Jenny Nicholas – Starting my Residency
The first two months of my Residency have been a whirl of courses and experimenting with the printing processes learned during these. January began with Charles Shearer’s Experimental Collagraph weekend. With his gentle motivation and boundless enthusiasm we were encouraged to spend the weekend experimenting and to not to set ourselves any boundaries.
We learned that there are no collagraph tools as such; just lots of implements intended for other purposes that are ideal for making plates. These range from glass cutters, pounce wheels (usually used by dress makers for pattern cutting) and craft knives. It was lovely to experiment without the expectation of needing to produce a finished piece of work. We were encouraged to reshape our plates, cut them up and to make as many different marks using the ‘not collagraph tools’ as our imaginations permitted.
Watching Charles demonstrate the inking up of his plates was a craft in itself, or as one of the other students put it, ‘printmaking alchemy’. He showed us how to layer colour using a mixture of intaglio and relief inking processes and how to use masks and stencils. It was inspiring to see how many colours and effects can be created in just one pass through the press.
I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the endless possibilities that can be achieved using this very lo-tech printing process, so, using my experimental prints from the weekend for reference, I tried out some of the techniques a few weeks later. By choosing to use an image from a photograph of pebbles taken last summer when I visited Lago Di Braies in Italy I was able to try out a different technique on each pebble. I enjoyed the immediate nature of this process and was able to complete this small project in just one afternoon; from making the plate to producing several prints.
I wanted to work on something familiar after all this experimentation so I decided to spend some time lino printing. Previously, I have enjoyed creating images of pets, either my own or friends’. With this in mind, I worked on some two and three colour prints of Indie, a lovely dog belonging to Vicky Oldfield, last year’s Artist in Residence, using lots of different colour combinations and papers to create a variety of results.
Next followed two screenprinting courses that ran virtually simultaneously; Jule Mallett’s Screenprinting course and Adam Green’s Exploring Screenprint in Monoprint & Stencils weekend, both of which were excellent and, once again, very inspiring. During both these courses I spent time working on prints of 3D lettering which is an area of interest to me and one I would like to explore further during the year. May I add that Jule’s patience and knowledge are endless; thank you!
It’s been a busy and exciting start to the year. I have so enjoyed having the time and opportunity to try out so many processes and I’ve really enjoyed meeting the many members and visitors to the studio. I am writing this on a Thursday and, with no courses scheduled, I am looking forward to this weekend off!