A Prelude to Printmaking – Part 2: Linocut
Following yesterday’s post, introducing my first ever attempt at etching to the world, here is my first ever attempt at lino cutting. Linocut, which is a form of relief printmaking, involves cutting into linoleum, which, while originally conceived for flooring, has been used by printmakers for almost as long because of its soft surface for cutting while retaining a sufficient durability for printing.
Linocutting is perhaps even trickier to get your head around than etching. This is because you use the same piece of lino to make a print of various colours. In order to “protect” each colour, you cut away at the lino further between prints, going from light to dark because light colours will never show up when printed over darker inks.
So to explain further, you first cut away from the lino anything you want to remain white. This is because the ink will never touch those cut away areas when the ink is rolled over the lino, so once applied to paper, the paper will remain white where the cuts are. Once you’ve got the hang of that and printed your first colour, the same then applies again to that colour – once you roll a darker colour over the lino, it will simply print on top of the first colour unless you cut more of the lino away to protect it. And so it continues for each layer of colour.
We worked with three colours, but with no forward planning on the details of my image, it was extremely difficult to work backwards and think of the image in terms of light going into shadow, and what colours needed to be preserved and what cut away. The lino also proved difficult to cut in a controlled manner.
The result is something a little coarse, but it’s a finish which I think works really well with the theme – Mexican Norm! Here is the finished print (I printed an edition of 5):
…and here is the lino after it’s final cut.
Linocutting was not a technique I loved as much as etching, largely because I find the process of making the image in etching easier to control. Nevertheless I was delighted with the results achieved through linocutting and would certainly like to give it a go again.
Norm prints a plenty, here we come…
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