A bit about…Dutch Still Life

I’ve just finished this new print called ‘Dutch Still Life’, so I thought I’d tell you a little bit about it and where the idea came from.

I have always loved a Dutch Still life painting, fascinated by the skill in the realism, beauty in the objects and symbolism in the meaning. Any ‘traditional’ galleries I visit, I will always seek out these type of paintings. But recently I got to view a whole range at The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. Here’s some close ups from the paintings there.

These paintings were made in the Dutch Golden Age, about 500 years ago when the Netherlands was rich from trade and artists were flourishing there, employed by wealthy merchants. The still life often featured objects to portray wealth, purity, life and death.

Here’s my initial drawing made quickly after seeing the paintings.

When turning this into a print I decided to test out Japanese lino for the first time. This has a blue/ green surface. I found it allowed me to achieve more defined details and a reliable quality print but was not as nice to cut out as it’s harder than the lino I usually work with. I also printed it with my new printing press, this is one made from the Xpress die cut machine.

First reveal is always exciting!

Initially I printed the design in black but then decided this was too bold and lacked the antique look of the paintings so I switched to a burnt umber.

This was a proof print in black with very bright watercolours- too bright and ‘poppy’.

After achieving the right colour print I decided to reduce the saturation of the watercolour paint over the top, again to help to get a more vintage look. I did this by adding small amounts of burnt umber to every colour.

Experimenting with achieving the right hue of watercolour paint.

The hand painting of every print is the most time consuming part of making this sort of print. Hand painting all ten editions is a long process, but I like how each print is slightly different due to the way the watercolour blends, runs and dries. I often add extra droplets of water or paint so you can see the bleed of the watercolour- I like it to look painterly.

These prints are now complete and available via my Etsy shop, there’s a link in the contact section to my shop.

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