A Dog is the Best Medicine Linoprint/Collage

People sometimes ask me which of my prints is my favourite and I have to answer ‘The Dog is the Best Medicine’. It came about after I discovered a stack of yellowed vintage medicine bottle labels at a fair and I offered the stallholder a price for whole lot, not knowing what on earth I was going to do with them.

I spend days sorting them, seperating them out and even resorted to baking stuck together piles of them in a low oven to try and unstick them! I then placed each type in different cello bag (yes, anal, I know) and then I waited for inspiration to strike.


I can’t remember if it was a revelation or some kind of thought process but “A Dog is the Best Medicine” was born.

I thought I’d share with you how the prints are created. Each one is an individual collage of old medicine bottle labels. I don’t use the same layout of labels for all the prints… I just randomly pick them up and stick them on (although I have to watch I don’t stick myself into a corner, in which no label will fit).

medicine bottle label collage old pharmacy bottle labels

vintage bottle labels collage

I leave the completed collages to dry under some heavy books. Then the words and dog are printed individually onto each one. I carved the words and dog into lino to use as a plate on my etching press.

I mix the inks up by hand and roll them onto the lino plate which is then passed through my press with the collage in a kind of sandwich.

lino print dog lino printing plate

printmaking ink a dog is the best medicine print

The prints are then left to dry, signed and numbered. I hope to have enough labels to make around 100 prints but I’m not sure they’re going to stretch that far.

a dog is the best medicine print

framed dog print

I know that some have been bought as gifts for dog-loving vets and doctors. What a lovely idea!

Sniff one out while you can at The Enlightened Hound

The 12 Dogs of Christmas Card

I have been meaning to do a Christmas card for ages and then I usually leave it too late… but this year I’ve managed to get organised and have been busy illustrating and lettering to create ‘The 12 Dogs of Christmas”

12 dogs of christmas

It is a doggy twist on the cumulative song ‘The 12 days of Christmas’, dating from 1780!

dog christmas card christmas card for dog lovers

I have been reading lots of heart breaking stories on social media recently about unwanted and neglected dogs and the wonderful work so many people do to help them – from the large well known charities to devoted people who work many hours on a shoestring to rescue these poor animals.

So I am donating half the profits from the sale of these cards to a worthy doggy cause. I have asked my newsletter subscribers and Facebook followers for any recommendations of people or companies who make an outstanding contribution to dog rescue… please feel free to comment with any suggestions on this post too. I will post an update after Christmas on where the donation has gone.

christmas card illustrations illustrations of dogs

rescue dog illustration hand drawn dogs

The Christmas cards are printed in the UK on thick textured card and come with a festive red envelope.

They can be purchased in packs of 10 for £10, plus P&P from The Enlightened Hound

French Bulldog and Poodle Prints

I am excited to have reached 20 breeds in the “Dog Tag” series of prints with these two new additions – the French Bulldog and Poodle. Next, I will be taking a little break from this series to pursue some new ideas but as I still have many requests for other breeds (think Yorkie, Boxer, Great Dane, Bulldog, Pointer… and the list gets longer) I will be returning to the series next year!

There’s a lot of hand lettering and illustrating involved in these prints…

Poodle sketches French Bulldog sketch

Hand lettering hand drawn letters

Telling the story of the breed in an original and quirky way can be a bit of a challenge in around 30-35 words!

french bulldog print poodle print

french bulldog print hand lettering poodle print detail

framed french bulldog art framed poodle print

The French Bulldog print is hand printed in a dark sepia black and the Poodle print in a soft french grey ink.

The French Bulldog has a colourful history accompanying the rather politely named Parisian Belles de Nuit on their evening sojourns. Apparently they were a useful way to break the ice with potential customers to start a conversation! They were also the dog of choice for the french in-crowd arty set and cafe owners in the 19th century. They were bought over to France from England when the Industrial Revolution forced traditional lace workers to flee to France to find work.

Also with a colourful history, the poodle was a popular feature of the travelling circus. Like the Frenchie, the poodle was the a la mode accessory for high society. The poodle’s frou frou reputation belies its origins as a dog bred to retrieve waterfowl from muddy swamps and rivers!

Here are all 20 breeds in the Dog Tag series of prints…

Dog Tag Series of Prints

Prints are 30cms square and each one is individually hand printed and signed.

Sniff them out at The Enlightened Hound

German Shepherd Print

After a brief hiatus (redesigning my website to look good on mobiles as well as desktops) I am happily back to printing. Here is the 18th print in the Dog Tag series which tells the story of the German Shepherd in a dog tag design.German Shepherd Print

As always, each print is printed by hand on my etching press – this time I chose a deep blue, inspired by military and service uniforms to reflect the GSDs reputation as an outstanding service dog.

German Shepherd print detail

What is clear from researching this awesome breed is what an enormous contribution they have made to society and community over the years in a huge variety of roles, including Red Cross work, search and rescue, security, police work, military aides, detection dogs and guide dogs.

Framed German Shepherd print

Prints are available framed and unframed from The Enlightened Hound

Border Collie, Beagle, Westie & Schnauzer Prints

I have been busy with more prints in the Dog Tag series based on the most requested breeds from people I meet at shows and online. So here are the next 4 in the series which brings the total to 17 breeds!

Border Collie: Hand printed in a soft blue-grey ink

Border Collie Print

Detail of Border Collie Print Framed Border Collie Print

Beagle: hand-printed in an earthy khaki-brown ink

Beagle Print

Beagle print detail Framed Beagle Print

West Highland White Terrier (Westie): hand printed in a light sky blue ink

Westie print

detail of Westie print Framed Westie Print

Schnauzer: hand-printed in a sophisticated dark grey ink

Schnauzer print

Detail of Schnauzer print Framed Schnauzer print

The next three breeds in the Dog Tag series, to make it to 20, will be ready in the next couple of months and then I’m taking a break form the series for a few months to work on some other printmaking ideas that I have been thinking about. So many ideas and so little time!!

To purchase and find out more about the prints, visit The Enlightened Hound’s website

Dog is my Co-Pilot – Reduction Linoprint

I was approached by cool UK company, Pedlars, to do an exclusive print under the title “Dog is my Co-Pilot”. Pedlars sells quirky and original home-wares & gifts, both vintage and new. A love of dogs has always been a central theme of the company.

Dog is my Co-Pilot print

Inspired by pop art propaganda posters with their simple graphics and strong colours, this print is a 3 colour reduction linoprint.

Dog is my CoPilot print close up

A limited edition of 50 A3 prints were produced. Once these are sold there will never be any more printed because the process of making a reduction linoprint destroys the very printing plate that is used to create the prints – this is why it is sometimes called a suicide print!

You can see the finished print on the Pedlars website. If you’d like to find out more about the process of creating this print – read on!

First, the design for the print has to be drawn on to the piece of lino that will become the printing plate. It has to be drawn in reverse so that it is the right way round when it is printed (particularly important if there is any typography!)

Linoprint Plate1

Then, all the areas of the image that will not be printed (i.e. that will remain the colour of the paper used for printing) need to be carefully cut away. This is how my plate looked after this was done.

Linoprint plate2

This plate was then used to print the first of the three colours. The first colour (red in my case) will cover much of the print after the first pass through the press, but in the final print much of the red will be covered up by the printing of subsequent colours.

So, before I got started on the printing, I wanted to check how the three colours I would be using for the print looked when they were printed over/under each other. This would determine the order in which the colours would be printed. If, for example, I found out half way through the printing that the light blue did not cover the red effectively, or made an unwanted third colour (like purple!) it would be too late to go back and start again as the printing plate will have been cut away for the second colour – and once the lino is cut, there’s no going back!

So here are the results of that little experiment…

printmaking colour test

… I use traditional oil based printing inks – they look almost good enough to eat!

Red Ink

Here is the first colour printed.

reduction linoprint first colour

All 50 (plus a few spare) prints are printed in red at once. Then I return to the plate and cut away all the areas that I want to keep as red in the finished print. Here is the plate at this stage….

Linoplate 3

Now I print the next colour – the lighter of the 2 blues. The trickiest part of a reduction linoprint is making sure that the paper goes down on the plate in exactly the same place every time a new colour is printed, to avoid unwanted overlap of colour and keep nice sharp lines (although sometimes mis-registered prints can look really effective too). This is why it is good practice to print more than you hope to end up with in the final edition – because mistakes are bound to be made along the way! Perhaps this is another reason why it is called the suicide print!

Here is the second colour printed….

Reduction Linoprint Second Colour

prints drying

Now all the areas that will remain light blue are cut away from the lino plate… here is the newly cut plate on my press being inked up with the final very dark blue ink.

Printing Press

Ta Daaaa! The final print

Linoprint Dog is my CoPilot

Dog is my CoPilot print detail

Cockapoo Crush

Dogs Today magazine spotlighted the Cockapoo in their “Dog Crush” feature this month…

Dogs Today Feb 2015

…and, I’m happy to say, also featured my hand lettered Cockapoo “Dog Tag” print

The Enlightened Hound in Dogs Today

There were lots of interesting Cockapoo facts for prospective owners…

The most popular names are Ruby, Teddy, Alfie & Archie (I know a couple of those!)

The most common description of them in the magazine’s survey was “daft as a brush, but lovable” … although I think this might be an rose-tinted underestimation – as a cross between 2 pretty smart working dogs, cockapoos also have a reputation for being rather clever, particularly when it comes to pesky achievements like opening doors (which apparently 1 in 5 are able to do!)

Interestingly over 45% of owners had experienced prejudice over their choice of dog!

“Live and let live” is what I say.