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Meet the Maker: Frans Wesselman

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Describe your printmaking process. 

I do several things: I make etchings, where I concentrate on people’s expressions and the quality of the etched line and texture;

I also make wood cuts, which are rather larger and where I exploit the areas of flat colour and the strong wood cut line; and in the past I have made combinations of the two. 


How and where did you learn to print?

I attended art college in the Netherlands where I had an inspirational print making tutor, but have evolved my own way of doing things since.

Why printmaking?

Where I grew up I was aware of the etchings of Rembrandt and the nineteenth century Dutch impressionist group The Hague School, and I loved them. I also experimented with wood cut at college, but only a couple of years ago came back to it.


Where do you work?

At home, after my last move I decided that I would arrange the house just to my liking, so it is rather like a workshop with a bedroom attached (and a bath room and a kitchen and a garden…)


Describe a typical day in your studio.

Up early, shower, check out the garden, coffee. Start work on whatever needs doing, from cutting a wood cut to working on new designs, scribbles in the sketch book and water colour studies. A quick look at the emails. I usually work for an hour or so before breakfast, then carry on again. I am best in the morning, so the creative stuff tends to get done then, the routine, like printing or sending off parcels later in the afternoon. If the weather is good I will have lunch sitting on the step in the garden, looking out for bees and dragon flies. In the evening, after cooking something, I am usually too tired to do complicated work, but, if I have some possibly bright idea, I will make a note to be worked on at a later date. Of course contact with galleries, ordering materials, delivering work all takes up quite a bit of time too.


How long have you been printmaking?

Since my first days at college, in 1970.

What inspires you?

People. Almost anything can inspire me, things I see or am involved in, things I read or hear. The bible, poetry, Shakespeare, sometimes things just turn up in my head. But it will almost always be something to do with people, I love landscape to look at and walk in, but fail to make anything exciting out of it if I try to draw it.


What is your favourite printmaking product?

My etching presses. The big one is a kind of proto type Polymetaal which I bought when I first came to England, the little one a friend of mine, a brilliant engineer, built for me.

What have you made that you are most proud of?

Hard to say. As soon as I have made something I start seeing the flaws in it. Some times I come somewhere where there is a piece of my work that I made a long time ago and then it sometimes seems not too bad.


Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?

There is always my web site, www.fwstainedglass.com (I make stained glass too). As I am a member of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, there is always something at the Bankside Gallery in London, at For Arts Sake in Ealing, Montpellier gallery in Stratford, Twenty Twenty in Much Wenlock, Court Yard Gallery in Minehead, Primavera in Cambridge, McGillDuncan in Castle Douglas. My next show will be Worcester Open Studios over the August Bank Holiday Weekend where I will be showing at 37 Vincent Road, Worcester, WR5 1AZ.


What will we be seeing from you next?

I am just working on a new wood cut. I saw a girl in the Netherlands on a skate board, cool as a breeze, being pulled along by her dog. So far it seems to want fewer colours than I originally had envisaged. I am also experimenting with the stained glass, trying to make it without lead.


Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?

Look for a proper job would be the sensible advice. But having said that, if you are prepared to take the rough with the smooth, it can be wonderful to work to your own agenda, doing the thing you love doing best.

See more of Frans Wesselman's work on his website