of four Blackbirds, some Jackdaws, Robins, Sparrows, Collared Doves and Wood Pigeons mostly. Here are three ‘views’ mostly located in the veg plot/fruit section. Watercolour and Inktense on Langton 300gsm.

Blueberry Bush

Frog Pond and Compost Bin!

Plum Tree

It has been a quiet month really, I made a new set of cards on an Autumn theme and started work on my ‘Sand Etchings’ from photographs by the talented Hilary Robinson over there in New Zealand. I intend to actually etch them, these are the watercolour preparatory sketches.

Autumn Cards

Sand Etchings

A major bit of excitement was the Whitby Art Society on our drawing Fun Day. Lots of talented young artist and parents visited us at Pannett Park. There were a variety of activities for them to experience. I made folded books on a Haunted House and Haunted Forest theme. I also bought some brilliant plain card cut out figures (15 for £1!) from Wilko’s, which were quickly transformed into Pumpkin People, Dracula, Vampire Mermaids etc. It was an exhausting day – I couldn’t do this for a week anymore!!

My examples

Young Artists

Going to take the Edgelands exhibition down tonight – it has been very well received with some sales too.

Submitted three pieces for the Ferens 2020 Open – waiting to hear.