Almost all of my printmaking is relief printing, principally woodcuts.
I choose the wood according to the grain, as the wood grain forms an important part of the design of my images, adding texture. Each new print is approached in a way that suits the image so I don't have a 'usual' way of working on a print. I plan the layers in advance, some blocks inked up in more than one colour, with overprinting in transparent colours, blocks jigsawed together and use of reduction printing.
I sometimes use other techniques when printing, all are explained briefly below.
Woodcut is a relief printing technique with examples in Chinese art going back to the 5th century, the technique becoming widely used in Europe from the 15th Century onwards.
In woodcut, gouges are used to cut away areas of wood not destined for printing. The areas of wood left uncut become the printed image.
The surface of the wood is then inked up using a roller charged with ink, paper laid on top of the block and pressure applied to the surface, either with a press or with a wooden spoon or baren.
This image shows the main block for 'Winter Crop'
Chine Collé is a technique where thin paper is used to add an area of colour to the print.
Glue is applied to the back of the chine collé paper. The block is inked up and the chine collé paper is placed onto the block face down. The printing paper is laid over, and as the pressure of the press is applied the chine collé paper is bonded to the printing paper, becoming part of the image.
In this print, 'Misty morning, June'
I used strips of white Japanese paper to suggest the flight of the swallows and to subtlely highlight them.
Monoprint drawing results in a drawn element being added to the print.
For this print, 'Crossing to the Summer Island',
I rolled a fine layer of ink onto a perspex sheet, placed the print face down onto it and drew on the back with a fine hard pencil. As any area which touches the perspex picks up the ink, the rest of the print needs protecting from smudges, so I cut out a template which was placed between the perspex sheet and the print, allowing only the monoprint areas to touch the inked perspex and pick up the ink.
In this print, I used monoprint drawing for the shapes of the rocky sea defenses and the boats.
This technique which originates in Japan involves applying colour to the back of the printing paper. The colour bleeds through the paper, offering a softer quality to the image. Traditionally the ink would be painted but I print on the reverse of the paper from a linocut.
In this print, 'Evening Sun', the flowers have been printed onto the back of the paper, with lighter pressure applied on the paler blue flowers.