Buying art

Unsure about buying wall art? In this blog post, I aim to address some of the commonly asked questions and concerns associated with purchasing this kind of artwork.

What is the difference between limited edition prints and open edition prints?

Limited edition prints refer to a limited number of prints produced from an original artwork. Print runs can vary, depending on the artist’s preference. Prints of my artwork are typically produced in runs of 50, with the exception of my village scenes. Essentially, when they are gone, they are gone. Because of the limited nature of the artwork, all of my prints come with a signed certificate of authenticity, to assure provenance. My limited edition prints are typically the same size as the original artwork.

Open edition prints, however, are unlimited in terms of the numbers that are printed. For this reason, I don’t provide a certificate of authenticity. They are, however, still signed. My open edition prints are a smaller version of the original: usually mounted to fit in a 10×8 inch frame.

Both types of prints that I produce are the same in terms of quality and lifespan.

If you want to get even more technical, my drawings are printed using museum quality, Fine Art Trade Guild approved equipment, inks and paper. The papers (including mounts) and inks are acid free and comply with the highest archival quality standards. In terms of paper, my prints are produced on Hahnemühle’s 290gsm Bamboo paper (90% Bamboo fibre, 10% Cotton, natural white), which is one of the world’s finest environmentally focused digital fine art papers and the first to be made from Bamboo fibres.

What is giclee printing?

Giclee is a fine art digital printing process that achieves an inkjet print of superior quality, light-fastness and stability. The process involves spraying microscopic dots of pigment-based inks onto high quality art paper. It is colour-corrected to achieve a finish that is as close to the original as possible.

Where should I hang artwork?

In order to keep your print or original artwork in good condition and to prolong its lifespan, avoid hanging in direct sunlight or in humid environments. Under conditions found in the average house, giclee prints last around forty years; in low light conditions, they should last over a hundred years.

What about framing?

Following on from the point above, in terms of ensuring that the artwork lasts for as long as possible, it should be framed either by a professional framer, or if you are framing it yourself, by using pH neutral mount board and backing materials (all of my artwork is supplied with an archival quality mount and acid free back).

I understand that framing can be a daunting process, which is why I aim to make it as painless as possible by supplying all of my drawings in mounts that fit straight into standard sized frames – these can be purchased easily online or in high street shops.

Lastly, I know that many people struggle with colour choice when it comes to purchasing and framing. The fact that all of my artwork is black and white largely negates this concern: I recommend that a plain black frame is chosen to set off the artwork perfectly; furthermore, black is one of those colours that goes with pretty much any other colour and is always on trend, so you’ll be able to place your artwork amongst your existing colour palette without having to redecorate!

Autumn update

In this blog post, I thought I would take the opportunity to show you what I’ve been up to over the summer: those hot and heady days already seem a long time ago when I glance out of the window at the autumn leaves, scudding across the ground.

Back in May (OK, so this isn’t technically summer), I finished off my ‘miniatures’, (click on the gallery image to show more detail):

These were a lot of fun to draw and were a lot less time consuming than my usual drawings. I’m planning on producing a few more in the coming months, so watch this space.

Next, I felt the urge to pick up my pens again. I seem to have fallen naturally into working more in graphite over the last year or so and these tend to be detailed pieces that take many hours to draw. It made a refreshing change to strip things right back to basics with these line drawings, (click on the gallery image to show more detail):

It wasn’t long though before the call of my pencils returned and I satisfied a long held urge to capture an animal that is well-suited to black and white drawings: the beautiful zebra:

In recent weeks, I fancied taking on another challenge … drawing a human – something I have been wanting to attempt for a while. It requires a different pencil technique to drawing animals and landscapes, so I really enjoyed exploring this. This is the end result – mounted and framed:

This led straight into the following commission, which again, was a whole lot of fun to do and is now in its new home ‘down under’:

That just about brings me up to date. I am currently back to the animals – drawing a glorious deer stag. After that, I am looking forward to having more fun developing my new found techniques.

Tools of the trade

In this blog post I’m going to introduce the equipment that I use to produce my drawings.  These have been refined after trial and error over time and I now pretty much stick to using the same ‘kit’ for all of my artwork.

Drawing tools:

The above photograph illustrates the tools that I use to create a graphite drawing.  My artwork focuses on the detail and so for the majority of my work, I use mechanical clutch pencils. I ensure that my marks are as fine as possible by using 0.3mm and 0.5mm lead and find that four grades enable me to obtain a sufficient spread of tone for my drawings (2H, HB, 2B and 4B). I also use the mechanical pencils for indenting techniques by retracting the lead back into the casing. The two extra chunky silver mechanical pencils I use only occasionally for background work.

I also use wood cased pencils a lot in my drawings for the areas where I need the marks to be softer.  I use a whole spread of grades with these depending on the feature I am drawing and they enable me to use slightly different drawing techniques to the mechanical pencils.

Equally as vital to drawing as pencils, are erasers.  Think of these as another drawing tool, used to sculpt, define and support the graphite.  The two I use the most are Blu Tack and the pencil eraser.  The Blu Tack has an endless number of uses, for example, it can be moulded into a fine point to lift away the smallest bit of graphite where required, it can also be rolled to lift graphite from larger areas.  The pencil eraser I use much the same as a wood cased pencil, as an essential drawing tool.  The hard eraser I use to remove any stray graphite from around the drawing at the end, as necessary.

The tortillons are used for blending of tones, the compass for cross-referencing dimensions from the reference drawing where needed, and the soft brush is used to remove any eraser bits and loose graphite from the page.

Paper:

You can see from the selection above that I use a variety of Stathmore (and Canson) Bristol Board.  It may sound obvious, but paper is crucial to the drawing.  It needs to be durable in order to hold up to erasing without the surface of the paper being ruined, it needs to have a surface that holds the graphite whilst allowing blending of tones, it also needs to be made to last by being acid free.  Paper comes in different thicknesses and finishes, from vellum to a very smooth surface.  I have tried a number of paper finishes for my drawings and these days tend to use vellum.

Drawing setup: 

I use a wooden drawing board for my artwork that has three levels of angle adjustment available.  It has a smooth finish so that the paper doesn’t pick up any of the grain from the underlying board when drawing. I fix the paper to the board using artist’s tape which is firm enough to hold the paper in place, but can be easily peeled away at the end without leaving any marks on the paper.

The hand guard, for me, comprises a sheet of clean paper.  I use this to cover areas of the paper whilst I work and to rest my hand on when drawing.  This keeps the surface pristine and avoids unintended smudging of the graphite.

In terms of lighting, I have a daylight bulb in an artist’s lamp that I use for all of my drawing work.  It is rectangular in shape and the arm is fully adjustable so that it gives excellent coverage over my work area at all times.

Lastly, when the drawing is complete, I give it a light coating of fixative spray, which as the name suggests, ‘fixes’ the graphite ready for mounting and framing and takes any lead sheen from the drawing, which may occur in darker toned areas.

How I began drawing and how I found my ‘style’

I thought it might be fun to set up a blog page so that you can find out a bit more about me and my artwork, so here it is! For the first post I thought I would provide a bit of background about my art journey to date.

I first remember being interested in drawing around the age of 14.  I went through a phase of trying to copy illustrations out of a children’s book and although they weren’t dreadful, they weren’t great either! At the time I believed that being any good at art was black and white – a person could either draw, or they couldn’t.  After a short time, I reached the conclusion that I couldn’t draw and so put my paper and pencils away.

It would be just over twenty years before I picked them up again.  I have been a keen writer since a young child and back in 2015 decided that a children’s book I was writing would be better with a few illustrations.  I didn’t want to pay somebody to illustrate it, so thought that I would have a go myself (click on the gallery image to show more detail)…

These first illustrations were the start of my art journey and as you can see, are quite a long way away from where I am today.  Although they weren’t anything brilliant, I was super chuffed that they were vaguely recognisable as the objects I was trying to draw and within a matter of days, I was totally hooked and wanted to see if I could get any better at it.

Over the next few months, I had fun experimenting with different styles.  I knew I was drawn to black and white artwork, but wasn’t sure whether I wanted to work with ink or pencil or both (click on the gallery image to show more detail).

Bit by bit, I started to add more detail to my drawings although I pretty much stayed with buildings and street scenes as subject matter. I went out and about taking lots of photos of villages around me and then shut myself away to spend hour after hour drawing what I had photographed.

I had a lot to learn about paper types, ink types, pencil types…for a long time I used a standard ink pen to draw with, not realising that the ink wasn’t light-fast and would fade over time.  I bought myself a few different pads of paper and experimented with them.

For a long time I used an off the shelf ink pen rather than one designed for use by artists.

Bit by bit, I became more confident with the materials I was using and began to introduce more detail to my drawings.

his culminated in my ‘Villages and Street Scenes’ artwork, which began to sell in shops around the Peak District. However, whilst I loved drawing this type of subject matter, I was still unsure of a style that felt 100% like ‘me’.

In January 2016, I attempted to draw an animal for the first time….pretty dreadful result!…

I decided to leave drawing animals and didn’t have another attempt until June 2016…

I was much happier with the result this time around and so began the start of really honing in on my style.

These days I have naturally settled into graphite drawings and have largely left the ink behind.  There is something special for me about creating an image using the most basic of tools and I love capturing the detail of animals and buildings as shown in my most recent drawings…