Like a kid in a sweet shop!

"Like a kid in a sweet shop" is how my husband described my behavior yesterday at the Fine Press Book Fair in Oxford yesterday! You can visit their website by following this link.
Oxford Fine Press Book Fair

Amongst the many exhibitors was Andy English (in the photograph above) whose work I admire greatly. It was a pleasure to see him in action carving a new block. I also got the chance to see his new collection of engravings for "The Woman in Black" by Susan Hill. Amongst his collection of exhibits were individual prints, bookplates and miniature books including a new, limited edition of "A Prospect of Ely" which you can see in the foreground of the photograph. (If you click on the photograph you will see more details.)

Andy is a full-time professional engraver, he has a blog called The Wood Engraver where you can learn more about his work with links to his website and shop.

The book fair was a great place to buy papers, so many beautiful hand marbled and paste papers and a lovely selection from The Curwen Press in particular caught my eye. There were stalls selling leather and bookbinding supplies too as well as stands selling beautifully produced hand bound books. The overall effect was so exciting and inspiring that today I feel rather exhausted.

I should be putting the finishing touches to my latest painting, shown below, almost finished now but I need to think a little more about the last bits. I had toyed with the idea of using gold leaf but now am not so sure.....?


  1. I'm so pleased you got to meet Andy - I love his work, full of fine detail and whimsy as well as elegant design.

    I can imagine the fair was just like being in a sweet shop!


  2. Thank you so much for introducing me to Andy's work, it's exquisite. Your new painting is wonderful! Well of course they all are, but this one particulalrly calls to me.

  3. I went for a visit over to Andy's blog...what a craftsman! Thanks for introducing me to his work...Love the new painting..I like the idea of goldleaf...gives it a medevil, sort of magical feel.

  4. Thanks for sharing the link to Andy's blog. What amazing work! And just think of working backwards all the time! I always enjoy visiting your site. Happy Fall!

  5. Oh Valerie, I almost went to this! In the end I didn't as no money, too difficuly to travel to & had too many other things to do, but I might have sacrificed all that if I'd known you were going!

  6. your paintings are so very beautiful! isn't the world of woodland just utterly inspiring.

  7. what a wonderful owl painting and thank you for the links I shall enjoy exploring them!

  8. I don't blame you for being excited! There's nothing quite like a book fair. The engravings on Andy's blog are stunning. It's amazing how many talented people there are out there!

  9. What lovely books! Thank you for the links, and for sharing your day. I can't imagine a nicer thing than spending the day with paper and leather. :)

    I think gold leaf would look very nice!



  10. I would be the same... a kid in a candy store! And I think the painting is so very earthy with its own, natural beauty. It has a decorativeness in the way that you work, and the lovely knot work, I wonder if the gold leaf might seem too precious and such a different kind of ornament. It seems so popular these days, but I sometimes prefer the amazing translucency of paint over the leaf. However, that knot work would surely shine! So how's THAT for a noncommittal answer?

  11. Valerie, it's grand to see this post from you tonight, and to have the opportunity to share your delight in seeing this craftsman.

    I had a sort of mirror experience today at the shop. It's located the downtown SOHO neighborhood of NYC, not far from a studio where I had wonderful etching lessons from a master printer, several decades ago.

    Well, today, I looked out the shop window to see my etching teacher walking by and waving to him, got him to come in for a quick chat. He said that his printmaker's heart has been broken by the reality of the print-making abilities of the computer, and the public's conversion to the economics of these computer prints.

    He is currently working on sculpture and painting. I did mention to him that I know that there are still many folks across the Atlantic who are making beautiful prints via wood and line prints. He chuckled a bit, and said that was good, and then wanted to get back outside to continue his walk.

    I am glad to be able to share this little bit of my afternoon with you, as I think you will appreciate it. xo

  12. What a gorgeous, gorgeous painting Valerie. The colours and details are rich and beautiful.
    To gild or not to gild - I have wondered but never tried it. I think in your hands it would come out well. But the picture is, in my humble opinion, quite lovely enough without.
    Have just been looking at Andy's blog, and could spend a few hours there!

  13. Sounds like you had a wonderful time, and were exhausted at the end in the best possible way. How wonderful to get to see Andy working, i do love his work & I have you to thank for first introduced me to it! I adore your latest painting and think gold leaf would finish it of perfectly x

  14. Exquisite picture Valerie.

    I so envy the ability of that wood engraver too.

  15. This is the third blog in a row I've visited where the latest post features owls ... ceramic owls, knitted owls, and now painted owls, all equally if differently beautiful.

  16. It is a beautiful illustration, with or without goldleaf, your detail is amazing.
    I can see why you were so happy to see the wood engraving, it all looks so interesting. I had a little visit to the blog, a real craftsman.
    Hope you chose some nice "sweets", I am sure you returned home very inspired.

  17. Dearest Val - your fairy bookplate is beautiful...... wow.
    And I am enthralled by your book-making. What fun it would be to come to you for a long weekend and play with your press and all that fabulous paper, hunh?
    Andy seems to be quite the talented guy.....such an inspiration.

    Think of you so often....Hi to Tony...

  18. It looks like it was a wonderful event to visit, Valerie with so many inspiring things to see - no wonder you felt 'like a kid in a sweet shop' :)

  19. Wow, what a beautiful, beautiful painting of owls! Fantastic! Is this a commission piece or a personal piece I wonder?
    I love woodcuts and engravings, would love to have a go one day when I've fixed the time machine! I'm quite tempted to get some lino in the meantime to play with though...

  20. Love these owls absolutely stunning, both technically and energetically.....

  21. you are invited to follow my blog

  22. I love your art work its other worldly.
    I just found your blog and so I will have fun looking through it.