Reduction lino: attempt II

Oxford’s Bridge of Sighs

Mastering the art of printmaking means being able to produce several perfect prints in a row. (Perfect meaning identical and neat.) I think the reduction technique was a bit too challenging for a starting point, but here I am.

I am happy to share my mistakes in this blog, along with any successes. I want to learn from these mistakes and do something different next time. This is why I am including videos as well as photos of my process/progress. I will be uploading these videos onto my YouTube page.

For my second lino experiment, keeping with the Oxford theme, I chose to work with this image of the Bridge of Sighs, from Instagram:

In order to work with this photo, I flipped the image and posterised it using photoshop.

The Process

Tracing onto the lino, then cutting the design into the lino.

The first areas I removed would appear as the white of the paper:

First layer.

Second layer

For the second layer, I removed the areas of the image where I wanted the first layer to show through.

Using a cloth, I removed ink from the bridge area. This meant I could add red ink to print in a third layer later, (once the first 2 layers were dry). This left a blank area where the underside of the bridge is:

Third layer

I wanted to feature the red-orange of the underside of the bridge, as the colour looks striking in the photograph. I mixed yellow and red ink to achieve the bright colour:

Printing second layer with the orange ink as a test
I knew I wanted the bridge to be bright, so I masked the bride area of the print
After removing the tape, I had a neat area of red ink
I practiced on an imperfect print. The red bridge stands out but almost weakens the rest of the image.

WATCH Bridge of Sighs – applying ink

I then changed tactics. By applying ink to the bottom half of the lino plate, I was able to spread the bright colour across the print and therefore gives it more overall harmony.

These were the results:

As you see, there were:

  • some slight misalignments
  • inky fingerprints at the edge of the paper
  • ink not sticking to the flat area of the bridge
  • uneven prints
Printing onto brown sugar-paper

I wouldn’t call any of the prints successful. I liked some more than others, but it was frustrating to end up with messy results and to have made some silly mistakes that could have been avoided. I know this is part of learning.

Is it OK to say I like imperfection?

Natural History Museum

Today I visited the Natural History Museum, Oxford.

(left) The building from the outside.

I sketched the skeletons, which was surprisingly relaxing.

Whales and dolphins ‘swimming through the air’
Cain and Abel by Damien Hirst
Crocodile skeleton
6B pencil sketch of elephant skeleton
Kangaroo skeleton
6B pencil sketch of polar bear skull
Fine liner pen sketch of Hippopotamus skull
My favourite thing in the museum, the squirrel monkey
Beluga (White) whale

Castle/Dream Factory

One nice way to spend a Sunday: strolling around town and visiting an exhibition. After a year of living in Oxford, I had never seen the castle. I thought there were maybe a few ruins but I didn’t expect to see the full building (below left) in all its ancient glory.

Why have I just discovered the castle? I was on my way to the OVADA art gallery. My only visit to the gallery previously was to see it empty between exhibitions. This time the building was full of art, how good this was to see.

The fact that it was so hard to find, only made it more of an adventure.

I caught the end of the 3-day exhibition, Dream Factory. This exhibition presented work by BROOKES MFA students. While I may not be able to credit each artist individually, here is a list of the artists involved (below right).

(below image) The OVADA warehouse is a unique space. It’s interesting to see the work in these surroundings. It gives a totally different feel to art that’s presented in a plain white gallery space. Sometimes the art blended into the roughness of the warehouse and with other pieces there was a bold contrast that I really liked.

Dream Factory Exhibition, OVADA gallery
video installation by Alamelu Annamalai (@alamelu24), projected onto book pages.

I loved the way the type moved across the page, just long enough to grasp.

Artwork by Deborah Pill

I felt these slates represent us. ‘The blank slate’ being the possibilities of everything we could be. Deborah has used sand to represent the things that happen to us. The shifting things we have no control over. The life changes we all face, but more recently the covid pandemic.

Paintings by Yolande Wyer

I found Yolande’s paintings amazingly light and delicate. This impressed me because I can see the patience and gentleness needed to paint them, which is the opposite to how I approach drawings. The way the light shines through the cellular structures is so beautiful to me.

Sculpture by Emmett Casley.

(above) Don’t they look so at home in OVADA? Emmett is inspired by the weathering of forms over time. I was drawn to the strength of the material and the colour of rust which is one of my favourite colours. I saw this piece as a representation of a person growing from a small child into an adult and the effect of that journey emotionally and mentally.

Lastly, these colourful squares were beautiful. The artist used a combination of reflective, iridescent, transparent and matt surfaces within the work. I loved how each tile was tilted at a different angle, creating chaos. I wanted to be in a room full of them.

Artwork by Siobhan Cooney.

I didn’t photograph every artwork, but the rest were equally impressive. Every work felt like it belonged, even though they came from different minds.