Posts tagged technique
New Online Block Printing Class: How to Linocut

From time to time, people ask if I offer linocut workshops and I'm thrilled to now offer an option. I have an online block printing course for beginners and those who want a refresher on the fundamentals, it's called, How to Linocut. This introductory relief printing class was filmed in my studio and teaches you the basics of creating your own lino print at home. A big benefit of this course is that you can start it any time and is self-paced. I've purposefully laid it out in a very straightforward, step-by-step manner to illustrate the linocut process that I enjoy so much.

The workshop is taught through a series of five videos and you can go back and rewatch the ones that are most helpful or challenging for you. You'll learn:

  • What essential supplies, like ink and tools, you'll need to make a lino print
  • How to transfer your design to a block
  • Simple linoleum carving techniques
  • How to print your block (without a printing press) and what type of paper to use
  • Using the rainbow (or gradient) roll to print multiple colors

Students can save time since all the information you need to know is in the easy to follow curriculum. Here's a brief trailer for the new linocut class that I posted on Instagram.

New Airplane Window View Art

I've got a long history of exploring airplane window views in my art, as no surprise to many of you. For instance, I use this aerial view from a plane window linocut a lot online for marketing purposes and it was also used as a book cover. I did a black and white airplane window seat print, too.

I always try to snap some photos from the window seat as references pictures, though, these days, I'm often sitting in the middle and leaning over my son or daughter who are enthralled with something else. Here are a few photos of the sky, land patterns, clouds and airplane wings that I used for my newest art project.

Some references photos for my new airplane window seat print

Some references photos for my new airplane window seat print

I wanted to do something a little different with this new print, allowing for more spontaneity and experimenting. First, I did some simple illustrations to play with compositions and colors. I came up with a rough plan and used masking tape to block off areas of a linoleum block while inking the plate for the background sky. I printed several different layers on top of each other. A separate lino block was used for the black layer. Here's a shot from Instagram that helps illustrate the process.

Since I peeled off the tape before printing, I can't print an edition of identical prints but I used some of the lighter ghost prints that I got from the same block. As a result, no two prints are exactly the same.

These are two early versions that I printed on my Blick Econo Etch Model II Press and I'm continuing this series of window seat prints. The new linocut prints are available in my Etsy shop where I have numerous travel and airport prints for sale. 

Two versions of the new airplane window view print. Printed on my Blick Econo Etch Model II Press.

Two versions of the new airplane window view print. Printed on my Blick Econo Etch Model II Press.

Picasso's Linocuts and His Reduction Linocut Technique

The British Museum in London posted a nice little video about Picasso's linocuts on Facebook this week. It breaks down his reduction linocut technique using one of his most famous lino prints, Still Life under the Lamp. While he is sometimes citied as the originator of the technique, research indicates otherwise. I've written in the past about Picasso and tips on making a reduction print if you're interested.

Art writer Charlotte Mullins takes a look at a set of Picasso linocuts acquired by the British Museum in 2014, with help from Art Fund. The two prints, Still Life under the Lamp and Jacqueline Reading, were both made in 1962, when the artist was 80 years old.
The Process of Designing, Carving and Printing a Large Linocut for the SFCB

I always look forward to the San Francisco Center for the Book's annual Roadworks Steamroller Printing Festival and I'm excited about being a vendor again at this year's event on September 28, 2014. Last year, I was fortunate enough to have been invited to be a featured artist for their 10th Roadworks Festival. My role was to carve a huge 3-foot square linoleum block that was printed using an awesome old steamroller.

Though it was a challenging project for me, I really enjoyed it and this is how I created my print. The design process started with some small studies - experimenting with subject matter and patterns. I came up with an idea of a cross-section of San Francisco Bay, from the Ferry Building all the way down to the Transbay Tube. Sometimes, when I'm crossing the Bay and not taking in the beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge, I think about what is lurking under the water's surface. I then sketched out my preliminary design on a big sheet of paper to help work out some compositional issues. I wasn't used to working in such a large scale - so much space to fill!

I then transferred my image to the lino block and started carving the design. Here are some work in progress shots of my 3-foot linoleum print during the carving stage.

Near the end of the project, I started taking trial proofs of the big print to see what changes I still wanted to make. It was a tiring process because of the block's size and the fact I was printing it by hand - thank goodness for steamrollers! My forearms were cashed but it was a real thrill to finally see the image near completion.

My finished block was printed by the hardworking Roadworks crew on September 29, 2013. It was gratifying to see my finished print and to play a small role in the annual printmaking extravaganza. Big thanks to the staff and volunteers at the San Francisco Center for the Book for an awesome day!

My carved linoleum block.

The crew inking it up.

Carefully laying the paper on the inked block.

Covering it with blankets.

Driving over it with a beautiful old steamroller.

Carefully peeling back the paper.

The finished linocut print featuring San Francisco Bay from the city skyline down to BART's underwater Transbay Tube. Oh, and a giant octopus with a submarine in its tentacles...

Linocut Process: Making the Viking Ship Print from Idea to Completion

My family and I took a wonderful trip to Scandinavia a few years ago and one of the places we visited was the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, Norway. I was taken with the aesthetics of the old viking ships they had on display and knew I wanted to somehow incorporate them into a print.

Viking Ship Museum in Oslo

I let the idea stew for a while and after illustrating a concept, I started carving a large 21-inch wide block of linoleum (mounted on plywood) last year and researched old Viking proverbs and alphabets (runes). I wanted to incorporate words into the composition and came across this perfect Icelandic proverb, "There seldom is a single wave." The proverb is found online amongst others here and here. I used websites like this one from PBS and here to translate the proverb into runes, as best I could.

Initial carving of the block in 2013

Frustratingly, I got to the point while carving last year where I didn't know how I wanted to proceed so I put the project off to the side for a while. Enter my new jigsaw and an 'aha' moment - I cut the carved block roughly into two halves. After taking some test prints, I realized that the blocks worked so much better printed on top of each other than as a larger reduction print, as I had originally envisioned.

Test printing the two blocks in 2014

I recently printed the final edition and it is now hanging to dry. First, I printed the background lino block in blue. Then I took the second block, which contained the ship and text, and cut the portion of the block with the text off that block. This allowed me to print the second layer as a jigsaw print - one color for the ship and a different color for the text. Once the individual blocks are inked with different colors, they're reassembled and printed with the etching press as one. This is how the final print turned out.

Final linocut print tentatively titled, "There seldom is a single wave"

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Too Much Information About Paper and Ink

Printmaking is a little like cooking, trying to find the right combination of ingredients for the perfect recipe. I spent the weekend trying to find the best combination of paper type and press tension for a new type of ink (Daniel Smith oil-based relief ink) I'm test driving. By Sunday afternoon, after countless test prints, I happily found the right mix. I often print on Stonehenge paper, but from time to time I've had a problem when the paper slips ever so slightly as the etching press roller pushes the print through. The front half of the print looks crisp, while the rear half of the print looks a little fuzzy and I end up having to recycle the prints. But Rives heavyweight paper worked fantastic. It's a little lighter weight than the Stonehenge paper and laid nice and 'snug' to the inked block. The result, after going through the press, was a nice clear image. To add another wrinkle, I decided to mount the carved linoleum block on plywood, which I never do, and I see some benefits. The photo shows the first layer of my newest edition of Italian car prints.

Car Linocut Print