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Paradise in Portugal
Blog post
Wendy | Committee Member

Towards the end of 2022 I saw a link to Lucy Gell’s printmaking workshop in Portugal and I thought of the warmth and chance to visit a country I’d never been to before and the opportunity to get involved with printmaking again. So I booked.

Printmaking had come to a halt for me when I lost my partner, as had travelling abroad. I felt this holiday would give me the opportunity to do both and it did.  I met a lovely group of people, Lucy was fantastic and I was so pleased I went.

I began printmaking as I moved into retirement, but was also increasingly involved in camera club photography so I spent several years developing my skills and using both mediums, i.e. printmaking and photography but rarely together. I was always interested in the more `creative’ ways of using photography and when I say `creative’ I’m not talking about creating `cos-play’ scenarios digitally but much more about using photography as my artistic medium. This was photography that I found sat more easily within the RPS environment than it did in the camera club one I was caught up in and the RPS Contemporary North group was where I found inspiration and support.

So what was my big question before I set off on my journey?

Would the holiday re-kindle my interest in printmaking or was it time to sell my press and accept that I wasn’t going to use it to create images in the future?


Committee Member
YPU Delegate
1 Rps Contempn Portugal1 Wn 2001 -

1 Rps Contempn Portugal1 Wn 2001

2 Quinta -

2 Quinta

3 Printmaking -

3 Printmaking

4 Printmaking -

4 Printmaking

Lucy had decided on an `introduction to printmaking’ approach which was absolutely right for most of the group who hadn’t done any, or much printmaking before.  However, this did mean that we really were engaged more with techniques rather than developing our thinking and ideas.  This was the approach that most people wanted and I was perfectly happy to go along this route as it got me making prints again and I think more importantly it got me drawing because I hadn’t got the where-with-all to do it on the computer.  Drawing produces a much more personalised interpretation of a subject than does the computer manipulated photograph and I can see this in my drawings and prints of the puffins (Tetrapak prints) and of the Lino-cut `Gong’ that summoned us to meals.  It’s the thinking and developing of these two ideas that I want to elaborate on here.

Re-imagining the `Oriental Gong’ that summoned us for meals

I explored this idea very early in the week, possibly on our first afternoon and I then finally used the image for our last print activity which was a Lino-cut.  Wandering around the site with my camera I came across the table with the chequer board (Drafts/ Chess) pattern printed on the surface and I used in-camera multiple exposure image to create the overlapping images using my phone and Photosplit to create it.  I followed this up with a drawing of the Oriental Gong where I replaced the plain centre with the crossed square design.  I probably would have done this digitally if I’d been at home, which wouldn’t have given me such an individual image as I managed via drawing.  At the end of the week It seemed the obvious choice to turn the drawing into a lino-print because it had such a strong graphic pattern.  So a mix of photography and observational drawing enabled me to create the final image.

5 Oriental Gong -

5 Oriental Gong

6 Lino Print Gong3 -

6 Lino Print Gong3

7 Puffins -

7 Puffins

8 Puffins For Breakfast -

8 Puffins For Breakfast

Tetra-pak Puffins

I’ve never done this kind of print before, and following Lucy’s demo I knew that the images had to be big and bold in order to create the contrast of blacks and white that are a feature of this kind of printing, well if you are using black printing ink, which we were.  So I decided that birds might be my subject and puffins seemed an obvious choice.  I had some images of puffins taken in Shetland accessible on my iPad, so initially I chose one of these by making drawings from the photograph. As I was ahead of the game and had my tetra-pak plate ready for printing by the next morning Lucy suggested I create another one, which I did, so I ended up with a Puffin pair.  My intention is to paint in the orange beaks and legs but I haven’t got there yet. So here again a mix of photographic source material and drawing enabled me to create this image.

So where was I most in my comfort zone?

Interestingly, for me, it happened when I had a pencil in my hand and was drawing, but it definitely happened when I had my camera in hand and could lose myself in the moment as I looked through the view finder. So the highlight for me was our Thursday morning bird watching walk around some local countryside, particularly when I was gripped by the beauty of the rim light on the dead vegetation and I managed to lose the group briefly. (Kate came back to look for me.)

9 Village Walk -

9 Village Walk

10 Village Walk2 -

10 Village Walk2

11 Santa Clara Dam 121023 -

11 Santa Clara Dam 121023

12 Sanat Clara Church -

12 Sanat Clara Church

So in answering my earlier question

Will I sell my press - I think not at the moment as my experience of printmaking during the holiday rekindled some of the pleasures (and frustrations) I have in relation to printmaking but working photographically is probably going to continue as my main passion.

Wendy North
Friday, December 1, 23

RPS Contemporary North

Wendy's work was also featured in the November edition of the RPS Contemporary North's Members Showcase. Click the image below to view the online  page turner edition.

RPS | Contemporary North | Members Showcase