I have been making art for as long as I can remember. I started taking art classes when I was in elementary school, a kindergartener fascinated by finger painting but ready to move to the next level. On Saturday mornings my mom would take me to a little hole-in-the-wall art studio for oil painting class. I spent a few hours in the studio every week and brought back small paintings each time.
Here’s one of them. Notice my not-so-subtle initials in the lower left corner:
I continued to take art classes both in and out of school and I was first introduced to printmaking in 7th grade. My favorite black boots inspired my first print. After drawing my right shoe on the linoleum block, I carved out the negative space, the areas that I did not want to be printed. Then I rolled ink over the block, placed a sheet of newsprint on top and used a wooden spoon to press the newsprint onto the block where the image was. Linoleum cuts are like large rubber stamps, but instead of stamping the paper with the block, you lay the paper on top of the block and apply pressure to transfer the image.
Here’s the final print--black ink on newsprint:
I did not revisit printmaking again until the end of high school, when I experimented with more linoleum cuts and monotype prints.
Here is an example of a linoleum block & the resulting print (a self-portrait):
For this print, I drew onto the linoleum block from a photograph, then carved away the negative space. Then, using a hand cranked printing press, I printed the linoleum block onto a sheet of paper. However, before I printed the carved block, I first printed a solid block with the pink background color. Once the background color was dry, I inked and printed my carved block on top. This required a process called registration to ensure the blocks were printed exactly on top of each other. More on registration in a future post.
Notice that the image on the block is the reverse of the printed image. This is an important aspect to note because it can change the way you approach carving your block, especially if you want to have text in your final print (hint: practice writing in reverse).
You’ll notice in the bottom right corner of this print, I’ve written 1/24. In printmaking, editions are numbered sets of prints that have all been printed from the same plate(s), usually at the same time. This print is from a limited edition of 24 self-portraits that I printed to give away to friends and mentors after high school graduation. Each was numbered, signed, dated, and included a personal note on the back.
Monotyping is a painterly type of printmaking that produces one of a kind prints as opposed to editions.
To create the next image, I first rolled black ink over a plexiglass surface. Using brushes and rags with ink solvents, I wiped away the ink to create the teapot, like drawing in reverse. Then, I printed the plexiglass plate onto a sheet of damp white paper to achieve the final image:
After my interest was piqued in high school, I went on to major in printmaking and drawing in college where I experimented with many different techniques: woodcut, collagraph, etching, silkscreen and digital prints.
If you would like to learn more about printmaking, here is a great interactive guide with explanations of the four main techniques and a gallery showcasing prints made using each technique. Though linoleum is not represented on the guide, note that it uses the same relief printing process as woodblock prints, but linoleum is a much softer and easier material to carve.
I will continue to share images from my artistic past in this notebook, as well as give you an in depth look at my current work, including materials, processes, and inspirations. If there are any specific topics or ideas you’d like me to cover, I’d love to hear from you.