linocut print with watercolor

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Painting Linocut Prints with Watercolors

tin watercolor palette

Hand Color Linocuts

If you print your linocuts and woodcuts with inks that won’t re-wet, you can have a lot of fun hand coloring your relief prints with watercolors.

linocut carving
Carving a linocut from mounted linoleum, using a sharpie magic marker for the drawing, and Flexcut tools to do the carving.

Hand Colored Block Print Fun

If you printed a small edition of 5 linocut prints in black ink that dries permanently – after the ink is dry – you get to be a color wizard!

Break out your watercolors (or other media) and have a party adding color to the parts of your paper that are free of ink. 

And here’s the best part: each print in the edition can be painted in different colors!

miniature linocut print of Friday Kahlo
After printing this mini linocut of Friday Kahlo, I wait for the ink to dry thoroughly, and than plan some watercolor fun

Start Small on Your Beginner Linocut Prints

If you’ve never made a linocut before, keep your design simple. Perhaps it’s best to start small too. You’ll use up less linoleum, less ink, less paper, and you’ll finish faster – which will spur you forward to make another linocut, and build your skills.

If you’ve already made lots of prints – and you have a folder or a drawer with old relief them, can I invite you to pour a beverage and have a look at them? Test the ink with a damp cotton swab to see if it re-wets. If the ink remains dry, and a swipe from a cotton swab comes away ink-free, you can paint that print. Bring on the color!

painting linocuts with watercolors
Adding watercolors to this tiny linocut of Frida Kahlo (available here in my Etsy Shop)

Check Your Inks First

This post reviews linocut design ideas, and details about what to look at in your ink-manufacturer’s particulars. It’s a good idea to read the fine print on your printmaking ink. Theres a big difference between water-wash up, and water-soluble, and water-based inks.

I hope you’ll revisit your drawer of linocut prints, and consider adding some color. It’s a lot of fun, and you’ll get to adjust values, and add halftones to an art form that is primarily two values: black and white.

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


P.S> This petite linocut is based on the likeness of Frida Kahlo. I’ve always thought her face was stunning, determined and strong. I’ve been inspired by her face – even more than her art. I’ve drawn, painted and made prints of her many times. (See below)

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