Art Analysis: Colin See-Paynton

Surprise, surprise! We’re going to talk about more printmakers on my blog for the Art Analysis assignment.



Brown Trout Rising, Colin See-Paynton (See-Paynton, 2013)

Colin See-Paynton is at the top of my list of all-time favorite printmakers ever. His mastered technique is wood engraving and he works in a small studio in the U.K. countryside. Wood engraving is a process originating in 1768 that uses the end grain of wood as the matrix, but is printed in the intaglio method rather than relief. It’s the best of the black and white contrast of wood block relief printing with the detail offered by etching burins and intaglio printing processes (Green, 2010).

Brown Trout Rising is one of the prints in his collection called Fish and Fowl that attracts me most. The tone or value of the image tends toward the darker side of the spectrum, save for the very light ripples. I particularly enjoy the gradation in tone from the top right down to the bottom center from light to dark, yet the bird at the top is the darkest value in the entire print. The gradation of value creates a subtle base to place higher contrast shapes and subjects on.

Texture is an important design element for printmakers, and See-Paynton gives a variety of texture in the image with the fish scales and more delicate halftone in the water ripple forms. Having a textured print also is a point of technique. Textured images help to make a consistent edition of prints, as large areas that pick up ink on a plate are more prone to printing inconsistently.

Shape and space are two elements I feel play together in See-Paynton’s print Brown Trout Rising, as he creates depth in his image by how shapes are angled in the space and how they are layered over each other. The curved, lightest value ripple shapes are placed in a layer over the trout, but underneath the the bird. This gives us a point of reference for the depth of the image: the bird is flying over the water, which the trout are underneath. If the shapes of the trout were positioned over the shape of the ripple, the trout would no longer appear to be under the water. The trouts’ heads being at the center of the ripple, which radiates through the piece, creates a gentle movement within the space.

Aside from the technical elements of design, Colin See-Paynton’s work speaks to me as a person who appreciates nature. I grew up on Kodiak Island, so subject matter relating to marine or any aquatic habitat piques my interest on a very personal level. His keen observation of the natural world, specifically anatomy of animals and their relationships to their habitat is important to me as an artist now living in a state park and critical habitat area.

Works Cited

Green, Nancy E. (2010) End grain: A history of wood engraving. Available at: (Accessed: 20 January 2017).

See-Paynton, C. (2013) Artist’s shop. Available at: (Accessed: 20 January 2017).



2 thoughts on “Art Analysis: Colin See-Paynton

  1. When I first looked at your painting I thought of Grand Canyon and then I looked closely and I saw fish and bird flying. I love fishing up river and starting last year I kept seeing fish following my reel and it looks so fake. I can also imagine the fish going up for quick air and I just love the reaction of my babies when they see a fish. In real life I already see painting and I share it with everyone and it’s priceless! Thanks for the painting and memories of fishing season.


  2. The shapes and space of the image really do create another dimension in the engraving. It gives such a sense of depth, looking at it makes it seem like it’s almost moving.

    On first glance, the engraving looked to me like an abstract city, with the white being the roads and the fish like buildings. it almost conveys an immense sense of civilization to the viewer, with it’s depth and sense of vastness.


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