Meet the Maker: Jenny McCabe
I am printmaker based up north in Lancaster. I currently work mainly with intaglio printmaking methods, preferring metal plate etchings and card Collagraph constructed plates. I have been making printed items for many years including printed textiles and writing books about printing at home, I also deliver talks and teach printmaking as a visiting artist in studios around the country.
Describe your printmaking process.
My process always starts with drawing, I fill sketchbooks with studies and ideas and then work them up into compositions I like ready to transfer to the plates. If I'm etching then the process is very long and has many different stages, Card collagraph is also a long process but some how feels more immediate as I can start tearing and cutting and see where the material leads me.
How and where did you learn to print?
I went to art school in the early 90s in the west midlands - Stourbridge Art College and Bornville Art College in Birmingham then I came up north and did a Fine Art Degree at Preston in 1999. Printmaking was part of all my studies and I always loved the print room - the smell of the turps and the huge Victorian presses.
Printmaking has always captured my imagination because of its technical challenges - I love the fact that things can go wrong and there is a sense of jeopardy to the practice - a quote I really love from George Boomer a printmaking teacher from the US “printmaking is fun because it take a perfectly simple process like drawing and makes it as complicated and error prone as possible.”
Where do you work?
I'm lucky enough to have a studio at home with my very own etching press, I use a Gunning Etching Press. I named her Gillian and I work her hard. I also make work and run sessions at Ironpress Printmaking in Lancaster, a wonderful printmaking studio set up by artist Iain Sloan and I'm lucky to be part of a local creative community.
Describe a typical day in your studio.
I like to have music on when I'm working to get into the right creative flow - I make many lists and plans and usually have a few plates on the go at once. If I’m etching then it's chemicals out and hotplate on and lots of steps and processes. If I’m making collagraphs then it's cutting mats out and boxes of card and textures and a Blue Peter style sticking and cutting session. When I’m printing my editions I have to be much calmer and prepare everything in advance and work methodically.
How long have you been printmaking?
I started printmaking in the early 1990s at art school and haven't stopped yet, that makes it 30 years! ekk
What inspires you?
Nature and other artists amazing abilities inspire me - I have a drive to create - it's not a gentle thing in me it's a violent need to make something and try stuff out! I'm inspired by the possibilities of what I can make metal or card do.
What is your favourite printmaking product?
I really love Hawthorn's Stay Open Inks - the colours are so great and they are so flexible for all the techniques I use, my favourite colour is their Yellow Ochre, it's such a rich warm colour and shows off all the tones in print so well, I panic if my pot is running low!
What have you made that you are most proud of?
I'm a brutal critic of my own work and often fall out of love with the piece before the end of printing the edition - I am driven by doing it better next time and constantly growing and developing my work.
Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?
My work is shown in galleries and exhibitions around the country and available to buy on my website.
What will we be seeing from you next?
I'm working on a body of collagraph work for an exhibition later in the year in Cardiff and also a series of etchings that I will be showing at Printfest in Ulverston at the end of April.
Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?
Put in the work - nothing about printmaking is easy - its a challenge and there is so much to learn but that's what makes it so much fun! Go on as many courses as you can to see how other artists work and experience different studio set ups. DRAW and draw a lot, doesn't matter if your good or you like the drawings it's important training for your eye, think of it like the run you should be going on or the squats you should do to keep strong.
Jenny will also be joining us later on in the year for a two-day Aluminium Plate Etching workshop. There are still some spaces available on Monday 9th & Tuesday 10th of October. For more information about the workshop or to book your space, click here!