Above: detail of a coloured-pencil study for Christmas at Camelot
The past couple of weeks have been spent preparing studies and then colour separations for the first in my Gawain and the Green Knight series with Daniel Bugg of The Penfold Press. Titled Christmas at Camelot, it’s been a tough one, not least because it’s such a complicated composition, showing King Arthur, Queen Guinevere and Gawain, each on horseback in a wintry landscape.
The carefully worked, coloured-pencil study, although different in many details from the way the final print will look, nevertheless has been a crucial aid in making the separations. It shows how the four colours of the print should work together. For instance, if you closely examine the mail on Gawian’s head, arms and leg in the image above, you’ll see that green, red and black are used in the mark-making, each colour of which requires a separate transparency. Without a colour guide to help me, the job of making the separations would be even more confusing than it was.
The separations are made on sheets of transparent polymer called True Grain. Later, the finished print will be in cherry red, emerald green, a warm grey and black. Because True Grain has a rough texture, when worked on with lithography crayons the resulting marks have a pleasingly grainy character.
Below are some details of the coloured study, the simple pencil-line guide-drawing, and the finished separations. The five separations, plus the simple pencil-line guide-drawing for them, will now be delivered to Daniel at his studio in Selby, where they’ll be used to make the ‘screens’ ready for printing. It’s a relief to get to this stage. This one has been keeping me awake at night!
Details of a coloured pencil study on card.
Detail of a pencil drawing placed under the layers of True Grain to guide the rendering of the image.
Details of artwork made in lithography crayon, ink and paint on True Grain.
To take the photographs above, I held the five layers of drawing on transparent film, against a light. The image isn’t rendered in the colours it’ll be printed in, a peculiarity of the process that I find takes a lot of getting used to. In your head you have to constantly transpose what you’re drawing, into the colours you envisage in the printing process. I tell you, it’s a mind-fuck!
Christmas in Camelot is due to be published soon. Look out for it at
Thank you, Mark. Nice of you to leave a comment.
I have come back to look at the images again, and I do not know what has happened, beacause I can’t find Guinevere… At least, not the big portrait of her . I only find her at the edges in other images … Could I have dreamed that she was here ?
Apologies, Maria. I must have accidentally deleted her while I was editing. I’ve put her back again. Thank you for alerting me.
Here she is again. I love her.
Thank you for putting her back.
She’s gone to the framers today, and I think may be in the Christmas show at the Martin Tinney Gallery, as when he was here today, he asked for her.
Truly wonderful images, Clive. In fact, I imagine that Dan will be rather worried about doing his part well – being the technical translator of such beautiful work brings its own anxieties! As for secret chocolate biscuits stashes, I’m with you on that one. I rather like Prewetts white & milk chocolate chip ones ….;-)
LOVE the oak leaf, which may seem strange to pick out from all the wondrous stuff but all I can say is it struck my heart as surely as the queens`crown twinkles in my eye, or is it my ‘minds eye?’
As my kids would say…whatever!
Love as ever
Ahhh, well, you and I have a bit of a thing for trees, and the oak is about as iconic as they get. Glad that the leaf hit a chord for you.
Boy am I tired today. Got up far too early. (4 am!)
Hmm. Read before heading off to Deal, should I be sending teddies, chocolate or a tape of me droning on and on and on…used to work for dear Helen.
Seriously, YOU know how to ‘manage your mind and body’ …so just do it.
Love in an exit
I kept going through the day, but then took an early evening nap before making a kedgeree supper. But I’d also hidden an emergency packet Choco Leibniz biscuits in the larder, and so I broke those out. Tee hee!
This is really lovely Clive, daunting perhaps but you girded your loins and triumphed. Gawain couldn’t have done better. Looking forward to the print, perhaps David will have an idea of what I REALLY want under the tree. Be well.
Hello Sweetie. How nice to hear from you. I’m so pleased that you like what’s going on here. I’m a bit washed out from the push to finish it. The process does take a lot of concentrated effort. Maybe one day it will be easier, but right now I’m on a steep learning curve.
Sending love to you both. xxx
It’s thinking backwards in a way; I encounter that when I make multiple color relief plates , makes my poor brain hurt. But your results are the reward . Tender images , I love them.
Love from LA🌞🌞🌞
this is really wonderful–i agree absolutely with every word viejecita said about Guinevere, but also the bird by her head came through in my email (I don’t see it here), and i adore it…the horse’s head, flat towards us in full color, i am in love with 🙂
King Arthur has cast a spell of enchantment over a thousand years of British literature and art, Clive. In my humble opinion, you have more than met the artistic challenge of interpreting a legend, which is central to the British imagination, with this dynamic composition. The scene has been beautifully set for all that is yet to come in your telling of the tale of ‘Gawain & The Green Knight’.
I always respond to your characterisation and you have not let me down here. I am intrigued by the brooding figure of King Arthur you have created and I agree with Maria that in your portrayal of Guinevere you are giving us a female heroine who is her husband’s equal. In your Gawain, I see a young man who is not yet ready to take centre-stage, but who embodies a quiet determination in his expression. I want to know more about these people and if this were a book I would be hurriedly turning to the next page now to find out more. I will finish by saying I can’t wait to meet your Green Knight!!
I’m just back from the post office. Arthur, Guinevere and Gawain are snugly parcelled up and en route to Dan, who tells me he will start work on Christmas at Camelot on Monday. Right now it’s a relief to be passing them on for the next stage of the creative work. I’ve been looking at the image for rather too long, and now I need to see how it will begin to translate into a print. Dan’s creative part of the project will lead for the next stage, and I must sit back and watch.
It’s been a pleasure making the image. Even when it was driving me crazy, it was a pleasure. (Though I complained loudly and regularly to myself in the solitary studio, inventing increasingly Rabelaisian curses whenever I muddled my colour separations!) There is a generic quality to the ‘portraits’, because I didn’t want to go down the path of being too specific. But as he should be, Arthur is still young, and I like the idea that in terms of years, there isn’t a great gap between the King and Gawain. Due to the size of the figures in the composition, I didn’t have much space to indulge in detail. Better opportunities will be afforded in forthcoming prints, when the character of Gawain will be larger in some of the compositions I’m planning. But for now, this one is a riot of pattern and form, and I must wait to see how all that looks in my chosen livery of red, green, a soft grey and a dense, midnight black.
Thank you for your encouragement. All deeply appreciated.
I can imagine the anxieties that this process brings Clive, like walking a tightrope, so best wishes for a peaceful few days until the results start to come through. What you have in your favour, though, is that you’re flaming brilliant, and if there’s one artist I know who can cope with holding those colours in his head, it’s you! The drawings are absolutely stunning, as I’m sure the print will be. It sounds like it’s driven you a bit mad, but I sooo love what’s coming out of the Gawain project. I love it, I love it, I love it 🙂
Your vote of confidence, Phil, is a shot in the arm. Being exhausted in the small hours is probably not the ideal condition or time to be standing over my work-table fretting about how crap my drawing is, so thank you.
It’s over to Dan, now. I know he has the skill to make the best of what I’ve produced, and beyond that he has the insights and experience to be able to make good any of my deficits. I’m in good hands either way.
Love you, little pal.
Great stuff. I love the mind fuckery of printmaking. Masochism I guess
I kinda love it, Rosie, though right now I’m feeling all the insecurities of one who has been waking in the middle of the night, sweating with anxiety over getting through the process of making separations for a new print. This has been so much harder than my first, Man Slain by a Tiger. That was such a stroll in the park that I was feeling quite confident about starting the Gawain series. So Christmas at Camelot has come as a bit of a wake-up call, and I see that raising the bar just a little in terms of ambition, brings a whole cart-load of headaches with it. Ha ha! Serves me right for being cocky!
That said, I can’t wait to start the next!
oooh you’ve inspired me. I rarely do screen prints. I have some trugrain here…..
These entries where you show your work in different stages of preparation are my favourites. This print is going to be great. And Queen Guinevere is gorgeous . Not only beautiful, but she looks as serious, as intent, as quiet, and as brave as the male heroes we are used to meeting in your work.
I shall go every day to The Penfold Press, to buy it as my Christmas present for myself the moment it is available.
Thank You .
Thank you. In an hour or so I’ll be off to the post office to send the heavy cardboard tube into which the separations will have been rolled for transport, and I don’t think there will be any sleep for me thereafter until I begin to see how they translate into ‘screens’, and how those screens print. The next part is out of my hands, and so all the doubts about whether what I’ve done will be good enough ricochet round my head, which should be said is beginning to feel like the inside of a pinball machine! I got up at 4 am and climbed to the studio to check the separations for the last time. Sigh!
Maria, your enthusiasm for this is a great incentive at a point when I’m feeling full of uncertainty. Sending love. C x
So gorgeous, so worth it!
I’m glad you think so, Lorrie. Now we have to wait and see how all this translates into screen-print!
Thank you. It nearly took my head apart!