Saturday, 20 March 2010

Trial & Error

Toward the end of last year I went on a printmaking course at the Eagle Gallery in Bedford (you can read about it here), which inspired me to have a go myself. I started out with a Christmas card design linocut (Christmas being very much on my mind at that point) and had great fun cutting a little Christmas tree and attempting to print it up:

Tree © Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

I quickly realised my first mistake: unless you are using a press, a paper with a rough surface is not a good idea. It took ages to produce even this result, and my hands felt as though they had been cut to pieces. I painted the red in afterwards but it still looked shabby - I'd coated the lino with emulsion first (to show up the design) but neglected to sandpaper the surface, so the ink was never going to take properly. But I'd Made a Start.

Fired with enthusiasm and virtually no knowledge I decided to attempt a reduction linocut, where you cut away the white areas first, print, and then cut away the next colour and print, and so on. I wasn't completely mad, though - I was still only using my two colours LOL. I didn't bother with proper registration, either, I just wanted to see what would happen (after all, this was my experiment and nobody else's!). I'd got hold of a couple of books on printmaking by now and using one of their tips I added a tiny amount of washing up liquid to the ink. And I used a smoother paper this time. Which yielded the following result:

Lily © Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

Now, I'd be the first to admit that this is far, far from perfect - it's way out of register, for a start. But I loved it! the depth of colour, the zen quality of the simple design; I knew then that reduction linocuts are the way forward for me no matter how long it takes to perfect my skills. I'd sorted out what paper to use; I knew which way to go; now I had to try something a little larger than these 2 inch squares.

For my third experiment I went up to an A5 lino block. I'd found an excellent online tutorial here which helped me to set up my registration and organise my design. I abandoned the emulsion idea and used a waterproof pen to mark it up. When I began to print it I realised I'd chosen to work with four colours - which was at least one too many, but so what? I was Having a Go:

Skelligs I © Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

Ok, this one isn't perfect either. It's one of five hand pulled prints, none of which are great but in terms of registration and design are getting there. The colours are far too strong, so my next lesson is to Learn My Inks (and I need to Cut Deeper, and work at A4 size, because I'm cramping myself).

I'm certainly not there yet, and because of the time and effort involved (and the need to do painting in my free time as well!) I won't be there for quite a while. But watch this space - I'll keep you posted!!


  1. I love this - it's so great to see how you're progressing and read about all the ins and outs of it all. I'm really lagging behind - I haven't tried anything since the workshop despite all my enthusiasm. You put me to shame!

  2. Originally I wasn't going to blog about my printmaking until I had a really good print to post. Then I realised that could take years . . . it's great fun learning and every printmaking session brings new challenges!

  3. Very interesting and very accomplished as well for first attempts. I'm particularly heartened by the upbeat nature of your comments - this is clearly something that you're going to be really good at given time and further experimentation.