Assignment 2: First Relief Prints

28/09/16

Assignment 2: First Relief Prints

Submissions:

Task 1 (Project 5):

 

Two printed test cuts (mark making).

 

Task 2 (Project 6):

 

Three single colour linocut prints

 

 

Other single colour linocuts

 

Task 3 (Project 7):

 

Three multi-block prints

 

 

One impression in a single colour of individual lino blocks

In Addition

To support your work you will have drawings, comments and ideas for further experiments in your learning log.

Concepts and Ideas for Further Experiments  "Contrasts & Female Misogyny" Ideas

Concepts and Ideas for Further Experiments
“Contrasts & Female Misogyny” Ideas

I have been exploring concepts and ideas with meaning and an emotional connection to me. I have considered contrasts as a subject, which has been explored in page 19 of my sketchbook, and also a subject that strikes me often in everyday life and news, misogyny by other women. I have encountered this first hand throughout life and it never fails to surprise and disappoint me – from school days when apparent friends discuss others’ faults behind their backs, to the workplace (particularly in male dominated environments) where a female manager saw others as a threat, to mothers judging childless women as lesser emotional beings. These occasions are frequent, however, they are dealt with by conflict or taking the higher ground as appropriate. It is particularly prevalent in today’s society, where social media (a misnomer if ever I heard one – more anti-social), is used by anonymous keyboard warriors to spill their vitriolic opinions. However, I am interested in exploring why this is the case. During my brain storming, it transpired that the latter example was the one that meant the most to me. It is a personal journey that I am beginning and may be cause some offence and indignation to some, however, that is exactly how I have felt on many occasions being the recipient of such judgement.

Concepts and Ideas for Further Experiments  "Contrasts & Female Misogyny" General Brainstorming

Concepts and Ideas for Further Experiments
“Contrasts & Female Misogyny” General Brainstorming

How can this be brought into my artwork? That is a very good question, and is probably why I have not tackled the conceptual element of art so far. However, working through my thoughts and feelings in my sketchbook is beginning to forge a path through the minefield (pages 19, 27-29). I have come to the conclusion that it is best tackled in a series of images and considering that this is a printing course, the use of symbols is a good place to start. I am also exploring the use of text within an image. I concede that these are not original elements, however, I am hoping that they will put across the message. The message that everyone has their story and is entitled to their privacy and not to be judged unfairly or cruelly.

 

Concepts and Ideas for Further Experiments  "Female Misogyny" Mothers - Childless

Concepts and Ideas for Further Experiments
“Female Misogyny” Mothers – Childless

Concepts and Ideas for Further Experiments  "Contrasts & Female Misogyny" Mothers - Childless - Totem Pole Designs

Concepts and Ideas for Further Experiments
“Contrasts & Female Misogyny” Mothers – Childless – Totem Pole Designs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REFLECTION AGAINST ASSESSMENT CRITERIA

Demonstration of Technical & Visual Skills

Materials:

This was a big learning curve, from the Soft Cut to authentic lino, water-based to oil-based inks and different types of paper. I have discovered a preference for authentic lino and oil-based inks, types of paper will be an ongoing experiment and often depends on the outcome of the proof print.

Techniques:

Learning which type of cutting tools to use for the desired effect will be ongoing. I was particularly held back when cutting away larger areas that I didn’t want printed until I thought about using the square ended tool. The registering of the paper and block successfully is crucial to a clean print, particularly when using multi-blocks. I had some success with both methods, by eye and using a jig, however, as noted in my write-up, the jig method gave me more confidence. The multi-block linoprints were a lot of work, however, they are versatile in that I could make the required change to the first block, which I wouldn’t have been able to do with the reductive technique (not that I’ve tried it yet).

Observational Skills:

Looking for suitable subjects appropriate to single colour and multi-block techniques, and to my current skill level was sometimes difficult. Composition is still key and I drew on previous courses to consider fore, mid and background, the rule of thirds, using the frame to fill the space, playing with scale etc.

Quality of Outcome

The single colour linoprints were of variable quality due to the subject and materials chosen plus obviously, skill level. My favourite composition for the single linoprint was of Montana Roja, even though I forgot to reverse the transfer! I still feel it has impact and am pleased with the marks replicating the light and dark, texture, scale and perspective elements. I would like to try this subject again, the right way round, in the future. Regarding the multi-colour linoprint, I am relatively pleased with the result for a first ever attempt. However, I can see may improvements to develop:

  • Use genuine lino for the block to increase crispness of cut
  • Be more adventurous regarding the detail marks as was begun in the flower bud/sheath.
  • Introduce outline where appropriate

Application of Knowledge:

I think this played a big part in my subject choices. Previous courses in drawing and painting influenced how I structured my compositions as note above.

Presentation:

This improved throughout the projects. Initially the test prints were a little messy on the edges. As I progressed I was more aware of superfluous marks and smudges and tried to eradicate them prior to actually printing the image. I haven’t addressed the subject of editioning as yet because I haven’t had a long print run – although I have taken on board the theory.

Discernment:

This is improving, which is probably why I stalled for so long during Project 7. I felt that the initial composition wasn’t right for several reasons and it was not until I found my subject by accident that I was happy to continue. Selecting the most successful prints is becoming easier too. I am extremely self-critical and will continue to be so, however, I have to accept that I am learning and “mistakes” are a crucial part of that process. Sometimes “mistakes” are actually more exciting as I noticed in the first multi-block print where the orange infiltrated the background. Had it not also contaminated the actual flower,I would have preferred it to the attempt at “perfection”. Perfection, whatever that is, is becoming more monotonous to me.

Conceptualisation of Thoughts:

This is still in its infancy – I have concentrated on learning the techniques so far. However, I am being encouraged to attack this more confidently by my tutor. I have begun to formulate an idea to take forward. this is being explored in my sketchbook. I need to consider symbolism, the message and the image itself and I am now excited to push this further.

Demonstration of Creativity

Imagination:

My main learning process so far has been from life – trying to attain proportion, accuracy, perspective etc. All are invaluable aspects and skills, however, I feel at the expense of my intuition, imagination and creativity. The exploration of my embryonic conceptual idea is going to push this forward and I am feeling more confident that I can explore more deeply into my own feelings.

I enjoy experimenting with different media and effects and I think this will help me with bringing out my imagination and creativity. I feel that I can often see the unusual in the ordinary and trying to reproduce this vision is what is going to aid me with fulfilling this criteria.

Context

This is a skill in itself. I am now more questioning, observant and critical when researching and viewing other artists’ work. I look deeper, not just at the technical aspects, but for what is being said and why. I am more intrigued with the ambiguous and expressive. I would rather return to such works many times and still come away with questions as well as answers. I feel art should make the viewer work to fully appreciate it. That is a tall order to give myself, I realise.

 

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Project 7: Multi-block Linoprint

31/08 – 23/09/16

Project 7: Multi-block Linocuts

For some reason I found this overly daunting as a project. I had been mulling over subjects for a while and I couldn’t pin anything down that was simple, dynamic and interesting. I was aware that, being my first ever attempt at this, I should not choose something too complicated and that the colours must be clearly defined. My thinking with the colours was to either go for contrasting/complementary schemes or subtle, gentle tones. Initially, my thoughts were to look at landscape and I was drawn to the view across the sea of Fuerteventura with its volcanic mountains with tiers of purple tones. This although beautiful, was probably too subtle for my competency level, so found another view including mountains, sparkling sea and a distant crop of typically Canarian white buildings. This had fore, middle and background with some more distinct elements. I began planning my composition and colour palette.

Multi-block Linocut Image 1 Compositional planning A4 sketchbook

Multi-block Linocut Image 1
Compositional planning A4 sketchbook

Multi-block Linocut Image 1 Colour planning A4 sketchbook

Multi-block Linocut Image 1
Colour planning A4 sketchbook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At this stage, I completely stalled – I wasn’t happy with the image at all.  I had a week or two where I did anything else to avoid tackling this again. Then, I noticed that my Bird of Paradise plant had begun to flower and had to draw it – I didn’t even consider this for my project at first.

 

Having worked on the flower image, I am much happier with the subject, colours and overall composition. The colours are dramatic and complementary and the composition fills the frame nicely, I like the shapes and flow of the lines. Again, as I’ve noticed before, I need to feel an affinity with a subject to be able to progress it and I just had to draw this flower as it’s so exotically beautiful.

Then came the hard work – how to maintain the dynamic yet simplify the colours. My first challenge was that I needed four colours not three as the brief suggested: Yellow, orange, blue and green plus the white of the paper in places. My only way of making the fourth colour, green, was to overlay the yellow with blue. On doing this, I realised that as yellow was my base colour over which all other darker colours were laid, all of the blue had a hint of green. I then had to return to my first block and cut away anything I wanted to be pure blue and avoid the yellow base. I used the first method of registering by eye for the first prints and then, cut back into the first block and continued with the second method of using a jig for registration.

Cutting the Blocks

 

I had to use the Soft Cut blocks rather than actual lino as I only had these in number in the same size. I stand by my original review, in that, although these do not require warming to cut, they are trickier to achieve a clean, sharp cut than actual lino. This became a source of frustration, particularly when trying to create a precise taper at the end of the flower tips, and a clean edge at the end of a cut where snags would remain.

The cutting was very time-consuming and took a while to get in to the swing of it. It is easy to become too tense and hold the cutting tools too tightly and cause intense muscle tension. The more I worked, though, the more I realised this and made a conscious effort to relax and sit up straight.

I also transferred the tracing onto all three blocks before I read about printing from one block (via a paper print) to the other.  This however, helped tremendously particularly where lines overlapped, it also gave me confidence in lining up each block precisely.

Printing and Registering the Multi-block Linoprint (Method 1)

 

My main challenge was to create a white (completely cut away) background on blocks 2 and 3. I found it difficult not to create many ridges and went back several times to cut these away as best I could. Finally I allowed myself to just clean off any over inking with a wet wipe – for some insane reason, I had this notion that this was cheating somehow. After many unsuccessful attempts I gave in and got on with it!

Funnily enough though, after I had taped these prints up on the wall to dry and to review, I actually quite liked the orange “splashes” of colour! Maybe I should let go a bit?

I was very pleased with the “by eye” method of registration, however, it seemed to work well with this image.

Printing and Registering the Multi-block Linoprint (Method 2)

 

Using the second method for registering prints via a jig was a more comfortable experience. I knew that every print was in the same place. Although I had some success with the first method, this way gave me more confidence to lift the paper and over print if necessary.

One of the issues I encountered was that the orange was over-inked. When rolling, I had to listen for the “right” sound as the roller went back and forth. A slight sticky sound is the best way I can describe it, this told me that the right amount and consistency of ink had been reached. If this sound was not present, the ink was too wet and this resulted in a squelchy appearance as shown in the proof. This seems to be especially important when printing over another wet colour.

This time, as I had cut away the shapes that were to be pure blue on block 1, I had a more successful colour reproduction, however, the green was not as successful as the first method print with the blue on yellow, but had enough of a difference to indicate green.

I also ensured I kept other parts of the block wiped clean of ink where not wanted especially on the background.

I made three prints plus the proof, where I considered the second print the most successful and “clean”.

Multi-block Linoprint. Print 2 for method 2 of registering

Multi-block Linoprint. Print 2 for method 2 of registering

 

Summary

  • One of the hardest aspects of this project was selecting an appropriate image, particularly as this was my first attempt at this process.
  • I am now awaiting delivery of authentic lino blocks, as I found the Soft Cut very frustrating when trying to achieve a clean-cut – I need to weigh up the pros and cons of using Soft Cut against having to warm the lino.
  • Time used to work through colours and shapes was time well spent.
  • After researching the work of Richard Bawden, I can see the absolute value in using black (or another dark colour) for outline and hatching, directional marks etc. to achieve the detail and depth in an image and composition. I was in awe of what he achieved with 3 or 4 colours and black. I had begun to explore this with the stem and flower bud and am keen to experiment more.
  • Both methods of registration were fairly successful, although I can see that the more layers of print that are used, the more useful the jig would be. Using standard sizes of block and creating jigs per size would be worth the effort.
  • Posture and tension in my neck and shoulders, together with holding the cutting tool too tightly was problematic at first. However, consciously relaxing the shoulders and altering my grip on the cutting began to alleviate this.
  • As before the consistency of the ink was key to success or failure and I have mentioned the desired sound of the ink when being rolled. This is difficult to explain, yet I am learning how things like this help guide the process to be more successful.
  • Cutting a large, uniform area to keep white when printed was quite tricky. I swapped to the square ended cutting tool and this help significantly, however, as mentioned, once I had allowed myself the luxury of just wiping the excess ink away, it speeded up the entire process.

 

Research Point: Multi Block Linocuts

19/09/16

Research Point: Multi Block Linocuts

Look at the work of Edward Bawden, and his son, contemporary printmaker Richard Bawden. Take a close look at the way they have worked with multiple blocks.

I decided to make most of my notes in my sketchbook for easier reference whilst working. I have saved some of my favourite images to my Pinterest board:

https://uk.pinterest.com/ginaemmett/contemporary-printmakers/

Edward Bawden

Reference sites:

Wikipedia

www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/edward-bawden-707

Specific images discussed:

Sahara (1928)

www.Edwardbawden.co.uk

Swan and Grass (white, yellow, grey) (1950s)

www.Edwardbawden.co.uk

 

Edward Bawden - notes regarding multi block printing in A4 sketchbook

Edward Bawden – notes regarding multi block lino cuts in A4 sketchbook

 

Richard Bawden

Reference site:

http://www.birchamgallery.co.uk/catalogue/artist/richard:bawden/

Specific images discussed:

Amaryllis:

http://www.birchamgallery.co.uk/catalogue/artist/Richard:Bawden/RBNIS003/?category=prints

Finchingfield:

http://www.birchamgallery.co.uk/catalogue/artist/Richard:Bawden/RBNIS043/?category=prints

Richard Bawden - notes in A4 sketchbook

Richard Bawden – notes regarding multi block linocuts in A4 sketchbook

What can you learn from them?

  • The most obvious point is the importance of clean registration when overprinting with numerous blocks for layers of colour.
  • As Edward Bawden’s linocuts were often designs for wallpaper, they needed to be simple yet effective, fresh yet representative of their subject.
  • A larger piece of work can be made by using smaller blocks printing alongside one another, be that for wallpaper or a larger image.
  • With Richard Bawden, I learnt that any level of detail is possible by using minimal colours with overlays of (black in his case) outline, directional line for contours and variations of hatching and stippling for tonal changes.
  • A multitude of colours may be suggested when only 3 or 4 are actually used. Layering transparent colours can produce another and optically mixing by placing textured colours alongside each other also enhances the illusion.
  • Simple subjects can be taken out of the ordinary by the treatment given to them.
  • There is no subject that can not be attempted.
  • Although I did not find any process information for the two artists, I got the impression that many drawings and plans were worked through before cutting the lino.
  • I am also very glad I studied these two printmakers before attempting the printing of my multi block linocuts! It’s reiterated the care I should take and given me inspiration and a little more confidence to just do it!

 

Research Point: Linocuts

26, 30 & 31/08/16

Research Point

Find a couple of contemporary printmakers whose work you like, and reflect on their techniques. How do they use lino? What sort of marks do they make? What could you learn from them?

Initially I looked over my tutor’s comments following on from my first assignment and researched some of the printmakers that had been noted. These, although, not strictly relating to linocuts but monoprints, were really inspiring for future work. I spent time looking at how they went through their individual processes and inspirations. My thoughts, along with ideas for future personal concepts are at the end of this post.

Regarding linocut printmaking in particular, I found some beautiful work and have selected a couple of the printmakers that particularly caught my eye. I have also created a Pinterest board, where I have pinned a small sample of the work that I really liked and/or found interesting: https://uk.pinterest.com/ginaemmett/contemporary-printmakers/

Mark A Pearce

A painter and printmaker who lives and works in the Lake District, using his surroundings to create beautiful work. His linocuts are colourful and sharp, using the same block in a reductive technique to layer his colours and images, once cut they can not be reused for the earlier layers. I find this thought both terrifying and liberating. His mark making is very precise in appearance, although he manages to reproduce the natural shapes around him with some very straight and angular lines with directional cuts. From these he can produce stunning water reflections and ripples with lots of movement in water, skies and foliage. There are examples of strong contrasting colours and also of subtle shifts in tones of similar colours. The registration of each layer has to be spot on to create these sharp images, one that immediately springs to mind is of the boat in the water called Morning Reflection 42 x 26cm – https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/359232507760718720/

I was also struck by the differing scale of his prints along with orientation best suited to the compositions. Some were quite small at around 17x17cm and the largest I noted was 71x44cm, pretty big for a single block I would think. The images are very painterly, Mark himself, notes that his paintings can look like his prints and vice versa.

Website: http://www.markapearce.co.uk/original-linocut-prints

Angela Newberry

This printmaker has quite a different style – her prints are still colourful but in a more muted sense and I’m wondering whether this is, in part, due to the different papers she uses. This is something I have yet to explore in any depth, I have used different paper but only as far as newsprint, differing weights of cartridge and some fairly standard, flat and strong printing paper. Angela has used handmade papers such as Italian Fabriano, Japanese Hosho (made from the bark of the Kozo tree (paper Mulberry)) and Nepalese Lokta (from the Lokta plant, a member of the Laurel family) in different colours. Unfortunately, I can not really see the variety of printing quality on-screen as I’m sure I would in the “flesh”, however, with handmade paper there must be natural variations that give a unique quality to each print in an edition. The artist is based in Cornwall and Australia although is mostly inspired by the Australian landscape, however, there is a strong Japanese feel to her printmaking – maybe again, because of the papers?

Website: http://angela-newberry.co.uk/index.htm

Hosho Papers – Strong and soft, not liable to shrinkage or expansion. Natural colouring – unbleached.

Ref: David Bull’s Encyclopedia of Woodblock Printing, Woodblock.com

Lokta Papers – Long lasting and durable, strong and easily foldable avoiding crinkling and corrugation, free from germs and highly resistant to insects. Made from the bark of the Lokta sampling when 5-7 feet tall, is cut from the base and regenerates over a few years and is a sustainable resource.

Ref: http://www.papermojo.com/lokta.html

Other Recommended Printmakers

Suggestions from my tutor for printmakers to look at, again images I liked have been added to my Pinterest board – link above:

Terry Frost – Abstract/colourful/joyful

Richard Diebenkorn – Etchings

Pat Steir – Silk screen/etchings/monoprints over the top of screen prints – each individual – there are NO MISTAKES in art just discoveries – inspired by Chinese water painting.

Prunella Clough – Idea development – development of images and compositional choices. Landscapes and geology. Reducing and enlarging – industrial legacies – abstraction of images.

Helen Frankethaler – Abstraction – emotional overload – very expressive – more screen printing and monoprinting.

Shelley Burgoyne – Working from observation – Magadelena series – Etching & linocut. Fabulous pen and ink drawings from which to build prints. Very inventive and creative yet managing to continue to explore her main themes – always finding new ways to express them – thought to take away! Particularly like the Tide drawings 2x2m. Further thoughts in A4 sketchbook.

Possible themes for development:

Have been pondering where I can go regarding developing themes. Looking back at past courses and work, I am always interested in contrasts – be they shadow-light, hard-soft, jagged or rounded, industrial-natural. In Drawing and Painting 1, I was fascinated with cast shadows – making them as important as the object throwing them. Here in my new location, I am drawn to the volcanic rock which was once molten and fluid and is now solid yet can appear rounded or sharp.

  1. Examine contrasts as discussed above:
    1. shadow/light
    2. hard/soft
    3. angular/curved
    4. industrial/natural
  2. Female misogyny – this idea has been floating around in my head for a few months.
    1. what
    2. who
    3. why
    4. how
    5. competition?
    6. jealousy?
    7. male indoctrination?
    8. to be valued by men – the ultimate goal?

“Contrasts” would be more easily translated into a visual context – although for interest would benefit from abstraction and examining the feelings evoked.

Female misogyny, a more conceptual theme that would require much contemplation and expressive experimentation. Again, abstraction of emotions, rules applying to females across cultures, religions, the work place, family hierarchy – plus, I’m sure, many more angles. Maybe explore symbolism as well as expressionism.

Could the two themes be brought together – I’m sure they could with thought…

 

Project 6: Single Colour Linocut – continued

15 – 17/08/16

Further Single Colour Linocuts

I decided to explore my other sketches and attempt further single colour linocuts.

Initial inspirational sketches from around me. Pencil in A4 sketchbook

Initial inspirational sketches from around me.
Pencil in A4 sketchbook

 

A neighbouring villa was interesting due to the mid afternoon shadows cast by its various elevations. I needed to simplify the image and remove the additional extensions which would have added confusion in the monochrome reproduction. I also felt I needed to include some of the plants around it as it would have been too stark and “man-made” without them.

The sketch I made from life was more interesting as the sea was never still and the volcanic rocks appeared almost uniform en mass, yet were very individual on closer inspection. I was challenged by how to make the waves recognisable, how to delineate the sky from the sea effectively and how to create convincing rocks all in monochrome.

 

 

White pencil on black paper sketches of villa and coastal images

White pencil on black paper sketches of villa and coastal images

 

 

I began as before, by drawing in white pencil on black paper. At this stage, I felt that both images would work successfully as a single colour linocut.

I decided to work on the coastline scene first of all as I had more of an affinity with it. This is probably because I sketched from life.  However, as I reviewed the white on black drawing, I felt that the rocks needed more individuality. I then decided to make some studies of the rock to try to become more familiar with its character.

 

 

Coastal Scene Linocut

The following gallery shows the process from white on black sketch to cutting the lino block. To increase interest, two of the rock studies were also traced and transferred to the lino, this was to give a definite fore, middle and background composition.

 

 

Following on from the first proof rubbing, I took a couple of prints, first on newsprint and then on light weight cartridge paper.

Coastal scene - first prints for review on newsprint and on light weight cartridge A4 paper.

Coastal scene – first prints for review on newsprint and on light weight cartridge A4 paper.

 

From these early prints, which are more easily judged for accuracy and success than the proof rubbings, I made some observations and notes for amendments. Those being:

  • The foam coming in to the beach needs to be more horizontal – less slanted
  • The sea goes a little uphill on the right of the horizon
  • The rock from my study looks more like a face
  • Think I prefer the softer white of the newsprint to the bright white cartridge paper

Taking these into consideration, I made some revised cuts and amendments.

 

 

 

 

Coastal scene - selected final print on heavy weight, off-white A4 cartridge paper.

Coastal scene – selected final print on heavy weight, off-white A4 cartridge paper.

 

Self Critique

  • Pleased with the sky, it has a definite separation from the sea, yet has some movement and gives perspective with the varied marks.
  • Once rectified, the horizon is clear and level but has movement.
  • The sea, up to the foam is quite successful, although, I think I cut away too much for the sea spray on the left wave.
  • I was disappointed with the sea-foam, which worked really well in the white on black drawing. Again, I think I cut away too much when trying to amend this part of the image.
  • The rocks were my main disappointment. I think by tracing in my studies in an attempt to increase interest, I made my transferred drawing too confusing to follow, especially as it was in reverse to the original sketch.
  • I don’t think there is enough delineation between the sea and the rocks so the image merges everything together
  • I am, having said all that, glad I tried it though. It is a matter of practice and becoming used to working in reverse. It is an ambitious image for my second lino block and taking that into consideration it turned out better than maybe it should have.

 

Villa

After an ambitious couple of images with much texture, I thought it may be a nice change to go for more man-made shapes and angles. The neighbouring villa, obviously was still there for me to use as reference alongside my original sketch.  The lighting was a little different as it was later in the day, so I decided to stick with my original image for that.

I also decided to try actual lino instead of the artificial, soft cut substitute. Again, using the white on black drawing, I transferred the image in reverse onto the lino. The main “white” or negative lines and shapes were cut out first. I find that, sometimes, I can become too engrossed and forget to change the blade to a more appropriate size or shape, which I did here on the  pillars at the front. This took a little too much out of the sides where they should have been in shadow. I may just have rescued them by widening the pillars themselves.  It was also tricky defining the varied blocks in the volcanic wall – which is built in a similar way to dry stone walls by wedging differing shaped and sized rocks together. There is no mortar holding them together and the crevices between blocks are dark and the blocks themselves can reflect quite a lot of the sunlight.  I tried to replicate this, however, with plants and leaves in front I had to ensure they didn’t merge together and held their own definition.

I tried to give the image a sense of place by lightly indicating the planes in the background and additional shrubs in the front.

On the whole this worked ok, although, I don’t find it as engaging as the other two designs.

 

 

I took a few prints on newsprint, light weight bright white cartridge and heavy weight cartridge paper. The bright white paper appealed to me the most as it symbolised the bright afternoon sunlight.

Villa - selected final print on A4 bright white light weight cartridge paper

Villa – selected final print
on A4 bright white light weight cartridge paper

Comparing Substitute, Soft Cut Lino with Genuine Lino Blocks

Substitute, soft cut lino blocks were all I could get before moving away. My observations were:

  • They are very easy to cut into, although, maybe too easy at times.
  • Trying to achieve a clean end to the cut was difficult and a lot of quickly made marks for texture were inadvertently left “feathery” and not sharp.
  • I felt it would be easy to cut right through – and at the edges I did at times.
  • As I only used these for the more textural images – the soft cut may have had an advantage for these marks.
  • Transferred drawings were easy to see and follow.

Genuine Lino – I had a few blocks from years ago that I had never used.

  • Had to be warmed for easy cutting – which slowed me down in a more considered way.
  • Much easier to be precise.
  • Cleaner ends to cuts – much sharper finish.
  • Because of the more solid construction, I felt more in control (until the lino cooled too much – the blade could then slip).
  • The main disadvantage, was viewing pencil marks on the darker lino.

On the whole, though I see why the substitute version has been developed, I preferred the feel and handling of the real lino – for now!

 

Project 6: Single Colour Linocut

10 – 12/08/16

Choosing an Image

Look around you for inspiration. …contains strong light and dark contrasts as well as a variety of textures and shapes.

In my new location in Lanzarote, I don’t have to look far for inspiration. From my window I can see picturesque little villas that follow a similar blueprint but that have been modified by their owners to incorporate their individuality. From my front door, I have a view of a spectacular volcanic mountain and at the end of our road there is a dramatic rocky, volcanic coastline with the Atlantic Ocean crashing against it.

I made sketches of a neighbours villa and, during my morning dog walk, I sat on the rocks and drew a little view of the coast.  I had previously begun a painting of the mountain, Montana Roja, from a sketch so decided to use that also as an option.

 

To help me decide which image to use as my main single colour linocut, I made simplified drawings of each on black paper with white pencil to aid the visualisation of any subsequent print. This was extremely helpful, as the thinking in reverse or negative is quite tricky if not used to doing so.

 

As noted in my sketchbook – I was definitely leaning towards choosing the mountain as my image, but decided to wait until the next day and sleep on it.

Planning your Image

Using your developed sketch you are now going to transfer the design onto black or any other dark coloured paper. This will represent the way your cutting in the lino will appear when printed. It also helps you understand the way cutting areas away to represent the white in your design works.

Ah – and there was me thinking I was “cheating” yesterday. This was definitely worth doing and has endorsed my first choice of the mountain to make my main image.

Reverse your Design on the Lino

Now this will teach me for thinking I was clever earlier. With so much brain intervention, I did indeed trace the image to transfer it to the lino but inexplicably, forgot the “turning over” bit. I reproduced a simple outline of the image and transferred it the same way round on to the lino!

First Cuts

As advised, I cut the basic outlines to establish placement and then using the white on black drawing as a guide, cut textured marks to help describe the fissures, contours, shapes and tones of the mountain. I referred back to the mark making exercise linocut to help inform which tools to use and how. I was keen to ensure that the silhouetted rear peak was clear against a lighter sky, yet maintained the dark sky where the sun hit the main summit.

I took a few proof rubbings to test the effectiveness of my cuts, and found I needed to lighten the sky over the dark peak, sharpen the outline of the mountain and also integrate the light and dark areas of sky. (Some of this was clearer after the first one or two prints I must add.)

 

Even the proofs did not alert me to the fact that I hadn’t reversed the image – they, of course being rubbings, came out the correct way!

Printing your Lino

I decided to stick to black ink as it commands a sense of drama that is befitting a mountain! I prepared some A4 sheets of paper, using newsprint, some inexpensive cartridge paper and some specifically purchased medium weight printing paper. I had bought some equipment and paper prior to leaving the UK, however, as it was in a container goodness knows where for 3-4 weeks, I’ve completely forgotten what paper I’d ordered – so a surprise for me!

After printing a couple of runs on newsprint first, I decided to sharpen some cuts and extend the lighter sky as mentioned above. My initial euphoria at viewing the printed image was dampened by the frustration of the realisation that I had not reversed the image before cutting! How disappointing! I am still pleased with the marks and texture, it’s just back to front. Well, mistakes are for learning from!

Below are the three best prints out of the batch:

 

I think my favourite, being on bright white paper and probably the sharpest print is the cartridge paper.

Montana Roja A4 Bright White Cartridge Paper

Montana Roja
A4 Bright White Cartridge Paper

My Thoughts:

What went wrong?

  • A little more sharpness and clarity in the main outline would be better
  • The lighter sky area could have been stronger on the left edge
  • Yes it would have been a truer image if it was reversed

What went right?

  • The effect of the sun worked just as I’d hoped
  • Using hatching techniques for the distant tonal variations
  • The silhouette of the most distant peak
  • The contrast of black on white, and white on black contour lines
  • The fissures, peaks and troughs
  • Textural marks

All in all, if it wasn’t for the main error (probably don’t need to point it out again!), I am really pleased with this. It is something I have noticed previously, in human and animal portraits and some landscapes, that if I have an affinity with the subject, I feel I have a more successful outcome.

What do you have to take into account in order to create a strong single-colour design?

  • A definite focal point or subject
  • High tonal contrast
  • Simplicity of motif
  • Opportunity for textural mark making

Can you find suitable new drawing techniques which translate into a linocut that have not been included already?

  • Making strong 3 dimensional shapes with blocked tone
  • Using contour lines to describe shape and form rather than outline

I know I will be tempted to try this again – the right way round – in the future. I have after all done all the planning – it’s just cutting and printing!

Project 5: Linocuts

Preparing a Test Linocut

08-09/08/16

For this project you will be trying out various linocutting tools to make marks. This will introduce you to the possibilities of the tools and the range of expression possible with linocutting.

I have tried linocutting only once before, several years ago, so this is a new experience. This time I could only source a lino alternative, which as stated in the course notes, is easier to cut and needs no pre-warming – although the climate here is very warm anyway.  I found other challenges with it, in that it is very smooth and it is easy to slip with the cutting tool when trying to use minimal pressure. I also found it difficult to achieve the final severance cut at the end of a mark, however, that could be due to inexperience. The off-cuts were also very soft, akin to grated cheddar, which made them difficult to remove from the cut material.

A4 lino marked into squares for mark making trials

A4 lino marked into squares for mark making trials

 

Lino replacement marked into squares, placed in bench hook with selection of cutting blades.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Squared up lino with blades to be used where.

Squared up lino with blades to be used where.

 

 

Cutting tools to be used are marked as follows:

V-tools in varying sizes across top two rows
Squared tool across third row
Curved tool across fourth row
Gouge tools in varying sizes across bottom two rows.

 

 

 

 

V-Tools:

I seem to cope with these the best at the moment, particularly with the lino replacement. They seem to be more precise and manoeuvrable, although I had to be careful not to cut too deep. I managed to achieve a wide variety of marks that would be very useful to give texture and illusions of tone in an image. I liked the fact that I could make angular and curved cuts relatively easily and cleanly.

Square Tool:

This was good for wider cuts that maintained their width along the line rather than tapering. It would also be good for larger cut out areas. A corner of it could also be used in a similar way to the V-Tools, and also to graduate line thickness.

Curved Tool:

This one I struggled with most.  It seemed to have less cutting area and I couldn’t achieve much variety of mark. I found I could use it “upside down” as well as the right way up and I could create some leaf-like or tear drop shapes which were nice. On the whole though, it’s not one I would call on much at the moment I think.

Gouge Tools:

As with the V-Tools I had a range of sizes to try. I could create a good range of lines. I had more success with angular lines than curved, which surprised me – although again, this may be down to being a novice and practice may improve this. Rocking the blade from side to side, I made a line that gave some interesting textures and patterns.

Lessons Learnt:

  • Where precision is needed, the blades required careful handling on the lino replacement as they could easily skid off and make an unwanted mark.
  • Using a medium soft brush to sweep away off-cuts was useful to clear the lino.
  • Likewise to above, a hand-held vacuum was a great help to clear up.
  • Although I haven’t yet taken a print of the marks made, it did occur that all the textures are in negative, I will then have to take this into consideration if I want a positive mark.
  • Applying differing pressures greatly affects the variety of mark.
  • Sometimes the end cut would not come away cleanly, so a sharp scalpel blade was useful for this.
  • At times, I left the partially cut section attached, I am keen to see if this makes any “impression” when inked and printed. I am thinking of scales, feathers, fur etc textures – we shall see.
  • From the marks made it is clear to see I am right-handed, so I must be prepared to turn the lino to achieve different directions and angles in those marks.

Proofing the Lino

09/08/16

Proofing of a lino block, by rubbing through tracing paper with a soft pencil.

Proof of Mark Making Linocut on Tracing Paper

Proof of Mark Making Linocut on Tracing Paper

 

The proof of the linocut helped me see what cuts had or hadn’t worked. As mentioned in my lessons learnt above, I wasn’t sure if my cuts, where they hadn’t completely come away would show any result when printed. This showed that some texture may be achieved but in the main, nothing of any note appeared.

 

 

 

 

 

The proof tracing next to the actual linocut.

The proof tracing next to the actual linocut.

 

 

I thought it valuable to record the proof alongside the lino itself to see how they differed as much as how much they were alike.

 

 

 

 

I decided to use a scalpel to help define the incomplete cuts further, otherwise their subtlety would be lost. I also decided to cut the grid lines into the lino to help define each square.

Printing the Lino

On printing the lino the first time, I was pleasantly surprised by the result of the image itself, however, the edges were a little messy.  I had used a cloth to cover my printing table and the creases had taken up some ink which produced messy smudges along the edges. I moved the lino onto a clean glass plate, re-inked it and took another print. This was much cleaner and a little more uniform in its inking.

First attempt at pulling a print - the result was a little messy.

First attempt at pulling a print – the result was a little messy.

Second attempt at the print - cleaner and crisper generally.

Second attempt at the print – cleaner and crisper generally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In your learning log make notes about how you might use the different textures and cut lines to represent your ideas. Do any immediately suggest a subject?

Many of the marks suggest organic shapes such as branches, reeds, grasses or leaves. Varying line thicknesses may denote perspective and/or tonal variations. I am delighted at how dramatic the images appear against the flat black. I can also see how tapered lines could suggest figures, their limbs and movement. For no specific subject, there is a dynamism in many of the images.

As for suggesting an actual subject, using a grid reference of A to D across the top and 1 to 6 down, I can particularly see in A2, a path or stream fading off into the distance with grasses or reeds bordering the way forward, overhanging leaves and branches. In B5, I can see a figure running towards the right with maybe, spectators around him. In many of the squares, there are parts of landscape and vegetation. At a stretch in B6, I see a figure seated beneath a sign or flag.

I can see so much potential to create striking images just by random marks and monochrome printing, I can’t wait to get started!