Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Linocut: My First Attempt, Part 1

I have been interested in trying my hand at linocuts for a while now. This is the technique of making an image by first drawing it in reverse on a linoleum block such as the one below. I purchased at the art store a few blocks to experiment with, in the same size as the cards I will be printing on for the upcoming website, 5 X 7 inches. I also picked up a set of linoleum/woodblock cutting tools, although after watching the videos at the end of this post in addition to others on YouTube, the one that seems to work the best to cut fine lines was not in my set of tools.

The idea for a greeting card that i have been tossing around for a while now was to have a cherry tree with cherry blossoms, and have a golden birdcage hanging from the tree. Sitting on the branch above would be an origami folded crane. I reversed the sketch I had come up with and drew it in pencil directly onto the linoleum block. I then carefully dug out all the spaces in between my drawing. I found that a steady hand comes in handy. I was, however, having to try all the tools to find which dug out larger areas better, and which ones enabled me to get into very narrow areas, or areas that came to a point.

So this is how my first linocut block came out. I thought to myself that printing would surely show the several times my hand slipped, or that I was struggling to cut out fine lines. When it came to printing I realized a couple of things: first, that I did not have pink paint for the flowers, nor did I have brown for the tree. And how was I going to have several different colors in one print? Then i realized that the pros had one separate block for each color. For the tree, everything but the tree would have to be cut out, then everything but the cage would be cut out, and so on. So I printed out a few using black and gold, trying to apply paint with my fingers, but also using a Brayer. So that's why this is Part 1, I have to get the right colors and perhaps clean up more off my design, etc... I'll be back!

Below is a great depiction of the process of making a linocut. Chris Ridenour is an artist that has put several videos of his linocut work on YouTube. I browsed YouTube mostly to find any tips that might make the cutting process shorter, but other than using the right tools and having a steady hand I did not experience any sort of divine enlightenment. It is, however, very helpful to see these videos and be able to watch other artists in action.


  1. That's very pretty. I really like the design.

  2. Very cool. Yeah I guess it's like woodcuts. Separate blocks for each color...

    hey did you know that Merie has a blog too??