My becoming an artist was a chance event, so entirely dependent on the kindness of almost-strangers, that I could easily have missed the boat entirely and spent the rest of my life without so much as picking up a sketchbook, let alone an inky roller. And when the chance did come, I was far from keen to seize the day; it took a year of gradually evaporating patience on the part of distant, to me, family friends to press the gift of an Albion printing press upon me and more or less force me back into print.
Sounds stupid doesn’t it? Even if you aren’t a printmaker and are not presently shouting ‘YOU SAID NO TO AN ALBION??’ at the screen, it’s obvious in retrospect that I was an idiot. I was indeed an eejit (as my Irish father-in-law, best mates with the press-offering friends would confirm), but the problem was a big one. It wasn’t that I was afraid of the printing, though after a sixteen year period without drawing, let alone printmaking, it was a serious concern. It was that I knew from the very first suggestion that I might like a press, that this would be no private hobby. Agreeing would launch me on a new path as an artist and open a whole can of worms that were noticeably absent from my part time work, gardening and family life. I can’t say how I knew that, but know it I did, and I was fairly sure that I was going to die trying to make it all happen.
Thankfully I caved and took the press. Fourteen years later, I still get cold sweats thinking I could so easily have missed my chance.
My story does lack the fairy dust of passionate ambition fulfilled and instead reveals considerable ingratitude and dithering on my part. But I did get one thing mostly right; the journey to becoming an artist was a tough one and, while I didn’t die trying, it’s been a staggeringly steep learning curve. Starting with a very simple lesson: always say yes to the offer of a press.