Updated: Jul 17, 2020
Hello there! Welcome to a little snippet of my linocut printmaking process. I hope this will give you a nice insight into how I do my work, and as I walk you through my previous printmaking day, I hope you get to learn more about this practice. I dedicate entire days to producing prints, and this time, my printmaking day was dedicated to RED prints.
Printmaking is my preferred medium, and I have had many encounters with it over the years, in long, consistent bursts. Every time I started working with this again, I knew there was no other traditional medium that can surpass it.
The reason I get along so well with printmaking is that it allows me to be free and expressive, but always within contained boundaries; i.e. the printmaking plaque is a certain size and shape that you have to work within, or as with linocuts, there is a limited number of marks you can make, and detail you can create.
My work has always been very expansive, and it is always a constant exercise for me to try to contain the madness, and edit it until it is no longer threatening to look at, and it becomes interesting. Within the limits of printmaking, this happens naturally for me. It is the first medium that I am able to listen to, and stop at the right time.
Now, my different encounters with printmaking have always depended on my proximity to a printing press, and this has also been limited now due to our recent times (I will be investing in a printing press soon - courtesy of my biggest patron - my mother.) Luckily, for the size of the linocut prints I am currently making, it is almost better and easier to make these without a printing press.
That above is what my printing station normally looks like, and about all that you need. You need a roller, ink of choice (I use water based inks), a separate surface for rolling the ink, as well as some brushes to fix certain areas of the prints by hand if necessary. I purposefully, through the way I treat my paper, encourage certain watermarks that I then control by working on top of them.
Before printing, I submerge my paper in water, and take it out, to leave it on a towel. I then take a separate towel and dry the paper twice, leaving it slightly damp. Here, if you would like for your prints to come out perfectly, you have to be careful of the water marks that are left behind, and careful that the paper is damp, but dry enough.
Below are some lovely examples of the results. I like to include, and even encourage "mistakes", such as the thickened bits of yellow, from where more ink got into the crevices than it should have.
I also took the opportunity to do some test prints of the linocut below (photo of the plaque while I was still working on it).
Test prints are important for many reasons. Firstly, it is to determine what is left to do on the linocut, by seeing how it comes out. For example, below, I had some areas that weren't taken out properly that were coming out black, around the floor area, which I wanted to be fully white.
For me, they also function as a way to decide how to treat the paper, and how I would like to print them, thinking about what kind of "mistakes" I would like to allow to happen. I made a mistake while inking them, where too much ink seeped into the cracks, and I didn't really like the effect of that so I need to be careful not to do that again. I decided that when I print these, I need to print them fully black, as they are detailed enough as they are.
As you can see, I make a great number of prints in a day, and normally, on an average day, about half will be deemed good enough to be signed, and part of the series. On a good day, maybe a third. It is in the end quite a fickle medium, and always an exercise in balance, almost like a dance, and really therein lies the beauty.
This process takes over the house each time, and I love seeing them all together like this.
I hope you enjoyed this little snippet into my printing process, and I plan to do more blogs detailing other printmaking days, as hopefully the next time, my Circus series, that you have seen a small teaser here of, will be fully done and ready to go.