‘Influences’ will be an occasional look at some of the people, places and things that inspire and influence my printmaking.

Around 20 years ago, when we were living in South London, I wandered into a small local gallery. I happened to notice the print below. At that point, I hadn’t heard of Brenda Hartill, but as soon as I caught sight of the image, I knew I wanted it. I also thought that my wife would like it, so I bought it and arranged for it to be sympathetically framed.

Brenda Hartill print: 'Summer Variations IV'

Summer Variations IV

Summer Variations IV was, as the title suggests, one of a series of seasonally themed prints. The sets of prints vary in tone and colour, and I happen to think that we were lucky enough to obtain a particularly beautiful and delicately toned print. The sky and cloud detail is quite wonderful, and the print now has pride of place in our hall, so that we can look at it every time we use the stairs.

Last year, I was given a birthday present of a ‘taster day’ printing at The Ropewalk. There, I was introduced to perhaps the most approachable form of printmaking, the collagraph. I soon became addicted, and aimed to find out more about the various techniques involved in creating plates and printing. When I began to research the subject, Brenda Hartill’s name was right up there in my internet search results, which made me think once again about the print on our wall. The search led to her website and to her set of DVDs on creating collagraphs. The videos showed the tools, techniques and materials she used in her printmaking.

Brenda Hartill print: 'Summer Variations IV'

Above all though, it was her encouragement to everyone, through her videos, to experiment and play with the medium that influenced my approach to printmaking. It’s a refreshing attitude. There is also a warm inclination to share her techniques with others, something I try to emulate. It’s also about not thinking too hard and not being so afraid of failure that I avoid trying something. Perhaps that influence can be seen most readily in my ‘Lincolnshire Coast’ series of prints, an ongoing area of interest.