Today it was tempting to slip into the garden before starting work. Luckily Janet, my collaborator, arrived promptly and so it was time to mix the ink and warm the etching plate.  Janet makes amazing paper from the leaves of different trees.  I make an etching of the tree and then we meet up and spend the day printing the etchings of different trees onto paper made from their own leaves.  In the autumn we also spend days walking through the fields and woods collecting the leaves that we need for more paper.

This morning Janet brought something special.  We had decided to see how big an etching the leaf paper would stand up to.  I had measured up my press and had the largest piece of steel cut that I thought practical.  Onto it I had etched a wonderful beech tree that I often visit in the grounds of Holkham Hall in Norfolk.  I had tested it on paper and was pleased with the result.  Janet in the meantime had been trying to work out how to make a really large piece of paper and transport it from her studio to mine.  The paper has to be kept damp in a press until we are ready to print so the logistics are challenging.

Inking up a large plate is hard work and takes time.  Knowing that the  paper is so special adds to the pressure.  Janet winds the press so that I can take a breather and then the all important moment comes when we lift the paper and see the result.

A perfect print.

This was a good day!


How exciting to hear today that both the Tree Portraits that we submitted to the Royal Academy have been shortlisted.


24 hours in Norfolk visiting my favourite tree! It is a beech tree in the park at Holkham Hall. The deer sleep under it and change the shape by eating the lower branches. This is the tree that inspired the print that got us a place at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.


Artist’s Janet French and Emma Buckmaster will be at Art in Action 2014 from 17-20th July demonstrating the collaborative project that they have been working on. ‘Tree Portraits’ are a series of etchings of native tree species printed on to paper made from the trees’ own leaves.

The newest addition to the series, Fraxinus Excelsior, an etching of an ash tree printed on to ash leaf paper, was shortlisted for this year’s Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. It will be on display in the ‘Best of the Best’ exhibition at Art in Action.

Over the last 36 years, Art in Action, held at Waterperry Gardens, Oxford, has created a new sort of art show and now attracts around 25,000 visitors. The public comes to Art in Action, not just to see works of art, but to see the art of creating art. Janet and Emma will be working in the Printmaking marquee. For further information please visit

The Tree Portraits will also be exhibited at the Artworks Annual Exhibition in September 2014 and can be viewed on Janet and Emma‘s websites.

Art in Action 2014
Thursday 17 July to Sunday 20 July 2014. Open 10.00am – 5.30pm each day
Waterperry House
Near Wheatley
OX33 1JZ


As today is meant to be the hottest day of the year I decide to vacate the studio and head to the woods with my sketch book.  I need to keep an eye on the ash trees before the deadly ash dieback disease takes them all away.

I can’t escape completely as there is work to be done on the beech etching plate. As it is a steel plate it needs intensive cleaning and preparation before storing it away again until next time the leaf paper is ready.  I can at least open the doors and windows to clear out the white spirit fumes!

Then its off to the framer to collect work for the next exhibition!