The story of Anne Proctor – artist printmaker

Here’s me, doing my part supporting local artists and small business in the North East of England. I’m fortunate to get to know many artists, craft people and photographers. Their talent and work should be seen and known all around the world! If you come to this area one day, they are the best local souvenirs you can bring home. Proudly and lovingly made by hand, made in the North East of England!

If you go to Tynemouth Market on Saturdays or Sundays, you’ll notice an art stall inside the west entrance of the station ‘near the post’ (one of the pillars). There is always a lady sitting quietly, busy working with a pen on a sketchbook, like someone walking out of Jane Austen’s books. I contacted her. She is printmaking artist Anne Proctor and here’s her story. The pictures on her blog do not do her work justice, do go to Tynemouth Market and see the beautiful prints in your hands!

How did you start printmaking?

“I started to draw again in 2005 after a long gap in making art. 2005 was the year that I first went to Egypt and saw all the amazing beautiful ancient paintings and sculpture – that was a profound moment and got me back into art drawing again.

I was actually looking for a book making course to do in 2007 when I came across printmaking courses at Horsley Printmakers in Northumberland. The first time I made a print it was an equally profound moment for me as an artist because I could see immediately that when I felt more confident with the processes I could produce work that I loved and be able to sell it at a reasonable price that most people could afford. Previously I had made pen and ink drawings and watercolours and gouache paintings that took many weeks to produce and I could not sell them at a price that reflected how many hours they took to produce.

I became totally engrossed in printmaking from that point – I was working full time for the Citizens advice bureau in 2005 a job that I had loved for 15 years but I knew that I had to become a full time artist so everything I did from 2005 was geared towards this aim. I have a lot less money but a much more fulfilled way of life with time to spend on what I love to do. I was able to leave work in May 2011 to work full time as an artist printmaker.

I love printmaking because the artist keeps the plate to try again for a different print each time the plate is used. Each print is unique. Also it has made me distil the marks I make into something that I think that is more profound and less hooked on recreating detail for its own sake.”

Why did you choose this form of art?

“It is called printmaking – there are various forms of printmaking for artists who are producing pieces that may be framed for the wall or put into books. I did some printmaking when I was at college aged 18 – 22 – I am now 57 and was not very interested back then – it was extremely toxic in the 1970s – a lot of white spirit used and nitric acid to etch copper plates. I now produce etched metal plates – aluminium plates etched in copper sulphate and copper plates etched in ferric chloride. Over the years since I was at college artists have developed non toxic ways (to humans and the environment) of making artists’ prints.  I also produce collagraph plates to make prints from. I make ceramic pieces – not yet on the stall at Tynemouth – they are on my WordPress site I will be making hand made books with my prints – still in the development stage.

Where do you get inspiration from?

“Everything that we see around us – the weather, the sky – the planets and our moon, animals and birds and especially trees. I also am very interested in the history of Northumbria especially the iron age and the roman age and how we are all linked to our history. I love watching grey herons and I have a place nearby my home that I can walk where I see them very frequently – my observations are going to be in a new plate – its going to be a large plate that will take a long time to complete.”

What are the pros and cons of working for yourself as an artist?

“Quality of life versus making dosh – I have just enough money to survive without having to borrow money and I feel alive and full of ideas. If you have a passion about whatever you decide to do as a self employed person and you are prepared to ride out the financial bad times – then being self employed is amazing – it is also very hard work but not in a drudge sort of way. However you have to be prepared to do without the holidays abroad etc. After more that 12 months full time being an artist I can say that I am still as enthusiastic about the adventure as I was at the beginning.”

Which is your favourite and which is the most popular print?

“If I have to pick a favourite plate – it would be a small etched aluminium plate 5cm x 5cm – Oak Tree No 1 because it is a joy to print and obviously does not take a lot of time and I can coax a lot of atmosphere out of the plate even though it is very small. Also it is an image of a tree that grows in Northumberland in a very special place on the site of Hadrian’s Wall where I love to walk and look out at the landscape – so it conjures up a lot of very good memories for me.

Currently my most popular print is ‘Crows Rooks and Ravens’, my respect for our wildlife surviving through very challenging weather grows every winter and obviously this respect is shared by customers who are also fascinated by the crow family.”

Here’s her blog. But do go and have a look when you visit the North East!

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