Category Archives: Assignment 3

Project 8: Reduction linoprints

Printmaking 1: Part 3
Advanced and Experimental Relief Prints
Project 8: Reduction method linocutting

Title: “Come Live with me and be my love”



The inspiration for the title of this project came from the first line of the poem “The Passionate Shepherd to his Love”, (Marlowe, 1564, Cited in Barber, 2007: 169). In the poem a young shepherd professes his love for his sweetheart and asks her to come to live with him, setting out a romantic vision of their future lives together.

I wanted to link this theme to my father’s thoughts in the latter years of his life when he lived alone following the eventual loss of his two partners, often reflecting on his feelings for his loves.

In the last few months of his life, two nesting pigeons set up home on his balcony and raised several sets of chicks. My dad loved the pigeons as he was virtually housebound and during this time he had a direct view of the nest from his chair and watched them with great fondness over the months. Together we could observe how devoted they were to the chicks, taking turns to forage for food and to guard the nest.

We were able to directly observe their habits, which was both an unusual privilege and an opportunity for us to share happy times together in the final months of his life. I wanted to use the pigeon motif to develop the love theme, using text quoted from Christpher Marlowe’s poem to represent my fathers dreams and reminiscences of his earlier life.

Pigeons are intelligent birds who mate for life, sharing the rearing of their offsprinbetween them. They are commonly seen as symbols of peace ( the dove) and within some religious traditions, are associated with the reincarnation. ( 21 Amazing facts about pigeons, http://www.pigeoncontrolresource

I was keen to explore the creative possibilities of using pigeons in my own reduction print, having admired the detailed and expressive prints of the artist Mark Hearld. Of particular interest was a print called “Pigeons in the Park” which shows two pigeons facing each other directly with the detail of the park and a passer-by walking a dog in the background. The composition works very well, with the background elements helping to create a sense of depth and perspective in the work. The use of strongly contrasting red ink for the details of the birds’ eyes and feet I’d particularly striking against the neutral black, white and pale yellow used for the rest of the print (Hearld, M, 2012:42).

I was particularly interested in how the artist represented the plumage of his courting birds, striking a perfect balance with the amount of detail he used in the prints without confusing the overall picture. The artist manages to convey perfectly the relationship between the birds by positioning them facing each other. As a newcomer to printing, I wanted an opportunity to add detailed cutting into to my own work and to try to explore the challenges of balancing detail with overall visual appeal.

For my own print, I decided to use a similar approach to composition, placing the birds facing each other to suggest a nesting pair. For the background elements of the print I wanted to try to reproduce the scene from my father’s balcony, with the distant hills and sky beyond and the balcony in the mid ground, running across the picture plane and dividing it into thirds, with the birds located mainly in the lower two thirds, and the background sky and hills in the upper third.

To observe the detail of pigeon plumage, I visited my local art gallery and museum which has a large natural history section and sketched a number of pigeon exhibits in close detail. I also visited my local park in an effort to observe the birds in motion. However, they were scared off by passing dogs and this became a bit of a futile exercise. In the end, I relied on my museum sketches to observe the plumage at close quarters.


Preliminary sketches 

Colour Choices

My chosen colour choices for the print we’re white, yellow, grey, aubergine and black, influenced by a magnificent aubergine coloured pigeon in the museum which I decided would make an interesting colour choice for the plumage and the head of the large male The feet, beaks and rings around the eyes of the birds, which were to be printed yellow and this was the first to be printed.

I was very keen to include the text within my print, picking up the first line of the Marlowe poem. I used the computer to generate my script which I then used for the print. The text was carved out at the top and bottom of the Lino to be left white in the finished work. I intended to try to capture some light on the eye of both birds and removed Lino here, unfortunately over -cutting the centre of the eye of the smaller bird , making it impossible to later print a darker colour in the centre of the eye of the smaller bird. This was disappointing as it was impossible to correct later unless colour was added by hand.

I made a decision to add black back in manually at a later stage as I felt the lack of the black centre of the eye greatly reduced the effect I wanted with the print.

I also later regretted the way in which the sky was cut away to remain white using such coarse cutting tools and felt that I should have left more areas to be printed in the grey colour later. Too much white in the sky did not work well in the print.

The next colours to be printed were the grey of the background aubergine of the plumage and the head of the larger male bird and a line to create an inner border around the picture frame. This is a device which I had also observed in the work of the artist, Mark Hearld, where I particularly liked his collages, the Brown Hare and the Mountain Hare, created as a pair, and each featuring a separately created border framing the prints and linking the two prints to strengthen the pairing. The placing of the hares facing each other adds a very pleasing visual symmetry to the pair. The use of differing colours in both prints picks up the seasonal changes between Autumn and winter, something which I experimented with in my own pigeon print. Hearld, M. 2012: 90-91).

A mixed grey used for the some plumage, sky and part of the distant hills. Finally aubergine was used for the head of the large pigeon, feathers and a border.

Black ink was used to overprint a number of the prints to give more definition to the text, leaving the inner aubergine border but printing the balcony struts, outlines around the birds and the larger bird’s eye black. And to compare how black outlines worked for this subject.

For one print, white was used where black had been used above to creat the impression of a winters scene and to help to balance the White of the sky which I felt was too dominating in the previous prints.

Critical Assessment of Final Prints


Selection of final prints

What Worked Well

• I was quite pleased with the registration of the various layers throughout the process. I think that use of the cardboard jig helped greatly with registration, something which I would recreate in the appropriate size for future prints.

• The composition placing the birds in the centre of the picture plane is working well and their symmetry adds to the visual appeal of the print.

• The plumage on both birds worked surprisingly well, with the detail of the feathers striking a good balance between creating a realistic view of the birds but not over-dominating the overall picture.

• The horizontal and vertical struts of the balcony provide good contrast to the softness of the birds’ plumage and help to divide up the picture plan in a visually pleasing way.

• I felt the colour choices seem to be working, with the black final print layer working well. I think the addition of the black ink as a final layer strengthens the work.

What did not work well

• The use of white for the sky dominates the print, although this effect is diminished by printing a final layer in either black or white. I think this problem has arisen from the large gorge used to remove Lino for the sky. I should have kept more Lino uncut to improve the colour balance in the sky.

• The eye of the smaller email bird is spoiled by the excessive removal of lino resulting inwhite where black should have been. I think this is such a big problem. I will add this in by hand after the assignment has been assessed.

• The cutting of the text needs much more practice. I really liked the concept and would like to add in more elements of interest in this area in future work.

• My choice of paper was not ideal, with slight crinkling of the paper by the final print. Achieving adequate coverage of the paper by the black ink was difficult and I wondered whether this might also be sure to the paper I selected.

21 Amazing facts about pigeons, (2009) Available at: http://www.pigeoncontrolresource (Accessed: August 2016).

Barber, L. (2007) Penguin Poems for Life. Edited by Barber Laura. 1st edn. London: Penguin Group.

Hearld, M. and Martin, S. (2012a) : Mark Hearld’s Workbook . 1st edn. London, New York: Merrell .

Hearld, M. and Martin, S. (2012b) Mark Hearld’s Workbook. London, New York: Merrell







For this exercise I wanted to bring together a number of different techniques learned during the course and combine these with the delicate mark making which had been produced on loin and Westfoam during this section of the course.

Developing the theme

I wanted to develop the theme “Journey”, thinking of this in both physical and spiritual terms. To develop the theme, I took a number of photographs which I had taken on a recent train journey to the highlands of Scotland. The scenery changes from lowland greenery at the beginning of the trip, to a stark mountainous winter landscape as the train travel north. I thought that this provided a way to approach the journey theme although it could have been achieved differently by creating several “frames” in which the subject was a placed. This is something which could be developed at a later stage.


I prepared a number of monoprints using paper masks to create a range of printed base colours, and then used the Westfoam block, scored with fine linocutters to recreate my impression of the mountainous landscape I had observed on the train. I then cut the foam to size to match the dimensions of the glass slab used for the monoprints to allow registration of the layers. The Lino was also cut to size for registration to be carried out.

Colour choices

I experimented with a range of warm and cool colours to assess the impact this had on the mood of the prints and eventually selected a background of opaque pale blue for the sky and opaque pale lemon yellow for the land. How the colours worked over each other was also assessed. A pale cool blue also worked well and could be included in future work to develop the idea of the changing seasons.


It was important to include a figure within the landscape and to find a way of representing the spiritual element of the theme. I based my figure on an acrylic painting which I had used to produce a greeting card. This was drawn directly onto a piece of Lino matched in size with the Westfoam block. I wanted to create a sense of a figure emerging from the darkness into the landscape, creating a contra-jour effect around the figure. Black ink was chosen for the figure to provide maximum contrast with the paler background elements.
Paper Choice

Paper choice proved to be critical for the project. I found that thicker cartridge paper did not pick up the very fine tonal marks of the figure made by the Stanley knife. The more ink was added the less well the delicate marks were reproduced in the print. Using fine paper lead to a much more successful print and in the end I decided to print the final piece on this paper, having also printed up a run on the thicker cartridge.

Impact of the Matrix


The Westfoam used for the landscape proved to be problematic as the print runs progressed, with more and detail being lost from the plate as I progressed. In future I would reuse the material but would not consider it suitable for a big print run.


The Lino was very suitable for the use of small fine marks on the smaller scale image which I wanted to use. I loved how I was able to create delicate passages of light on the body and clothing of the figure, although this was easily lost when the print was re-inked many times.
I found it difficult to obtain good coverage with black ink over the mono printed surfaces on thicker cartridge paper. The Lino print worked best on fine paper.

Further Experimentation

As the project progressed I experimented with the idea of isolating the figure and the butterfly and inking them separately from the rest of the block. I really liked the visual impact that this created but found it technically difficult to achieve a consistent result. It was difficult to achieve good registration and I eventually consigned these prints to the sketchbook as I couldn’t achieve a run of quality prints. The prints work visually and could be mounted and would still work visually.

The print on foil created lovely delicate effects, with the foil picking up the finest detail. I really liked the fact that the layering was obvious, with the underneath colours shine though all layers.


Ideas for further work
• I would like to work into the existing Lino block to producer he figure in colour. Colour layers would be dictated by the flesh tones needed for the skin of the figure. However I liked the mock-up and think that I could overcome this by masking the area where the figure was to be positioned.

• I series of pieces in different colour ways could be created which would give more of a sense of the journey: different times of years/ fantasy landscape/ framing to create a sense of movement

• Changing the setting of the figure and the setting completely for example a singer contra-lit on a stage.

Critical Assessment of Final Prints

• Overall, the biggest problem I had with this exercise was achieving a good result at every stage of the print. It was particularly hard to retain the subtle marks from the Lino over the underlying monoprints if enough ink was applied to the block to cover the lines of the landscape. I tried to overcome this by using a mask in the shape of the figure which I used to leave white of the paper visible where the figure would go
This was only partially successful, as I managed to place it the wrong way round and didn’t notice my error till quite a few prints had been taken. It does add a halo effect, however it detracts from the landscape and I would try to remember to avoid this in future.
• I liked the grainy effect achieved using several layers of colour followed by black but felt that this worked against achieving a print with sharp, clear edges. It may be that full coverage with black ink around the borders of the print would have to be sacrificed to keep good tone within the figure.

• In Print 2/7 the tonal marks on the clothing and hair of the figure are visible but the outer edges of the Lino has only grainy coverage of the blue and yellow.

• In contrast Print 3/7 has good overall coverage of black ink but the tonal marks on the figure have been lost.

• Registration is good on 2/7 with good sharp images of both the figure and the butterfly. 3/7

• In all the prints, the furrow lines of the landscape have been reduced as more prints were taken. The use of a darker colour would have improved this.

• I like the overall visual impact of the prints but can see that problems with technique are making it hard to deliver the initial vision. I do feel that I planned the prints quite carefully but my lack of experience in judging how all stages would impact on each other caused mistakes that detracted from the work.


PM1:Project 9:Experimental mark-making on Lino


Techniques used

Square 1 : In this square I used a I cm square sharpened chisel. A number of techniques were attempted with the chisel including scraping with the corner of the implement and twisting the blade.

Square 2: Coarse sandpaper rubber in a back and forward motion in this square.
This imprint was difficult to pick up when the plate was heavily inked. Where it was visible, it reminded me of rain or mist.

Square 3: Coarse sandpaper was used in this square but had to be reworked rubbing harder than before in a circular motion to create a visible imprint. This impression was still hard to pick up when the plate was inked, but where it was visible, it reminded me of seed heads or tumbleweed.

Square 4: The point of a Stanley knife was used to create the effect of cross hatching, with the blade drawn back and forth. The marks were very delicate and were visible best on the first inking run. As more ink was added, it was very easy to lose sight of the marks.

Square 5: The blade of a Stanley knife was used in a twisting motion. This reminded me of animal footprints. I thought that this technique had excellent potential for further work in a snowy landscape.The marks were easily visible.

Square 6: For this square I used the Stanley knife to create small puncture marks. Again this technique has he potential to be used to create the impression of snow in a landscape. The marks were easily visible.

Square 7: Here I used a 6 cm chisel edge twisted. I thought that this technique had the potential to create marks reminiscent of birds in flight. The marks were visible but not too clear.

Square 8: In this square, a pointed chisel was used. This technique created marks reminiscent of animal prints. The marks were clearly visible.

Square 9: Here I used lightly grained sandpaper. The marks were very hard to see in printing and were not visible even with very light inking on fine tissue paper.

Square 10: In this square, I used the points of scissors in both vertical and horizontal scraping motion. I had to used larger scissors to create visible marks but liked the final marks made which could be used to Crete crosshatching for creating tone within a print.

Square 11: In this square, the points of scissors were used. These created lovely fine marks with the larger scissors which could be used for plant forms for example, grasses

Square 12: In this square I used the pint and the edge of a chisel. The marks were reminiscent of animal prints, pebbles or snow.

Square 13: Here a chisel was used in a repeated turning motion. These were visible on first inking. The marks made, reminded me of tumbleweed.

Square 14: Here, a chisel was used to score the Lino with its edge. This created the effect of very fine plant forms and could be used to represent grasses or fine seedheads. These marks were only just visible on the first inking and we’re hard to keep as more ink accumulated on the Lino.

Square 15: In this square, I used the corner of the chisel to create marks which created lovely fine lines which could be used for plant forms.

Square 16: Here I used the serrated edge of a chisel to create marks which could be used to create plant forms.

Overall Comments on the Exercise

The most obvious observation was that many of the marks were reproduced best on the first inking of the plate. Following further inking, many of these marks became very difficult to see, particularly in squares 13-16.
Light inking of the Lino, prior to the addition of a grid to demarcate the square created lovely delicate effects which could definitely be used in abstract work. My own plate reminded me of the Galaxy, where, in this context, the marks which looked like plant forms on the grid assumed a likeness to shooting stars. The print created the suggestion of muted light reminiscent of the Milky Way.

Some of the techniques explored in this project could be used to add variety to existing mark making, for example adding shading and tone to figurative work.

I think that it would be difficult to maintain consistency in the appearance of a series of prints, as successive inking would result in the loss of definition in many of the fine marks.

Choice of Paper

I experimented with creating prints using a variety of papers including: brown paper, coloured cartridge paper, and black and white tissue paper. These were added to my sketchbook.

I noticed that for very fine marks made with the implements I had chosen, the finer the paper, the better the impression obtained.

Choice of inks

Until this project, I had used water soluble inks as it is difficult to work with oil based inks in my working environment. Where water-based inks were used, I noticed that the use of white ink on black paper was very effective in creating the effect of a snowy landscape. I definitely thought that this had great potential for further work.

White ink on black paper was effective even as a ghost print, creating the impression of mist or a frozen window.

In the previous project I used an overlay of white at the end of the layering process and really loved the snowy effect it created.


Print 1: “Cosmic Wonder”

This print was created from the mark-making exercise with the addition of  grid marks in pencil on the Lino, without these being transferred  in the cutting process. This allowed a more unified abstract result to be obtained using a selection fine marks across the whole page. This technique works well in creating the illusion of a cosmic vista.

I think this works best using black ink on white cartridge paper. The marks remain grainy, creating an illusion of distance that is felt when looking at stars on a clear night.

I loved how the uptake of ink on the paper is variable across the page, with the sandpaper altering the surface slightly in a way which reduces the amount of ink on the page. I think this is crucial for the image obtained.

I was pleased with the edges of the print and the cleanliness of the the edges. I do think that it would be very hard to reproduce the same effect with consistency throughout a print run as the marks are so fine that they could easily be lost.

Print2: “ Snowy morning”

This print was created from the test print using water soluble white ink printed over fine cartridge paper. The addition of the grid suggested a window pane and the variety of marks were reminiscent of animal prints in snow. The use of white ink on black paper works well in this context.

I was pleased with the level of reproduction of marks achieved in this print and managed to create sharp edges with no smudges with this imprint.

I would like to experiment further with the use of white on black paper. It is a combination which works well. The effect is different from that created by printing black over white paper, with a more opaque effect achieved which is more suggestive of the snowy landscape. The use of black paper allows a more grainy effect to be created.