This is a tutorial on creating a four color reduction linoleum block print. First, you must decide how big your edition will be (how many prints you want to end up with) and cut your paper in advance. You should always cut a few more pieces of paper, as you may lose prints due to inaccurate registration (lining up print with paper) during the printing process. As you get more experienced, you will become better at registration.
Image #1 – shows a plain piece of linoleum. My preference is for unmounted linoleum, which means there is no wood block attached to the back of the piece of linoleum.
Image #2 -shows a mixture of the the first color (an orange/gold) that was applied to the block via a rubber brayer, which is the tool with the pink handle. Also photographed is what the block looks like after it is printed onto paper. You need to repeat the printing process for as many prints as you would like because once you reduce your block (see below), you cannot go back (you will see what I mean as you read on)
Linoleum block prints can be done by hand, but I have a small etching press and prefer to print the inked blocks via my press because it gives a more even distribution of the ink. This is also why I tend to use unmounted linoleum, since a piece of mounted linoleum would be difficult to print on my etching press. This is totally a personal aesthetic preference. Hand printing adds its own unique quality to a print and may be the preference of the printer.
After printing the first flat color, I draw my image onto the block. In this case, I drew my image directly on the block, keeping in mind that the image will print in reverse. In a future post, I will discuss drawing transfer methods.
Image #3 – shows the first cut made into the block; thereby “reducing” the block. The areas I cut away are the areas I want to remain orange, which is part of the sky, some outlining of the houses and the windows of the houses.
Image #4 A – shows mixing the second color, which will be a bright blue. After the color is mixed, I will roll out the ink with the brayer and apply the ink to the block (#4B). The ink will not go where the block has been reduced because those areas of the block are recessed. The ink sits on the top of the block. Another term for this is “relief printing”.
Image #5 – shows how the block prints after the blue has been printed over the orange. (This print is hanging on my drying line but I didn’t rotate the image so you could see a logical view of the piece). Again, notice that where the block was reduced before applying the blue ink, the paper remains orange. I use an “eyeball” registration method, meaning I just line it up by eye. Eyeball registration is very low tech but it is not for everyone. There are more precise mathematical ways to register a print, but this is what works for me and how I have always registered my linoblocks.
Image #6 – This shows another reduction of the block. I am taking away all of the area in the “sky” as I want it to remain blue and orange. What remains is the linoleum where the houses, hill and border of the print will be.
Image #7 – I applied a green color to the area of the hill. Some of the houses got covered as well but that is ok because the final color of the houses will be black (and the green will get covered up).
Image #8 – I reduce the block in the area of the hill so the green shows through, and apply black ink to all the linoleum that remains on the block.
The print must hang and dry for several days because I use oil based inks. The previous layer of ink should dry completely first, not because it will run, but because it eliminate the possibility of smudges.
Below, Image #9 – The finished print. I printed 20 of these (Started with 21, I lost one…oh well!)Known mainly as a printmaker with her line of hand pulled graphics (Anniepod Press), Diane Podolsky is also a mixed media and installation artist based out of Philadelphia. Diane has worked in just about every area of the art world – commercial galleries, as an arts administrator, curator, juror, teacher, show organizer, - and is just as confused as the next artist in the grand scheme of things.