Meet the Artist – An Interview with Helen Parry

Watercolour Artist Helen ParryIn our second blog article on Meet the Artist, we’ve spoken to watercolour artist, Helen Parry and found out some fascinating information on her painting technique and what has inspired Helen over the years and what a typical day looks like…

When did you first discover your passion for art and painting?

I think it is something I’ve always been able to do. When I was small, I think it was the reaction of others to anything I created, that made me realise I could do something others couldn’t. At junior school whenever we did art, the other children liked my work and asked me to paint one for them to take home. They would ask me to draw all sorts of things, sometimes I think just to see if I could do it. I think they spurred me on and as I went to senior school I realised I was the only one who was aware of drawing the reflections in objects and that objects had shade to create form.

Helen Parry
©Helen Parry

Furthermore, someone gave me a book when I was young on how to mix colours. I couldn’t understand how people didn’t instinctively know how to mix colours. Again this made me realise I had a natural ability.

I think it was realising how observant I was, that I developed a need to share this with others, who seemed to miss all the detail.

Where do you get your inspiration from and what inspires you?

Nature is very inspiring, but I’m so observant that anything can trigger an idea. Also when you work full-time at painting, there isn’t time to wait for inspiration you just have to get on and paint.

I think that’s when I know someone is serious about art. They don’t wait for inspiration to strike, they get on with painting, trusting their creativity to shine through in the end.

How would you describe your style? 

Highly technical watercolours with fine detail brushwork. They are close to being realistic, but I don’t want my paintings to look like photographs, so there is a softness to the brushwork. 

What makes you different from other watercolour artists?

Helen Parry_Stokesay Castle GateHouse
© Helen Parry – Stokesay Castle

Firstly my paintings are not loose washes of watercolour. My watercolours have more layers of paint and fine detail brushwork too. I don’t use ready mixed watercolours. I mix all my colours from three colours a blue, a yellow and a red. I don’t use masking fluid, so all areas that are to remain white have to be carefully painted around. Also I don’t use a white paint, so all fine white hairs on leaves, flowers and even animals have to be carefully painted around. So the paper is the white, left unpainted.

Also I paint layers upon layers of watercolour, which can be difficult, because with each new layer, the under layer could wash off. It’s a balancing act.

Also I mix colours on the paper rather than in a palette, especially for portraits. I like to paint the darker undertones to a face first, which is the opposite of how you normally use watercolours (should be from light to dark). 

My technique is known as pure watercolour, but I go further by not using masking fluid and mixing my own colours from three colours. 

What is the most challenging thing for you when it comes to painting?

Not to try to be a perfectionist and to know when to let a painting go. It can be hard letting go of some of the detail too.

What would be your career dream?

To sell more paintings and not have to do all the promotion of my work, but have more time to paint. For my paintings to inspire people to look more closely at nature and see the wonderful detail, they overlook.

What project would you love to be able to do/complete?

I have several ideas I’d like to complete, from large scale paintings to writing stories with illustrations. 

What were you doing previously to this?

I was the financial director of an engineering company I started with my husband. 

What inspired you to go full time as an artist?

Helen Parry_Barn Owl
© Helen Parry – Barn Owl

 When you run your own business it takes every hour of your life. We ran an engineering company with a 24/7 breakdown service for many years. You don’t have time for hobbies or holidays. So as time went on, I missed being able to draw or paint or write. I missed being creative.

I saw an opportunity to help with running an after school art club at my children’s primary school. It turned out they needed someone to run it, so I went in at the deep end, finishing early at work once a week to run the art club. I ran it for two-years and it was an absolute pleasure working with the children. We created some really big projects in the school and halfway through the first year we had nearly every child at the school attending. It seemed they enjoyed it just as much as me.

It made me realise how much I’d missed painting and creating and I decided that I would pursue it as a career. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but it was something I had to do to realise my own full potential.

Where would you like to see yourself in 10-15 years time?

I would like to have achieved more paintings, bigger projects and finally have a couple of books published. I would like to be spending more time in the hills with my backpack, painting and sketching and maybe doing talks about these painting adventures. 

What is your typical day like? 

An early morning run helps the start of my day. I run four mornings a week. It gets my mind focused for the day ahead and I always feel better for having time to myself, that no one can interrupt.

Then I start by going through emails and enquiries. I work seven days a week, so I still do this on a weekend. Next I check social media and respond to enquiries or comments. I’ll do this several times throughout the day. Then I’ll check or order art materials I need or running low on. There is a lot of paper work to sort and paintings have to be photographed and updated onto the website too.

Helen Parry_Stag in Winter
©Helen Parry – Stag in Winter

There are days when I will be out early on the hills sketching and painting composition ideas. I don’t spend a whole day out as time is precious. I tend to keep moving and sketching quickly. I will take a camera as well in case I see wildlife, they tend not to hang around long enough for me to draw.

I also have to find time in the day to do research on certain projects and identifying plants and flowers. Then I also need time for drawing out ideas for painting compositions too. I try to spend some time at the weekend writing blogs for my website as well.

The rest of my time or day is spent painting. Commission paintings take priority over other paintings, but I can have several paintings on easels at the same time. I can easily spend 8 or 9 hours a day painting, with a short break for lunch and a break for a late dinner. If I’m trying to finish a painting I will return to it, after dinner, so it could end up being a very late night. Regardless of a late night, I’m up early the next morning. 

What do you love the most about your job and what do you hate the most? 

I love the fact I get to be creative and make my ideas a reality. I hate having to spend time promoting and doing the paperwork. 

How do you relax after a long day? 

I might sit and watch a tv show on Netflix or Amazon. I don’t have time for terrestrial television. On lighter nights through the summer, I might go for a wander up the lane or sit in the garden and watch the last rays of the sun go down.


You can keep up to date with Helen Parry’s incredible work through her social media accounts; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

To purchase any of Helen’s work, please visit her website.

Meet the Artist – An Interview with Nicky Thompson

We’ve decided to ask some of our clients a few questions, we love learning more about what and how artists are inspired. Here in our first blog post, we’ve spoken to artist Nicky Thompson.

Nicky Thompson - The Artist's Print Room
Nicky Thompson

When did you first discover your passion for art and painting/drawing/photography?

By drawing with my mum as a child, my early works were mostly bad copies of Roy of The Rovers comics.

Where do you get your inspiration from and what inspires you?

Nature and the work of artists and illustrators I greatly admire. I especially like Singer Sargent, Barbara Hepworth, Peter Firmin, Charles Tunnicliffe, Frank Henry Mason and Ken Paine.

How would you describe your style?

I have a few styles (being mostly a commercial illustrator)…I am probably best known for my 1930’s inspired travel posters, although I love portraits (pastel/charcoal) and botanical work.

What makes you different from other artists?

Virgin Visual, Nicky Thompson - The Artist's Print Room
Virgin Trains, Nicky Thompson

I tend to have a direct style. I think this comes from my background as a commercial illustrator/designer…I like images that work viscerally. I enjoy pushing the boundaries between fine art and commercial illustration. Illustration seems to be enjoying a renaissance at the moment, with people purchasing illustration as fine art print. It’s all very exciting.

What is the most challenging thing for you when it comes to your art?

Commercial work is difficult because you need to marry your intuition and instinct with the expectations of a client (and often the voices behind the client).

What would be your career dream? What project would you love to be able to do?

I think to leave behind a body of work that transcends the commercial requirements of a brief. I think of Charles Tunnicliffe and how those Ladybird Book illustrations did so much more than keep his client happy. They inspired awe in generations of children. That is a wonderful thing.

Did you have another career prior to this? If so, what was it?

I briefly flirted with the idea of being footballer! However, two left feet swiftly ended this dream…I started art school at 16 and have been doing it since.

Where would you like to see yourself in 10-15 years’ time?

Cheshire Life, Nicky Thompson - The Artist's Print Room
Cheshire Life, Nicky Thompson

Still drawing and creating pictures. It’s what makes me happy.

What is your typical day like?

I’m not sure I have a typical day! Tomorrow looks like this…coffee at home, drive to Chester University to deliver two-hour lecture. then a meeting afterwards with course leader. Drive to my studio, eat a sandwich in the car. Work in the afternoon (three projects need attention tomorrow). Finish work at 6pm, play racketball. Shower. Home, cook tea (maybe with a glass of wine). Read for an hour (The Magpie Murders). Watch a sit-com (Early Doors). Then sleep.

What do you love the most about your job and what do you hate the most?

I love drawing. My day feels exactly the same as doing art at school…but all day, which is brilliant. I never take for granted how lucky I am. I don’t hate anything, although admin and invoicing is never a daily highlight.

How do you relax after a long day?

Playing racketball, cooking dinner, glass of wine and reading.


To see more of Nicky’s work you can follow him on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Fine Art Canvas Wraps

The perfect gift either for someone else, or even a treat for yourself and your home! Fine art canvas wraps are incredibly popular due to their durability and will make a wonderful addition to any home.

Fine Art Canvas Wraps
Fine Art Canvas Printing at the Artists Print Room.
Courtesy of ©Abstract Arial Photography

Canvas wraps are an incredibly popular, elegant and versatile option for displaying your images as an alternative to traditional framing techniques. Fine art canvas wraps from The Artist’s Print Room involve printing your image directly onto either the Hahnemühle Daguerre or Canson Infinity Museum Pro Canvas both of premium quality and ensuring archival qualities. Both of these canvas options have a stunning matte finish and provide an incredible image sharpness, really highlighting the colours in your print.

The canvas print is then stretched and hand wrapped precisely around wooden bars to give a taught finish. Due to the drying process of the prints, dispatch time for canvas wraps is between 7 and 10 days.

As your image is wrapped around the bars, you have various options for the sides, you can go for one solid colour, black, white or any other colour you select! Alternatively, there is the option of having your image covering the sides, select which option you would prefer through our online ordering system. You can also select from landscape, portrait or square prints, giving you so many options to may your canvas wrap truly unique. You can find more about our fine art canvas wraps and pricing here.

The best bit, all fine art canvas wraps ordered from us are ready to hang with fixings already attached to the back bar meaning you haven’t got to worry about this! This allows your print to hang flush to the wall as soon as it’s delivered and unpacked!

For further information or any questions on our fine art canvas wraps, please feel free to contact us.

 

 

Paper in focus – Gloss Fine Art Papers

So, here we will run through the gloss fine art papers we offer in addition to the textured and smooth fine art papers previously looked at.

Gloss Fine Art Papers

The most important thing to be aware of here when considering a gloss fine art paper is that when we talk about gloss, this tends to be more of a subtle lustre or satin finish. Not the high gloss on your standard photographic prints that you get produced. These finishes are much more subtle and arguably more exquisitely beautiful.

Canson® Infinity Platine Fibre Rag
Canson Platine Rag - The Artist's Print Room
©Canson Infinity Platine Fibre Rag

The Canson® Infinity Platine Fibre Rag is a combination of the combination of the premium 100% cotton Platinum paper that Canson has supplied for many years to the original Platinum and Platine photographic market, with the latest microporous coating. The paper contains no optical brighteners, thus not affecting the longevity of the print. An excellent choice of paper for both black and white or colour images. A 310gsm which overall provides a stunning satin finish to your image.

 

Hahnemühle PhotoRag Satin
Photo Rag Satin - The Artist's Print Room
©Hahnemühle Photo Rag Satin

As above, this paper from but from Hahnemühle is a 310gsm,  and has a satin finish. A smooth surface and 100% cotton rag, the paper has a lovely natural white tone. A unique paper in that when you image is printed on this paper, the unprinted areas remain matt, however, the printed areas have a slight sheen. Your image almost shimmers in the light.

Hahnemühle FineArt Pearl
FineArt Pearl - The Artist's Print Room
©Hahnemühle FineArt Pearl

The Hahnemühle FineArt Pearl is a 285gsm paper and provides your prints with a sensational pearl finish. This paper isn’t cotton rag like others previously mentioned, it’s a 100% a-cellulose paper (which is wood pulp) and has a bright white tone. Due to this bright white, prints will have impressive colour contrasts and the black in your images will have an incredible depth.

Hahnemühle PhotoRag Baryta
Photo Rag Baryta - The Artist's Print Room
©Hahnemühle Photo Rag Baryta

Photo Rag Baryta is a 315gsm, 100% cotton paper and the ‘glossiest’ paper we offer. Using barium sulphate in the inkjet coating, ensuring the typical gloss that makes this paper a genuine replacement for traditional Baryta papers from analogue labs. The coating on this paper provides a water resistance and the tone of the base paper lends well to black and white prints.

 

 

 


Remember, if you would like any further guidance on any of the papers we offer, you can book a free introductory meeting. We will be able to provide samples of each of our papers for you to take a closer look at. The offer of tea or coffee is still there too!

 

 

 

Paper in focus – Smooth Fine Art Papers

So previously we looked at textured fine art papers, but how about smooth fine art papers? All the papers listed below have a matte finish, we will look at the satin/gloss papers in a future post.

Smooth Fine Art Papers

When paper is produced in the paper mill, smooth fine art papers are created with a much more smooth felt in comparison to the textured papers, this then produces the surface on the finished product. A smooth fine art paper can often be a good go to when just starting out or often used with portrait photography. It’s important to remember that when a paper is described as smooth it is not completely devoid of texture though!

Hahnemühle Bamboo
Hahnemühle Bamboo - The Artist's Print Room
©Hahnemühle Bamboo

This Bamboo paper is made from 90% bamboo fibres and the additional 10% is made from cotton. More environmentally friendly than the cotton papers due to the fast growing bamboo, this paper has a lovely warm white colour to it. Due to it’s tone, it is ideal for warm coloured prints and monochrome images.

Canson® Infinity Rag Photographique 310gsm
anson® Infinity Rag Photographique 310gsm - The Artist's Print Room
©Canson Infinity Rag Photographique

This paper from Canson is 100% cotton and has an exceptional smooth white tone. During the manufacturing process, natural minerals are added and therefore give this tone to the paper. A very unique, smooth surface, however, there is still a tactile element to the paper which you can see in the close up image. This paper provides one of the highest achievable Dmax on the market, therefore making it a perfect solution for both fine art photography prints and art reproductions.

Hahnemühle Photo Rag Bright White
hahnemuehle photorag bright white - The Artist's Print Room
©Hahnemühle Photo Rag Bright White

Hahnemühle’s most famous paper is probably their Photo Rag and this paper is a brighter version of their Photo Rag 308gsm. As above, a 100% cotton paper but with a bright white tone. A smooth surface, this paper can really make your colours ‘pop’ and really add definition to black and white imagery.

 

 

 

 


Don’t forget, if you would like further guidance on any of the papers we offer, you can book a free introductory meeting. We will be able to provide samples of each of our papers for you to take a closer look at. We will even supply the tea and coffee!

Paper in focus – Textured Fine Art Papers

With so many paper options to choose from, it can always be a difficult decision of which to go for. Here we are going to look at and give you a run down of the textured fine art papers we offer.

Textured Fine Art Papers

When paper is produced in the paper mill, textured fine art papers are created with a much more coarse felt, this then produces the texture on the finished product. The surface of these papers can then highlight any texture within your image, whether that be photography or an art reproduction. These papers tend to more closely represent traditional watercolour papers with a pleasant feel adding more tactile qualities to your work.

Hahnemühle Museum Etching
Museum Etching - The Artist's Print Room
©Hahnemühle Museum Etching

This paper is mould-made and 100% cotton with a natural white colour. The etching paper features a distinct textured surface which gives a special touch, feeling like a genuine artists paper. A heavy 350gsm fine art paper which meets the highest industry standards and producing excellent colour sharpness. Due to it’s very beautiful texture, it is similar to traditional etching papers and is a great option when reproducing these prints.

Hahnemühle William Turner
©Hahnemühle William Turner
©Hahnemühle William Turner

The William Turner paper from Hahnemühle is heavily textured albeit a much finer texture when compared to the Museum Etching paper.  A 310gm mould-made paper, again similar to the Museum Etching as it is 100% cotton. The William Turner has a natural white colour and is ideal for reproductions of traditional artworks and expressive photography reproductions. The paper also offers a water resistant coating.

Canson Infinity Arches Aquarelle Rag
©Canson Infinity Aquarelle Rag

This 310gsm textured paper from Canson contains no optical brighteners. Again a mould-made paper which is 100% cotton and a natural white colour. A traditional watercolour paper with a unique surface texture and an inkjet coating. Canson Infinity Aquarelle Rag gives a unique and unrivalled character to the fine art reproduction of traditional artwork and photographs.

St Cuthberts Mill Somerset Velvet Enhanced White
somerset-velvet-surface - The Artist's Print Room
©Somerset Velvet Enhanced

Once again, a 100% cotton paper, however, this time from the St Cuthberts paper mill. A 330gsm paper with a velvet, textured surface. The texture of this paper will lift images, giving them a beautifully elegant fine art feel and ideal for both artists and photographers alike.

 

 


If you would like further guidance on any of the papers we offer, you can book a free introductory meeting. We will be able to provide samples of each of our papers for you to take a closer look at. We will even supply the tea and coffee!

 

WIN your work printed!

Competition

To celebrate our recent Canson Infinity Certified Laboratory status we are running a competition for you to win your work printed on the Canson Rag Photographique paper! Your print can be any size up to A1 and we will deliver free of charge to any address within the mainland UK.

Entry to this competition is simple, head on over to our Facebook page and like the competition post and also share this with all your friends! Deadline for entry is 8pm on the 15th July 2018. We will then draw the winner from a lucky dip of all entrants.  Good luck!

Canson Rag Photographique

The Canson Rag Photographique is a 100% cotton museum grade white Fine Art and photo paper, with an exceptional smooth white tone which has been achieved during manufacturing by introducing natural minerals to the process. The stunning Rag Photographique offers a unique extra smooth surface with a sensual feel. It also provides one of the highest achievable Dmax currently available on the market and contains no optical brighteners, making it ideal for fine art photography as well as fine art printmaking.

Read our social media Competition terms and conditions

ArtSure from The Fine Art Trade Guild

A few weeks ago we shared with you the exciting news that we are now a Canson Infinity Certified Print Laboratory in addition to a Hahnemühle FineArt Certified Studio and an Epson Digigraphie Studio. However, in addition to these outstanding accreditations we are also a member of the Fine Art Trade Guild ArtSure scheme, but what does this mean?

ArtSure from Fine Art Trade Guild

Overall the ArtSure scheme differs from the print studio schemes mentioned above, however, it does work with great synergy alongside these.

The ArtSure scheme is designed to give you piece of mind even before the printing has even begun with quality papers and inks. Sadly, poor quality prints are easily produced, to the untrained eye these can be difficult to distinguish between when compared to genuine fine art prints. Therefore, the scheme approves papers and inks to add an additional level of assurance and to ensure only the highest quality products are producing the highest quality prints both for photography and art reproductions. Papers from different paper mills are tested externally for archivability. For example, pH levels of papers that are approved by the scheme are required to be between 7 and 9 for optimum longevity, additionally the paper has to be a minimum of 250gsm. For inks to be approved as part of the ArtSure scheme, they are required to score at least a six on the Blue Wool scale or an equivalent certification. Additionally, there is also a list of approved printers, of which The Artist’s Print Room Epson Sure Color SC-P9000 is listed. You can find a full list of ArtSure approved materials and equipment here. Only prints produced according to the standards set by ArtSure and The Fine Art Trade Guild can use the ArtSure logo, whether this be on the corresponding certificate of authenticity or within the border of the print itself.

The Artist’s Print Room can offer assurance, security and provenance during each and every stage. The Artist’s Print Room is the only studio in the UK to have all these outstanding achievements of both certified laboratories and ArtSure membership.

Viewing Distance for Fine Art Giclee Prints

I wanted to talk a little bit about viewing distance. I get asked all the while about ppi & dpi and how this relates to image quality, but i’m rarely asked about the third point which is viewing distance.

Those of you who have come to see me at my studio and those who have had telephone conversations with me will have heard me bang on about viewing distance.

PPI or Pixels Per Inch, is the screen resolution of your image file, this is important, as fewer ppi’s make smaller images, higher ppi’s make finer better quality images.

DPI or Dots per inch, is the bit i do when i print. An image that has 300ppi printed at 1440dpi will be 4.8 dots per pixel.

So artwork viewed from less than 60cm or 2ft in old money is best printed from a 300ppi image file.

Artwork viewed from 1metre away or 3.3ft can be printed from a 180ppi image file.

However, If your artwork is to be hung where someone can walk right up-to it and effectively stick there nose on the print I would always recommend an image file of 360ppi in resolution.

The Chart Below is based on someone with 20/20 vision, in good lighting conditions.

Viewing DistanceMin Resolution
30cm (1 ft)360 ppi
60cm (2 ft)300 ppi
100cm (3.3 ft)180 ppi
150cm (5 ft)120 ppi
2m (6.5 ft)90 ppi
3m (10 ft)60 ppi
5m (16 ft)35 ppi
10m (33 ft)18 ppi
15m (50 ft)12 ppi
50m (160 ft)4 ppi
60m (200 ft)3 ppi
200m (650 ft)1 ppi

Custom Printed Greetings Cards

When it comes to greetings cards we are sure it is not only us that this has happened too… going to purchase a card for a friend or family member and thinking ‘have I given them this card before?!’ Or alternatively, spending what feels like hours picking cards up and just not finding the right special one!

Well, why not create your own beautiful greetings cards, whether that be for birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas or just because? By having your image printed on a card, you’re really giving loved ones something bespoke, personal and special. You could take your favourite holiday image, whether this be either a photograph or a painting of the scenery and turn it into a greetings card someone can keep and frame.

Here at The Artist’s Print Room we offer two paper qualities for greetings cards, either a 300gsm smooth extra white paper or alternatively a 280gsm felt textured paper. We offer various sizes including; 6×4″, 7×5″ or 8×5.6″ all available as either portrait or landscape (folded along the long side or short side). These sizes are ideal for purchasing frames for the cards too! Additionally, we can produce square cards for something a little different which are 145x145mm.

But, the best bit! You don’t need to worry about downloading a template and having to layout the design yourself! We are happy to take that pressure away from you. Once you upload your image through our online ordering system we will design and proof your greetings card. Of course, we will send you a proof for approval before going to print ensuring you’re happy with your personalised product. Our minimum order is just six cards per design and all are provided with corresponding envelopes so your cards are ready for their handwritten note and then the postbox!