Inking up a lino block

Inking up a lino block

I am an artist based in Norwich in Norfolk. These days I mainly specialise in linocuts of wildlife: birds, hares, foxes, butterflies and even the occasional cat. I also use other media, such as acrylics, watercolours and pen and ink.

I began drawing at an early age and although I studied art to A Level standard I am mostly self-taught. I have had an equal interest in both art and the natural world for as long as I can remember. Much of the inspiration for my work comes from the natural world around me and I am very much an amateur naturalist as well as an artist. It is my passion for wildlife that makes me want to capture it on paper while the artist in me wants to explore the relationships between plants and animals in paint and print. Drawing is the most important aspect of art for me, whether it is field sketching, roughing out a composition or doing a detailed pencil study.

The wildlife and landscape of Norfolk have had a great influence on my work. Most of my artwork depicts elements of the natural world, with a particular preference for plants, insects and birds. I like to work from life wherever possible, observing my subjects outside and making field sketches or bringing things into the studio to draw or paint in watercolour. This provides invaluable reference material for my more complex compositions.

My compositions are worked out from a combination of field sketches and memory as well as studio studies – close observation and familiarity of subjects are absolutely crucial. Colour and symmetry are important elements in my work, especially my acrylic paintings. I am constantly experimenting with new techniques, often painting a particular subject several times in different media. This allows me to explore the subject more thoroughly, exploiting the qualities of each medium to different effect. This often gets reflected in subsequent paintings.

Vanna's press

My small desktop printing press, acquired in 2015.

Linocuts currently form the bulk of my work. I like their bold, clean lines and enjoy the challenge of creating a strong composition to suit their graphic qualities. Many of my prints start off as a straightforward black and white image. I hand print using water-based printing inks that have a flat matt finish. Adding touches of watercolour paint enhances and enlivens the finished work. Hand colouring also gives me the option of trying out different colours and also makes each print even more individual. I do small print runs from single or multiple blocks and also use the reduction method, re-cutting the same block for subsequent colours.

I am at my happiest outdoors, sketchbook in hand and scribbling away furiously to capture some fleeting bird or the way plants grow, flower and seed. My field sketches are a valuable source of reference for future works created in the studio.

Vanna sketching

Sketching on my allotment