ArtisOn? ArtisOn? Never heard of ArtisOn? Well, that’s your bad luck, is all I can say. Just six miles from here, outside Masham, are some studios. These belong to ArtisOn, who provide programmes of day workshops that will unlock your creativity in ways you might never have thought of.
I’d fancied doing some print-making. Back in the dark ages, when I was at school, I’d enjoyed the odd chance to do lino cuts. Something about simplifying objects back to their very essence, seeking to capture their vitality using simple materials, simple cutting tools, choosing papers to print my images appealed to me then and appeals to me now.
I spotted one of ArtisOn’s courses – Printing without a Printing Press. This promised the chance to re-visit now rusty skills and have a go at one or two more. And Malcolm promised to enrol me on it as an early birthday present
What a fantastic day. Only six students, and one most motivating teacher, Hester Cox. You can see her work, largely inspired by the rural environment in which she lives, here. She showed us collographs: we added to and removed layers from thick card, adding scraps of textured paper, dried leaves, sand and small found objects to make simple textured images. My resulting stylised flower looked OK, I thought, but when I tried printing it later, I was disappointed.
Lino cutting went better. I enjoyed choosing the best cutter for achieving different effects. I enjoyed choosing which parts of my design to leave in relief, and which to gouge away. What a satisfying time that was, carefully cutting away at the lino until it revealed something like the effect I was after.
Then it was time to eat. I’d been told – several times – that the real motive for going to ArtisOn is to have lunch. I can confirm this is an excellent reason. Pasta bake and bowls full of different salads may not sound exciting, but when a simple dish is crammed full of varied vegetable tastes and textures, there is really nothing not to like. Berry pudding, tiramisu, juicy fruit salad… it all slipped down very easily, as did a quite sensational parsnip and ginger cake with our afternoon tea.
After lunch it was time to get printing. We learnt how to prepare our paint for action with rollers, how to mix colours within a single print, how to apply pressure to our papers to get the image to ‘take’. And we had the excitement of seeing our efforts come to life. We got so involved that we had little time for our final activity of making simple stamps from wood blocks and easily-worked soft polystyrene ‘funfoam’. I shall enjoy making stamps such as these to label my pots of marmalade, or to make hand-stamped wrapping paper. Here’s my first effort.
This was a great day. I was buzzing with ideas on the way home, and I know I’ve been equipped to begin to develop my long-forgotten interest in print-making. If you’re on my Christmas card list – you have been warned. Limited edition print on its way to you in nine months time. Blame Malcolm. He paid.