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martin truefittbaker2

Gunning press printmakers of the week- Martin Truefitt-baker

This weeks Gunning press printmaker is the wonderfully talented Martin Truefitt-Baker, the owner of a Gunning press Number 3 has been printmaking 30+ years. We sat down with Martin to understand why he loves printmaking on his Gunning press.

martin truefittbaker 3

Tell us about yourself…

“I’m a fine art printmaker and painter living in the Brecon Beacons national park, South Wales, UK.  I grew up in Dagenham (N.East London) but I have lived in Wales for over 40 years.

I taught in a secondary comprehensive school near to Merthyr Tydfil for 30+ years until about 7 years ago. I started seriously painting and printing for myself again around 5 years ago and things have taken off from there. Now I call myself a ‘full-time’ artist.”

How did you or your organization get into printmaking?

“I did a strange university degree at Aberystwyth. Visual Art. I ended up specializing in graphics and book illustration. I was making some fairly simple prints at the time.

I did my final dissertation on Edward Bawden and actually went to visit him at his home and studio. I even had the cheek to send him one of my prints and I have a lovely letter critiquing the work. That Bawden, Ravillious, Nash, group of artists from the 30, 40, 50s have been a longtime influence. It’s great to see them having a lot more attention now: very much deserved.”

How would you describe your artwork?

MTB“My linocuts use a reduction method, using a single piece of lino. This is progressively cut away and overprinted onto paper several times, in a succession of tones, to build up the final image. There are usually around 5 layers of cutting and printing, after that I feel a print loses a bit of the graphic quality that is a part of the attraction of lino.

The prints are mostly of the animals I have seen on walks through the local landscape, within a couple of miles of home. I’m lucky to live in the beautiful Usk valley, within the Brecon Beacons National Park.

I try to catch some of the magic in the way the animals move and live within their environment, trying to imagine what it’s like to be them, their size, in that place.

I paint and draw a lot as well as make prints. I find that my printing influences my painting and vice versa. I’ve developed a design technique for my prints that involves making an acrylic painting first. This helps to organise the range of tones that will later be turned into layers of cutting and printing in the final reduction linocut. You can read more about this technique and others in my blog on my website.”

How do you plan to take your artwork forward?martin truefittbaker2

“Several of my designs have now been published as greetings cards by Art Angels and another (the Frosty Hare) is due to be ready for Christmas. I was lucky (and a bit cheeky) they were the first company I approached about using my work simply because they printed Angie Lewin’s and Edward Bawden’s work. Fate!

I’ve a calendar being published by Flametree for 2023 and another being put together for 2024. Cards (and I hope calendars) are great little adverts for your work. You get two audiences, the person buying and the person receiving. I get many inquiries for prints from this.

I’ve recently been experimenting with some different printing techniques. I’ve always enjoyed making (and teaching) collagraphs but I’ve also started using carborundum in PVA on Perspex to get a softer, more painterly result. Along similar lines, I’ve also started to teach myself a bit of mezzotint but I still need a lot of practice.”

Why did you feel a Gunning Etching press was the best fit for you and your artwork?IMG 3114 001 1

“The Gunning press is simple to use and versatile. I have the number 3 with the 6 1/2 inch top roller and the large round wheel. I quickly managed to make it work for me and the way I print with only a couple of changes to my printing method.

Registration is key to successful reduction linocut printing. I use the Burnes Tientes pins or the registration pins provided by Ironbridge Fine arts and a slippy layer of Teflon baking parchment on top of the paper to help to stop it being moved by the roller during printing.”

What’s your favourite feature on the Gunning Etching press that helps your printmaking process?

“Easy height and tension adjustment. The large round wheel and the direct drive is simple and it allows you to feel exactly how the plate is going through the press.”

Most printmakers has a name for their press, does your Gunning etching press have a nickname?


1 MTB 170522 Winter Hillside Badgers Master Prophoto copy 001What would you say to someone thinking about purchasing a Gunning etching press?

“Have a go first, organize a visit to Ironbridge, Jenny will talk you through every different option and work with you find the best fit for you and your plates.”

Any other comments you would like to share with our blog readers?

“Technique is secondary to what you want to say. Everyone has something that makes them an individual, express it and enjoy it. Don’t feel you have to work in a certain way because ‘that’s what artists do’.

Everyone can draw and paint! Practice can make you better and the rest is just your style, it’s what makes your work interesting.”

To see more off Martin’s work you can find him on facebook @martin.truefittbakerart , instagram at @truefittbakerart or browse his website.

Thank you for reading!

Happy Printmaking!

All the best,

Ellie & The Team!

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@Ironbridgeprintmakers @Gunningetchingpress #GunningEtchingPresses  #GunningEtchingPress #JennyGunningPrintmaker

If you have read to the bottom of this blog you are entitled to a free gift, please email Jenny@IronbridgefineArts.co.uk with your preferred printing Relief or Intaglio to claim. Postage of £6.99 will still apply.