It’s hard to believe after the weekend of snow, but recently the weather in Galloway has been cold and clear with glorious sunny days perfect for bird watching. Some friends who are serious birdwatchers came to stay last week and we spent some time on the shores of Loch Ryan looking at Long Tailed Ducks, Pale Bellied Brent Geese, Golden Plovers and a flotilla of 40 odd Red Throated Divers. This area is famous for its suite of wintering geese: Greenland White Fronts, Barnacle Geese and Pinkfeet, all three of which we clocked up. They look so marvellous when the sky is netted with skeins. Thoughts turned to summer and the prospect of a bit of coastal walking around Crail (if I’m allowed out) for inspiration!
In the studio I’ve been listening to Heidi Talbot and Julie Fowlis and working on a woodcut of Ailsa Craig, inspired by a couple of visits to the South Ayrshire coast, which is a short hop away for us. It is a woodcut made using two pieces of wood, the first is a relatively smooth ply, which I have used to print several colours in succession, gradually cutting away more of the wood. The second is a piece of floor ply which has good grain, so the final overprinting of the sea was done with this. I’ve been experimenting with water based inks which are quick drying and mean I can run workshops in multi-plate printing over two days. The inks handle rather differently from oil based inks but they are easy to clean up and the colours are great.
Having spent most of the winter preparing new work, the exhibitions season is about to kick off and I find myself constantly distracted by the need to frame, list and label my pictures. Another distraction has been a social media training course, run by our local arts centre (Gracefield, Dumfries). I am now the proud owner of a new Facebook page and a Twitter profile. Have just felt brave enough to tweet! (See the links on the right of the page to follow me on social media.)
With two more workshops to run in the next couple of weeks I’m still hoping to squeeze in time to work on a new print, which I have sketched out, of two hares. It will be a rather simple collagraph, inspired by my current interest in Inuit art.
Recent publicity about Sylvia Plath prompted me to pick up Ariel again. Lovely to re-read her work. Have also been scouring Gerard Manley Hopkins for inspirational quotes (I often incorporate poetry in my work), and came up with “Out of the swing of the sea” for a line of Razorbills on a rock. Someone pointed out to me that they look a bit like Nuns – GMH fans will smile at the connection, which hadn’t actually occurred to me!
This week I have been painting Puffins! Inspired by Puffins on Orkney, this hand coloured woodcut was done over the winter. I need to hand colour a few at a time for framing. This one will definitely be winging its way to Crail in July…