I was so thrilled to be given a new set of carving tools for Christmas – especially as they weren’t even on my list. I have a set with a plastic handle and interchangeable heads but they wobble around a bit, and these are just b.e.a.u.t.i.f.u.l.

I am a real process artist so the materials and equipment I use is just as important as the end result. I love painting with the gouache but those are all about the birds, whereas the prints I do are more about the context. I have acquired some beautiful field guide/reference books recently and I like the pictures of the birds (insects; trees; wild flowers) in situ but I don’t feel remotely inclined to paint a “scene” with birds as the whole point of the gouache is the blocks of colour. When I first started painting the birds I had them perched on a branch or tree, but I quickly went off the contrived stick effect, and for those birds that don’t often stand on the ground, such as a swallow or kestrel, I paint them in flight.

The carving gives me the scope to add some companion birds, or handy perch, and what I lose on the detail I gain on being able to embellish the bird’s surroundings. I have 2 pieces of birch ply from Jackson’sP to carve as I wanted to see what it was like, and I’m starting with the smaller block using a herring gull as the subject. On the larger slice, I am hoping to tackle a pair of redwings feasting on berries and with Tier 4 restrictions in place for the foreseeable, I look forward to having the chance to do so. My artistic time has been squeezed somewhat since I got my pup, but as the block and the tools are a bit more portable than my paints, I should be able to work away at a woodcut or lino without losing momentum.

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