I have at last completed the new series of little screenprints (the largest is ±9x9cm) I’ve been working on, loosely entitled ‘An amateur naturalist’s specimen collection’ (the larva of which you may have already met here). I have been patiently waiting for some bright, natural light (not a common phenomenon in the depths of a Northern winter) in order to photograph them and make them available in my shop. The beautiful, crisp, bright days came earlier this week (along with some bone-chilling sub-zero temperatures!), the photos have been taken and, after a bit of tweaking (bright winter light is still winter light), they’ll be ready to go. In the meantime, as I love to see pictures of other peoples’ studios, projects or processes, I thought I would upload some process pics* of my own over the next couple of days (and buy myself some time to get the prints listed in the shop!).

I was inspired to make the series by all the small, wonderful remnants of nature I’ve found on long beach walks, mountain hikes and woodland wanderings (or, in the case of the iridescent blue-green beetle encased for all eternity in perspex and pictured below, at the curious natural history treasure-trove ‘Evolution‘ in New York City). I wanted to make a series of vividly coloured, graphic and emblematic images in homage to these beautiful, precious things that always seem to fit perfectly into the palm of a hand, or reassuringly into a pocket.

The first step, of course, was to raid my ‘specimen’ collection for inspiration…

… and make some choices about the things I wanted to draw (there were also some critters/specimens I really wanted to draw but don’t have in my collection – e.g. a chameleon skull, a sand dollar skeleton, a larva! – so these required a bit of book and/or internet research).

Research done, I started on the ink drawings…

always happy when the early morning light hits my desk and studio walls just so (and it appears that my ammonite drawing was unconsciously informed by two stripey studio-mates!)

the initial brush and ink drawings were made at 2x the intended final print size

Once completed the drawings were scanned, tweaked & resized and digitally manipulated to create the ‘colour separations’ necessary for the screenprinting phase (a separate ‘image’ is required for each layer/colour to be printed, as can be seen in the photo below of some of the colour separation transparencies I made. These are used to transfer the images onto the screen before printing, by coating the screen in a light sensitive photo-emulsion and, when the emulsion is dry & with the transparencies positioned on the screen, exposing it to UV light).

As I don’t have the facilities to screenprint at my home studio (I work at the wonderful Amsterdams Grafisch Atelier when I want to screenprint) it’s important that I ‘front-load’ a project as much as I can to ensure that when I do arrive at the Atelier I can work as efficiently as possible.

Next post… let the printing begin!

* This is not intended as a step-by-step guide to screenprinting or a tutorial of any kind – it is merely a collection of roughly chronological process pics… for anyone who might be interested in the general anatomy of a screenprinting project (from this person’s perspective ;)