Friday, 20 September 2013

Meet the Printmaker - Christine Howes

Christine at work
Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work…What sort of prints do you make?
My name is Christine Howes and my art is based on my love of natural history and landscape. I like to create intimate scenes of wildlife in its habitat in the English countryside. I rarely run out of inspiration.

A wood engraving of St John the Baptist, Churchill, Somerset. This print is very small, 10 cms x 8 cms and typical of wood engravings which are printed from a woodblock made from hard end grain wood

Oystercatchers, detail. A woodcut and a linocut block are printed together to create this image
Are you solely a printmaker or do you work in any other creative fields?
I am not solely a printmaker as I also paint and draw in other mediums;- watercolours, acrylics, oils and soft pastels. I studied Graphic Design and Illustration for five years. I was an illustrator in publishing for about twenty five years, using watercolour and gouache and working on children’s non fiction books and magazines.

What is your earliest recollection of making a print and what made you to want to do more?
I made a few prints at Filton Technical College in Bristol, which I attended at the age of sixteen. I tried Lithography and Silkscreen. I enjoyed the technical challenges of printing, which I also experienced at Art College at Kingston upon Thames where I learned typography.

Could you give us an insight into where you work – your studio/workspace and where you print?
In 2001 I attended classes at Spike Print Studio in relief Printmaking with Peter Reddick R E. It was a great chance to learn from a real master. I now work on three types of relief prints; woodcuts, linocuts and wood engravings. I print them at Spike Print Studio but often design and carve them at home where I have my own studio but no press.
It is great to meet other printmakers and to work alongside them. I now also regularly teach an eight week course in relief printmaking at Spike Print Studio. And I run some workshops for children at the RWA. It is important that skills are passed on to the next generation.

What inspires you and are there any themes or ideas that often run through your work?
I select subjects from observation, drawing frequently from life and from exhibits at Bristol museum. I sketch outside and take my own reference photos. I begin with small, thumbnail sketches to work out the composition. Then I look for a suitable piece of wood or decide on lino or vinyl which I like using. Printmaking has been good for my art as it forces me to be spare with detail and colours. You have to make choices within the print as each colour is printed separately. The most colours I have used on any one print is five. This takes time and patience.

Seagulls, Woodcut
Printmaking is made up of lots of different processes, which aspect do you enjoy the most?
I like all aspects of printmaking except the cleaning up! But the most wonderful thing is being able to print an edition of twenty or more, so that the work becomes more affordable for people to buy.

The work of which other printmaker/s do you admire?
The printmakers I admire are Samuel Palmer, Robin Tanner and Peter Reddick. I enjoy connecting with printing traditions that go way back to Thomas Bewick and the early printing presses.

How would you like to develop your printmaking skills in the future?
My goals are to expand my skills in printmaking with wood and to try to create sublety within a hard-edged medium. It is an endless and fascinating challenge.

Thanks Christine. We love your mark making especially in the wood engraving of St John the Baptist.

Christine Howes' work is currently featured in the second volume of The Print Shop, which runs until September 29th. If you can swing by the shop you will be able to see the work from some of the best printmakers local to Bristol. Each artist has a unique style and there are many different printing processes that are used to create everything in the pop up shop. 

The Print Shop
Unit 6
Quakers Friars
Cabot Circus

Open Daily
Mon - Sat 10am - 6pm
Sun 11am - 5pm

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