Reduction Linocut Complete

The little bird is finished! It is quite a process doing the reduction linocut method but the results are definitely worth the effort. None of my prints are perfect, I seem to be a bit messy with this printing process. And my registrations aren’t perfect but I learned a lot and will do better next time.

Here’s the progression of the print minus the first print where I printed green/blue and had little specks of white left. I had wanted the background to be a bit more of a mixture of colors but found that hard to do with the brayer.

I tried a couple of prints with allowing the black to get on to the carved out space around the bird. I don’t mind this look but wish it had looked more branch like instead of so spotty. Plus the edges around the bird and branch look a little artificial since there is no spottiness there. The colors in all these photos is not the best due to low light conditions for photos.

I’m happy with the result since I had never tried this before. It takes a bit of practice and work to get your system set up. I will try some registration pins the next time I do a linocut so I can work out that process a little better. I might work into a few of these prints to give the background a little more life. I have to wait until the ink dries to see what will work best for that.

Better Than Expected

After spending hours on this reduction linocut process, I was getting a bit discouraged because I didn’t feel the prints were going to turn out. But I pressed (ha ha) on and carved out the areas in the block today that were to stay light gray. My original plan was to print dark gray and then brown, but I decided I could do that fairly easily in one pass instead of two. There will be less detail on the branch but the important part is the bird and I want to complete this project soon.

I carved out all the parts that were to stay light gray. I left some feathery bits on the bird’s body to give him more texture. His upper body is darker gray than the bottom so I left more printable linoleum there.

And I printed all 16 of my prints. Quite a few of these, the registration is off but they still look pretty good. So much better than I expected.

Here’s one where you can even see the white bits fairly well. Now all I have left to print is the black layer. So I am letting these dry and I’ll carve out everything on the lino block except the black on the bird and some shadows on the branch. I am really looking forward to seeing the end result now as my little bird definitely looks like a bird now.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!

Louise Saves the Day!

Since I last posted about my experience with reduction linocut printing, we had one of our art meetings. And Louise brought me a “printing press”. It was made to emboss metal but it didn’t work the way Louise wanted it to so she said I could try it with my linocuts. It worked perfectly and saved me so much time! Thank you Louise!

So you can see the press on near the middle of the photo of my studio getting ready to print. It has the green foam sitting on it. The first thing I had to do was figure out how many layers were needed in the press to get the right pressure. Once I got that figured out it was great.

I used the registration jig on the far left to line up my lino block and paper. This is where I am printing the remaining backgrounds. I had gotten so tired the last time I was printing that I didn’t finish the full run. So the picture on the right shows the lino block with the paper on it. Then I covered that with another piece of paper and the acrylic block that is provided with the press.

I then rolled the sandwich through the press and it worked. It saves so much time and the prints are better than what I can achieve by hand. So I printed the rest of the backgrounds.

Then next step was to carve out everything that I wanted to stay blue/green. So here’s the linoleum block after carving. I made the background with random strokes so that if grey, brown or black gets on the background it just looks like branches. Then on to printing grey. The biggest problem was the registration. Even with my registration jig, my prints did not line up well. I realize now that my white areas should have been carved bigger to leave a little room for error. Note to self, remember this point for next time.

I printed my 16 prints and most did not line up very well at all. I have maybe 5-6 prints that are fairly well lined up. I stopped using my jig and just started eyeing the placement of the paper on the block and that worked better. Obviously my jig needs a bit of work. I have ordered some registration pins and I will use those next time. Not this series of prints since I didn’t leave enough of an edge to use the pins this time.

Here’s one of the prints that is lined up fairly well. Next, I have to carve out what will stay grey and then I will print brown. Then only one color left after that. This is quite the process! More updates to follow!

A Couple of Sketches and a New Project

This a representation of frost that I created quite a while ago. It was kind of dull and Gail Harker (my instructor) suggested that I had some darker values around the whiteness of the frost. It is a definite improvement.

Here’s a sketch of a cone flower in front of my house with the first snow. I used a variety of media including sepia pens, watercolor and acrylic paint. I’m pleased with the result and it looks like a cold, fall day in Montana.

My next project is to try some reduction linocut printing. If you haven’t heard of this before, here is a video¬†that explains one artist’s method of reduction linocut printing. Basically, it means that you carve one color at a time, print all your edition and then carve out the color you just printed. Each time you are carving away what you want to preserve of the color just printed. You work from light to dark with your colors. You can only make one print edition with this method because you destroy the block by the time you are finished carving. If you make a mistake, it is hard to correct. I haven’t tried this before but I thought it sounded like an interesting concept. I asked hubby for the supplies to do this for Christmas and he also kindly made me the bench hook. The photo above shows my table set up for doing the printing process. I actually want to do a large winter landscape print but thought I would start with a small practice piece to see how it goes. I am going to print on Japanese rice paper so I tore 16 pieces into the correct size. I created a registration jig with foam core. You can see it in the front left corner of the table. The uncarved lino block is sitting in place as if it were to be printed.

I drew the steps of cutting on tracing paper so that I know what to cut out with each step.

I am basing the linocut off of this collage that I did of a Caroline Chickadee. I got the inspiration photo from my brother-in-law Lewis.

Here’s the registration jig. You probably can’t see it, but I have marked where the paper lines up and each piece of paper is marked on the back with mid points and arrow pointing up for the top. Hopefully, I won’t make too many mistakes while printing. I made 16 pieces of paper in hopes that I will get a good edition of 10 prints. The size of the print block is 4″ x 6″.

Here’s my inking station. I am planning on 5 colors for this print. I am also trying this Speedball Professional Ink for the first time. I hope I like it since hubby got me a lot! It cleans up with soap and water which I really needed as I can’t really do other chemicals in the bedroom/studio very well.

And here’s the bench hook. It fits on the table so that it locks in and you can carve your block without having to hold your hand in the way of the cutting tools. I have actually never carved linoleum before. I have always used a rubber substitute kind of block. So here goes nothing…

Here’s the first carved out areas. (Click on photo to enlarge) These areas will be white, the paper color. I will ink the block in a mixture of blues and greens. I will then print all 16 pieces of paper and then go on to carving out what I want to preserve in the blue and green colors. I didn’t have time to start the actual printing process yet though. I am itching to get started to see how it goes but alas, it is time for dinner. I really enjoyed carving the linoleum vs. rubber blocks. It is a harder substance but it isn’t really difficult to carve. It allows much more detail but I won’t know how I’m doing until I proof the block. I may need to do more carving if the white areas are too small. Wish me luck and I’ll show you the results next week.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!