Kent Artist Profile: Sue Scullard
Sue Scullard is a wood engraver and giclee expert who manages to combine her two passions into one amazing artistic portfolio. This month, we interviewed Sue to find out more about her amazing work.
If you had to define your art, how would you describe what you do?
I am a printmaker and former illustrator, and I make small black and white prints of intricate images by engraving onto endgrain boxwood blocks, using a selection of fine tools to make a variety of marks as they incise the surface. Wood engraving is a form of relief printmaking, much like a fingerprint or stamp, where a thin layer of ink is applied to the raised surface once the engraving has been completed, and transferred to paper under pressure.
What is it about wood as a medium that appeals to you?
A new block has a beautiful smooth surface which is a pleasure to cut, it feels like slicing into firm butter, and it is possible to work with fine tools in great detail on such a dense and close-grained surface to cut clean lines close together without the wood crumbling or splitting. Working on the endgrain enables the artist to cut in any direction with equal effort. It is easy for a wood engraver to work in a confined space. The engravings may be very slow to complete, but the wood is resilient enough to allow for hundreds of impressions to be possible.
As well as wood engraving, you produce giclee – how do the two relate to one another?
A wood engraving is a form of original print, inked and printed directly from a surface worked by the artist’s hand, which in my case is the engraved woodblock. A giclee print is a high-resolution digital reproduction of an artwork which has been scanned into a computer, and these are usually marketed as limited edition prints as they are often produced in small quantities. I worked for 30 years as an illustrator on giftware and children’s picture books, very decorative colourful work, mainly in ink and watercolour, and the giclee prints give me an outlet to offer some of those illustrations as prints to go on the wall. I do enjoy working in colour, even though my main output is in black and white.
Who or what are your inspirations when it comes to your art?
My main inspiration comes from the landscape, both in Kent and further afield. I look for subjects with potential for a dramatic composition, and enjoy rendering the diverse shapes of flower and foliage in a garden border, or rocks, waves, splashes, waterfalls, and snowflakes, or to describe the surface of a drystone wall, the structure of a clump of bracken, a bank of reeds, or a gnarled, twisted tree.
It’s the South East Open Studios exhibition this month. Can you tell us a little about it?
Now coming up to its 21st year, this event involves over 250 artists opening their studios to visitors over three weeks in June, from 9th to 25th. I have been taking part for 12 years, and I have always shared a studio with friends Felicity Flutter and Louisa Crispin, which works well for us. We are open from 17th to 25th. There is a free guidebook which gives details for each artist, area by area, throughout Kent and East Sussex, with opening times and maps. This information is also available on the website www.seos-art.org.
What has been your proudest artistic achievement to date?
There have been a few brilliant moments over the years, such as having one of my best engravings exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer exhibition and seeing it covered in dozens of red spots, the whole edition sold out. Another was being invited to demonstrate at Art in Action at Waterperry in Oxfordshire, and having people queueing up to talk to me.
What does the rest of 2017 hold in store for you?
I have a busy time coming up with lots of events for the rest of the year, I have been invited to be a guest artist at the Pilgrims Way art exhibition at the tithe barn in Lenham in May, then SEOS in June, and three craft shows with the Sussex Guild in late summer and autumn, along with one or two group exhibitions one with Guildford Arts in July, and Kent Painters in October. I will try and fit some engraving in between.