Welcome back. A whole season has passed since I did my last update for my seasonal hashtag challenge.
Of course there is some argument whether we should wait until the spring equinox to welcome the much awaited spring. Since my winter wasn't a particularly easy one I hope you will forgive me in wanting to celebrate the start of meteorological spring and the first signs of greenery and blooms as we head into March.
The hashtag challenge #createinspring is all about celebrating the moments of the season, how it influences your work and imagery - whether that be sparkling sunshine or sparkling raindrops on blossom, making lighter knitwear or seasonal botanical inspired jewellery or embroidery. I can't help but be influenced by seasons and what is going on outside in my makes and I'd love to see what you have been working on too.
Before I show you a snippet of what I've been up to, I want to introduce the work of Kathy Hutton, a print maker inspired by nature and ceramics.
Can you describe what kinds of art-work you produce? And your process.
In my own work I incorporate many hand printing techniques, creating one off pieces of original art. I love to be able to work with big blocks of colour, sometimes with printmaking I feel as if I’m building up a collage but using ink instead of bits of paper and fabric. I love the flat solid areas of colour that you can achieve with screen printing but I like to break this up with the softer black line-work that I achieve through mono-printing.
I build up printed layers slowly with as much love for the process as for the plants & ceramic pieces that inspire me. Each is hand drawn, hand carved and printed, taking on its own character due to the spontaneous nature of the printing techniques I use.
When did you start this work? What’s been your creative journey? Did you use to do some work for Habitat?
As a young girl I remember seeing a screen-print revealed for the first time and the magic of that experience stayed with me.
I went on to study a degree in Printed Textiles supported by Printmaking at DJCA, Dundee. Because of my course I obviously practised a lot of screen printing but also learnt and fell in love with so many other methods of printmaking.
After graduating to my complete surprise I won an award at New Designers with Habitat UK that led to design placements with some big names in the industry. Here I mainly worked as a surface pattern designer, producing designs on paper that would be reproduced on all sorts of products from bed linen, ceramics and wrapping papers.
I was young and my lack of self-confidence made working freelance very difficult, something that I still find hard today. Eventually I took a job in buying and product development for gift and homewares. I didn’t print much for a long time, but it was always on my mind. I knew that one day I’d come back to it.
Fifteen years ago we left London and moved to Wiltshire, to start a family. I enrolled on an evening class in Printmaking at a local collage. Here I was able to recap on everything I’d learnt and had the freedom to start creating prints again. But it wasn’t until we moved to our current house 7 years ago where I had space for a studio that I started to really think about being able to do this as a small business.
Is your work strongly influenced by the seasons?
I like to draw directly from nature rather than from books, photographs or my imagination, because of this I actively go out searching for inspiration in the hedgerows and fields around my home. Regardless of the weather I’m out there constantly picking up little fallen treasures and carrying them home in my big pockets. Once I start looking I really can’t stop so even when I’m out walking with my family, running or even driving the car I spot things that stay with me visually.
As I’m inspired by the plants that are growing locally to me, unless I have some dried treasures I tend to be influenced by and to draw what’s actually growing in that particular season. To the viewer the end result may not be recognisable but all the marks I make have a starting point in nature, be it grass and seed heads in late summer or berries and twigs in mid-winter.
The plus side of this is that there is always something new to inspire me, once you start looking you notice that things can change a lot, even in the depth of winter. A simple branch that I’ve past by each day for weeks can suddenly inspire me because the sun is hitting it a certain way, or perhaps there’s now just one leaf left on it. The downside of this is that I really struggle to think of ‘Winter design’s earlier in the year. Because of this my ‘winter berries’ Christmas cards were so late this year, and I only got the idea for my Snowdrop and Heart print for Valentines day seven days before the big day!
I see you love pottery. Has that always featured in your work?
I have a passion for ceramics. I’ve always been a bit of a hoarder of pottery, especially jugs, mugs and bowls. I love the tactile surfaces, but mainly I know I’m drawn to the simplicity of the forms, outlines and silhouettes. In my work the vessel becomes either the blank canvas for pattern (as seen in my stacking bowl prints), or as the main character in my simple still life prints with a single twig or flower stem.
I don’t always feature ceramics, sometimes it purely the botanicals, but it’s always there running alongside in my head.
I have recently started going to a pottery evening class. I’m just dabbling and trying to absorb everything. I’ve no idea what direction if any this may take me, right now I’m really enjoying having the opportunity to explore with no pressures or expectations, something that I think isn’t so easy to do within your own discipline.
What tips can you give to people who want to specialise in print-making, mono-printing.
There are so many different techniques of printing, and so many ways to do each one. Some you will need specialised equipment & dedicated work spaces to practise in, but many can be adapted or simplified to be used in a home setting. If you know what style or end result you are hoping to achieve, often you can work backwards and adapt a process to give you the results you want. Or it could be the actual process itself that you have fallen in love with. At University I used to love Etching, but now I realise I’ve not used that technique since, I’ve found that it just doesn’t suit my style of artwork or even my style of working.
If you are just starting out, going to workshops or even at night school where you are able to try out different techniques for yourself is a great start, but I think the real benefit of any class comes from being with others. Everyone has a different way of working and its only through sharing thoughts and skills that you’ll find your own path.
What has surprised you most in terms of popularity of your work.
It might sound ridiculous but every sale is like a little surprise. The imposter syndrome or the child in me still delights in each and every sale or positive review. As an introvert, putting my work out there is still not easy. It feels like I’m very exposed, it’s something I really have to work on. I know that I’m very fussy about the work I choose to put up on my own walls and shelves, so when others want to put my work on their walls is quite a thing for me to get my head around! I guess I’m not very good at taking a compliment!
When people bought my hand dyed & printed tote bags and then started to share pictures of them out and about using them, that was such a lovely feeling. Seeing my work in the real world!
Do you have any workshops coming up?
I’ll be running workshops from my studio in March and May and which you can find on my website
And I’ll have more dates in Autumn and Winter for Botanical mono-printing, Silkscreen, Foil & Lino printing.
My studio will also be open in early October 5-13th October) as part of my local arts trail https://peacockartstrail.co.uk/
How do you juggle being a Mom, having young children and producing your best work?
The truth is I find it a real struggle, I’m not naturally very organised so trying to separate work time and home time is hard. Currently I have 2 and a half school days a week when my youngest daughter is at Pre-school, but I still struggle to be disciplined and not unload the dishwasher or hang out the washing in that precious studio time! So currently I do end up working evenings and some weekends when my husband can help look after the children too. My daughter will start school in September and I’m hoping that the continuity of my week will then allow me to be more structured in the way I work too. Fingers crossed!
I’m incredibly lucky to have a studio space at home It has access to the house, so my children can pop in and see me, but as it’s not in the main body of the house they’re not in here all the time. As my children are still young it is the perfect situation.
What’s been your favourite commission piece?
I love creating the large stacking bowls prints, they gives me an opportunity to play with pattern and mark making whilst working with colours set by my customer’s brief.
Recently I’ve been commissioned to create my simple cup prints with tree branches that are symbolic for certain occasions, such as marriages or new homes. I’ve really enjoyed researching the different trees and their mythology or folk lore attached to them.
Kathy has very kindly offered the above botanical print as a prize for her favourite entry to #createinspring during the month of March, so I hope you'll join us in your tagging.
I think I've been dreaming of blossom all winter and finally got this into my ceramics using a combination of matte white overlaid with a pink glaze. I was really quite overwhelmed by the reaction that these received and have been squirrelled away in my studio making more of these pink ombre budvases to store all your spring blossoms. blooms, dried flowers and twigs in.
Following the popularity of the above glaze combination I also decided to experiment with these on some planters. These are available in my etsy shop and I'll also be bringing them to the Blue Magpie Contemporary Craft Fair on Sunday 24th March, and to the Paperdolls Market on 18th May.
I want to thank everyone who joined in with #createinwinter this and last year. To give you a bit of a flavour here are some lovely images that have been tagged.
Here are some of my favourite images in no particular order from @thecosyshed, @traceyjhunter, @fishearring, @permillion44 and @damsontreepottery and @lewesmap.
Hope you have enjoyed this dose of seasonal goodness as we say goodbye to winter and embrace the spring months ahead.
And stay cosy - it is still spring after all!