Miniature Linocut Inspired by Frida Kahlo

This linocut is smaller than a business card, but it was a spontaneous and fun session of carving a miniature portrait of Frida Kahlo.

In the last post, I shared a pile of very loved resource books from my studio with ideas, examples, and instructions for relief printmaking. Most of them focused on woodcuts, but the same process approach and principles apply to linocut.

miniature linocut portraits
Carving a little Frida face from the block

Linocut Print Resources

Linoleum is softer than wood, so carving it is much easier – especially if you have tender hands and fingers. You can also warm the linoleum in the sun before carving it, to soften the material. Printmaker Nick Morley (LinocutBoy) has some great tips for prepping your linoleum before carving over here.

miniature linocut portrait
The linocut, printed with black relief ink, before adding watercolor

Inspired to Make a Linocut

This little linocut portrait was inspired by the lovely Frida Kahlo. I’ve been fascinated by her face and costumes for a long time.

I don’t know what it’s like to march to such a different drummer the way she did. I suspect her courage was stored in the same vault as the pain and tragedies of her youth. But she was fiercely beautiful, and creatively prolific, despite a life of pain.

Frida, photographed by her father Guillermo Kahlo in 1926 (she was 19)

Who are your artist heroes? Do you ever draw, paint or print portraits of them?

Working Small in Linocut Prints

I like to become familiar with new materials and techniques in a petite format.

Working small as a new printmaker can be done at the kitchen table, in a few hours, using small blocks, a little ink, and some good printmaking paper cut down to small sizes.

Little blocks of linoleum can be found on Amazon (like this 6-pack). A speedball carving tool with assorted tips tucked into the handle is not very expensive, and it’s a good choice to start with. (I still use one I found at an estate sale 20 years ago.) If you already have one and want to “graduate” to a better set of carving tools, treat yourself to a Flexcut set.

Getting ready to ink a relief print carved from MDF board.

Getting Started in Printmaking by Keeping Things Simple

A single color of water-wash up relief printmaking ink goes a long way in familiarizing a beginner with rolling ink out with a brayer on a bench hook or a spare sheet of plexiglass.

All that’s needed to pull the print is good printmaking paper (I just tried this speedball brand and it’s been lovely for linocuts) and a soup spoon.

If you’re looking for affordable ways to resource linoleum for relief printmaking, read this post where I’ve calculated the costs to help you find the most economical way to buy linoleum for linocut printmaking projects.

You can also get an unmounted lino grab bag from McClains Printmaking Supplies
This is one of the video tutorials on my youtube channel. It’s part of a playlist about relief printmaking methods.

Read Books about Linocut Printmaking

If you’ve never made a linocut before, or it’s been a couple of decades, read a little about making one before you jump in.

It’s not a complicated printmaking method (pinky promise), but the specifics of the courtship between ink, block, and paper, when heeded, will lead to more success and less failure.

When trying new things, success spurs us forward to keep going. Failure leads to a loss of creative appetite. Reach for success with a little research beforehand.

I’ve listed some linocut-specific books below, and be sure to check out the relief print books in the last post too.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you in the next post!

Belinda

P.S. Have you ever read the wiki page on linocut?

P.P.S. Speaking of small lino, have you see the Instagram account of Kester Crawford?

P.P.P.S. Have you seen the gorgeous pattern relief prints my friend Margaret Rankin is making with cut-out cardboard?

Corona 3.25 x 2 Linocut – available in my Etsy Shop
Frida portrait
Frida in a miniature fantasy watercolor (sold)
A video tutorial on Two-Color Reduction Linocut printmaking techniques

Art Quote

When Mark Rothko used tempera, he would follow a procedure that has existed since the Renaissance, separating dozens of eggs, and beating the whites into a consistency close to that of a soufflé.  Those few friends who saw Rothko perform this rite were delighted by the bulky Balzacian figure, with large hands, delicately transferring yolk after yolk, from half shell to half shell.

Legacy of Mark Rothko – Lee Seldes
a cat asking the question: Are You Missing Your Art Supplies?
Visit this free online mini-course – Six Tips to Paint More

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14 thoughts on “Miniature Linocut Print of Frida Kahlo”

  1. “Flexcut Micro Craving Set” heh.

    I’ve been having trouble getting Speedball ink to roll out nicely, and to not gob up on the block when making multiple prints. I could give you a list of factors I need to eliminate, sigh. Do you have any sources? Ideas? Oh, like “buy a bunch of little blocks and go to town?” Okay.

    1. Hi Kirsten, Are you using the waster wash up Speedball ink? If so, that stuff dries too fast, so I’d recommend always adding a 50/50 mix of Speedball block printing medium as a retarder – it slows the drying time: https://amzn.to/3jW817S. When you say the ink is gobbing up on the block, do you mean it’s drying?

  2. Belinda, Your blog is a ray of sunshine in these difficult times, and you introduce so many exciting and inspiring artists. Especially charmed by the work of your friend Margaret Rankin, a fellow Canadian to boot! Much appreciated, Louise

    1. Hi Louise! Thanks so much for your kind note, and I’m so glad you like Margaret Rankin’s work! I have one of her relief prints in my house, and I *love* it! And three cheers for Canadians, as my maternal grandfather was born there!

  3. I think for me when I found her and her story she projected truth and pain of her life and happenings with no aspirations of “likes”. It was an eye opener for me which has developed into much more and I think that is true for many that have discovered her story. You see her life, her pains, her struggles in her work and she is a compellingly beautiful figurehead amongst it all. Bx

    1. Good morning, Bix – I like the notion of considering artists before our time producing prolifically before the notion of Likes. That’s an excellent thing to ponder, so thank you. I feel connected to her as a comrade of life-with-pain, so maybe she is also a beacon for pushing through and making art anyway. Creative block – which plagues so many artists I know – is nothing compared to what she went through, and she still made art.

  4. Love this. She was my muse a couple years ago and I got fairly good mileage from my Frida Lino prints. Still have them stashed away…might dig them out or even the plate and see if I can get more from it. Bx

    1. Hi Bix, Yes, For some reason I don’t understand, Frida is a potent inspiration-charger. I’m glad she’s spoken to you too. I hope you *do* pull out your prints and plates to take a second look. May it lead to busy, creative hands. 🙂

  5. Love your work. I am not, and probably will never be a print maker, but I am entranced by everything you make and your super generous sharing of ideas.

    XOXOXOXOXOXO Barbara

    1. My friend, You are a cool fountain on a hot, sunny day. I’m sending blue skies and sunshine in a northerly direction, with the hope that it reaches you where you stand this minute. Thanks for your visit, and your kindness. XOXOXO

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