Tag Archives: seabirds

White line woodblock

Another new technique for me. I went to a one day workshop at Ardington School of Craft run by Beth Jenkins on the American technique of white line woodblock printing. It was intended to be a simplified form of Japanese woodblock, requiring just one block for the whole image, using watercolour and gouache as the print medium. It is really also closely related to mosaic and stained glass techniques.

Each area of colour is outlined by a gouged groove, the white lines, and then the area flooded with watercolour and the image transferred to thin paper by hand burnishing. Only a small area can be done at one time, so the paper and block need to be kept in register the whole time. Only one print at a time can be produced, and all will be different in colour. You can have indefinite print runs.

My first block, based on a photo I took off razor bills at St Abbs Head. The block itself is beautiful at the end.

I’m working on a second print in my studio. A roosting kittiwake I sketched at Dunbar. Still working out the best colour scheme.

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John Busby memorial Sea bird drawing course

I spent a wonderful week in June on the above mentioned course, with about 20 other artists. We were based in Dunbar in East Lothian and spent each day drawing and painting out in the open at St Abbs Head, Dunbar Castle, Seacliffe and best of all out on the Bass Rock. Sitting surrounded by thousands of gannets was a once in a lifetime experience. My drawings were OK but some of the art produced by the others was astonishing, especially when you realise it was all painted out in the open, sometimes in the pouring rain, and on the Bass, pouring bird poo. I’ll try and show some of the other artists’ work in the next entry. We spent one morning visiting John Busby’s studio, which was another high point. I bought one of his small paintings.

Painting birds at St Abbs Head with Darren Woodhead

I’m getting very behind with this blog. In early July I spent four days at St Abbs Head on a sea bird painting course, lead by Darren Woodhead, a superb wildlife artist. Despite being coastal Scotland, the weather was superb, with scorching sun each day. I’ve never painted birds direct from life before, peering at them through a telescope, so I was pleased with the outcome. Most people produced one, or maybe two paintings a day. I produced 14 overall, in three days! I’m planning to go on a week’s course with Darren next June, out on the Bass Rock. I doubt the weather will be so kind again, but who knows.