Multicolour Linocut – Project 7

I used this watercolour sketch as inspiration for my multicolour linocut design. I chose it for it’s simplicity in colour palette, and thought it would be interesting to have the main forms as white cut areas and making the negative space more detailed. I had originally used this sketch as the basis for a cut card design I made for my husband, with appliqued torn asian paper and ric-rac.

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In my first development sketch, I started to think about how I could use the pink and yellow in the negative space in order to support the block whilst printing, and giving a more even print. This is when I thought of using the border as a literal frame for the piece, adding texture and movement to the design in a woodgrain pattern. The green contrasting in tone and colour helps the warmer colours and white of the flowers stand out in the composition.

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I initially printed the series on bright white cartridge paper, and found that the broad cut area on the green keyblock was difficult to keep clear from ink. Registration was a huge problem as I stupidly tried to apply the blocks directly without using a registration marker, forgetting that when I printed the proof this method was fine as the keyblock marking the edges of the design was printed first rather than last. My cutting was also not an exact match between blocks, meaning that perfect registration was impossible to achieve. I had initially planned to use this as a practice design and do a larger more polished design for assessment. Unfortunately I got so involved in trying to get the technique and inking right, I have run out of time.

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With some of my rejected prints, I made a small collage and printed the keyblock on top. Unfortunately the registration was not as good as I had hoped (after all that practising too!) but I like the resulting effect and could see scope for design development from it. My urge to use it at the basis of a textile piece has had to be quashed!

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This was my final version set after cutting some more from the keyblock and printing on off-white hot pressed Saunders Waterford instead of the bright white paper. The cream does not really show well here, but I was concerned about the cream not working as well as bright white with the design. My fears were unfounded and I felt it worked well.

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I then experimented with other colour combinations, and wanted to try using more tonal contrast between the three colours, but in complementary colours. The pink was mixed with pale blue to a hard candy cool pink. The cream hot pressed paper as before works well to make the colours appear even cooler. It totally changes the character of the print, and I feel it has a sophistication lacking in the original.


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At the end of printing sessions I have started to make monoprints with left over ink, both on loose leaf and in a hardbacked sketchbook I have bought. Here are this sessions offerings that I may or may not draw into.

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In further multicolour linocuts, I would like to experiment more with printing on different papers, although as I mentioned before I have had problems sourcing materials for this. Having read about Claude Flight, I would also be interested in trying to abandon the keyblock at the design stage, and incorporated varying pressures of printing and inking within the design. I think I am rather short of the technical ability to achieve that yet though! It also has reminded me of japanese printmaking, where a single block may be inked in two different colours. I have read that Picasso printed in dark tones and overlayed these with white ink. I have started exploring this by masked monoprinting opaque white over wet coloured linocut prints with interesting effects.


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