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The Friday Files - by The Callen Collective

This week I introduce you to Gwen Scott, Print Maker.

Were you aware that print making, especially reduction lino cut printing, is a very intense problem solving process? Having had a brief foray into lino cut printing, I know it can be very confusing having to think backwards from the end result to the beginning to plan the colours, but you also have to plan the image in reverse, so that it reads the correct way round once it is printed. A master of this process is my next guest for the Friday Files, Gwen Scott.

Gwen, is a print maker, based on the Mornington Peninsula and I spoke to Gwen in her very tidy and organised studio office. She walked me through her process, equipment, editions and the thinking and inspiration behind her beautiful prints.

Inspired by her proximity to the bay, where she regularly swims in the open water, takes long beach walks and enjoys the birdlife and gardens, Gwen fills her sketch books and inspiration board with photos, prints, ideas and snatches of colours she finds around her. Many of her works depict women, her greyhound, Fergus, birdlife and trees, plants and fruit. The female form is often present in her work and Gwen sometimes pairs this imagined person with an animal or in a fruit orchard. This combination of images is used to convey a narrative, a calm, solitary intimate space. Since moving to the peninsula about 3 years ago, Gwen has been including water, sea life and the bay in her work.

In fact, her current series is a bay series and includes prints of approximately 12-14 colours. This series includes images of egrets, the female form, native flora and water. Previous series have used up to 25 colours. I mentioned above that Gwen was very organised. She is also systematic keeping very accurate notes and colour samples for each of her series in colour diaries.

To plan a work, Gwen will make initial sketches or prepare an original painting. Sometimes she will draw directly onto the lino. Then she will plan her colours from the white, and the lightest colours through to the darkest colours as she gradually removes the lino from her plates. Her prints can take up to 2 months to complete. For the colour prints, Gwen will print limited editions of 14, in addition to the artist proof print.

Gwen works in series, or collections, and told me that working this way helps ground her thoughts and allows her to immerse herself in the planning and execution of her process.

Using, natural lino, a series of Swiss made cutting tools, her Dremel, smooth 300gsm English made paper and Lawrence inks, a steady hand and an almost Zen like concentration, Gwen achieves very fine lines with perfect details, accurate cuts and smooth progressions in colour. Her calm, feminine, perfectly aligned, prints come to life with each layer of colour applied as the lino is gradually removed.

Gwen has a great natural eye for colour and she showed me some of her original paintings which are of a similar style to her prints. She told me that she enjoys painting an original first and then will transfer the idea of it into print form, where the colours will vary slightly from the original painting, often retaining the forms and as much detail as is possible in the process.

Gwen’s background is in fine art, painting and drawing. She worked as a full-time artist for many years, as a painter and tutor at Charles Sturt University in Wagga and Albury NSW. After travelling overseas, she decided to study librarianship and worked as a librarian for 28 years. She became interested in lino cut print making after doing a course in this and has been a print maker now since 2014.

I asked Gwen the following fast five questions:

  • Current book - “Once There Were Wolves” by Charlotte McConaghy

  • Favourite food – too hard, chocolate and red wine, definite favourites include Indian and Greek food.

  • Favourite tool – her number 11 and number 5 palm cutting tools (for lino cutting)

  • What does Gwen listen to when working – Music: classical, jazz, female cappella (Nuns and Roses). Gwen uses music to set the mood of her work. She has very eclectic taste, but if concentrating will choose “quiet”.

  • Recommended local Mornington Peninsula outing – Mills Beach and cliff top walks.

I have included links to Gwen’s website and Instagram so you can see more of her work and get to know her in more detail. You can find Gwen’s work in a number of galleries in Melbourne, Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia as follows:

  • Queenscliff Gallery, Victoria

  • Printmaker Gallery, Brunswick, Victoria

  • Lauriston Press Gallery, Kyneton, Victoria

  • Art Style Gallery, Surrey Hills

  • Smart Art Gallery, Adelaide

  • Van Rensburg Gallery, NSW

Gwen is also a member of the Peninsula Studio Trail Inc and will be showing at the upcoming Annual Exhibition, Mornington between 23rd September and 3rd October. Her studio will be open for Open Studio Weekend in November, follow this link to check the dates and details.

Some images of Gwen's work and process are shown below with the permission.

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