Wellcome to my blog! Today I would like to share with you a little bit more about what printmaking is, why I chose linocut technique for my work and what so special about it.
Printmaking is an artistic process based on the principle of transferring images from a matrix onto another surface, most often paper or fabric. Traditional printmaking techniques include :
While modern artists have expanded available techniques to include screenprinting.
A matrix is essentially a template, and can be made of wood, metal, or glass. The design is created on the matrix by working its flat surface with either tools or chemicals. The matrix is then inked in order to transfer it onto the desired surface. To print from a matrix requires the application of controlled pressure, most often achieved by using a printing press, which creates an even impression of the design when it is printed onto the paper or fabric.
More modern printmaking techniques, such as screenprinting, do not require a press. The resulting print is often the mirror image of the original design on the matrix. One of the great benefits of printmaking (save for monotype) is that multiple impressions of the same design can be printed from a single matrix.
“Lithographic Press” in Elisha Noyce, The Boy’s Book of Industrial Information (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1858)
Lithography printing process
Etching, a method of making prints from a metal plate, usually copper, into which the design has been incised by acid. The copperplate is first coated with an acid-resistant substance, called the etching ground, through which the design is drawn with a sharp tool. The ground is usually a compound of beeswax, bitumen, and resin. The plate is then exposed to nitric acid or dutch mordant, which eats away those areas of the plate unprotected by the ground, forming a pattern of recessed lines. These lines hold the ink, and, when the plate is applied to moist paper, the design transfers to the paper, making a finished print.
Etching and aquatint
One of the most popular methods of creating elegantly patterned silks, screen printing is a traditional, high precision printing process used by many merchants and manufacturers all over the world. Screen printing is the process of pressing ink through a stencilled mesh screen to create a printed design. It’s a popular technique used in a whole range of different industries, so even if you've never heard of the term before today, it’s likely that you’ve worn or used a screen-printed product at some point without even realising. The process is sometimes called serigraphy or silk screen printing, but all of these names refer to the same basic method.
Screen printing is an effective technique for creating bold canvases, posters and artwork, but the method can also be used to print fabrics and textiles, so it's great for creating all sorts of custom clothing and products.
Screen printing is essentially the process of transferring a design on to a plain piece of silk, with the use of manmade screens and ink. It’s a slow and meticulous process, and one which requires a high level of skill, but the stunning results can’t be beaten.
Screen printing is popular for the high quality look and feel it typically generates in its finished products. The thick layer of ink applied sits on top of the fabric as opposed to soaking in to the material, and generally offers a sharp, smooth finish.
Natural fabrics are the ideal candidate for screen printing, as they tend to absorb the ink much better than manmade fabrics – so for this, screen printing works perfectly on silk. Despite advances in technology meaning that we are now able to print much faster and more efficiently through digital printing, screen printing very much still has its place due to the outcome it offers.
Andy Warhol Screen print
Grevy's Zebra from Endangered Species Series, 1983
The screen printing is one the method that I really would like to learn one day. Unfortunately it is very difficult or even impossible to learn this techniques by your self and do it at home. You need spatial equipment, proper studio, knowledge and a lot of practice.
The oldest form of printmaking, woodcut, which appeared in the 8th century in the East and in the early 15th century in the West, is the earliest known relief-printing method. In this method, the design is first either painted directly onto the wood block or pasted on it. Then the surface of the wood is cut away around the design. For fine details and outlines the knife is used; larger areas are removed with gouges. The depth of the relief depends on the design: open areas must be cut deeper than the fine details so that the roller will not deposit ink in these areas. Although woodcuts are generally conceived in bold lines, or large areas, tonal variations can be achieved with textures, a variety of marks made with gouges, chisels, or knives. In contemporary woodcuts many other methods, such as scraping, scratching, and hammering, are also used to create interesting textures.
Originally, woodcut was a facsimile process; i.e., the cutting was a reproduction of a finished design. With most contemporary woodcuts, however, the artist creates his design in the process of cutting.
The printing of woodcuts is a relatively simple process because it does not require great pressure. Although presses are used, even hand rubbing with a wooden spoon can produce a good print. The ink used to print woodcuts must be fairly solid and sticky, so that it lies on the surface without flowing into the hollows. The printing ink can be deposited on the relief either with dabbers or with rollers. Japanese rice or mulberry papers are particularly suitable for woodcuts because they make rich prints without heavy pressure.
The standard procedure for making a woodcut with two or more colours is to cut a separate block for each colour. If the colour areas are distinctly separated and the block is large, one block can be used for more than one colour. All blocks must be the same size to assure that in the finished print the colours will appear in their proper relation to one another, that is, properly registered.
The first, the key block, is generally the one that contains most of the structural or descriptive elements of the design, thus serving as a guide for the disposition of the other colours. After the key block is finished and printed, the print is transferred to the second block. This procedure is repeated until all of the blocks are finished.
Color woodblock print
Under the Wave off Kanagawa
also known as The Great Wave, from the series "Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji
Japan 1826 - 1836
Color woodblock print
Cranes on snow-covered pine
Japan 1829 - 1839
And now about the linocut, the technique that I am using in my work. Basically the linocut is a printmaking technique, a variant of woodcut in which a sheet of linoleum (sometimes mounted on a wooden block) is used for the relief surface. A design is cut into the linoleum surface with a sharp knife, V-shaped chisel or gouge, with the raised (uncarved) areas representing a reversal (mirror image) of the parts to show printed. The cut areas can then be pulled from the backing. The linoleum sheet is inked with a roller or (called a brayer), and then impressed onto paper or fabric.
The actual printing can be done by hand or with a press, as you can see I do my prints only by hand because the stamps are pretty small.
To apply the inks on the stamp I am using the dish sponge cut in small pieces for printing on the fabrics and soft rubber roller for printing on the paper.
By itself, lino doesn't look very inspiring. It's like a rubbery bit of cardboard . Traditional lino comes in a dull grey known as "battleship grey" and a goldish ocher.
I have been using only three types of linoleum (would like to try all of them but unfortunately can't find everything in the local shops) the safety kut, the flooring vinyl and the unmounted lino battleship.
The safety kut style blocks are a lot of fun to work with, but the edges tend to crumble a bit. It’s also pretty expensive, but great for kids to start out with. I like to use it for carving the simple stumps without a lot of small details and fine lines.
The battleship grey block is the classic school art department block. It takes a good edge, is fairly cheap, and carves easily enough once warmed up on the sun or near a heater for a while.
Cutting Tools For Lino Printing
Depending on how much money you can spend to buy tools for lino printing determines the quality of the tools available. Shown are a mixture of cheaper and more expensive tools, if you are a beginner you should look for the red handled lino tools which allow you to change the size of the cutting tool.
Examples of my linocut prints on the paper.
Here there are some beautiful works for the inspiration. Colorful flowers block print by Lili Arnold.
Those are art works from Olga Ezova-Denisova. She is one of my favourite artist-printmaker and she was actually one by whom I got inspired and started to carve my own stamps. If you love forest, animals and nature or you are interested in illustration you should definitely check her instagram profile.
So as you can see one printing method can look very different depending on the size of the block, the type of materials, the surface on what you will print and of course the style of the artist.
If you would like to try linocut, as with anything new, I would suggest you to start with a simple design and get a feel for the technique first. Plan your design on the paper before you start cutting. You can do it with a pencil in a sketchbook, but you may find using white chalk on black paper easier. Remember, what you cut away will be white and what you leave will be black, remember to think about negative and positive spaces too.