Meet the Printmaker:
From his early days, growing up amongst the hills and mills of the North, Keith has always appreciated what the UK holds for artists.
Work took Keith to London, the Cotswolds and Devon where he regularly exhibited in local art shows. Working with quality products Keith used his skills in ceramic design for the giftware trade before moving into web design. When the opportunity arose Keith and his wife Georgina returned to the picturesque and colourful fishing port of Brixham on the beautiful South Devon coast. The area has inspired Keith to challenge himself with a new discipline and he recently took up Linocut printing. Keeping his feel of atmosphere in his work, Keith prints on to watercolour paper and his acceptance as a finalist in the Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 is a huge endorsement as Keith looks to the future …
DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE OF LINO PRINTING?
I love to use a very loose and painterly creative printing process. However, you never know what is coming when you peel back the paper.
HOW AND WHEN DID YOU GET STARTED IN LINO PRINTING?
You will love this one … I had an Essdee Set given to me for Christmas.
WHY LINO PRINTING?
I love the printing process but not sure I have the patience for some printing techniques. My painting style is watercolour, wet into wet.
WHERE DO YOU WORK?
I do have a studio, but I love to set up where others are as I love the company rather than isolating myself.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR TYPICAL DAY
My days vary but always include enjoying the lovely UK coast and countryside.
WHAT INSPIRES YOUR WORK?
I have always loved a blank piece of paper and more often than not have a queue of ideas in my head good to go.
Do you have a favourite print that you have made?
Normally it is my latest, but I really enjoyed trying to capture myself.
What is your greatest achievement?
I have a background in ceramic design and I loved sketching the many different species of penguins for products for a Port Stanley business.
You recently took part in Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year. Tell us about the selection process?
I had just started lino printing and was amazed with the feel and looseness of the print [only my second attempt at lino cutting] and, being a fan of the show, took a chance.
See Keith’s submission print, titled Waterloo Sunset, below:
How did you feel when you found out you had been selected to take part?
We were away in our lovely Devon when the call came and just about to eat … I completely dried up and later apologised to the eatery for not finishing, or hardly starting, my meal.
How did you prepare for competition?
I set myself a series of prints to be completed, outside, in the four-hour time scale. I actually sold all four via a local micro-brewery. I used 4 of their beers as inspiration. White Swan, Black Swan, Heron and Egyptian Goose.
The landscape you were tasked with recreating was the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, how does this compare to your usual subject matter? Did this present any challenges?
This was a tough ask as the view I would have liked included the Baltic Arts Centre or the Victorian Bridges. Having chatted to the other artists before starting I made the, incorrect, decision to create an abstract, contemporary print. I thought it would catch the judge’s eyes.
What happened on the day of the competition?
The weather had been appalling so I was well and truly wrapped up and, you got it, the sun shone and the heat in the pods was a touch too much.
How was it working outdoors?
I had a hair dryer at the ready to try and dry the inks [normally takes days] between printing however the unexpected heat added another dimension of difficulty.
You only had 4 hours in which to complete your print, how did you adapt to that challenge?
I tend to work quickly when cutting so I wasn’t too challenged by the time restrictions.
Can you sum up your thoughts on the experience?
What an experience and I loved every minute of it and would recommend all to take up some of the challenges and competitions out there.
You have recently completed a large scale lino print, tell us more about it.
The linocut artwork of Mansands, viewed from Sharkham, despite the many walks and photographs I have was inspired by a photograph in Devon Life. I used a floor covering, rather than my soft lino I usually use, in order to achieve the feel I looked for. I also changed my reduction printing approach for effect and depth of colour. My favourite stretch is from Brixham to Kingswear as it contains many differing aspects of coastal features though the choices remain endless.
You can see a process video of this print here:
What are you working on at the moment?
My next print is gift for a friend who is self-isolating on the Isle of Wight due to his high-risk health condition.
Do you have a favourite ESSDEE product?
I love the vibrancy of the inks.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself?
I am proud to have held Royal Warrants to HM Queen and the Queen Mother and supplied Downing Street and several other prestigious clients with products featuring my artworks.
Do you have any top tips or advice for other lino printmakers?
Simply … be yourself!
Where can we view more of your work?
My work can be viewed on my website www.larkstudios.co.uk and across my social media channels.
Where can we buy your prints?
Always best to contact me directly through my website.
Image credits: Photography Keith Tunnicliffe, Time-lapse StoryVault Films
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