Printmaking 1: Course review

This has been a very steep learning curve.  I don’t come from a painting, drawing or printing background.  I had a few printing lessons before starting but really came to the course green.

The first 8 months were frustrating, disappointing, annoying. soul-destroying, uncomfortable and tiring.  However, every time I made a breakthrough and understood more of how to transfer ink from plate to paper successfully I felt encouraged.  It was as I was working my way through assignment 4 that I realised I’d overcome some of my initial problems and was starting to enjoy the process.    I also realised that I was two-thirds, or more, of the way through and still had a lot to learn before I would be producing good, well designed pieces.  I felt like going back to the beginning and starting over, creating better work the second time around.

It was then that I telephoned the OCA head office and discussed the direction of my studies.  I was putting such a lot of time, effort and money into learning to print and I found that it no longer featured in their textiles degree pathway, meaning that once I’d finished this course there would be little or no opportunity to print again as I move forward.  I was extremely lucky to be offered the chance to change my focus and study for a creative arts degree instead, and that is what I’ve done.  If I pass this course I am now able to enrol for Printmaking 2 and continue to improve my techniques

You might wonder what this has to do with a course wrap-up.  Well, everything.  To be taken by OCA, via a course manual, through an 18 month journey – from being an utter beginner – to finishing the course and submitting for assessment I feel is an achievement from both parties.

The course manual is very clear and the instructions are often demonstrated with step-by-step process images.  Admittedly I’ve supplemented it by attending workshops when I can but, overall, it has been straight forward with samples of work throughout and suggestions for good work practice.  The course has covered a range of printing methods without the need to get into major manufacture mode and without being forced into using super-expensive equipment or toxic substances.  It is well suited to a student working from home.

My tutor has been an excellent support and has given very valuable feedback on the assignments and I’m grateful for her direction.

As for myself, well I’ve learned a bit more about what I can and cannot do, what my preferences are and I’ve found it useful to finish with my own personal SWOT analysis which I reproduce here for the benefit of those who have never done one.  If I tape it to the wall and keep it in view I hope it will influence me in my next course.


  • Tenacious and hard-working.
  • Able to reason and problem solve.
  • (Barring unforseen circumstances) Have the ability to work to a time frame.
  • Enjoy research and exploration.
  • Able to critique my own work honestly.


  • A tendency to over think and over plan.
  • Negativity when fatigued.
  • Slow worker.
  • Too much consideration and worry given to what I perceive I should be doing during my courses instead of just getting on with it and interpreting the exercises my way.
  • I underestimate the length of time it will take to complete a particular project, print run or whatever part of the course I’m working on.
  • I feel the pressure of our family business and the role I need to play in it and this takes a lot of time and energy – it can eat up some of my study time.


  • Continue to attend printing workshops – next one I’m booked in is 20/21st January (Tony Ameniero), followed by 4 days in April (Seraphina Martin).
  • Undertake some refresher courses in designing – I’m enrolled in a 2 day workshop, 20/21st February (Ruth Hadlow) entitled Articulating Practice: exploring the interior terrain, which has a description which reads:  Explore the creative process and work on strategies to enhance your own work practice. This workshop is aimed at supporting participants with structures to develop and create ideas and work. 
  • Actively participate with Primrose Paper Arts Inc.  They explore a range of useful topics including making paper, manipulation paper, paper sculpture, book making and more.  I will be learning Belgian bookbinding in my first workshop with them in mid February.


  • Health issues (as per all mature aged students) which can be limiting at times.
  • The expansion of our family business if our staff cannot work independently.  This would seriously impact on course allocated time.

I’ll add to the above as I see fit, and for now I’ll have a short break and then enrol in Printmaking 2.


About Claire B

I am a passionate printmaker, paper maker and book artist. I'm a 'forever' student and frequently attend courses and workshops to extend and improve my creative skills.
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2 Responses to Printmaking 1: Course review

  1. Sue Whittaker says:

    Hello Claire, I have followed with interest your journey. I am not into printmaking…well only a little as I am a textile artist. What I have found inspiring is the way you articulate your journey, your candid appraisals. I actually find them inspiring. Thank you for sharing your journey. Sue

    Sent from my iPad


    • Claire B says:

      Thank you so much for the comment Sue. My whole life has revolved around stitching and textile art but this printmaking course has opened my eyes to a whole new field – and I’ve still a way to go with it. I’m hoping to end up combining printing, free motion and hand stitching & other textile techniques.
      I hope you continue to enjoy my blog posts and create some wonderful things yourself.

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