Mike Smith – Printmaker

Mike Smith

mike_headshot_colourpopMike Smith is a printmaker from Leeds who creates intricate prints of wildlife, people and places.

His passion for observing the tiny details that go into his art has literally taken him to new heights.

“As a glider pilot I am always on the lookout for birds as indicators of where the lift is. One of my ‘most memorable moments’ was circling in a thermal with a buzzard 50ft above me – and using the lift rather better than me!”

The artist produces highly detailed prints of birds, including merlins, hooded crows and hawks and will spend hours observing his subject, sometimes from the window of his studio in Leeds.

He describes his medium as reduction lino printing – a process that hasn’t really changed in essence since the beginning of printmaking.

Using a block of lino, he cuts a pattern with engraving tools, starting with any areas of lino that need to remain white. He then applies layers of oil-based printing inks. The process continues with a succession of cuts and the overprinting of colours.

He mixes ancient techniques with modern ones, and says Photoshop is a useful way of working out the composition and colour palette. It’s a process he has been developing since he first discovered print-making in the 1960s.cuttingtools_inhands selectionofprints

‘I’ve always loved printmaking, the handling of traditional engraving tools and materials – even the smell of the lino and the inks is glorious! The moment a new print is pulled from the press never fails to surprise and excite – no matter how much planning and preparation has gone into a work.’

Having originally trained and worked as a graphic designer, Mike taught Art and Design in secondary schools for many years. He now divides his time between his printmaking and flying at the Yorkshire Gliding Club at Sutton Bank.

His work will be on display at the Great Northern Art Show in Ripon in August.

He will be exhibiting at 140 Skipton Road during the Ilkley Art Trail.

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