OH ISLAND IN THE SUN. The making of a lino cut

Art is often nothing more and nothing less than the visualization of an idea. It’s a codification of lived experience, not unlike Wordsworth’s comment about poetry as a collection of powerful emotions recollected in tranquility. The artist’s ongoing challenge really becomes a technical one. What is the process necessary for realizing the “idea”? Here (for those two of you – OK I exaggerate, one – who may be interested) are some of the steps it takes to arrive at the destination of a completed linocut (It’s called a linocut because, duh, it’s an image cut into linoleum)

Step one. Based on a series of prior sketches, sketch the image onto sanded lino (always remember the final print will be the reverse of the image)

Step 2. Begin the painstaking process of removing all lino material that you don’t want printed. This is a three coloured print, so the image shown here pertains only to the stuff I wanted printed in black

Step 3 Make a rough print. This involves inking the lino and then running it through a large hand cranked print machine. The inking and the printing of a single page takes about 20 minutes (this is printmaking, not reproduction). This helped me gauge just how much space I needed to give over to the background (waves and sky), and how to ensure that thees background images would align perfectly

Step 4. Continue to work on the lino for the other colours. Seen here, my cut for the sea. In order to see what the final image would look like, I find it helpful to shade the lino with a soft pencil

Step 5. This is a shot of one of the above lino inked and ready to print

Step 6. A print of the first two colours (each colour is printed separately and the paper precisely aligned to ensure that there’s a clean registration of the colours

Step 7 And voila. The final print of the black ‘plate’ to complete the pix

It took me three screwed up prints to reach this final perfect copy. Now having failed a few times, I can go forth and print out as many as I have the patience to do (about 5 copies)




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