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Behind the print: "Wolf Moon"

Diana Croft’s stylised prints of nature and landscapes have a distinctive look and a strong sense of pattern and design. She explains the inspiration behind “Wolf Moon”, a six-colour reduction linocut, which is on display in her featured artist exhibition at Greenwich Printmakers.

Two sheep look nervously at the Wolf Moon, linocut by Diana Croft
"Wolf Moon", six-colour reduction linocut by Diana Croft

Why did you decide to make “Wolf Moon”?

I had done a small print called “Gazing at the Moon” (10cm x 11cm) that was a similar composition and I decided I’d like to do a much bigger version with a larger, more dominant moon. I wanted to try and get a more subtle effect of moonlight. The title was inspired by the ‘Wolf Moon’ in January, the first full moon of the year.

I like the two sheep in the foreground - they’re very characterful. It looks like they are discussing something, or possibly about to howl at the moon themselves. Is storytelling something you aim to bring into your work?

I hadn’t heard of the ‘Wolf Moon' before, but liked the idea of the sheep looking nervously at it. There’s a bit of a play on the idea of a wolf in sheep’s clothing too, but really I think they’re just worried at the idea of a wolf moon.

Sheep in a rural moonlit landscape, linocut by Diana Croft
"Gazing at the Moon", linocut by Diana Croft. This led her to make the larger "Wolf Moon" print

The texture in the shadows on the hill and the moonlit hillside are really interesting. How did you achieve that?

The textures of the shadows were created with several layers of cross-hatched lines with a very pale yellow and grey as the first two colours, creating what I hope is a moonlight effect.

Here is "Wolf Moon" with the first two of six colours printed.

State proof of "Wolf Moon" with the first two colours, yellow and grey, printed
State proof of "Wolf Moon" with the first two colours, yellow and grey, printed

I wanted the colours to be quite subtle but dramatic, so kept to a limited colour palette, working from light to dark.

I often photograph the work after the first couple of colours have been printed and try out different colours and tones of colours on an app on my iPad, which helps me decide which ones to use next.

Umbrellas by a London Tube station, linocut by Diana Croft
"Rush Hour Rain", linocut by Diana Croft

Is the landscape in "Wolf Moon" based on a real place?

It’s vaguely based on Chanctonbury Ring on the South Downs in Sussex, which has a crown of trees on its summit and is meant to be haunted. I've stylised the landscape to make it have a more rhythmic flow.

Six colours is quite a lot to register correctly. Was it a challenge? Do you have a tried-and-tested system?

I use a registration board to line up the lino block and the paper so I can register the colours accurately. It’s basically a window mount cut to the exact size of the lino on a large piece of mountcard with two edges marked with strips of card that the paper is lined up against.

Stylised linocut featuring London landmarks including the London Eye, by Diana Croft
"London Lines", linocut by Diana Croft
Allotments in lockdown, linocut by Diana Croft
"Allotment Life", linocut by Diana Croft

Where does your love of stylisation come from?

I wanted to make my work less naturalistic and create more of a feeling of a place rather than a very literal interpretation. I also think my work with stained glass has made me very conscious of the linear elements within a design and how they can create interesting rhythms in the work. I also really like the work of artists like Eric Ravilious and the twentieth-century printmaker Sybil Andrews.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on a new reduction linocut of a place local to me in Surrey called ‘The Stepping Stones’, which is part of a walk at the base of Box Hill where you can cross the river by jumping from stone to stone. It’s based on a painting I did there, but it will be quite stylised when it’s finished.

Diana’s featured artist show is on at Greenwich Printmakers until July 17 and her colourful linocuts and collagraphs are available on our online shop and in the gallery all year round. For more information, see her artist’s page and her website.

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