Painting enough to fly

25 Jul feather, buzzard, water colour study, Bella Bee,

There seem to be so many feathers lying about at the moment.  Maybe it’s moulting season?  (Would make sense).

I have picked them up as they are found and brought them back to make a series of water colour studies.

Enough to fly


This heron’s feather has a lovely blue tinge to it which took some mixing to replicate.

This one has sold.


Buzzard feather

feather, buzzard, water colour study, Bella Bee,

I am sure this one was ripped out by an angry crow.

The local buzzards get mobbed every time they fly over the section of woodland where this was found.

jay feather, Bella Bee, Bath,

Jay’s feather

feather, woodpecker, Bella Bee, Bath

Great Spotted Woodpecker

duck feather, drake, Bella Bee, Bath

Shake you tail feather, Duck!

A drake’s feather.

I will be adding more as they are found.  Let us hope the avian population of the wood is not looking too bald my the end of the season! :)

The wedding present

17 Jun gold cat twist X2

It’s not until next year but I was ready to get started on what I hope will be a special present for a very special woman.  I’ve known her since she was about four as she is the daughter of a very dear friend.  Due to marry next March, I know she is a lover of cats, so it really is a no-brainer as to what subject to choose.

The original idea is based on a stray who sometimes comes to say hello.

She has a wonderful sandy colouring with soft stripes.

DSCF0505 small

It was originally intended to use a design based around yellow ochre and soft browns, but I already know from experience that playing about with colour is one of life’s major pleasures.

DSCF0807 small

I mentioned the idea to my friend and she asked if the cat is to be black.  Well, it wasn’t, but I’ll have a tinker!

The design was drawn up onto tracing paper using a water-proof black ink.  This method of screen printing is done using photo-sensitive solution applied to a mesh.  It is proofed by exposing to UV light which passes through the tracing paper but not any area blacked out, as shown in these four plates.

cat screen print.1

The primed screens are placed on top of the tracing paper designs and then exposed to UV light for approximately 20 – 25 seconds.

The screens are then hastily run to the water sprayer as any light will compromise the effectiveness of the take.

Water washes away any part of the solution on the screen which was covered, resulting in an open mesh through which ink can be pushed.

Now for the fun bit :)

Some have been printed using the top dark layer, some have been hand-painted.  Each one has had an individual twist of some kind and is therefore classed as a variable edition.  It’s also more fun for me and that can’t be bad. :)

See the making of in this video here.

Hand-coloured life screen prints.

10 Jun screen print, Bella Bee
screen printing, Bella Bee,

The first prints lined up on the drying rack

Have I worked the lino cut obsession out of my system?  Quite possibly. It may well be something to do with picking up my oil paints again to fulfil a commission.  It’s made me start thinking more to what I originally studied in – fine art.

screen print

Creating the screen. Images are placed on a UV light bed and exposed to a light-sensitive coated screen.

screen print

The screen print press. The paints have been mixed whilst waiting for the exposed screen to dry.

screen print, Bella Bee,

The screen is finished developing by spraying vigorously with water.

scfeen print.  Bella Bee,

The screen is fixed to the frame and loaded with paint. Shown here holding the squidgy.

screen print, Bella Bee

Hand-coloured nude

screen print, Bella Bee,

Screen print over mono print – hand-coloured

Canada Geese – mixing up print.

27 May

Canada Geese

Mixing it up with mono and lino cut printing.

Canada Geese  lino cut print and mono print.  Bella Bee

The Canada Geese fly past the house up to the lake for the start of each mating season.

They fight, find a partner and bring up their goslings in a whirlwind of feathers and honking.

It was this noise coupled with their overhead flight I wanted to catch in print.

Geese 2 colour.2

Two of the resulting prints (shown above) are a toned down version of the original (shown below) which was far more heavy-handed and stark.  Feeling it made too much of the ‘noise’, it overshadowed the geese and made it look as if the birds were flying past aerial obstacles.

Canada Geese, Bella Bee

The geese themselves were cut separately and later with an additional plate for the larger of the two to add another layer of detail.

It brought the large goose forward and gave perspective.


Printed using a mix of burnt sienna and cadmium orange / red and white – Hawthorn relief printing ink.

The background was achieved by first making a mono print to tone down the noise design.

This was flattened further with the additional glaze of white, sending the geese forward.


Canada geese, Bella Bee

There is still dome work needed before I am happy with the outcome – need to adjust the tones a bit more.

To see the video on the making of,

click here.

Light-house land

13 May

Burnham-on-Sea is a short(ish) drive and one of the destinations a friend and I went on at the end of last summer.

The light house is set back on soft sands but they look out onto treacherous water where mud collects in dangerous drifts ready to trap the unwary.  There have been many cars lost and people in dire need of help with the odd fatality.  The Coastguard now has a hovercraft, perfect for skimming out over mud flats, which was raised after a little girl died one year.

My friend and I took plenty of pictures and I made a lino cut of the un-manned light house with the full intention of printing it up and then other projects took over and this got pushed to the back of the drawer (a dingy strange place full of old lino plates and dreams).


burnham on sea original twst

Cut in three plates, I remember disliking the final result hand-pulled at home and decided I had overdone it.

Today’s workshop session started badly and left me spiralling into a downer as each print grew progressively worse.

Trying out woodblock printing on a new machine,  was hoping for beautiful grain finishing and fine detail

Instead, I got this >

DSCF9297 smallHow depressing.

I say ‘new’ machine, but I mean new to me.  It’s another Victorian-looking wonder, all gears, twists and wrenches.

DSCF9295A break and strong coffee, brought me to my senses and I sorted the three lino plates (fully ready for more dire results).

It was as if the sun had come out from the clouds.  Joy.


Having so much sky to play with made inking up in varying colours such fun.

Burnham-on-sea lino cut plates

The three plates

DSCF9300 small twist


7 May lino cut, print, bird

Yesterday’s session at the print workshop saw a flutter of paper in and out of the Albion Press.

The lino cut series of birds is a quarter of the way through (assuming I don’t run out of juice) so it seemed a good time to mix some inks and print up some colour options along the same theme.

Lino cut printing usually leads to a mixing board full of left over ink.

I hate waste, so often end up making a mono print.


For those of you who like your images to move; here’s how they were made.


29 Apr pheasant twist
Most mornings take me down the lanes into town (where I go swimming).  The countryside has been changing into its Spring colours and one particular morning, late April, I spotted this handsome cock pheasant warming it’s golden feathers in the new sun.
Here’s a video showing the resulting watercolour sketch and lino cut print I did after being inspired.

Ploughing in the Spring

7 Apr

Driving past a field near Wingfield at the start of the weekend, I stopped to watch a ploughing match.

There were tractors but it was the shire horse which caught my eye.

The whole household was busy so it was my intention to design and cut this on Saturday or Sunday.

water colour shire horses

Starting with a water colour sketch

lino cut, horse,

Sketched out onto lino and cut.

However, my plans changed.

We basked in warm sun as Easter Monday took on a holiday air.

There was no way I was to spend all day inside!

shire horse prnt proof

Click here to see the video.

Ploughing in the furrows

4 Apr shire horses ploughing, water colour

Noticing some unusually busy activity in Pete’s usually quiet field, I had to pull over and see what was going on.

The casual observer might think all farming practise here in the West Country remains firmly in the past with all the beautifully majestic shire horses who were effortlessly pulling a plough across a strip of land.

Of course there were tractors dong their thing too, but the horses are not a common sight and so it is these which caught my eye.

shire horses ploughing, water colourThese horses are obviously kept by people who love them as I am sure no-one uses them instead of a tractor.

Each pair seemed knew each other well and worked in tandem as they made their way the short distance along the previous furrow, their brasses shining despite the lack of sun.

If you re a technophile – here’s a tractor for you.  Don’t say I’m unable to keep up with cutting edge technology.  :)


Happy Easter X

Getting stuck up

30 Mar

The usual shop I buy my bits and bobs from has closed down and I am just starting to run out of the things I use to get from them; namely the white pen I use to sketch out designs onto my soft cut lino.

So I thought I’d found a new one – but it was trouble!

Click here to see the video.

There’s also a little competition you can enter to win the resulting tote bag. :)

Bella Bee, Shakespeare quote, lino cut, printmaking,

Lino cut print base on a Shakespeare quotation.


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