"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Block Cutting, Print Trials and more Sketching

This last week there has been more sketching, first print trials and block cutting for 12 Trees.

It seems slow progress at the moment but there is so much prep to do before I can even start to cut the blocks, roughs to work out, blocks to cut and prepare and more sketching and research on the trees.
However I have started trial cutting the text headers today.

Elder and Elm, Beech, some too big, some too small. It’s trial and error.What looks fine on the block sometimes doesn’t look great when printed and next to one of the large images.


5 Part cut blocks..

More sketches while the weather is OK and there are a few leaves left.

Maples,who seem to like to be in companionable threes.

Ash Trees with their upturned branch ends and handsome black buds.

Last Friday I started looking at type at Logan Press and hand setting a few lines, proofing on a lovely little Albion



Slow .. but progress.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Reference Sketching.

This last week I went out most days to make small sketches of the trees for the book. I find that just a short time sketching is a million times better than working from photos. Making a sketch, especially on a very cold day, requires you look hard and make fast, hopefully intuitive, decisions. So you tend to record just the essence of tree, very useful for the woodcuts which will have to be bold and simplified.

Also I have to say that once I have sketched something I understand much more about the thing, how it is put together, what interests me about it and I remember all those things more easily, especially if I make notes. I am in a hurry too because I need to draw the trees before they all lose their leaves. I need to make sure I draw the right tree. My bark ID skills are not brilliant.


Hazel and Lime


Alder and Elm




I have a tight deadline so I also took the woodblock out to draw directly from the elder tree. This old, much pruned, tree has snaky spotted branches which twist back on themselves. Wonderful and slightly sinister as befits the magical elder!

The tree prints will be based on trees I know well, what I like about them and what I know about them. A personal view rather than an archetype. I have discovered that one elm can look very different from another :). 

Monday, 6 November 2017

Twelve Trees Book at The Logan Press

Over the last few weeks I have been planning a book to showcase just 12 of my favourite trees from the Spinney. I have been working up to making a proper book with letterpress type and the illustrations printed from the original woodblocks. Now it is a little bit closer to becoming a reality.

I am delighted to say that Patrick Roe at Logan Press has agreed that I can print the book with him. I will learn a huge amount, building on the work I did with Thomas Gravemaker at Letterpress Amsterdam who I hope to be seeing again in Feb to print “The Pig Book”.

So lots to do in the next few months. I will be documenting the progress of Twelve Trees on the blog and also on Instagram etc.

It will be a 32 page book with 12 full page woodcuts and a small amount of type based on old sayings, superstitions and the characters of the trees. The format is a nice generous 350 x 250mm portrait with full bleed images and hand cut titles.

Roughs and layouts and first cuts are underway!


Rough layouts for the twelve images and first roughs.

First block, rough and my original sketchbook drawing from last year on the blog here; “ In the Woods,some Useful Sketches.” I just knew they would be useful someday!