On the Cards

Cards aren’t just for Christmas. Join PA Lynn Norris as she introduces us to printmaking using a simple lino-cut design – perfect for creating cards with a personal touch.

There are many ways to approach creating your own cards, from the one-off hand painted card to creating a painting that you choose to have printed. Printmaking enables you to use both approaches. I first discovered printmaking at college, and after just a small taster of woodcutting and mono printing I was hooked.

It challenged me in a way that no other medium had and I loved the dramatic reveal, when you peel off the paper to see your work. The expression of bold colour, the sharpness and energy in the lines, the texture created - these were all areas where I’d never quite achieved what I wanted with other mediums. Printmaking changed this and I went on to do a fine art degree specialising in it, learning all the techniques.

One of the main benefits of printmaking is the ability to reproduce the work over and over again, once you have that plate or block you can use it with endless colour combinations and print to your heart’s content - it’s a definite plus if you have decided to do handmade Christmas cards, or want a triptych.

As a professional artist there is always the opportunity to sell, and printing gives you a means to produce many more than one to sell with ease. In this exercise we are going to look at Relief printing, where the surface that creates the print is raised in relief to be inked. See how you can create a simple lino block in conjunction with a wet in wet watercolour background to create your own prints.

 

‘Looking Outside’, four-colour linocut, this was done using only one block, cutting out again after printing each colour. The inks were opaque and I started with the lightest colour first, overlapping the colours as they go darker (so the cream of the outside would have been all over the page until the yellow prints overlapped to define the rest)

1 Start by drawing out a simple design on the block. Remember that whatever you draw will print in reverse as you are turning it over, this is particularly key to lettering or words.

Tip: To reverse an image draw out your design on tracing paper and flip it over (drawing side down) onto the block and then draw over the lines again to trace it onto the block.

2 Place the cutting blade in the tool – the size of blade determines the width of the cut you take out of the lino. I used the middle sized blade for most of this lino cut, swapping to the smallest blade for little cuts on the poppy head.

Place the tool into the ball of your hand with the blade facing away from you at all times, with the other hand hold the block steady. A small amount of pressure is required and you push slowly, slightly downwards to start with and once the tool is in the lino push horizontally. Lifting the tool up will end a cut.

Tip: Work away from you at all times: cutter blades are sharp and will easily stab into you if you slip.

3 Everything you are cutting out will remain white. Take your time, a lino block is a labour of love, one wrong cut and your design will change.

Think about the marks you are making in the background - large spaces cut out with smaller cutters will ink up a bit with the roller and add to your design. For finer detail in the flower head I used the smallest cutter then scratched into the lino further with an etching needle, you can achieve the same effect with a nail.

4 The finished lino cut before inking: you can see the finer scratches and how I’ve used the smaller lino cutter to do the veins in the leaves and work into the head. Place a 10p size blob of ink onto a shiny surface, roller the ink vertically and horizontally until you have spread it out into an even covered rectangle.

There’s a products featured, please visit www.saa.co. tray provided in the kit, but any flat shiny surface will do, glass or a tile are ideal, even a big plate.

Tip: The spread of ink needs to be even on the glass and on the roller, it should make the same sound you get when you roller emulsion onto walls; it will have some resistance and a claggy feel when you push it along. If it’s patchy, there’s not enough ink; if it’s slipping then there’s too much and you need to wipe some off.

5 Hold the block steady and roller over it, vertically, a couple of times, check it’s even and you haven’t missed a bit.

6 Place your paper over the printing block, try to get this as level as possible, holding the block steady with one hand, I tend to do this with my thumb on the corner, and using the palm of your hand rub gently but firmly in a small circular motion, rub over the whole block. You can use the flat of a wooden spoon, but I always find the heat of my hand transfers the ink to the paper better.

Tip: Place the paper on carefully and as horizontal as possible, you want it to hit once and not move, otherwise it will blur. The paper is easier to manage and hold if it’s around the size of the block or just a bit bigger.

7 Peel off carefully but quickly from one corner, try not to move the paper that’s still on the block as this will smudge the print. Think ‘turning the page of a book’, that’s the speed and touch you want to use when lifting off.

8 The first print is usually patchy as the block needs a further inking up, but it’s a great time to check whether the lines are all visible as you can do further cutting out if required. To create a coloured background for the print, place the block on your paper, with the print side facing upwards and mark the corners with a pencil, this will give you a guide on where the background needs to be. I then wet the paper and dropped in Carmine, Gamboge and Permanent Rose on the poppy head and Gamboge, Sap Green, Quinacridone Gold and Ultramarine Blue in the foliage area and background. I judged this by placing the colours roughly in the right area on the paper, by cross referencing to my black and white print - it doesn’t need to be precise. You can easily alter the colours and mediums on the background to create different prints with ease. When the watercolour is dry, ink up your block with the roller as previously described and place onto the paper, matching up your pencil marks in the corners, hold the block and paper steady and flip over so the paper is on the top. Rub over the print with the palm of your hand and lift off to reveal your colour print.

Lynn’s printmaking workshops at Coddington, Newark are taking place on 29th Oct, 30th Oct, 12th Nov and 13th November - all in 2012. She also offers workshops, holidays and demonstrations primarily in watercolour and mixed media, please ring 01636 613172 or 07738 939477, email lynn.norris@talktalk.net or visit www.lynnnorris.co.uk for more details.

Details of the Speedball Block Printing Kit and accessories can be found on page 6 of your Home Shop catalogue 95 or at www.saa.co.uk. For a selection of blank watercolour cards ideal for creating your own personalised greetings cards see page 92 of your Annual Home Shop catalogue 92.

 

On the Cards

Cards aren’t just for Christmas. Join PA Lynn Norris as she introduces us to printmaking using a simple lino-cut design – perfect for creating cards with a personal touch.

There are many ways to approach creating your own cards, from the one-off hand painted card to creating a painting that you choose to have printed. Printmaking enables you to use both approaches. I first discovered printmaking at college, and after just a small taster of woodcutting and mono printing I was hooked.

It challenged me in a way that no other medium had and I loved the dramatic reveal, when you peel off the paper to see your work. The expression of bold colour, the sharpness and energy in the lines, the texture created - these were all areas where I’d never quite achieved what I wanted with other mediums. Printmaking changed this and I went on to do a fine art degree specialising in it, learning all the techniques.

One of the main benefits of printmaking is the ability to reproduce the work over and over again, once you have that plate or block you can use it with endless colour combinations and print to your heart’s content - it’s a definite plus if you have decided to do handmade Christmas cards, or want a triptych.

As a professional artist there is always the opportunity to sell, and printing gives you a means to produce many more than one to sell with ease. In this exercise we are going to look at Relief printing, where the surface that creates the print is raised in relief to be inked. See how you can create a simple lino block in conjunction with a wet in wet watercolour background to create your own prints.

 

‘Looking Outside’, four-colour linocut, this was done using only one block, cutting out again after printing each colour. The inks were opaque and I started with the lightest colour first, overlapping the colours as they go darker (so the cream of the outside would have been all over the page until the yellow prints overlapped to define the rest)

1 Start by drawing out a simple design on the block. Remember that whatever you draw will print in reverse as you are turning it over, this is particularly key to lettering or words.

Tip: To reverse an image draw out your design on tracing paper and flip it over (drawing side down) onto the block and then draw over the lines again to trace it onto the block.

2 Place the cutting blade in the tool – the size of blade determines the width of the cut you take out of the lino. I used the middle sized blade for most of this lino cut, swapping to the smallest blade for little cuts on the poppy head.

Place the tool into the ball of your hand with the blade facing away from you at all times, with the other hand hold the block steady. A small amount of pressure is required and you push slowly, slightly downwards to start with and once the tool is in the lino push horizontally. Lifting the tool up will end a cut.

Tip: Work away from you at all times: cutter blades are sharp and will easily stab into you if you slip.

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