As I worked on my second linocut, I realized that with block printing it’s a totally different way of thinking, than painting or drawing. It’s also exciting (and hard) that you don’t really know what you are going to get, until you do that first print.
Here’s what I was thinking about as I carved my second linocut:
- Mirror image. The design prints the reverse of what it is on the block. I keep forgetting this!
- Positive and negative. Parts of the design are either printed or not. There is no in between. I sometimes forget which is which, and what I’m supposed to carve! I had to write myself a note (“Carve the blue”). The tricky part is when objects in your design meet. You have to work out what prints and what doesn’t, so the design makes sense.
- Plan. It’s better to plan exactly what gets carved away and what prints before carving.
- Blade sizes. Wispy little lines don’t exactly translate to carving blades. You almost have to plan the design in terms of what is “carvable.”
- How deep to carve? I’m still figuring this out. In my first linocut, I didn’t go deep enough, but there was a nice surprising texture throughout.
- Paint colors. I tried using a blend, but when I rolled the brayer a couple of times it mixed it into a muddy army brown. Printing more than one color is more interesting, but I think you have to print each color separately.
- Colored paper. An easy way to introduce another color. It’s fun seeing a print on different papers.
- Press paper on lino or lino on paper? That is the question. I saw a couple of videos that put the paper on top of the lino block and burnished. Then I got a recommendation to press the lino onto the paper.* Like stamping. This time I tried both, and I found that peeling the paper off the lino is easier than picking up the lino block without smudging. Maybe it depends on the size of the lino block?
- Workspace. As I learn the block printing process, I’m learning how to organize my workspace – what is working and what isn’t. Spreading the paint on a piece of taped down palette paper is working great – and it’s easy to clean up!
*I appreciate any advice on block printing. Your expertise and experience is welcome! Thank you to bluechickenninja for recommending pressing the lino down onto the paper, in my last post: My First Linocut!