Howard Jeffs is a painter and printmaker who lives in Bath and France and it is the landscape from these two areas that influence his work. In a talk last week he showed us his studio in France where he works on his monotypes. These mainly consist of two plates one with the background colour and a second with the drawn aspects usually in black. These he creates in a free manner applying ink and then wiping away unwanted areas.
He explained how he appreciates the freedom of approach that the monotypes offer and the possibilities for experimentation. That there is a lot of chance to it, but the key was to recognise when something was happening and then to build on it and exploit it. He also described printmaking as being a bit like cooking, ensuring that you have all the right equipment and ingredients around you before start helps the process. He also mentioned that he recently started mixing his on inks from pure pigment and felt that the colours were more alive than ready mixed inks.
Working with monotypes he felt had also influenced his painting in the way he applied his paints, at times sweeping or dragging the colour. But it is also a two way process as painting influences his prints, particularly with the use of carborundum. He felt that this offered a painterly way of creating line and form within a print.
In a similar way he also uses sugar lift with etchings. The aspect of etching that he appreciates most is that each plate has a history in it that is then transferred to the print. I felt that the etchings he showed us had a more intimate feel, close ups of trees bringing you in to the subject. These contrasted with the monotypes and paintings which seemed to take in the grander sweeps of broad landscapes.
The talk gave us a fascinating insight into the working methods and ideas from an artist who was very generous in his discussion of technique and attitudes to printmaking.