There have been many Sunday night journeys back to the city made with sea tousled hair, muddy hiking boots, or soggy coats. Sitting on the train with the sense of contentment that only Exmoor can give, from swims in icy moorland streams, hours tumbled in Atlantic surf, and walks through skies that touch the heavens.
But Exmoor can delight without having to brave its cool seas or its windy moors. Its deep peaty heathers, the yellow of gorse, and the greys and greens of the sea are inspiration to artists across North Devon, who capture the beauty of our countryside in their own unique way.
One such local artist is Luna North www.lunanorth.co.ukwho shares her love and talent for lino print with students on her courses run at Knapp House. Here Exmoor’s natural palette comes into its own, with bold and muted tones that Luna taught us to layer using just three blocks to create compositions of colour and form.
Over two days, we worked a single small composition through all stages of the print process. First we cut our ‘key block’, in this case the final layer that holds the detail and printed it onto two other pieces of lino. This helped us see our compositions as we cut our other two blocks. The job of these was to lay down larger areas of colour and sit across each other and the natural white of the paper to make many different tones. As we puzzled over what would happen if we put yellow over purple with blue or perhaps red on top, Luna nurtured our minds towards it being ‘second nature’, supported by examples of her own work and that of other artists.
Finally, we got to print our layers and watch our compositions grow, the anticipation building as we headed towards laying down our key block and seeing the fruits of two days of labour. Wild flowers, birds, and the local church slowly came to life as we carefully printed each layer. They did not disappoint, just as Exmoor never fails to disappoint.
And so I go back to the city on the train, no mud or sand this time, the dates of Luna’s next course already marked in my diary and the lino prints carefully packed ready to frame. A little bit of Exmoor to cherish.