The tailor of Gloucester is a wonderful story of generosity from the pen of Beatrix Potter.  I won’t go into details since you can read it easily for yourself!

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I keep mice…there was only supposed to be two of them at once, then this summer I ended up with two girl mice…who weren’t!  I now have many many mice…

I started keeping mice as a 40 something year old just 4 years ago.  It was one Christmas and I expressed how I had never had mice although wanted them.  My wonderful wife said i should get some.  Mice are fantastic, fun, really easy to tame.  Favorite holiday destination: Mousehole in Cornwall.  First business I ran?  Mouse Hole cartoons.  Get the impression I like mice?

Another couple of influences on me is Albrecht Durer for his woodcuts, which are so fine (though he didn’t cut them, just designed them…cheat!); and Arthur Rackham, and incredible fantasy artist specialising in watercolour. So I have been working on something that picks up the style of Rackham, with the fine cuts of Durer, or at least as best I can on the wood I am working with, to produce the limited edition prints.  And I got the idea for putting my spin on the Tailor of Gloucester.  Rather than little waistcoat though, I thought I’d go for something a little wilder, stylised a little like Rackhams pictures, but with the limitation of the woodblock print and cutting using Japanese tools.

But instead of doing multiple blocks this time, I thought I would try out adding watercolour to prints, and see what people thought.  It does mean I have had to choose to use the heaviest paper I can because I can’t prestretch it, and it makes printing really challenging.  I had to create some really high pressures to be able to press down hard enough into the textured paper to get a good impression, but not so hard that it blotched everywhere.  I think I did it mostly.

Original drawing I made:

The tailor of Gloucester

Artist proof, printed to cheap newsprint (basically it’s chip shop paper…all the same stuff.  Best thing is I got it from the removal firm for free as it was left over.  Perfect for test prints!)

The tailor of gloucester artist proof
This is NOT the watercolour version.  I first of all take a shot of it on my ipad so that I can test out the colours without ruining the original work.  It never turns out quite like the test, simply because electronics emit light, and paper reflects it.  However, it does help me with my colour composition, which is never my best ability.  I always think there are more colours in the world that really exist.  Odd that.  I wanted blue and red…and I risked green. I needed the button to really pop out so that you got the idea of what our mouse was holding.  The family kept saying before this that he was holding a shield and sword…So I had to solve that one! You shouldn’t really do that because red and green ‘together should never be seen’ but I think by choosing a less saturated citrus green I get away with it.

I’ll post up pictures of the real world watercolours when they are done.

LImited edition test print (hand pulled using archival ink) with digital exploration of colour

LImited edition test print (hand pulled using archival ink) with digital exploration of colour