As I stepped out of the front door this morning to come through to the ex-granny annexe - now the workrooms area - I noticed nasturtium seedlings sprouting! Outside the annexe door one snowflake flower is almost completely open. They normally flower after the snowdrops. And yesterday morning I heard the birds singing as if Spring were in the air - well, it was around 16 degrees C so who could blame them. On the pond the ducks are pairing up!
But despite the weird weather, I am still enjoying aspects of Winter living. I love the indoor cosiness that darkness encourages, and will soon be giving more and more of my time to curling up with good books (thought not exactly curling, as not only do my knees definitely prohibit such notions, but also I am and always have been of the straight back sitting school of comfort) and the latest issues of my favourite magazines (Craft Arts International, Printmaking Today, and Sculpture - all with meaty articles which also require time to digest).
Leading up to that I am experimenting with lino printing. With one image of a woman reading I wanted to try to convey that sense of the cosy dark. This is the first proof on newsprint:
I decided to use two backgrounds to convey the mood I wanted. First, to achieve the cosiness I thought that I would use a quilt - in this case a close-up of the stitching of one of my quilts. I like the pattern of marks the stitches make, and the 'lumping' of the fabric which conveys the cosiness is obvious too.
To convey the darkness I wanted something which would not eliminate everything else. It is so easy to lose the distinctive black if one prints on even a dark-ish background (a real bugbear especially when choosing colours to put behind text). I also wanted a benevolent dark.
I had bought some coloured Lokta Computer Paper from Paper Shed (now part of George Weil). The blue - a kind of grey/ 'airforce' blue - added darkness without actually obliterating. (I'm not sure if this paper is still available, and now I wish I had bought more - hey ho.)
Anyway, I digitally printed the photo of the stitched fabric onto the Lokta paper, which though calendered is hand made and therefore interestingly uneven. Then I printed the lino block onto that, also taking care not to print all of the cut away lines.
It is still a work in progress, but I am pleased with the results so far: an anticipation of a happy hibernation.