Saturday, January 10, 2009

Relief printing

linoprint 4 x 5.5

I've been investigating relief prints or lino prints lately. I love the graphic look of them and wanted to experiment myself. I haven't done anything resembling printing for many many many years so I thought I'd give myself a refresher course and try a small print.

Of course, living on this island sometimes makes accessing materials difficult, but I did come up with the basics and have sent off my mailorder for more things today. Because it is a refresher course to me, I thought it may be new to others too and I will try to share my process here.

I first spent some time reviewing some videos at Wonder How on relief or block printing that we very useful in outlining the steps to take in creating a piece as well as sharing some tips for success.

The next decision was what design to use. It would have to be something that could translate easily into simple lines and shapes. I then remembered an old piece that I painted on wood many years ago, a sort of stylized fish and ocean and thought I'd see if I could create that as a simple line drawing and reduce it to fit the lino block that I had bought(4 x 5 1/2).

I outlined the size of the block on paper and used it to enclose the drawing of the fish. This was the final drawing.

I transferred the drawing to the lino, then went over it with a fine marker to make sure the lines stayed put. The piece is reversed now and will reverse again when printed.

I then used a carving tool to cut away the areas of the lino that would not receive ink. The decision around what to leave blank and what to carve I found a bit tricky and needed to do a few thumbnail sketches before I was brave enough to make the first cut. No going back then! The block cut like butter and I became absorbed in it, burning supper in the process....

Then came the fun part - making the first print! I used a spare sheet of glass as a palette and water-soluble block print inks for the print. I had a small brayer which was the perfect fit for the block, so I spent some time getting it coated with the right amount of ink. Too little and it would be patchy, too much and it would blur into the cut lines.

I made sure that the block was coated well with ink in all directions then plopped it onto a sketchbook page for an initial proof. I need a baren to be able to really make the ink adhere to the paper well, but as that's not available here and on order, I had to make do with the back of a wooden spoon. I've since found a rubberized grout float that I've 'borrowed' which should do the job nicely til my baren arrives.

I peeked to make sure the ink was doing as it should, then peeled it off the block and let it dry. The results are in the first image of this post. I played around and mixed some additional pigment to alter the blue and for a little more practice, then printed them on Somerset printing paper that I have. The pieces seem to be richer on the Somerset paper than on the plain paper and are obviously more absorbent.

I'll try them on a few other supports and practice a bit more. I have one more small lino block to play with and need to research another design for it. I quite enjoyed the process again and can see all sorts of possibilities for print use. Once I receive my materials I will have more scope with tools as this piece is carved with just one v cutter, making it a little clumsy at times, especially on the curves.


Rose Welty said...

This is gorgeous Jeanette - you have so much going on and you are doing well with all of it!

Anita said...

I hope you are going to do more - I collect fishes and I might just have to buy one of these. Now I am going to have to get some Lino and do some printing! See what you and Robyn started?

Jo Reimer said...

How very nice, Jeanette. Yours is so much better than the one I recently carved. I did it backwards and left the line instead of carving out the line. Perhaps I'll try again and see if I can do one more like yours.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Brilliant Jeanette - both the print and your explanation with images.

I'll be sending you some visitors on Sunday!

I'm also no itching to try lino printing!

Robyn said...

Beautiful design, Jeanette! I loved seeing how it evolved too. You obviously have better luck with waterbased ink than I do. What sort of lino block is that? It looks beautifully soft to carve.

I expect more to follow. Very easy to get hooked on this - pardon the pun.

Jeanette said...

Rose, thanks, you're right, I have a finger in many pies right now, but I'm enjoying myself.

You'll love doing this Anita, I promise. Its very satisfying. Send me your mailing address and I'll send you one - gratis.

Thanks Jo. I think its one of those processes where you have to think and plan a lot before you cut to achieve what you want.

I did a few thumbnails and coloured in various sections to see what final effect I wanted before I cut the block.

Thanks Katherine. I really enjoyed doing this.

Yes, you must try it too! I know you'll enjoy it a lot. And you'll find it much easier to find supplies than I do!

Robyn, this is all your fault you know and I thank you. :) I imagine it can be very addictive.

I may try the oil based inks and see what the comparison is. Only having access to these I didn't have a choice at the moment.

The lino block is a rubber block that really does carve like butter, even more so when its warmed. Its quite thick too so you can use both sides to carve.

Anonymous said...

Simply marvelous, Jeanette. I've always been a closet monoprint lover. Perhaps this will spur me to come out of the closet. The visuals and the step-by-step are so helpful!

We all know how good it is for an artist to stretch their wings and try new (or retry) things. Thanks for walking the walk!

Jennifer Rose said...

The print turned out really well :D I love using lino, there are so many ways a person can use it and you don't need a lot of supplies to print unlike a lot of other print methods where having a printing press is almost a necessity. this is a very nice and helpful blog post :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this - I have always been interested in printmaking and love to try it out myself some day!

vivien said...

Gorgeous Jeanette! and not at all clumsy, you've controlled those curves beautifully.

It has a slightly William Morris feel.

I'm going to have to get some easier to carve lino - the piece I used was tough and certainly not like butter :>(

Hope you'll put it on watermarks as well?

Sydney Harper said...

I love this piece, Jeanette, and the original painting! I used do lino prints years ago. All this talk about printing lately encouraged me to get my supplies out and get some fresh ink. Oh and thanks for link. I'm sure I could use a refresher and some tips.

Jeanette said...

Thanks Tracy, I know you'll do lovely prints. Do try some.

It is very versatile isn't it Jennifer? I'm looking forward to playing around with it more.

Anna, its great fun to do and I'm sure you'd enjoy making prints.

Thanks Vivien. I'm looking forward to getting more tools and lino blocks so I can make a variety of lines.

The block that I bought was made by Speedball and is very flexible and rubberlike, a bit like carving into an eraser.

And yes, I'll add an abbreviated version on Watermarks.

Thanks Sydney. I haven't done much of any printing and any I had done was a zillion years ago, so this was like starting over again.

I hope you try some prints again.

Lindsay said...

Wonderful post and your lines are so clear!!!

Jan said...

Oh, thanks Jeanette! I remember doing this in high school about a zillion years ago.

Your print is great but the original image is really smashing!

Jeanette said...

I can't wait to get my new supplies and see what I can do with them Lindsay. I should have better control as the V cutter was larger and a bit clumsy at times.

Thanks Jan. This process does bring back memories for lots of people doesn't it?

My husband hates the original fish painting, says its weird. But hey, he's not an artist :)