My first jab at Printmaking – The Process

McKenna Woolleynews

I just finished my first Linocut in my printmaking class and it turned out to be a rather fun process. Now that I know a little more about the medium there are some things I would have done differently but unlike an oil painting, you can’t go back and rework something you’re not satisfied with. What’s cut out, is cut out.

The subject I chose came from some images I had shot while in Lancaster England with my best friend and her family. I made her dad pull over so I could put my feet in the Atlantic Ocean and to take pictures of these charming fishing boats. It was all so picturesque and I couldn’t let the opportunity pass. 

I drew up a few thumbnail sketches in class to work out composition and had a couple fellow students critique and vote on which one worked best and had the highest potential. Both unknowingly voted on the same one and the one I was leaning towards regardless.

 A Linocut is a printing technique similar to that of woodcarving where the image is reversed when printed. All that is carved is white and all that is left will be printed in black oil based ink. A good rule of thumb for an image is having at least 50% of it black.

As I continued to work through the sketching process I had to make decisions on what I wanted to keep black and how I was going to obtain texture and variety in the work to keep it interesting.

I had originally thought that I would carve out mostly white leaving most of the lines black but realized it would make more of an impact if I reversed the white into black. I drew several sketches in order to figure out how I wanted it to work. 

 As I began to carve into the Linoleum it became clearer how I wanted things to look. I made the decision to approach it with more of design quality so I chose to use varying horizontal lines to make up the sky and haloed the boats and birds to make sure they were distinguished and visible. I used variations of crosshatching in the boat and smaller wavy lines to represent the water.

Once I ran the first test print it was apparent that I wasn’t finished with the image. It lacked interest and seemed far too predictable. So I decided to go back in and add more texture to the sky by cross-hatching forms for clouds and variation in the smaller boats to create more of a harmonious relationship between the large focal-point boat and the background. Above is the first test print I made.