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 7: Multi-block linoprint

Project 7: Multi-block linoprint

This project was about making a linocut using three different blocks, to obtain print in a variety of colours.

I choose my subject trying to keep it simple and I sketched the silhouette of a gargoyle. I used a square format of roughly 10×10 cm, trying to make sure the blocks were perfectly the same size.

I transferred the image onto the first block with some carbon paper and I started to cut only the areas I wanted to leave as the colour of the paper.

I did the rest of the work in a studio, using a little press to print the first block and then transferring that image onto the second block, by keeping the paper trapped in the roller.
Once obtained the guide on the second block, I then cut the same areas as the first one and some additional areas where I wanted my second colour to go.
I repeated the process of transferring the image one last time and cut away from the last block all the areas previously cut and the areas where my third colour was supposed to be.

After this quite confusing process, where I felt a lot of imagination was needed to picture what the final image would have looked like, I had a go at printing.
I left one side of the paper longer so that it would have easily been trapped in the roller making my registration more precise. I also used a sheet where I marked the position of the plate.
I thought the first print was loaded with too much ink and also in some areas there where too many of the carving marks, especially from the last darkest layer, which I found confusing for the overall image.


So I washed the last plate and inked it with a smaller roller trying to catch only the parts I actually meant to print.
I took a second print, minding not to exaggerate with the ink and then took a third one without re-inking.

Scan 2

Scan 1

None of the prints turned out to be perfectly registered, but the progress done from the first to the last is pretty obvious.
Looking at the outcome I think that the image I prefer is actually the faint and last one, especially for the way that blue soft layer turned out to be.

Looking at the work by Edward and Richard Bawden I was noticing in particular:

  • the extremely complex composition;
  • the extended use of areas where the colour of the paper is visible;
  • a great amount of details;
  • suggesting the depth in the composition by alternating fuller and bolder areas of colour to finer detailed ones;
  • planning the composition in every detail must have been part of their process;
    the registration is absolutely perfect;
  • Sometimes the plates seem to be inked with two colours at a time, maybe using a brush or palette knife other than the roller, because you can see them softly blending rather than overlapping;
  • the carved areas must have been very deep, because they look very smooth, without the typical linocut marks that sometimes can be a bit distracting (or maybe they were using masks to obtain a cleaner effect).
Project 6 Single colour linocut

Project 6 Single colour linocut

The research of a subject for this project felt a little difficult to me, not fully knowing how to deal with linocut I was unsure of what kind of image could have the right impact once finished.
After sketching some ideas I decided to go for a picture of a mask, typical from my city Naples, called Pulcinella.

I sketched out a black mask with its typical white hat and tried to simulate what the finished linocut could have looked like by drawing the image with a white pastel on black paper.


Then I reproduced the drawing on the lino with some carbon paper and started to cut.

I wanted the mask to stand out from a plain white background so I decided to cut off the excess lino rather than working it with the tools.

Coming to the printing phase, after proofing the lino with some soft pastel, the result wasn’t as I expected. I realised that while I was quite satisfied with the way the hat looks, I didn’t like the effect of the mask. It was actually very difficult to represent something which is completely black, without contour lines, just by guessing where the highlights would have been. I could’t draw this subject from life so I had to imagine where the light was describing the volumes. Also being not that accustomed to lino tools yet, the highlighted areas didn’t have the fluidity I wanted them to have and they ended up looking pretty flat.



I thought of reworking the plate to make a better print, but cutting off more areas than I already did would have definitely get things worse, so I decided to leave it that way and learn from my mistakes.

Project 5: Linocuts

Project 5: Linocuts

This project consisted essentially in exploring the potential of linocut. I tried linocut in the past a couple of times, just to familiarise with this technique and I found it really amazing. like all the other printmaking techniques I tried so far it requires a fair amount of planning, unless you are really willing to risk and enjoy the potential of the unknown!

I used an A4 sized lino and divided it in little squares using a simple pencil. then I went on it with different tools and trying different approaches. It is quite difficult to free your mind when you are in touch with new things, so this exercise was really useful to just relax and think of the connection with feeling the materials and tools rather than really caring about a specific result.

I printed the finished plate twice, as the first one didn’t seem to have enough ink to show all the marks.



Etching at Royal Drawing School

Etching at Royal Drawing School

The last year has been particularly though on me. For some various little issues I wasn’t able to keep up with my studies the way I wanted to.

However I kept my passion alive by attending a printmaking course from September to December, at the Royal Drawing School in London. This short course touched 5 different techniques, mainly involving etching: hard and soft ground, aquatint, sugar lift and drypoint.

Here I share some of the works produced during these few lessons.

Soft ground etching on zinc



Drypoint on copper
Drypoint + hardground etching on copper
Sugar lift on aluminium

I was really amazed by the range of results achievable with printmaking and the idea of how many of them are yet to discover, is just the best motivation I could ever find.

Reflection on Assignment 1 : Monoprints

Reflection on Assignment 1 : Monoprints

I worked on this first chapter of the Printmaking 1 course for a longer time than expected, due to various personal circumstances, which affected me quite intensely and consequently affected my work.
I have to admit that I found monoprinting far more complicated than I thought, and this especially because it was a totally new territory to me.

I think overviewing the whole monoprinting experience my biggest issue has been textures and how to make them stand out, probably due to the technique’s high chance of unpredictability. You can plan the various steps, make accurate measurements and registration, but you cannot really control the way the ink will appear on the paper as the factors contributing in modifying it are so many.

Monoprinting revealed to me completely new way of image making, however I have to admit I didn’t enjoy the process as much as other printmaking techniques I tried.
Working on something that comes difficult to me has been extremely useful though, and it is certainly something to explore further, in combination with other techniques.

I have done my best to adapt my drawing style to monoprinting and I felt it gradually got better throughout the unity.

Also the quality of the outcome got better, aided by the many mistakes made in the process.

It was very difficult to gather information about mono printing history. The books I had available only summarised the process and on the internet as well I could find the same few redundant informations.
Regarding the process of monoprinting, I found very useful video resources on youtube and OCA students website.

Thanks to mono printing, a window has been opened on my creativity, however I think there is far more work to get done to enhance this aspect.


Project 4: Textured and combination monoprints

Project 4: Textured and combination monoprints


For this fourth project I started off with a portrait, and particularly a self-portrait.
I was planning to get the portrait done in back drawing, on two different background colours, one for the hair and one for the skin tone. Firstly I sketched my portrait from a mirror onto paper. Then I traced this sketch onto another sheet, to have a reference when back drawing and to select the lines I wanted to reproduce.

I mixed the colours for the base and roughly spread them with a palette knife in the central area. I didn’t use any registration method on purpose, to obtain a slightly shifted image, which hopefully would have turned more interesting and expressive.

I took 2 prints of my background colours, the first one on a coloured paper and the second on a white one.

A printed a third time with the same colours on white paper, this time applying them with a brush.

Once I had my backgrounds done I started with the back drawing.

The first print on coloured paper was back drawn using a ballpoint pen.


The second print has instead been back drawn with a coloured pencil.

Scan 2.jpg

Finally, the third print back drawing has been obtained taking a second impression of what the previous back drawing left on the plate.

Scan 3.jpg


I am really satisfied with all of the portraits, and I find all of them very interesting, however the one I think stands out the most is the first one.

Still life

I went on with a still life, sketching 3 of them. In the first place I decided to go for the matryoshka doll so I started cutting masks from the drawing. I decided that I wanted to have an oval frame and I rearranged the masks of the doll so they could fit in it. But I didn’t think that I would actually need some kind of guide to align the shapes through the various stages, so when it came to printing the faces and the apron I messed it up.



I decided to go for another subject, a jam jar, a toast and a knife.
This time I traced the drawing on another sheet so that I could use it as my guide for registration. This second time was definitely better than the first one but I must say I struggled quite a lot, maybe especially because I felt it was quite difficult to get a good definition of the shapes, due to the technique itself and so, making it really hard to create a recognisable still life.

I also tried using some objects to give texture, but the result was very poor, I guess the best way to make textures stand out is by using a press instead of hand printing.

Furthermore, it looked to me that layering those printing inks too many times didn’t allow them to dry properly, so when I tried to back draw the label of the jam vase, it turned out really weird.

Scan 2.jpg


The abstract composition was the best to realise. I tried to plan it a bit in advance but I confess that I let myself go on this one and that is why I felt I reached good result enjoying the process.
For the first layer in violet, I used some stripe shaped mask teared from a newspaper and a bamboo mat I found in the kitchen to give some texture.
For a second layer I cut some shapes from a folded piece of paper (the kind of things I was always doing when I was a kid!) and used yellow ink, while on the other side I directly squeezed some white ink on the plate, which gave nice circles.
The next step was splashing some red colour (this was acrylic) and working it with the stick of a brush. I loved the way it melted with one of the white circles.
Finally I added some back drawing in black ink mixed with some blue.


I realised I liked the result more because I didn’t have precise expectation on this one, being an abstract. I find mono printing really unpredictable and even though I think this is the beautiful side of it, it also is the hardest aspect to control, when you are trying to refer to reality.


Lastly I worked on a landscape. I imagined an industrial landscape and I did a quick sketch.

The first layer I printed has been the background, which I textured with a feather. Even though some of my fingerprints are visible I quite liked the result, as the shapes obtained together with the colour I used reminded me of trees.

I printed the top hill as a second layer, using a palette knife directly on the plate and darkening the same colour used for the background.

The next step has been back drawing in black the thin structures onto the background and over printing them with the dark silhouette on the top of the hill.

I then painted with a brush onto the plate the two darker hills in the bottom, texturing the darkest corner with a smaller feather.

the final touch has been the smoke coming out of the factories chimneys.

I quite liked the final result of this landscape, even though I still found difficult to texture the ink and to plan everything to get a what is in my mind.