As I write, we have one more week of Lockdown number 2 to go here in the UK as we are still in the grip of the Coronavirus pandemic. However, restrictions did ease a little through the summer and into early autumn and it seems fitting to look back and find things to be grateful for. For most of us, all thoughts of holidays were put on hold, and that meant that my husband and I had time to get my garden studio insulated and painted out, elevating it from a 'summer house' (glorified garden furniture storage space) to a working space for me to use all year round.
As we moved into September we celebrated the autumn equinox by giving thanks for a plentiful harvest; I baked a pear and almond upside-down cake using pears from my dad's tree, we foraged for blackberries in the hedgerows and picked a hop garland to decorate the kitchen. The hedges are bursting with wild fruit and berries this year, either a harbinger of a hard winter to come or a product of a particularly wet spring, depending on your point of view.
My studio is partly overhung by an Oak tree and I spend many an idle moment sat at my workbench watching the squirrels play Chase Me around and around the tree trunk. As the acorns began to come down in a spate of gale-force winds, I watched one industrious little squirrel bury them in the lawn only for a beady-eyed magpie to hop along after him, prise them out of their hidey-holes with his beak and eat them!
The Oak tree gave me the idea for the first 'proper' prints I made in my studio, a linocut inspired by the shapes I saw in the leaves and acorns. I printed the first layer in a lighter colour, then rotated the lino printing plate by 90 degrees, overprinting in a darker colour to give a pleasing impression of depth and shadows.
By the beginning of October we had some glorious misty mornings over the river Wye, and were also lucky enough to get some sunny weather for walking in the Forest of Dean.
I love this time of the year and am at my happiest walking in the woods of my childhood home; as I walked, the idea of new monotype prints formed in my mind. I wanted to evoke the feeling of warmth and contentment these walks brought me as I ambled through the sun-dappled woodland kicking through piles of fallen leaves, surrounded by amber and gold.
I find monotype printing expressive, particularly the textured layers which make the piece come to life. A monotype print is one of a kind, a unique piece of artwork; it is known as the most painterly method among the printmaking techniques and prints are prized because of these distinctive textural qualities.
I'm looking forward to experimenting with winter's colours next, and hope to do a little update in December. For now, I will leave you with this photo of my studio in the first frost of the season.
Thank you for reading, take care and stay safe.