The female figure has always featured heavily in my work and here I have developed my work to incorporate more of a story in my portraits. The Birds has been an idea that I have been developing in my sketchbooks for many years and this show of monotype prints heralds the start of many artworks based on the theme. These are not your normal garden variety birds, these are women who take on the personality traits of their feathered friends, act out fairytales and exist in a world where magical things happen. The work for this show, with its limited palette of black and sky blues, is in stark contrast to my previous figurative work which usually features a much warmer palette.
“The limited palette seems appropriate for portraying the crow women as the members of the crow family, ravens, rooks, jackdaws, magpies and crows are often associated with black magic, bad tidings and foreboding events. Winter is also well on it’s way and the days will be dark, so blue sky features on the softer portraits. I wanted to show my women as strong but mythical creatures living in a land where the birds rule the roost.”
Although I am primarily a figurative painter in oils, and more recently have developed a more abstract quality to my work, I have regularly applied my painterly expression to the medium of print through monotype works. These prints are one of a kind pieces, built up with many layers or work on the printing plate as well as post printed textures such as real feathers, wallpaper and lace fragments, charcoal and oil paint to create an intricately detailed surface. The final print is an individual and although similar images on the theme can be produced, no two prints are ever the same.
Each of the artworks shown are created by inking up a bare, perspex ‘plate’ which is then run through a high pressure press to transfer the image to handmade printer’s papers. Some of the images are a simple one or two layers, but most of them require multiple passes through the press using individually inked up, or painted plates. Some prints are the further embellished with direct printing of relief images, wallpaper and real objects like feathers, as well as drawn elements with pencil, paint and metallic inks.
The term ‘mono’ means one. Some elements may reappear as ghosts of the original print, so some are similar but never the same. All the prints and mixed media works in the show are produced by me using a Takach electronic press at The Glasgow Print Studio. I recently made a short film talking about the different types of sketchbooks I use when planning and creating my artworks. The Bird Women feature in one part of the film so you might be interested to take a look here.