The Making of a Two Colour Linocut Print


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One of the most challenging aspects of making art is coming up with regular ideas for works. I frequently sit in front of a piece of paper for an entire day, struggling to form the ideal composition, only to finish the day with a mostly blank piece of paper, the fibers worn down from constant erasing. This is no doubt made worse by my serious case of perfectionitis. However I often discover that a cure for creative block is simply going out for a stroll.

The other day while walking to meet my husband at the local pub for a Sunday roast, I came across a situation that provided inspiration for my next print. The sight was simple enough, a cluster of pigeons clumped around a park bench on a crisp yet sunny winter afternoon. It was the height of day, and what caught my eye were the long, dark shadows that extended from the birds. Recently I have been attracted to capturing the diverse and fleeting effects of light that often go un-noticed. I snapped a picture on my phone and continued on to the pub.

pigeons_edited.jpg

Up until this point I have worked largely on single block linoleum prints. For these, I carve an image out of a linoleum block using a series of variously sized gouges to create different kinds of detailing. Once the image is incised into the lino, I roll the block with black ink, lay a sheet of Japanese paper over the top and press the image to the paper. For the pigeon print, I thought I would attempt to print in two different colours. This process is slightly more complex, as it involves carving two blocks, printing the first, waiting for the ink to dry, and then printing the second.

pigeons collage 1.jpg

Once I had finished the initial graphite drawing, I transfered the image to the lino by placing the drawing face-down on the block, taping it in place and rubbing over the entire back of the paper with an HB pencil. Then, since this is a two colour print, I had to replicate the areas of the image that I wanted to produce in the second colour onto a separate block. This was done with the use of tracing paper and carbon paper.

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When dealing with multi-block prints, lighter colours are printed first. Since I planned to print the block with the shadows in the lighter colour, I began by carving this one, being careful to remove all areas that I wished to leave white. Once these were printed I revisited my second block. The ink on the initial layer dried within a few days, and I was then able to print the second layer. I was reasonably satisfied with the end result. Although the two colours don't match up perfectly, I think imperfection in this case adds character.

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