I find it interesting that the course handbook prompts research into printmakers who are also illustrators. I find the work of Hearld and Curtis very attractive and with strong design elements but find from a Fine Art perspective, find it hard to identify with their work.
That said, it is useful to look at their prints from a technical point of view to ascertain how they produced certain effects. As I was given an option, I chose to look at Mark Hearld’s work.
I cannot deny I do really like his linocuts. He studied Natural History illustration at the Royal College of Art and so the subject matter is understandably of the flora and fauna around the UK. He uses bold designs; simplifying the form of the creature, he is depicting, into its essential elements. This works well to create eye caching work with personality that is instantly recognisable for the viewer.
The prints that I favour most are those that have a limited palette; one central focus with pattern and decoration around.
In “Spey Salmon” I am particularly taken with his colour choices. The aquamarine is very strongly contrasted against the black. I assume that this is a reduction cut as there are some areas of white inter-weaved with the blue and on the stomach of the fish.
Looking closely at his mark-making in this is also helpful. There are such a large range of marks. The handling of the salmon’s body is a much more textured approach – probably using a gouge in ‘jiggling’ fashion. The background is much more linear and bolder to differentiate between the two areas on the pictorial format.
He uses transparency of ink overlaid for differing effects. The technique used in “Ballindalloch Blackbird “ is interesting in that he layers a lighter yellow ink over the black in areas which created a matte finish in some areas, reflective of the nature of the birds plumage under different light effects.
After watching this video, I had a new respect for the artist. Particularly when he discussed his collage process and how he enjoyed exploring the tensions of the materials he used. Also, I found his relationship with objects, domesticity and his collections fascinating and made me realise that there is more than just an intention to produce decorative pieces to his work; there is more of a critical context underpinning his art practice.