Figurative Linocut Nude Print Exchange
This figurative linocut was made a few years ago for a print exchange. The theme of the exchange was The Nude. Have you ever participated in a print exchange?
Printmakers sign up, usually with a limited quantity of participants, and each artist makes a print edition large enough to gift a print to each contributor. The print theme might be based on a size, color palette, or randomly selected attributes. If twelve printmakers participate, you’ll each have twelve prints after the exchange is complete. Sound fun? It is!
Where to Buy Linoleum for Block Printing
I’ve been buying and trying linoleum, and similar products for linocuts for a few decades. I prefer unmounted, battleship gray linoleum in a roll. It’s both firm and soft, easy to carve, it holds details, releases ink very well, stands up to multiple print editions, both on the press and via hand transfer. And it’s not expensive.
Before you ponder how you couldn’t possibly buy all that linoleum, hear me out. A roll of battleship gray unmounted linoleum at Dick Blick Art Supplies is about $98. Let’s call it $120 with domestic shipping. The rolls I buy at that price measure 12″ high by 25 feet long. (30.48 cm X 7.62 meters)
If you split the price of the roll with another printmaker, you’ll each get *a lot* of lovely inexpensive plates for your projects.
A Little Linoleum Math
Let’s say you’re just starting out, and you want to work often, and small (which is smart). With a ruler, a sharpie magic marker and a utility knife on that same sized roll, you can mark and cut:
- 5 12X12 inch plates (30.48 cm x 30.38 cm) for a few larger pieces
- and 60 6X8 inch plates (15.24cm x 20.32 cm)
If you split the roll with a friend, each block will cost you $1.80, and you’ll both have 30 6×8 blocks, and two 12X12 blocks. You can flip a coin for the 5th 12×12. Or if you can’t decide who should get that one, you can send it to me. 🙂
If you buy the blocks one by one, say, on Amazon, you’ll pay about $15.00 for each 12X12 unmounted block, and $7.00 for each 6X8 unmounted block.
Preparing the Linoleum for Carving
Before laying a drawing on unmounted linoleum, I sand the entire surface with 600 grit sandpaper wrapped around a hand sander.
The flat sander surface reduces the chance of concave indentations my fingertips might leave in the surface of the linoleum.
The sandpaper removes bumps, and divots, as well as the chemical sealer applied in the manufacturing process to seal the linoleum and prevent it from drying out. That same sealer can cause repelling trouble with certain inks.
I carefully wipe the surface clear with a slightly damp rag after sanding is finished. You should avoid wetting the burlap on the verso of the block, because it shrinks and curls your plate.
Linoleum is, in part, a product of flax seed. The seeds are pressed, and the flax oil is boiled to make linseed oil. The linseed oil is then blended with cork and clay and pressed into linoleum. I prefer the unmounted, battleship gray linoleum to everything else I’ve tried, by far.
Mixing Reference Sources and Drawing Materials
The background of this image was inspired by an old carriage house apartment I lived in years ago, with one of my cats lounging on the sill.
I’ve asked friends and family to pose for me for a few decades, so I have a splendid bevy of figurative photos to mix and match into imagined scenes. Two separate figurative snapshots were combined to create a couple on the bed.
I used pencil first, and then sharpie magic marker to draw the scene. I added a bit of watercolor here and there (see above) to help map my carving plan. I need color-based reminders to tell me where to cut, and what to leave alone. Similar to outfit matching directives like Garanimals clothes for children. 🙂
Do you use a bit of color in your linocut carving plan too?
- If you’re on facebook, do you belong to some of the printmaking groups there? Members are from all over the world, and their skills and styles are refreshingly international and varied. Have a look at this one called Linocut Friends.
- Another excellent group is the Craft Press Printmakers. These folks all use stenciling, and embossing machines altered to work as petite but effective alternatives to traditional presses.
- Here is a detailed post to help you find ideas for your linocut print projects when you’re first starting out.
I hope you decide to jump into printmaking – especially linocut! You can make these at your kitchen table, and the entire family can participate! Here are a few of the books I have in my printmaking library (below). I recommend either one of them, especially of you like instructions in your hand while you work.
Have a ton of fun, and come back to share you results! I love to see what you’ve made. You can also share it over on my facebook page.
Thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you in the next post!
P.S. Watch a beautiful inking and printing of 6 layers of color on a garden floral linocut print by Russian printmaker Elina Adrshina on her Facebook page here.
Of late Whistler had but little cause to complain of lack of appreciation on this side, for while an art so subtle as his is bound to be more or less misunderstood, critics amateurs and a goodly portion of the public have for a long time acknowledged his greatness as an etcher, a lithographer, and a painter. In fact, for at least ten years past, his works have been gradually coming to this country where they belong. England and Scotland have been searched for prints and paintings until the great collections – much greater than the public know – of his works are here. Some day the American people will be made more fully acquainted with the beautiful things he has done many of which have never been seen save by a few intimate friends. The struggle for recognition was long and bitter – so long and so bitter that it developed in him the habits of controversy and whimsical irritability by which he was for a generation more widely known than through his art. When it was once reported that he was going to America, he said “It has been suggested many times; but, you see, I find art so absolutely irritating to the people that, really, I hesitate before exasperating another nation.’ To another who asked him when he was coming, he answered, with emphasis, “When the duty on art is removed.”Arthur Jerome Eddy – Recollections and Impressions of James McNeill Whistler 1903