Linocut workshop

I am keen to try different printing processes so I enrolled for a reduction lino workshop last weekend with Mary Gillett. I am also doing a weekly etching course with Mary and enjoy working in her large studio out in the country near Tavistock in Devon. There was only 3 of us so we got lots of individual attention and a printing press each! The weather was glorious and we were able to keep our lino very warm and supple under the sun as well as enjoy lunch outside!!

The lino reduction method was invented by Picasso, who had a great love of printmaking apparently. This method of lino cutting involves progressively cutting the same linoblock for each new colour, making it impossible to take any further prints from the original plates, and there’s not much left of them anyway!

Mary suggested we made 10 prints– that number would allow for mistakes and hopefully we would get a few good ones - so it is quite time consuming, printing each colour 10 times.  The registration for printing is really important and we spent a lot of time getting it right so that each print would line up exactly on the press – even so I managed to get some of mine slightly out which of course shifts everything – sometimes this works sometimes it doesn’t – such is the excitement of printing – you never know what you are going to get!!

I worked from a coloured drawing prepared earlier (yes of course I watched Blue Peter!) I wanted to capture the gorse on the moor near my house and took my sketchbook on my walks last week – this was the drawing that I worked from


I then made a tracing of the drawing, reversed it and traced it through carbon paper onto the lino. I was then ready to make the first  cuts and remove  the areas that I wanted white. The vivid yellow of the gorse was the most important colour to keep pure so that was the first colour I printed 


I then cut away the areas I wanted yellow. It was quite strange at first cutting away the area of the wanted colour, a reversal of the usual practice of taking away what you don’t want! The next colour was blue – I loved rolling out the colours on to plate glass before applying it to the linocut.


this is the stage when you know whether the registration is correct. I had forgotten one of the instructions, to always run the print through the press in the same direction and as a result some of my prints were a fraction out! All good learning - but it pays to listen!!


It is usual practice to work from light to dark but other considerations are important as you are overlaying colours on top of each other and they are still wet unless you take a week and do one colour a day!

I then cut away the blue area, the sky,

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and printed in a light grey/brown – I had now  printed 30 times and was half way through the second day – I realised I was not going to finish in a weekend !



So at the end of the weekend I was nearly there but still have a couple more colours to apply– another brown and finally black – unless I change my mind and choose other colours after living with them for a couple of weeks – I can’t get back to the studio again until 9 June to complete the prints – I’ll post the finished  result then but meantime this is as far as I got…….. x 10!



sketchbook reflexions

Last Sunday I took my granddaughter to the beach at Wembury – I left my camera at home and only took a sketchbook  – there  was an east wind blowing but a little sunshine now and then …. I drew in my sketchbook



My granddaughter had heard quite alot about volcanic dust  because her parents were now having a break in St Ives instead of Prague! So she made a volcanic city!


I record something entirely different without a camera!



I'm still working on the first plate but I have started a second one with a simple etching - quite small 7cms x 19.5 cms from the tree series - this is the coolibah tree - the trunk of the tree is dark and gradually the branches become paler and can be quite white at the top of the tree! From the dark earth to the light in the sky - the tree is very symbolic!Next I applied the first aquatint which was not the depth I wanted........... and I really wanted to lose that horizon!
the plate was subsequently treated to both a further hard ground and a soft ground and another aquatint ........... this is near to what I wanted!
all trial and error - meantime I'm learning lots! Please click on the images to enlarge them - I really must get a scanner as it is difficult to get a good reproduction with the camera!


Reflections on white

I’ve been reflecting on the significance of my focus on white yesterday. White has so many meanings – there is of course the religious or spiritual meaning, the pure, clean and simple meaning, and for the artist the meaning of blank or empty as in the empty blank white sheet of paper or canvas that confronts us –


I love a clean new white sketchbook but it can also create a sense of panic too! Where to start, what to do, suppose I make the wrong mark – and so it goes on until a creative block stifles any further work! I have been wanting to get back to some drawing and have been avoiding it – it is much easier for me to take photographs but I look and see differently when I draw……


so today I found a simple white sketchbook that I’d made a few months ago – just 8 folded pages bound with a simple bookbinding technique – these are quick and easy to make – I have resolved to fill it this week with working drawings of trees  from the printmaking class




The drawings are not finished – I will continue working into these first two. On my walk to day I left my camera behind and took a small notebook with me – I did a few tree rubbings and may use these in my drawing tomorrow. I’d love to hear any thoughts on creative blocks, blank white pages and drawing!

I hope you are all having a creative week!


A ‘black and white’ day

I’ve had a couple of days feeling rather low, Still a lack of focus and not much energy for anything. A creative block? Had all that RED drained me - was it a danger sign? I mooched about wondering what to do with myself and finally went out for a walk! I found myself looking at white …………….


the hawthorn blossom is splendid at the moment but then we are now in May!


A glance in my direction but her back was soon turned on me!


I then noticed black – obviously my mood was affecting me!! I felt small, a little lost and alone!

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“Well just look at me then” this ewe seemed to empathize my self doubt but it made me laugh at myself! Hmmm…..

but then‘black and white’


Finally my sprits soared when this kite appeared in the dark grey sky !


And a moment later the sun came out in a blue sky – colour and light were back in my life!


I feel much better now and tonight I’m going to have some yummy rhubarb crumble I made earlier (with creme fraiche) and watch a DVD - ‘Conversations with my gardener’ A French film which I think will suit my mood! Tomorrow is another day……………