As is often the case, the inspiration for my woodland linocut ‘Solitude in the Woods’ is a tale of two halves.
Dunham Massey Deer Park
On a family trip to Dunham Massey a few years ago we were walking along one of the woodland paths and came across a group of deer crossing the footpath. Dunham Massey is a National Trust house and gardens in Cheshire, a beautiful place to visit with the more wild deer parklands with tree skeletons and long footpaths and the kept house gardens to explore.
As they slowly walked to meet the rest of the herd we stood to watch, half of us on one side and half on the other.
They are used to being near people and they barely gave us a second glance as they went about the business of finding the tastiest grass to eat. One paused as they went across the path and as we waited, I took a photo and some videos.
If you are a regular visitor to the park, it is lovely to watch the cycle of life in the deer herd and to see the seasons change through the huge, ancient trees that line the paths.
The second part of this linocut, the girl and the birds, are from a trip to Lindisfarne. Lindisfarne is an island off the rugged coast of Northumberland that is accessible by car at low tide. While visiting the island on holiday, my daughter and niece crouched on the floor to feed a swarm of sparrows.
Yes, I do mean a swarm as they descended on us in a fluttering and twitching group as we had a coffee and cake, coming closer and closer waiting, hoping for some leftover crumbs. The birds were so used to people, my daughter was surprised when they jumped onto her hand to eat the crumbs! She was trying to keep as still as she could so as not to scare them and it really was a moment of breath holding excitement.
Creating the Woodland Lino Print
Both experiences had stayed in my mind and bringing them together came to me when looking through some photos. I enjoyed the idea of a stag quietly watching over the girl, supportive, caring and watchful.
Using photographs from each experience, I started to sketch out the figure and the stag and wanted to create the impression of a clearing, surrounded by trees and bushes. A secret moment of stillness and peacefulness protected form the outside world.
I used two pieces of lino; the ‘drawing’ of the girl, deer and birds printed in black then a green oval which I printed as a reduction print.
In a reduction print the same piece of lino is used to print a number of times on top of one another. Each time a colour is printed onto the sheet of paper, then more is cut away and another colour is used to print on top. This creates the impression of depth and form using colour.
I printed 2 green colours with the lino, first a darker green then I cut away the grasses and printed a lighter green on top to create the impression of dark lines and circles drawn on.
I like the effect of the white space around the print and hope to create more in this style, based on similar moments.
Solitude in the Woods is a limited edition of 12.