Pheasantries: a lino cutting story

Here’s something a little different from my hearts.

Over the last few years I’ve started linocutting, I love it, it suits my textiles background as to me it’s about colour and pattern. I’m based at The Maws in Shropshire.

I’ve had this idea in my head for a while ‘Pheasantries’ a couple of pheasants tipping their hats to each other. There are so many pheasants around at the moment and the colours of them are just amazing.

So I began on Friday night to get the image in my head down onto paper…

Next I had to transfer it to the lino and remember to flip it. As when it’s printed the image will be reversed.

I find it best to use a permanent marker and just get the basic idea of a plan onto the lino. Then the cutting begins…

This is going to be a reduction print, which means I will keep cutting the same piece of lino as I print layers of colour on top of each other, building up the image. It also means it will be a limited edition print as once I’ve cut the lino I’ll never be able to print the same picture again. I’ve chosen to have this pair on a white background so the first job is to cut out all of the background.

I printed a pale yellow and grey as the base colours of my birds. As I cut and print the layers I’ll print the darker and darker colours on top ( makes sense )

I printed the red heads next keeping the eye’s yellow.

Looked like a good start, and it was 2.30 in the morning so I thought I’d better go to bed.

In the gallery at Two for Joy, Maws all day Saturday so started again after tea in the evening. I cut some more feather details and printed a slightly darker grey over the wings. At the same time I printed the blue/green heads. I knew I’d be printing a darker colour over the bodies next so I wasn’t worried about being messy. Nice to see they’re starting to look like pheasants.

The heads looked a bit flat and I wanted a bit more shine and depth so I added some detail and printed a brighter, lighter blue over the top.

Time to figure out the bodies. Working out how I was going to get the image in my head onto the paper was a bit of a head challenge, no let’s be honest it was driving me nuts how to work out all the colours I wanted to include and how to cut what, where.

I mixed a brown, and rolled a yellow and a red to get a nice graduation of colours…

Then I rolled it onto the latest linocut with a swirl…

and Yey !!

it was really starting to work. Happy I was going in the right direction and very late again, close to 2am I thought I’d better stop and sleep.

Sunday morning dog walk to wake me up, and make sure Lexi would be sleepy for the afternoon, I was excited to get back to my pheasants.

Building up the colours I want to show through as I cut away, I began the second bird with this gorgeous golden breast. I rolled the colours until they merged again, so I could print more than one colour in one go.

After cutting more, I could add the body colours and bring out the patterns in the tail feathers. The tail took a bit of figuring out, which bit, what colour, knowing I would finish it off with black on top. I masked off the feet so as not to lose the grey.

Nearly there, happy and excited. At this point I was working on 9 so hoping nothing would go wrong and I’d finish with 9 prints.

Next to tackle the hats. Just a dark grey base, before cutting away and finishing with black to give them their shape.

Cut, cut, cut…  just the final black layer of detail to print. A bit scary around the eyes, hope it all lines up!

Feeling very pleased with myself, only 8 more to print.

This print took about 30 hours to complete and I finished up with 9 lovely prints. Each one is unique, they are all hand printed, colours mixed slightly differently plus all those cutting marks which add to the movement of this piece.

I’ve put 1 and 2 up on my website unframed for £200 each.