Sunday, 5 July 2009

Lino Beauty

I've been making lino prints sporadically over the last two or three years.

I was initially inspired by Will Webb, the Art Director of Bloomsbury, now freelance. Ironic, because we'd had the odd disagreement about use of lino cuts on covers while both at Bloomers, but you can put that down to me being a philistine unit-shifter I suppose. He's produced some incredibly beautiful prints, ranging from the bold and energetic to the elegant and precise.
Lino printing works for me because it's a blend of art and craft. Frankly I don't have the necessary imagination or technique to just paint a blank canvas. Pure art isn't my thing. With hand printing you have creativity teamed with method. Or, looked at from the other end, it's graphic design but handmade.

I've read about "flow state" before. Without, naturally, bothering my arse to find out for sure, I think I'm right in saying it's defined as absorption in a task that requires concentration but not thought. It's a condition of restful, satisfying work. And that's roughly how I feel about doing lino prints.

Without making a laborious how-to out of this (done that already with the shield post - see below) it's a process of gouging bits out of a lino surface, then applying ink to what's left and pressing paper on it - a very basic relief print.

Here's a few, in order:

This is probably the sort of print everyone needs to get out of their system. I hadn't quite got my head around the medium. Making thin lines by gouging either side of them works up to a point, but doesn't really have much impact because there's no nice surfaces of colour or texture. As my Dad helpfully pointed out, the lino itself looked more interesting than the print. Cheers.

It depicts the moment when B and I were squirted by the Sultan's Elephant.

This one I love. I based it on a sketch of the back of Billy's head (I know my limits - likeness of a hairdo is just about within them. A face... not so much). The lettering is clearly ripped off from that Jonathan Safran Foer cover and any number of other wonderful hand lettered book covers.

I like it because it's spontaneous and graphic.

Christmas card for '07 is an effort at something a bit more precise. It's our front door, with a purple wreath (why purple? I don't know) rather badly overprinted.

Having hardly tried multiple colours, but being encouraged by Will to do so, I bit off rather more than I could chew with this card for my Sister in Law's birthday, depicting the view from their family house in Rockcliffe. The picture works, but the colours are a bit poorly chosen, I think. Not one of my strengths.

Christmas card '08 is an attempt at a reduction print. You print a larger image then gouge away more material so you can then overprint highlights or details. Quite happy with the reindeer, but the sky is scrappy.

So there we are. More to follow I hope...