Woodland Trust Art Workshops!

A little while ago I was interviewed by Russell Hedley from the Woodland Trust about how the Smithills landscape inspired my work. Following this interview I was asked to provide Art Workshops to a small number from the Woodland Trust’s membership. On Wednesday 13th September 2017 members arrived at FaMAS (Falcon Mill Artists Studios) along with Sara Wood, Lucy Rothwell and Russell Hedley from the Woodland Trust to walk through parts of the Smithills Estate and to take part in Printmaking workshops. The members were put in Group A or Group B. Group A spent their morning producing a dry-point print and Group B braved the “amber weather” forecast in the varied landscape north west of Bolton. After lunch at Barrow Bridge Mission the groups swapped over. The following photographs provide evidence of how well the Woodland Trust members took to intaglio printmaking!

Members arrive at FaMAS and are introduced to the day’s activities.

I must say a special thank you to the Woodland Trust for the use of their photograph library..the photographs from the Smithills Estate were “flipped horizontally” to ensure the final print would be the correct way around, reduced to the required dimensions i.e. to the size of the printing plate and printed as “grey-scale” in readiness for the monochrome artwork.

Members placed a sheet of polypropylene over their selected photograph. Using a “dry-point” (an engineer’s scriber works very well) the surface of the plate is inscribed or scratched with lines.

Concentration was high as Woodland Trust Members used “cross-hatching” to provide a range of tones across the plate.

This plate, laid over the photograph, shows signs of being “scratched”….and here’s a shot of Woodland Trust Members enjoying themselves!

Heads down….working hard!

A small piece of scrap polypropylene for practising.

When the plate is ready, it is time to “ink up”.

Mounting card is used to force intaglio ink into the inscribed grooves.

Surplus ink is scraped from the surface and then “scrim” is used to wipe ink from the surface.


Wiping the plate can be a messy business so aprons and gloves help to minimise getting too filthy.


Firstly card, secondly scrim and then a light wipe with tissue paper.

A number of members used “mono-print” techniques in addition to dry-point and some sought highlights by using talcum powder to lift ink from the plate.

“Bread and butter” paper was soaked for about 20 minutes before having excess moisture removed in the blotter. A member carries her inked up plate to the intaglio press.

Here is a demo plate laid face up on a sheet of tissue paper on the bed of the press. The over-sized bread and butter paper is placed over the plate.

A second sheet of tissue is placed over the bread and butter paper, the blankets are laid down and then it is run through the press. This demo print is an example of combining dry-point with a mono-print background.

Artwork signed by the artist.

Please see below for the final prints. None of the members had any prior experience of printmaking but this was little obstacle to them as they produced work inspired by the landscape of the Smithills Estate. Really superb work utilising dry-point, mono-print, creative inking up and wiping together with a sensitive use of lifting highlights with talcum powder….all done in a session lasting about one and a half hours! Quite fantastic!

Thanks for looking! Please see below for further links:

My interview about painting in Smithills http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blog/2016/10/painting-smithills/

Woodland Trust