Angela Harding was born in 1960 in Stoke -on-Trent, and studied Fine Art Printmaking and Painting at Leicester Polytechnic followed by an MA in Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University. Harding takes her inspiration in print making from the nature and birds around her, Harding doesn’t necessarily create her prints from real life, but rather a combination of remembered images and sketches. The final prints are created by using a combination of silk screen printing for the base layer of colour, with lino cut printing on top. The combination of water based ink and oil based ink also adds to the beautiful harmony between the two differing techniques to culminate in quite an atmospheric and bold image.
I chose the above print “Scottish Robins” to look at a little closer, it reminded me of Christmas and the time of year we are now in. The Robins, Holly and Scottish Thistle take centre stage in the foreground of the print but then as we look at the whole image we see a couple close to a house, and the beautiful sky above. There’s an immense amount of detail in the prints, with the shading of the landscape, leaves, birds and sky, and a real vibrancy in the colours used.
I was also drawn to this print featuring Holly again, this time with a beautiful owl turned towards the viewer. Just like in “Scottish Robins”, “Winter Wood” demands that the viewer look at the owl and foreground , but then gaze further afield at the white snowy landscape and unknown person atop the horse, all shrouded by the light of the moon above.
I thought about how I might like to recreate this beautiful natural scene with wildlife and immediately thought of my trip to Borneo, where I was able to see quite a range of animals and birds. I settled upon this picture of this macaque sitting by the river bank. I thought about how Harding uses two different techniques to create her overall image and to experiment with this way of working, I decided to try to manipulate the photograph to pull through these different sets of values, one of tonal colour, and one of strong line.
Above are the outcomes of the digital manipulation. I merely blurred the photograph in order to pick out the colour, and then manipulated the threshold of the image to reduce it to the main black and white elements. These two examples will act as my support to create the final image.
Here are the resulting images. I chose to use watercolour to create the wash of colour as the background. I think I could have injected some more vibrant greens in the background of the leafy jungle, and perhaps to this end using gouache may have resulted in a more vibrant image more akin to Harding’s style. I could have also been a little more light handed with regards to leaving the white of the paper to shine through to create highlights on the page.
Once the watercolour had dried I set about adding in those strong lines. I wasn’t too precise in doing this and was quite free with my scratchy pen markings. It was definitely a great experiment to get a better understanding of the layers in piecing a final image together.