Wednesday, 26 February 2014

squashes & squares

two squashes on my kitchen shelf
© Teresa Newham
For much of the winter I had two squashes from my Riverford organic veg box sitting on a plastic tray on the shelf in my kitchen.  And, given the premise that if it sits still long enough I'll either sketch it, paint it, or turn it into a linocut, it should come as no surprise that when I was casting round for a subject on which to try out a new linocut technique, these squashes sprang immediately to mind.

original sketch for the print, with some workings-out
© Teresa Newham
 Action follows thought; so I grabbed the nearest sketchbook to hand and jotted down a design, annotating it as I did so to show the colours.  The idea was to create three printing plates - one for each colour - rather than employing the reduction method I used on the seahorses.   Three plates would produce more than three colours: because the Caligo Safewash inks are transparent, I could print yellow over blue to create green, for example.

the adjusted sketch on tracing paper, transferred to the three plates
© Teresa Newham
As ever, I mulled over the design before going any further, and decided to make it small (for ease of cutting, and to minimise any waste if the new technique didn't work out) and square.  So when I traced the image, I adjusted the position of each squash in relation to the tray.  Then I transferred the design to each block - or at least, the part of it I needed for that particular colour.

the blue plate, printed
© Teresa Newham
To get the effect I wanted, I realised I would have to print the darkest colours first.  This goes against almost everything I had originally read about producing linocut prints; but a couple of summers ago, Gail Brodholt (one of my printmaking heroes) exhibited some plates alongside some part-printed and completed linocut prints in an exhibition at the Bankside Gallery.  And she prints her plates in whichever order she needs to.  All of which had led indirectly to my trying out this technique in the first place!

the red plate, printed on top of the blue
© Teresa Newham
So the blue plate went down first, followed by the red (which was actually more of a dark orange).  These two colours did not overlap, and they did not quite register either, but that was not a problem as far as I was concerned; this was an experiment and any slight imperfections would add to the character of the finished piece.

the yellow plate, printed last of all - the colour was adjusted for the three in the bottom row
© Teresa Newham
The yellow plate was printed last, and pulled the whole thing together.  After the first three prints I realised that I had not made the yellow quite transparent enough; and was able to add enough extender to get the correct colours on the next three.  And, if I should decide I want to make some more - perhaps using a different set of colours - I have the three plates, intact, ready and waiting!!

the three plates, cleaned of ink (more or less)
© Teresa Newham
Another bonus: because the three plates were prepared at the same time, I was able to ink, print, clean and ink again; the whole printing process was extremely quick and because the colour layers had not dried out, they blended well together where they did overlap.

two squashes
© Teresa Newham
I'm looking forward to trying this technique out again some time - I can think of several sorts of design which would work well - but in the meantime I'm enjoying my jolly squashes!

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating technique and very very clever. Finished result looks splendid!