Prints of Rye, and Rye bay.
I moved to Rye from Kings Cross in London in 1994, and for the first couple of years I still worked in London. I was working nights for a press cuttings agency spending 2 weeks in Rye and 2 weeks in London. It was a bit of a culture shock living half my life as an artist and printmaker in Rye and the other half in Kings Cross! I had no difficulty in finding subject matter. From the picturesque charm of the much photographed Mermaid Street and Church Square to the flat landscape of Romney Marsh to the weathered groynes of Winchelsea beach and Rye Bay. My two weeks off were filled with painting and making prints of Rye
Rye is a small hill top town and in East Sussex, England, on the River Rother, and at the western edge of the Walland Marsh, part of the Romney Marshes. Notable buildings in the town include St Mary’s church, the Ypres Tower (pronounced locally “wipers”), Lamb House and many of the houses on Mermaid Street, Watchbell Street, and Church Square.
With its population of about 4500, which has remained constant since Tudor times, Rye has a small, close knit community. Its isolation on the edge of the Romney Marsh and its proximity to London has led to it being a favourite retreat amongst artist and writers:
Rye has attracted many literary figures including Henry James, Conrad Aitken, Joseph Conrad, H G Wells, G K Chesterton, whereas others like John Ryan, Malcolm Saville and Monica Edwards have dreamt up popular stories such as the swashbuckling adventures of Captain Pugwash. One of Rye’s most famous and best loved authors is probably E F Benson, a one time Mayor of Rye, and writer of the Mapp and Lucia series of books whose fictional town of Tilling was based on Rye.
Artists like Paul Nash and Edward Burra lived in the town which, together with the surrounding coastline, has been painted by artists such as Van Dyck, Whistler, the Pre-Raphaelites and John Piper.
Acrylic and oil paintings of Rye into prints
Whilst in Rye I produced many small and medium sized paintings which I would exhibit in local art groups: Rye Tuesday Painters, Weald of Kent Art Group and Battle and District Arts Group. Most of these sold and it wasn’t until I finally bought a digital camera and small scanner in the early 2000s that I kept a record of them. Since moving to Hastings and using a large scale scanner I have been much better at saving images of my paintings and then using them to produce good quality Giclée reproductions. My etchings were printed on my own press and then sometimes hand-coloured with watercolour.
SLIP DOWN MERMAID STREET and SPRING UP MERMAID STREET were both painted just after moving to Hasting and exhibited at the Weald of Kent exhibition in Tenterden, where they sold as a pair. Luckily they were the first two paintings I had been able to digitally photograph and have been the flagships of my giclée reproductions.
Hand coloured etchings
I experimented on bringing colour to my etchings, either by applying different coloured inks to the plate, using separate plates or by simply hand-colouring the black and white print with watercolour. Technically I found that I needed heavily bitten plates to hold lighter coloured ink tones, but less tone and more a lighter touch for those being hand-coloured with watercolour.