Category Archives: Critique





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.