By Karen Carruth

In her garden studio in Rumbling Bridge, near Kinross, Barbara Pease is busy working on her latest range of linocut prints.

Watching her work, it is difficult to comprehend how she manages to calculate in her head what part of the print is needed and what will be carved away, and then multipy that by three or four, as she does different plates for each colour overlay.

My mind is boggling, even though she has explained it to me a couple of times, as though it isn’t a difficult process at all. It is... for me.

It must take years of experience to get to the level that Barbara is at, creating complex prints with colour overlays showing in-depth detail.

The current obsession is birds, however, there is a good reason for the feathered focus. Barbara is working on putting together a range of work for an upcoming show with the Ornithological Society in North Berwick, in February, hence the ravens, crows and swans on the desk.

“I love doing birds, the shapes are interesting, their movements and the shadows allow me to be a little more abstract.”

On her desk is a to-scale sketch of what she is working on, it is three swans surrounded by reeds. It’s a complex composition and she is working on a few different plates, anticipating what will be needed for each colour. It seems she is always working in the future, and she admits, sometimes it is a surprise what emerges. Mostly pleasant surprises in the main.

“I find that sometimes the colours don’t match perfectly, and that’s perfectly fine as it reassures the buyer that it is a hand-made product, and a lot of work has gone into making the finished product.”

Barbara has now been working full time as an artist for 10-years, now that her four children have grown and she has more time to herself. She works primarily in her studio in the garden, a shared space with her husband Matthew who is an architect… the two family dogs are not sure which door to enter for a cuddle during the day.

She also spends time at the Dunfermline Printmakers Workshop, where she goes to work alongside like-minded people, ask for opinions and break the tedium of working on her own so much. Barbara can use the larger print facilities that are available there too.

She also does fine art paintings which she exhibits and sells through galleries, but her heart lies with the linocut process.

Working from home it’s easy to see where her inspiration comes from, she lives in a stunning house on a hill overlooking the Perthshire countryside. A lot of the work is nature based. Wildlife, birds, plants, livestock, and seaside scenes, are all subjects of her work.

“I feel as though all the different aspects of printing don’t quite get the recognition they deserve, I was always really interested in the history of it,” says Barbara, “Though I notice that linocut and screen printing are becoming more popular with today’s artists.

“The wonderful thing about linocut is that you can do it in a really small space, at your kitchen table even.”

Barbara has noticed that lots of her sales come via her online presence. She feels that people understand the work involved in creating a print, it can take up to a week to do one, and they appreciate the process and the outcome, and are rebelling against mass-produced work.

“It’s very demanding work on the hands. I often get repetitive strain in my hands, I’ve learned to take enough breaks to stop my hands suffering.”

She has been delighted to see that selling online through etsy and folksy has expanded her customer base to both the USA and Japan.

Sitting in her studio is a new press (well, it’s new to Barbara), she is really pleased to have tracked down a press that she can call her own. They are expensive and very heavy, but it gives her the option to see the entire process through from beginning to end without leaving the studio.

She is delighted to see that there are courses and classes in lino-cutting, etching and screen printing being held at the Dunfermline Printworks to ensure that the next generation of printers have a good grounding in the craft.

Barbara adds: “With linocut it’s a case of getting it right, it really is an all or nothing process, and if you make a mistake, it just has to go in the bin. When you have carved away a piece by mistake, there is no putting it back.

“It’s a great technique, and can produce luminous colour and depth to the work.”

It’s not just linocut prints that she has to offer, she has a lovely range of cards, t-towels, mugs and has undertaken many commissions both for private customers and on a commercial basis.

Barbara continues: “I feel particularly lucky at this time of life to be doing this. Even within my friend group I can see that doing something you love is quite rare and I’m blessed to be in that position.”