Saturday, March 28, 2009

White Line Printing

Detail of watercolour woodblock print

Watercolour Woodblock print & plywood plate 17 x 17cm

After testing this 'new' method of printing a multicoloured image from a single woodblock, I decided to make a larger version of my little test vase print. I particularly love the blind embossing achieved by printing these plywood blocks on a large etching press. The plan is to dedicated larger areas of embossed pattern in future pictures.

After doing a bit more research I think this method is a version of White Line Printing of which you can read an excellent description HERE on The Baren Forum of Woodblock Printing.

What started as simple admiration for the art created by Japanese printmakers is developing into a full-blown obsession with finding out how they actually cut and printed the blocks. I'm trying very hard to resist the temptation to go the whole way because, while the equipment is simple, it's expensive and hard to come by here in Italy.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Scratching Dermott

Drypoint Etching - Dermott with his Begging Bowl

Copper is rather expensive so I decided to try a piece of zinc for a drypoint etching. I didn't polish the plate sufficiently so when I printed, where I wanted bright white, I ended up with soft gray. After pulling the above proof, I decided to repolish the plate and rework the drypoint.

The second result was even more disappointing. Now I'm waiting for my new diamond-point etching needle to arrive from England and I'll have one more try. If that doesn't work, I'm going to leave all future scratching to Dermott!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Vase Still Life - Watercolour woodcut print

9.5 x 10.5cm Watercolour woodcut & monotype print

The Monotype Print

The plywood engraved and painted block after printing

This is the end of the test images. Now I'm going to work on a larger block.

If you would like to know more about the process, and see the incredibly beautiful prints of Australian artist/printmaker Cressida Campbell, you can will find it all on her website HERE.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Watercolour Woodblock Prints

Monotype Print with Engraved & Watercoloured Woodcut Block

I have finally found a way to combine my two great loves - watercolour and woodcut relief printing, thanks to a link from my dear friend, writer/painter Sally in Sydney and the technique of a fantastic Australian painter/ printmaker.

8 x 8cm block & monotype print

I kept the design of these two blocks simple because they were for test purposes and I didn't want to break my heart if they didn't work. They did work! If you click on the images you should be able to see the embossing in the larger view.

Further details tomorrow when I post a photo of the third print.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Iris Woodcut Print with Watercolour

Irises woodcut print hand coloured with watercolour

If you think you have just had a touch of deja vou it's because I was so unhappy with the photographs of my prints in the previous post I've deleted the post and started again, this time scanning my images.

Above is a woodcut print I have hand coloured with watercolour. Below is the one I posted yesterday, hand coloured with gouache.

Woodcut print with gouache

I'm happy with both for different reasons. I really like the flat colour field one can achieve with gouache, much as it would be if the colours were printed rather than painted. This is the style of printmaker Margaret Preston whom I greatly admire.

Now I'd like to know what you think.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Irises Woodcut Print

Irises woodcut print 15 x 24cms

Since our irises aren't out yet, I used a couple of my photos from last spring and a watercolour sketch as references to draw these irises. Next I plan to hand colour one of the prints.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Linocut & Printing Setup

Linocut and Woodcut work area

One of the best things about linocut printmaking is that if you don't have a studio it is very easy to set up in small area and quickly packed away if the small area with the best light happens to be your bedroom. This little desk under my bedroom window has great light and a gorgeous view of the garden. It's my winter retreat when my studio in the centre of the house is too cold. Katherine Tyrrell at Making a Mark suggested I might like to share my tools and setup with anyone who is interested in this very satisifying form of printmaking.

The setup is very simple - laptop for listening to BBC Radio 4 while I work, an old mouse mat to sit my lino or (in this case) plywood plate on. To the right are the tools.

While there are two linocutting tools sets on the desk, I seldom use more than the four tools in the centre of the picture. The two on the left are from Zecchi, in Florence and needed sharpening before use. The two of the right are Swiss Made Pfeil tools which came beautifully sharpened. I have two small V cutters, one small U and one that is almost flat. Most of the time I use the small V and the almost flat tool from Pfeil. I use the same tools for lino and plywood. To the left of the tools is a small piece of 2000 sandpaper that I drag the cutting edges against to keep them sharp while I'm working. I have a small oil stone but also use a Japanese wetstone we have for sharpening our kitchen knives. I hope with experience to become better at sharpening my tools.

When I'm ready to print I can set up at the same tiny desk.

All you need are some tubes of printing ink (I prefer oil based), a small piece of glass - I'm using an old mirror to roll out the ink, a rubber roller and a barren or wooden spoon to rub the paper against the inked plate.

The alternative printing method is a press.

My favourite piece of equipment is at the studio:

Old book binding press used for relief printing.

That's it really. Oil based inks can be cleaned up with cooking oil and vinegar . I always clean my plates with turpentine, and that's best done outside. I don't know if the cooking oil is good for cleaning these. Maybe someone would like to advise.

Rice paper is very nice for hand-pulled prints otherwise use damp paper, specially manufactured for printmaking (watercolour paper has too much size). Just soak it in a tray of water for about ten minutes and then roll it out between sheets of blotting paper before printing.

For the bits of ink that always end up on my hands and nose I use baby oil or babywipes.

So what are you waiting for?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Geese Linocut Print

Geese - 10 x 10cm linocut print on white Grafia paper

I found a little pencil sketch of geese in one of my old notebooks and decided to develop it to test the two beautiful Swiss-made cutting tools HWEM bought me for our wedding anniversary. They are blissful.

This is printed with Red Ochre Charbonnel Etching Ink which I've discovered I like even better than the Sanguine for lino prints. I've also printed the geese on a lovely cream paper but as there is no sunshine today, it was hopeless trying to take a photograph of it.

Doesn't seem much to show for all the time I've been spending in the studio, but some prints are still drying, a couple of monotypes were less than wonderful and I'm still working on a drypoint etching. I'm still having a ball.

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