Project 8: Reduction method linocutting

Project 8: Reduction method linocutting

I started the reduction linocut project by gathering as many information as I could on the process, as it looked quite confusing to me in the first place.

The image I chose to depict comes from a quick sketch I did some time ago, when I used some cucumber under my eyes. Other than being an appealing image to me, there was a certain connection with the concept of taking care of myself. Self love is something that constitutes a big focus for me lately and art is therapeutic in that sense.

So I started transferring my design onto the lino and when the image was already there, I decided that I wanted some leaves and flowers around the girl’s image, because she is not only caring for herself, but she is also connecting with nature. So I improvised some plants and flowers in the bottom of the image and few leaves in the background.

A marker and a pen have been used to trace the drawing onto the lino

I started to cut the areas I wanted to be white as a first step and run a 5 copies print in light green.


I was very confused at first about the way I should proceed, but somehow since I printed that first colour on paper everything became clear in my mind and very logical.


So I proceeded with cutting and printing a light skin tone, a darker one on top, then dark red and finally dark green.

Image on the 4th layer
Final image

I originally planned on a last layer in black, but decided it was not necessary and could have actually spoiled the colour balance. The dark green came out in fact much darker than expected, as a result of the colours overlapping, so I thought I didn’t need anything darker than that in my picture.

I used water based inks and even though they produced an interesting texture which I guess wouldn’t have been achieved otherwise, they were difficult to handle as they got dry pretty fast. Also the fact that I printed by hand made a big difference in the result, combined with the inks low quality.

Overall I am satisfied with the outcome, as it was my first reduction lino and I am pleased with the fact that the colours are exactly where I wanted them to be, even though I realise that there are a lot of little details that could have contributed to make the image look a lot different than what it is.

Project 2: Positive and negative masked mono prints

Project 2: Positive and negative masked mono prints

The design I chose for this exercise has been modified from a picture of a real fox. I sketched some images first and then copied the fox onto light newsprint, before proceeding with carefully cutting it out.


I then mixed the ink and I rolled it onto the glass plate, trying to obtain an even coloured layer. I placed the mask onto the plate and then printed off on simple cartridge paper. I was really pleased as my first attempt came out quite clear, even though I used water based inks, the process was quick enough to produce an interesting result.

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I took a second impression from the plate, which is really faded, and then I removed the mask to take a third impression, also very confused.

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After that, I started working with the positive image cut out from the mask, this time with a dark colour. I inked the plate, placed the cut out onto it and printed off. A very interesting effect was produced by the contrast between the dark background and the light silhouette, as it looked exactly as a fox that has just been spotted in the middle of the night.

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I was not careful enough in printing the bottom of the image, so the second impression lifted more ink from that area.

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But the most interesting result of all was obtained by printing a third time, after the cut out silhouette was removed. The figure is here defined by a blurred edge which I find really interesting.

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I worked at this exercise with a second subject and obtaining the masks from tracing paper, rather than newsprint. When printing off the first time, from the negative mask, I realised straight away that it was a little too rich in small details, despite the simple design.

Also the ink felt weak, maybe because of the light colour chosen, so the second print was taken straight after lifting off the mask. The result is actually more interesting than the first one, but there are some imperfections due to the mask being creased under pressure.

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Using tracing paper seemed to me a wonderful idea until I realised it got all curled up, didn’t really stick to the ink and also was too thick for the purpose. However, I kept going with the positive mask: the first print turned out to be very bad, as I couldn’t get any detail.

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The ink looked again to weak for a second impression, so I jumped to print after lifting off the silhouette and that is where I got the best result. The details are quite defined and at the same time the blurry appearance matches with the subject.

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I had a second go using the same masks but trying to use acrylics instead of printing inks. Unfortunately it didn’t work at all. The colour dried up in no time leaving just a faint impression of the image and the masks kept curling up, making the process quite difficult and messy.

I was quite frustrated by those experiments, but I definitely learned a lot from all the mistakes I made and discovered new interesting effects and textures.

Research point

I think Matisse’s Blue Nudes power lies in the ability of the artist depicting the subject in few sinuous lines. During the process I realised how difficult was to simplify an image and make it recognisable. I kept it simple by choosing to represent the subjects from a side view, but Matisse’s point of views keep the images vibrant and with a sense of tridimensionality.

Project 1: Your first monoprints

Project 1: Your first monoprints

Experiments in mark making and painted plates

In this first project of Printmaking 1 course, I started exploring how monoprints work.

The relief printing inks I used are quite cheap and water based; I used red, blue and yellow for these experiments and obtained other hues by mixing them.

In the first mark making exercise I realised how quickly the colours were drying, so I had to try my best to be quite fast, as I could not add much water.

I used different kind of brushes and also a small palette knife to spread the colours on the glass, finally used ordinary cartridge paper to lift the ink off the plate.

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I have to say the most interesting part came when I started to mix the colours. By then I also started to gain confidence with the medium and tried to spread a background colour rather than just making marks.

When painting over the background, the colour looked like moving rather than mixing. The palette knife point dragged through the ink also moved it to the sides, exposing the plain glass.

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Considering that I had never tried mono printing before this was a very useful experiment to explore new techniques and effects and to start becoming familiar and confident with them.

Research point: Monoprints by Edgar Degas

I looked at Degas work with monoprints and actually realised how interesting is his approach to printmaking.

He was working on etched plates, modifying each single print by manipulating the ink and adding other mediums over the finished prints. What he was actually producing were monotypes.
The freedom in the approach is definitely what I can learn from Degas and his printed works. We are often scared by the ghost of perfection, mostly trying to do things following the rules, without realising how imperfection and experimentation produces far more interesting results.

Painted monoprint from life

I worked on a still life choosing two very simple objects, I placed them in different ways and sketched them a couple of times.

I then started with inking the plate. I found it quite hard in the first place to depict something onto glass with quite fluid colours, trying to make it recognisable and at the same time trying to work quickly.

The first print I pulled off was in fact quite a disaster. I found interesting the brush strokes in the depiction of the objects, but the overall impression is quite confused, due to the colours being exposed to the air for to long.

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In my second attempt I tried working faster and adding a bigger quantity of colour on the plate. I also fixed the paper to the plate, so that I could work a second time on the areas that where less clear, by adding more colour. It definitely worked better, but I realised that the confused impression was also due to a poor choice in matching the colours, so I decided to try again, using a light background.

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My third and last attempt worked definitely better, the image is more recognisable and at the same time it present interesting textures. Changing the orientation from portrait to landscape also helped to get a better overall impression.

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I am satisfied with the last result, considering how poor was my confidence at the beginning. However I am definitely considering to get to work with some oil based inks, for richer textures and longer time span to work on more complicated figures.

Exercise: Text and image

Exercise: Text and image

This exercise got me working on the relation between the text and the shape of the letters communicating it. A first step was writing some given words in my own handwriting and a second one was to try to convey their meaning through the shape of the letters.

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I then used digital fonts in the same way, trying different solutions.

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For the following step, I chose an option per word and then traced those fonts trying to match them with an appropriate colour.

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Then came the mood board stage. I found this step a little confusing, having to create a moodpboard for so many different words, but in the end I managed to find few pictures and mostly textures which I thought where conveying the sense of those words. The result is more like a ‘narrative mood board’, which moves with no interruption from the word big to the word mad.

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In the end I experimented various materials for each word, which I believe could match with the concepts.

I used a large black marker for the word big; a simple biro for small; Acrylic paint and dark pencil for fat; fine liner for thin; indian ink and brush for fast; pastel for slow; Acrylic, biro, marker and poster paint (and fingers!) for fun; pencil for boring; watercolour pencil for calm; acrylic and marker for mad.

I have to admit the last step was quite funny and particularly I think the word mad is the one that best conveys the message and the passion behind the letters.