Dogs of the British Isles linoprint

Dogs of the British Isles linoprint

For this print I decided to combine my love of dogs and vintage maps by creating a print that celebrates dogs breeds that have originated or developed in the British Isles. I love the decorative flourishes and ornamental details that cartographers of the 18th and 19th centuries used when creating maps and I wanted to use these vintage elements in this print. Examples of these are the decorative cartouche around the title of the map, the compass and galleons and the classical ornamental scale in the bottom left corner.

 

Ornamental title map cartouche

Ornamental map title cartouche

Decorative map scale with banner, dog and globe

Decorative map scale with banner, dog and globe

From nobility and royalty to the working class, farmers and fishermen, the people of the British Isles were prolific and dedicated dog breeders to whom we can attribute a disproportionate number of breeds that we know and love today.  Depending on the information source, it is estimated that around 25% of all recognised dog breeds in the world originated in the British Isles … around some 90 breeds, some of which are now under threat of extinction. This map features 54 breeds, both those that have originated in the British Isles and some breeds, that despite more ancient origins outside these islands, were developed into the breed standard we know today by the people of the British Isles.

I started by sketching the breeds…

Pen and ink sketches of dogs

Once I was happy with the whole design, I had to transfer it onto the lino (in reverse) so I could carve it out. I tried several transfer methods (the most successful of which was the xylene transfer method from a laser printed copy of the design) but the large size of the print and the fine detail got the better of me, so I decided to get it screen printed onto the lino.

Carving the design into Lino to create a printing plate was a real challenge, not just because of the large size of the print, but also due to the finely detailed dogs and carving lettering only a few millimetres high. Carving the plate took well over 60 hours, using my extra strong glasses and a magnifying glass!  The more time I invested in the carving the plate, the greater the stakes – as one slip of the gouge can be almost impossible to rectify.

Partially carved lino plate

Partially carved lino plate

Printmaker Debbie Kendall carving a lino plate

I painted the lino red before transferring the design so it was clear where I had carved

Lino carved plate

The carved lino plate

Once the plate was ready, I made some test prints on different Japanese papers. I was looking to see how the paper performed for several criteria, such as ease and even-ness of ink transfer (especially in the solid black areas) and the weight, colour and texture of the paper. I chose the Awagami Bunkoshi paper, a medium weight paper with a natural creamy off white colour.

The main challenge in printing the plate without a press, apart from its large size (my press is not large enough to take the plate), was the difficulty getting a good even print in the solid black areas (the sea) whilst retaining sharp detail in the dogs and lettering.

Debbie Kendall printmaker

This depended on perfecting the amount of ink on the plate in the different areas and varying the printing pressure using various hand tools (a combination of a Japanese ball bearing baren, convex glass lens and my trusty porcelain door knob). Each print took well over an hour to print by hand and the combination of maintaining sufficient pressure to transfer ink evenly, with repetitive circular motions using the hand tools over that time meant that it was also physically very demanding. As I was aiming for an edition of 60 prints, I decided that if I was to maintain my sanity and avoid repetitive strain injury, I needed to find a press large enough to accommodate the plate and paper.

lizzie printing 2A

Whilst removing a good deal of the physical strain of printing, a press still requires a good deal of (for want of a better word) “fiddling about” to get a good print. The strong even pressure offered by a press is great for helping to achieve solid areas of flat colour (like the black sea in this print) but such pressure over the more delicate areas, such as the dogs and lettering, can cause smudging and blurring. This is where hand printing was beneficial as it was possible to press harder on the areas of solid colour and go lighter on the dogs and lettering. However after several days around 40 prints of the planned edition of 60 had been printed and I plan to hand print the balance over the coming weeks.

 

Framed Dogs of the British Isles print

Framed print 60 x 80 cms

When I first had the idea for this print, I had doubts about the feasibility of carving the dogs and letters at such a small scale. I debated about whether to create it as a screen print or even as Giclee print of my original illustration, but lino is “my thing” and I wanted to push myself  and at least try to see if it was possible for me to carve and print successfully at this size and level of detail. I found it was best not to look to far ahead in the process and just concentrate on the immediate task ahead, carving one letter and one dog at a time! My perseverance and patience were certainly tested in the creation of this print but as President Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nothing worth having was ever achieved without effort”

Happy printing everyone!

Find out more on The Enlightened Hound’s website

 

 

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Labradoodle and Lurcher Prints

There are 2 new breeds in the Dog Tag series of prints by The Enlightened Hound. I say ‘breeds’ though neither the Labradoodle or Lurcher is considered a recognised breed – both being classed as a crossbreed. These technicalities however aren’t generally important to Labradoodle or Lurcher owners, who love them to bits regardless!

Each one is hand printed on a traditional etching press.

Labradoodle

Labradoodle Print

Labradoodle Print

Labradoodles are enormously popular family pets. They love to work and are eager to please. They are true companion dogs and thrive best with their people, delighting in being stroked and petted. Many of them are pretty smart and enjoy outwitting their owners – just for fun!

Labradoodle Print Detail

Labradoodle Print Detail

Labradoodle Print Unframed

Labradoodle Print Unframed

Labradoodle Print Framed

Labradoodle print in reclaimed wood frame

Lurcher

Lurcher Print

Lurcher Print

In the Middle Ages only nobility were allowed to own purebred dogs but accidental crossbreeds of these nobility owned sighthounds were snapped up by the commoners (peasants and gypsies) as stealth poaching dogs, who hunted by scent and sight to put meat for the cooking pot on the table. Rabbit and hares were the usual quarry and hunting usually took place at night.

Lurcher Print Detail

Lurcher Print Detail

Lurcher Print Unframed

Lurcher Print Unframed

Lurchers are the perfect combination of intelligence, speed, agility, hardiness, temperament & trainability. It was essential that the purebred Greyhound hunting instinct was tempered so that the dogs could be stopped from chasing prey if someone was watching. The penalty for detection was death, so dogs had to be loyal, trainable and live out of sight in the family home.

Framed Lurcher print

Lurcher print in reclaimed wood frame

Hand printed individually on an etching press, both prints are available from The Enlightened Hound

An alternative dog portrait – Hounds in Verse

There are lots of amazing dog portrait artists out there and I am always amazed by the incredible variety of ways that you can choose to have your dog rendered as a piece of art, from collage to pencil, oils or charcoal, traditional or modern – the choice is endless.

But I wanted to create something a bit different and even more personal …The result is Hounds in Verse – an illustrated poem that celebrates the wonderful character of each dog and their special relationship with their human.

Each poem is written in rhyming couplets and is completely bespoke and unique to each dog. I create the poems from the wonderful stories that each dog owner shares with me in response to a special questionnaire that they receive when the poem is commissioned.

The poems are intended to be fun, whimsical, touching and humorous and each one is individually hand lettered and illustrated in ink on Japanese Hosho paper.

I feel very privileged to read about the wonderful relationship people have with their dogs and how it manifests itself in their everyday lives and it is enormous fun to recreate this bond as a poem.

Here’s the Hounds in Verse illustrated poem I wrote about my Portuguese Water Dog, Figo.

“A Portuguese name, Figo, we chose,
After a football legend (for those in the know).
And true to his namesake, he loves to play ball,
But the thrill of the chase is the best fun of all.

Squirrel and muntjac are hard to resist,
Dashing off through the woods, silent and swift.
Then, with a tail full of twigs and a coat full of burrs
He returns happy and panting, yet undeterred.

In Cornish coves, but once year,
His sandy paws a souvenir
Of endless beaches and summer days
Spent chasing gulls and jumping waves.

A sensitive boy who hates trouble and strife –
The peacekeeper in our family life.
He runs over, tail wagging, if voices are raised,
The perfect incentive to mend our ways.

When the biscuit tin opens, he’s straight through the door.
Though polite and persistent, we try to ignore
The quick poke of his nose and meaningful stare
That says, “Surely that food is meant to be shared”

He loves to join in the conversation
With an array of amusing vocalisations.
A printmakers dog, in the studio he’ll snooze,
Unaware that he’s an artist’s muse.

When it’s time to unwind at the end of the day,
He kneads his paws on the sofa in a certain way,
& while holding his “Mousey” (well loved and smelly),
He’ll nod off to dreamland, while we watch the telly.”

And here it is in the final pen & ink illustration:

Hounds in Verse Dog Portait

Figo poetic portraitPoetic Dog Portrait Lettering

To commission your own Hounds in Verse dog portrait or to find out more about the process visit The Enlightened Hound’s website.

 

 

 

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.

ephemera

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

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