Inspired by a Wall!
Printmaker Christine Howes on her working methods
Christine Howes is a Bristol based printmaker who specialises in wood engraving, lino cut and wood cut prints. Her favourite subject is anything to do with the natural world – wildlife, plant life, landscapes and insects. She loves working from direct observation to create beautifully intricate and sensitive images. Christine generously contributed the article below which describes her working methods and how a wall in Cornwall was the focal point for a whole body of work.
THE STONE HEDGE – Reduction Linocut, (photo by Jo Hounsome)
During the past few years I have become inspired by a wall in North Cornwall. It may be as many as two hundred years old. Every spring and summer I spend a few weeks looking at the huge range of plants that grow between the stones that look grey in the winter months. It seems like magic to me that such colour and diversity can burst forth so that in June the entire wall is covered in blossoms of Valerian, Campion, Blackberry, Pennywort and Foxglove. I read that six hundred flower species, seventy grasses and three hundred common mosses, not to mention lichens and ferns can be found in a Cornish hedge. In fact the wall is a stone hedge, having some soil inside, and I have made drawings and watercolours of some of its contents, leading towards several print projects.
Christine Howes’ immaculate sketchbook
The journey to my wall prints began with a desire to learn the names of the flowers to help me to identify and remember them. My first drawings were quick studies in line and watercolour wash in my sketchbook. Later I observed them more closely and omitted the line.
One day I sat next to the wall and made a watercolour of the stones. As I sat there I saw bees that entered the foxgloves and seemed to live in the cracks of the wall. Butterflies flitted around me and hours went by. One early morning I spotted a noisy group of greenfinches feeding on blackberries that grew from the wall. The brambles arched across the wall and the early light shone palely on the birds, lighting them up from the side.
THE GREENFINCHES – Reduction Linocut