Episode II: Linoleum Printmaking – After the idea

Pencil Drawing on Linoleum

Earlier this week, I began work on my first linoleum print in nearly a year. Having the idea and the materials is just the first part, now the drawing, carving and inking begins.

I’ve decided to do a reduction print. This means that I’ll cut out only part of the matrix (linoleum), print the lightest color, then cut out what I want to stay that color. I’ll repeat this process until all I have is the black outline. The upside to this process is that I’ll be making a limited edition run on the color prints. The downside is that I’ll be making a limited edition run on the color prints. Once I’ve cut away the various colors, I will only be able to print the image with one type of ink.

First, the drawing has to be put on the linoleum. That is done in pencil so that mistakes can be erased. After the pencil drawing is completed, I then use a Sharpie to go over the lines, and make which parts will be left solid at the end of the printmaking process. I have found that a Sharpie will allow the lines to be visible to make the reduction print easier to complete since I’ll be able to see the lines that I want to keep for the final product. To show a value change with this medium, I have to use hatching, cross-hatching, and stippling. These techniques also provide a variety of lines to make the artwork more interesting.

Drawing post Sharpie treatment

Once I’ve gotten all of my line work completed, I can now begin cutting away all the parts I want to remain white. I try to cut the linoleum in the directions I want to viewers eye to move. This is in case some “noise” occurs. “Noise” is when ink gets on the ridges left after cutting and appear on the paper. This isn’t something you always want to get rid of because it gives a nice effect, but you want the “noise” lines to serve the same purpose as the lines you’ve decided to keep – variety and direction(s) for the viewer to follow across the artwork.

Cut Linoleum, ready for first color

I can now ink the matrix with the lightest color I will be using. I could always hand color the image, of course, but that has a different look than printed ink. It’s not a bad look, and if you are afraid of how your registration will line up (making sure each time you print, everything prints in the correct space) I do recommend hand coloring. This can be done with ink, as if you are painting, acrylic paint, and even color pencils. You just have to be careful because the paper you’ll be printing on is usually really absorbent, so think applications of color will soak though. Below are some pictures of the process so far.

Tomorrow, I’ll ink the first few colors on – but that depends entirely on how fast the ink dries. Hope you are enjoying the process, I know I am!

Now, I’m off to karate class and then the Captain America midnight show.

Detail of first cuts

Outline cuts before using large gouges

V and U gouges used to cut large areas of linoleum

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. D3Z
    Jul 21, 2011 @ 22:40:56

    Staci…I think you have inspired me to follow along with you on the grand adventure back into the print making world! Everything looks awesome!! I’m excites to see the first print! What type of paints do you typically use?? I know one time you said you could use acrylic right?

    Reply

  2. stacigilliam
    Jul 22, 2011 @ 02:56:47

    I love bringing people back to printmaking D3Z! I never thought it would be my favorite medium, but every time I make a print, I just love it more. You can use acrylic, just make sure you don’t apply it too thickly. I would suggest, since Michael’s has it, water soluble inks.

    Reply

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