Leslie Speed in the Wren House surrounded by some of her prints.

Carving a niche in the printmaking market

Printmaker emerges to show her images

Sitting in a small studio with the window open and listening to the birds singing is tantamount to some kind of ideal. Leslie Speed has a connection with birds which she can’t explain, but they provide her with incredible artistic inspiration.

She grew up in Nelson where the birds were plentiful and her creative sparks were kindled.

Speed makes lino prints, mostly small relief prints of small birds and natural things.

Lino printing is a printmaking technique using linoleum mounted on wooden blocks. The lino is carved in the negative much like a photo negative. The full image is visible once the ink is applied to the block and the block pressed onto paper. It’s a printmaking technique used by Picasso and Matisse and numerous impressionists since the 1900s.

“I studied print making at Victoria College of Art and started experimenting and doing my own thing,” said Speed. “It took a while to get used to working backwards.”

She tried drawing and painting but couldn’t find her own style but printmaking was what captured her interest and her heart. It isn’t forced, it comes naturally to her.

Printmaking is time- consuming. Carving the small prints, about 4”x4” can take a couple of weeks and larger ones can take up to a month or more. The process is unforgiving, if you make a mistake you have to start all over again.

“That’s what makes it exciting in a way.”

As a young mother Leslie is just now getting back into her art and says it is nice to have the energy and motivation to be creative.

One of her goals is to create a lot of new prints and a series. Leslie hopes to get into the Sooke Fine Arts show this year.

“I’ve heard so many great things about it,” she said.

Speed works at her mother Val’s place in a small room on the top floor overlooking the acreage with its trees, birds and mossy areas. Mother snd daughter have formed a creative bond based on mutual respect. Val works in fibre and does applique, stitching and felting. Her images are similar to Leslie’s. They have a tiny little space called Wren House on the property on East Sooke Road where they display and sell their creations. Val also sells shrubs and plants.

“My mom’s work has inspired me, we have so much fun together,” said Leslie. “I find being out here (Sooke) very inspirational, as was Nelson.”

She currently has her work at the South Shore Gallery in Sooke and at the Kootenay Gallery in Castlegar.