In the Valley, by Richard Shimell

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In the Valley

22/100 framed hand made print.

I live in a wooded landscape on the edge of Dartmoor, so am lucky enough to be surrounded by trees. I have a small studio at home with my own Hawthorn press. I’m drawn to the simplicity of silhouettes and the complexity of branches. I enjoy all stages of the making process, from drawing to carving to printing. I also make books, using my prints on the covers and enjoy experimenting with other forms of printmaking, including drypoint, collagraph and etching on lino.


I find a tree I like, sketch and/or photograph it then leave it for a while. When I’m ready I work out a design, usually by making further quick sketches from the photo or original sketch. When I’m happy, I scale the image up or down and draw it directly on to the plate, which can take me up to a week.

Then I use lino-cutting tools to carve away everything I don’t want to print, ie the background, leaving the image in relief, a process which takes me anything from a fewl weeks to a few months, depending on how long I spend cutting each day.

I mostly use smooth vinyl flooring rather than lino for my plates. The vinyl is harder, so better for creating the fine detail I’m drawn to. I get my vinyl from a company which lays floors. I take what’s left and they don’t have to send it to the dump.

When I’ve finished the cutting, I spread ink on a glass slab and roll over it with a large roller. When it’s smooth I pass the roller back and fore on my plate, place paper on top and put it through the press.

I study the first print, or proof, and make many changes. Sometimes I end up cutting away sections I’ve spent ages cutting, because they don’t look right. The proofing process can go on for several days.

When I’m happy with the tree, I’m ready to make a background for it, so I make a second, and sometimes third, plate the same size and ink it/them up with a blended roll of colour.

I may also use lino for a succession of background plates, each one etched using caustic soda, to create an organic, sky-like pattern.

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