Sunday, 16 October 2011

Work in progress I

living water
© Teresa Newham 2011

During Open Studios I started a series of linocuts based on some insights which were given to me through reading Pope John Paul II's Letter to Artists.  This is well worth a look if you take a spiritual approach to your art, be it through a religious framework or not.  Having become a Catholic earlier this year I'd been wondering how to reflect this in my art (without necessarily taking religion as my theme all the time).  I found what JP2 had to say extremely inspiring, and one phrase stuck in my mind:

Who does not recall the symbols which marked the first appearance of an art both pictorial and plastic? The fish, the loaves, the shepherd: in evoking the mystery, they became almost imperceptibly the first traces of a new art.

So, the fish, the loaves, the shepherd:  and what about some of the other signs of Christ?  living water, the vine?  these symbols crop up time and time again in the Gospels.  How to depict them? how even to start?  well:  I drew my four designs (I need four for a particular layout, more of which another time) while commuting on the train.  They would be simple, strong black and white linocuts - nothing fancy!

loaves & fish I & II
© Teresa Newham 2011

I did struggle with the loaves & fish a bit, drawing them several times and dithering about whether the bread should be leavened or not (it is); the first version is shown on the left above. I found the scales too distracting so this weekend I cut them out and did the print again  (but as I won't know for sure what works with the other images until I see all four together, I'm keeping the lot for now LOL).  It was the first time I'd produced anything in my makeshift studio at the new house, and very satisfying it was too.  Even the studio itself is a work in progress!  at the moment it looks like this:

studio, October 2011
© Teresa Newham 2011

 It will be interesting to see how these linocuts evolve - and how the studio itself evolves, come to that.  But I've also had some inspiration for a linocut Christmas card, which will keep me busy for a few weeks!


  1. Love the ideas you've come up with for these prints. My eye tends to go to the fish on the left I think because of the triangles on their bodies. I hope you post the final results. :)

  2. thanks lmg, I will definitely post the results when the piece is finished. There are four elements which all need to work with each other, which is why I think I need to keep each one as simple as possible!

  3. Simple, clear images are often the best starting points for profound thoughts, whether meditative or not. I think these are excellent, although I think I tend to prefer the 'scale-less' fish as well.