London linocut, stage 1

I've printed the first colours on the new big linocut.



A blend from pale blue through grey to dark grey. Already, some of the image starts to appear.

But wait! Where did those red lines at the top come from?



Usually, I use a black Sharpie to draw the image on the block. (Black Sharpie is truly permanent; other so-called permanent markers fade when you clean the linoblock after printing.) But I had to use a different colour to sort out a mess of drawing.

Now it turns out that red Sharpie that I used doesn't dry properly on lino... In fact, it prints!

I ran the block through the press several times, printing onto scrap paper; this got rid of the worst of the Sharpie ink. I just have to hope that what's printed onto the paper here will disappear under the further layers of ink.

Wilmington linocut

While work continues on cutting that big new linoblock, here's another print that I just completed.

1 Printing the first layer: a blue to pink-brown blend.





2 Printing the second layer. A slightly darker blue to green blend over the top of the first layer.



The distant fields and buildings start to appear.

3 There's a third layer here, but I forgot to photograph it. It has a blend of transparent blue-green at the top to slightly brighter and thicker version of the same colour at the bottom.

4 A dark green layer adds more definition to the mid-distance (I like how the buildings appear from out of the trees), and some shadows to the foreground.





5 A darker-still layer of green on the bottom half of the picture, and it's finished.



Wilmington. Linocut, 10 x 10 cm.

This is a view of the village of Wilmington, East Sussex, looking north from the path that leads to the Long Man ("It's behind you!").

Starting a new print

Starting work on another big (30 x 24cm) print; another detailed cityscape.



Just drawing the image took about six hours. See that confusion of lines at the top right? I drew the tower in pencil, and then went over it in black Sharpie. Then realised I'd drawn it wrong. Sharpie can't be erased.
So I redrew the tower on paper; transferred it to the block (the yellow is the transfer powder); and drew it again in red Sharpie.
Oh, that's going to be so much fun to make sense of when I cut that area.
I've started cutting the block. Slowly.


Ashdown Forest IV, final stage

Finally, a dark layer just at the top of the image creates the tree trunks.



Light through trees, Ashdown Forest. Linocut, 10x10cm.

I think that the effect of light coming through the trees just about works. The colours are a bit confused; the red was meant to be bracken, but the warm of that colour brings the area behind the trees too far forward. And while I like the fairly loose cutting in the grass area, there are too many "seagulls", marks where I've repeated the same action with the cutting tool: in, twist to the right, twist back, and lift.


In "What Painting Is", James Elkins talks about how easy it is to keep repeating the same marks. One of his students tries to copy a Monet painting:
"... the key to the method, turned out to be the exact gestures that made the individual brushmarks. When we compared them, one of hers to one of his, we always found that his were more pointed and creviced, more wildly asymmetric... brilliant, fragmented, and dishevelled... The state of mind that can produce those unexpected marks is one divided against itself; part wants to make harmonious repetitive easy marks, and the other wants to be unpredictable."

Ashdown Forest IV, stage 2

A second layer, in slightly darker colours than the first, adds more definition to the trees and bracken.


Hands, feet and toes

Life drawing again.




Pencil on paper; sketchbook pages.

Several things going on here: I'm learning how to use cross-hatching to create tone and volume, and I'm using two grades of pencil to add more variety to the marks. (The pencils are HB and 2B -- or it might be a 4B; it's so old and well-used that the legend has long ago worn off.) In the last picture, I created the background with cross-hatching, and then softened it by lifting away parts with a putty rubber.

Ashdown Forest linocut III: All in one

Prints are coming off the press so fast, there hasn't been time to update the blog. Here's one of the new prints:

1 I cut the highlights from the block, and then I print it with a blend from light green to light red brown.





2 Next, I apply a darker blend of the same colours. Each layer takes 24 hours to dry before you can apply the next layer.







3 A darker layer in transparent blue creates some of the shadows.



4 Finally, a dark blue-black completes the image.



Ashdown Forest. Reduction linocut, 10 x 10cm.

Rotten Row linocut, stage 3

Third and final stage.



Rotten Row, Lewes. Four stage reduction linocut, 10 x 10 cm.
Having found in other prints that a final layer in pure black can ruin the print, I mixed a dark colour from the colours that I had already used in the print: cobalt blue, scarlet and warm yellow, plus some ultramarine to make it really dark. The ultramarine also made the colour too transparent, so I added a bit of pure black to bring back the opacity. This gave a very dark, warm brown which harmonizes with the rest of the colours.

Rotten Row linocut, stage 2

Second stage: A red to dark grey blend over the previous blue to light grey blend.



I like the reflections in the window and the cobbles on the street that are starting to appear. One more layer of ink should be enough to complete this picture.

Rotten Row linocut, stage 1

A new linocut starts. It's the junction between the High Street and Rotten Row in Lewes, East Sussex.







The first layer is a blend from cobalt blue to grey (mixed from more cobalt blue, scarlet, and warm yellow, with lots of white).

Ashdown Forest linocut II, final stage?

I've printed a still-darker green over the previous layers.




I fixed that wobbly tree by applying some ink with a brush after printing. I'm not sure if this dark layer completes the picture; I might print a near-black over some of the tree trunks to bring them forward. (There's a bit of glare on this photo; the trees are darker than shown here.)

But previous experience shows that it's the final layer where it's most likely that everything will go wrong...

I'm going to put this print to one side while I think about what to do. Usually when I do that, I lose the linoblock, which makes the decision for me.

Ashdown Forest linocut II, stage 3

Another layer, in darker green, goes on top of the previous layer.





The trees are starting to be defined, and there's a nice effect of light flickering through the trees; but bother, I've cut away too much of that tree in the middle. It's wobbling.

Ashdown Forest linocut II, stage 2

A bright green, mixed from cobalt blue and chrome yellow, printed over the sienna layer.





It's hot today. The ink is drying quickly. Cleaning the linoblock after I'd finished printing took much longer than usual.

Dinosaur


As seen in Ashdown Forest. (Though not recently.)

Pencil; coloured digitally.

Ashdown Forest linocut II, stage 1

Starting another linocut of Ashdown Forest.


I've cut away the bits that are to remain white, and then printed the block with a blend from raw sienna with lots of white to cadmium yellow with lots of white.

Ashdown Forest: Linocut, final stage

The final layer of ink has been applied -- and it's all gone wrong!



Wood Eaves, Ashdown Forest.
Five stage reduction linocut, 10 x 10cm.

The colour's too brown and too dark. The trees are confused, and there should have been more definition over on the right.

But I quite like the dark green shadow on the grass. That's the effect of the transparent blue layer that I applied yesterday, so that's a technique I'll try again.

On with the next print...

Ashdown Forest: Linocut, stage 3


Another layer of ink: dark blue grey on top of the earlier layers.



This third layer looks as if it is graduated, but it's just got lots of transparent medium to make it thinner, and let the underlying gradients show through.

Turville

Turville in Buckinghamshire. An hour sitting in the sun, watching the world go by.




Pen, ink, and watercolour. 28 x 9cm. Click the image for a larger version.