Creating 'Scootering' (Scoot Skirmish)
"I do enjoy the process of composition; some of this is intuitive; some calculated.
I try to orchestrate the way in which the eye will move around the image. For instance, the western eye reads more readily from left to right, so my skirmish coots, in 'Scootering' move that way, too. Their white bills and shields contrast strongly against dark heads which draws the eye; I set these contrasts at different heights to convey restlessness; the intervals between them are irregular too, which pulls the eye through the group to the fleeing bird.
Then the backward curve of the leading bird's wings echoes the arc of the splash behind it and together these return the eye to another run. I think to crop the wings of the rising birds and the feet of the lower bird, will zoom the viewer in close enough to experience the beat of the wing, the spray of the water and to share in the excitement of the moment.
The print is a straightforward, one, two, three-stage reduction block, printing from light to dark, but I brushed ink from the upraised wings to suggest movement. My registration needs to be spot on through all three printings if the splashes of water showing against the dark flanks of the coots are to stay crisp. It is, and the printmaker in me is satisfied.
My pre-occupation with structure and technique should be transparent to the viewer; my aim in the linocut is to share this fleeting moment of skirmish - and, oh yes, to raise a smile."