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My name is Cheryl and I'm a lino print artist based in Sandbach, Cheshire.

I’ve always been a walker. As a child I was drawn to the forests near my home, walking for hours looking at the trees whilst my dad tested me on all their names and wood properties. Later, walking alone, enjoying the quiet and allowing myself space to conjure up new creative ideas.

I was lucky enough to study fine art at Falmouth University in Cornwall and it was there that my work really became consumed and driven by nature and landscape. Inspired by the raw, salty sea cliffs and moody moor walks. I began experimenting with printmaking and became obsessed with the process.

Fast forward 13 years, after travelling and living around Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia, colours and landscapes are where I find happiness. 

In recent years, hiking and camping with my dog Bruno around Wales, the Peaks and the Lake District is the best kind of downtime. It is these trips that allow me to be artistic. I always turn to the hills when I’m in a creative slump.

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My printing process always starts with a loose pencil sketch. Sometimes I like to begin sketching from a photograph of a place that I’ve connected with. Other times, I like to create new landscapes, inspired by real places but entirely from my imagination (I have a lot of fun with these ones.)

After sketching a loose idea I start to think about colour. Colour is important, it can tell a story and evoke emotion in the viewer. My colour palette leans toward calm tones with powerful pops of joy, or at least that’s what I hope to achieve! 

Lino printing is a very time consuming process, so when thinking about colour I try to restrict myself to 2 or 3 when creating a multi block print. With my reduction prints, I tend to be a bit looser with these and sometimes the print may have 6 or 7 layers, each layer translating to a different colour. 

The process of lino printing begins by transferring my design to the lino block. As the image on the block prints back to front, I often use tracing paper so that my design prints the way it has been drawn. Occasionally I create single colour prints that are drawn straight onto the block with permanent pen, these are designed in the moment and I’m always intrigued to see what my mind conjures up! 

I colour the block with watercolour after the image is transferred so that I can see where I’m carving more clearly. 

When the block is prepped with the design, I begin carving. This takes a long time and needs to be done with precision as there is no going back! I carve away the areas that I do not want the ink to stick to, working in reverse again. 

If I have decided to create a multi block print (where each block represents a separate colour) I will make sure the design has been transferred in exactly the same place on each block, to allow for better aligning when printing. Then I will continue to carve each layer, leaving behind the surface area for each colour. 

When these are carved and ready, I hand print them starting with the lightest colour first, ending with the darkest colour. Each layer needs time to dry (sometimes a week between layers!) 

Using Cranfield block printing ink, I hand mix my own colours with their primary colour inks. 

Another form of lino printing that I enjoy is reduction printing. This involves using one block and means that you can create super limited editions that are really special. After transferring my chosen design to the block, I begin by carving out any areas that I want to remain uncoloured. Then I print that layer in the lightest colour I have chosen to use, as many times as needed for the edition. Next I will carve out any areas that I want to stay the lightest colour, printing this layer over the first (when dry!) Working again from light to dark inks, the process continues until I am happy with the amount of layers and colours I have used and feel that the image is complete. 

Personally, I really enjoy using reduction printing to capture landscapes that are full of texture, colour and movement. These prints often look quite different to my other work, appearing more loose and experimental. 

There is still so much to learn in the printing world! I look forward to experimenting and growing my knowledge.

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