Learning Linocut

The last time I tried my hand at lino-printing, I was working on the FMP (final major project) of my Art & Design diploma. That was in summer 2021. One year later, I’m returning to lino. I missed the carving sensation and the satisfaction of building a work methodically- Something I only learnt to appreciate after working on screen-printing at Oxford Brookes.

My final piece for the exhibition ‘Metamorphosis’ at City of Oxford College, June 2021. I used lino-printing for the image of the fish. This method allowed me to reproduce many copies of the image.

First I needed a subject. This wasn’t hard, I’ve had my mind on buildings recently. I found this photo I took of Oxford castle (below). I Like the variety of elements: soft sky, crumbling brick castle, rushing river.

I reversed the image and posterised it using photoshop. Posterising the photo allowed me to view separate layers. Reversing it meant the print would end up the correct way around:

Then I got to work:

I chose the reduction technique to allow me to print more than one colour. I first carved the areas I wanted to stay white.

I then remembered to wash the lino with washing up liquid before printing with it.

I mixed a cold-toned green for the castle and river. I kept the colour paler at this stage. I am using water-based block printing inks.

My first print. I can see I did not apply enough ink to the printing plate.

I left the first layers to dry for about 12 hours before printing the second layer.

(below) I did not align the 2 layers accurately.

After printing the first layer, I glued a scrap of yellow card onto the print.

I mixed green into the ink for the darker layer, instead of the plain black used in other prints. I still wasn’t getting the alignment spot-on, and I could see the paper was shifting as I laid it down.

Applying less pressure onto the roller helped when transferring the ink from the plate to the lino.

What worked and what didn’t?

  • I need more practice/ a different method for aligning the paper.
  • The colours expressed something earthly which I liked.
  • The cartridge paper worked well.
  • I don’t like the brick texture on the tower, I wasn’t careful enough with my mark-making.
  • The watercolour background worked well.
  • I could have glued the collage background a bit more carefully.
  • I could work on simplifying/ improvising the design instead of including every detail from the photo.

Some details from the novel-background print:

Printing onto brown sugar-paper.

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