Saturday, 21 November 2009

Getting it Right in Black and White

marks using tin lids and card
monoprint © Teresa Kirkpatrick 2009

Well, I achieved one of my ambitions last Sunday when a friend and I attended a printmaking course at the Eagle Gallery, Bedford. Followers of this blog may recall that I discovered the lure of printmaking back in the Summer, when I watched a couple of demos at art fairs and fell in love with the whole idea. The one-day course was an opportunity for a dozen of us to try out monoprint, drypoint and linocuts and to find out which techniques intrigued us the most!

We spent a couple of hours on each one; I started with monoprinting, under the guidance of Mike Townesend. We rolled our our ink to the correct "swishy" consistency, made a few marks with bits of card and jar lids and - wow! instant artworks with a wonderful unpredictability about them. Mike showed us how to use newspaper stencils to create special effects; how to trace over a drawing to reproduce it on the paper; and how to put an image under the inking glass and paint it onto the glass to produce a reversed-out print. We were only a third of the way through the day, and I was inky and hooked!

A moody view of the Skelligs
drypoint © Teresa Kirkpatrick 2009

After a short break Eric Seeley showed us drypoint; scratching an image onto the surface of special plastic using a nail. It was hard work but produced the most beautiful effects; particularly if you took care when rubbing the ink away on the highlighted areas. Our images came out reversed but I've flipped the one above to show the best effect! The only disadvantage I found was that drypoint used oil-based inks, which were in my fingernails for a week. The water-based inks used in monoprinting and linocutting were far easier to deal with!

door, Cardinal's Wharf
linocut © Teresa Kirkpatrick 2009

Our final session was linocutting with Su Kiteley. She had various tips and hints - such as warming the lino on a radiator beforehand to make it more pliable, and painting its surface with white emulsion to show the design more easily. We used tracing and carbon paper to reproduce an image (the right way round). After a couple of false starts - and stern reminders to keep my fingers out of the way of the cutting tools - I really got into it and was delighted with the final result, which was only marred by my last-minute decision to include some shadows. At this point I forgot my reversed-out thinking and made them white, not black. Call it artist's licence!

It was a fabulous experience and I've had a go at home already. The results are looking promising . . . !!!


  1. It was a really wonderful day! I think the prints look terrific given the time we had (especially the Skellig one which was really successful). And I love the way the top one came out - I just couldn't get the jam jar lids to work for me...

  2. Well, the jam jar lids were a bit random - talk about unexpected results! I love the effects in that first print but if you were to ask me to repeat it, I'm not sure I could. Howevr, I've had loads of ideas for linocuts (possibly too many ideas . . .) so for me that looks like the way forward!

  3. I think the posted examples look wonderful for first attempts; I would have thought that a more experienced printmaker would be proud of them. Having seen your first 'home' efforts as well I can definitely say that this is a very promising new area of work. As well as the intrinsic interest of the format it's just as well to have another string to your bow for those days when the painting muse is not 'biting' or the light is unsuitable.