I have a Ralph Steadman print at home. It depicts Leonardo da Vinci standing next to a blank canvas apparently clueless as to what to do next. If da Vinci had problems, what chance would a beginner have?
Whilst interested in printmaking, I had done nothing about it until a visit to David Cook’s studio gave me the impetus to start. This was my “Eureka moment” – I wanted to learn how to make a series of marks on a plate and then transform them into an print.
Without a press, I felt that relief printing was the only technique open to me and my wife duly presented me with some basic linocut equipment. This is the moment when the image of da Vinci’s blank canvas came to mind. What do I do next? My wife came to the rescue by introducing me to Bridget Tempest; my first lesson was to create a three-colour reduction linocut. A seemingly impossible task, but with Bridget’s guidance, I managed it. As a result, I was learning the basics of negative and positive cutting, registration and image interpretation.
I was then encouraged to look at intaglio printmaking and I found that I enjoyed the mechanical processes as much as the creation of an image. Furthermore, I am now gradually learning to capture the ‘idea’ of what I see rather than an exact replication of it. I have since been tutored by Laney Birkhead (non-toxic techniques), Laura Boswell (linocut and Japanese woodblock), Brian Hindmarch (drypoint) and Mike Smith (linocut).