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LINOCUT

One of the most popular and accessible methods of making a print. Linoleum is one of the many materials now available to make a relief print. See also woodcut. Lino is often used to make relief-printing blocks.  It is smooth, without a grain, easy to draw on and has the advantage of becoming softer and easier to cut when warmed.

Single block prints

The image is drawn onto the block of lino and areas that are not part of the image are then cut away, leaving the image in relief. Ink is then rolled onto the block and paper is placed on top.  Pressure is applied to the back of the paper using a press or by hand to transfer the ink to the paper.


Linocut: Detail from Café: Sally Hands

 

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The graphic qualities of relief printmaking work particularly well with an approach based on drawings which have strong tonal contrasts. Lino is a stable material which can be cut easily in any direction and allows a wide range of marks to be made. Preparatory drawings can easily be altered in scale with a photocopier and transferred to the block ready for cutting.

NB: All relief prints give a reverse image. In order to retain you image the same way round, it has to be reversed onto the block. This is particularly important if you are using lettering.

Any tools which can make a mark in the lino can be used, including motorized power tools. There are specialised gouges and knives which give more predictable results.

 
Linocut using gouges detail: Alan Figg

 
Single block linocut with hand colouring using water colour detail: Mexico: Stuart Evans

Multi-block prints
In addition to one-colour printing, multiple blocks can be used to produce multi colour prints each  block carries different colours and need to be registered carefully when printing


Multiblock linocut detail: Raeburn, Teapot and Black Dog: Sally Hands

Reduction Print

The reduction method much favoured by Picasso can also be used to produce multi colour prints from one block making the registration process much easier. Each colour is printed in turn on the entire edition of the print then cut away making way for the next colour  until the there is very little left of the original block. This method has its pitfalls and needs planning but is an exciting way of making colour prints.


Reduction linocut detail: Robert Macdonald


Reduction linocut detail: Bernard Green

Bernard Green was an artist who produced a brilliant range of landscapes using this method with amazingly subtle gradations of tone. He worked very largely in Pembrokeshire. Due to the generosity of his widow, we have his Columbian Press in Swansea Print Workshop.

History
Linoleum was being made from around the 1860’s but its potential as a printmaking material was not exploited until around the turn of the century. Franz Cisek, a Viennese art educator introduced it as a medium for children to use. Its potential was quickly recognised by artists and illustrators alike and it has continued to be widely used in schools. It was also a great medium for making posters and features largely in the history of oppressed groups of people who were denied access to commercial printing methods.

Books

 

Relief Printing (Printmaking Handbooks):

Anna Westley

A and C Black, 2004

ISBN 0-7136-7255-2

 

Anna Westley presents a concise overview of the vast history, techniques and art of relief print. Like all the Printmaking Handbooks, this is well worth a read.

 

 

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