Printmaking 2: Assignment 1 – Natural Landscapes pt.2

In my first post about this Assignment I focussed on the initial drawings and creation of a design for a print on the theme Natural Landscapes.

I ended up devoting a bit more time to planning the printing method and the colour choices for printing.  I wanted to do a linocut print and also wanted to go for a multicoloured print but didn’t want to go too excessive in terms of having lots of blocks to carve (simply to save time to move more quickly onto the next project).

So I decided to do some single blocks and some reduction method printing. In the end I had four blocks of lino, two of which were carved again to give me 6 layers of colours in total.

In terms of inspiration for colours and for style of print I focussed on the work of a print collective called ‘Printenstein’ and created Colours Board in Pinterest for colour palette choices. I was also influenced heavily in terms of colours by a book I was given for Christmas called ‘The Journey’ by Francesca Sanna.  In the examples mentioned above I was particularly taken by their ability to work with a limited colour palette, but in such a way as to create a subtly rich or emotive piece.

I planned out the colours for each block by painting a watercolour version in my large sketchbook (you can see these in the photographs below):

Watercolour mock up of beige/sand coloured layer.







Watercolour mock up of light blue coloured layer.







Watercolour mock up of light green coloured layer.







Watercolour mock up of dark green coloured layer.








Watercolour mock up of dark blue coloured layer.









I documented the process of carving and printing the blocks (mostly) as I went using the camera on my phone. These aren’t the best quality images but they provide an insight into my method and trials/errors along the way.


Block One: Pale Beige

Block one prior to printing.








Block One Beige Colour & Block Two Sky Colour.








Block one was fairly straight forward and didn’t cause me any massive issues.


Block Two: Sky Blue Graduated Colour

Block Two prior to printing.








Block Two during inking stage.









Block Two Printing in progress.









Printing first two layers on Somerset Satin Paper – errors.








Block two however had a few issues – firstly I was aiming for a graduated colour from a mid-light blue to a light blue colour. I chose the rainbow rolling method to achieve this. This bit went a little awry because I hadn’t made enough of the different tints of blue so had to re-mix the paints half-way through the print run.

My other issue was unwanted marks from areas of the lino which had picked up ink where I hadn’t intended them to. My method for solving this involved ripping strips of white paper and laying them over the trouble spots to prevent any unwanted ink to the paper.


Block Three: Light Green

Block Three: during inking stage.








Block Three: problem solving!








Block Three: printed over first two layers.








Block three was fairly straight forward having problem solved the issues in printing block two. However I did start to see the affect of the layering of multiple colours in terms of leading to a more textured finish to the print overall.


Block Four: Dark Green

Block Four: Dark Green after printing.








For some unknown reason I didn’t photograph the prints after printing with the forth block so above is just a picture of the lino block after cleaning.


Block Five: Red/Salmon Colour

Block Five: during inking stage.








Block Five: red/salmon layer reduction block after printing.








Again I have no record of how the prints locked immediately after printing this block. However I did capture a photo of the block inked up, again I used the rainbow rolling method to give a graduated colour change from and orangey red to a salmon colour. I had actually intended for the block to more on the orange side rather than red but I had mixed so much ink that it felt like a shame to clean it all off and start again.


Block Six: Dark Blue

Block Six: during inking stage/on registration block.








Block Six: after printing/cleaning.







Block six demonstrates a better outcome for me in terms of my colour mixing. I feel it’s closer to what I’d planned than most of the other colours which were all slightly different to what I hoped for. However I did find this block the hardest to get a clean print from – I wonder if this is because its the last layer and has to sit on so many other colours or simply because I got the pressure wrong when using the barren?

Finished Image/Paper Variations:

So I figure I’ll start with the more successful prints. I print by hand using a Japanese barren and I find that generally the thinner the paper the cleaner/more consistent the print quality. I’m hoping that once I begin my membership at the Birmingham Printmakers Studio I’ll be able to get much better quality prints on thicker papers using a press.

So the following prints were printed on a paper Fabriano produce called their ‘Bioprima Letterpress and Book Printing Paper’ it’s very lightweight 85gsm:

Print on Bioprima Paper (v1.)







Print on Bioprima Paper (v2.)







Print on Bioprima Paper (v3.)







Not all the colours printed perfectly – so you’ll notice the trees in the background of the last print aren’t as clear as the first two, this is probably my error, not applying enough pressure with the barren.

I am happy in general though with the registration of the different colours. There’s not massive discrepancies between the three prints.

Okay moving on now to heavier weight papers. These papers were generally among the quality recommended by or for professionals but substantially thicker and therefore much more likely to be printed using a press.

Stonehenge 500 series Printing Paper 280gsm.

The print opposite was done using a very thick paper ‘Stonehenge 500 Series Printing Paper’, it gives a heavily textured look and is probably the least successful print in terms of even colour application.

I think I’ll avoid printing with this until I have access to a press – as it’s a shame to waste a good quality paper.


Print on Somerset Satin Paper 250gsm.

The print on the left was printed using Somerset Satin. I personally really liked this paper – it gave texture but not too much and I think the colours have a vibrancy on this paper in a way they don’t on the others. However I managed to do a messy print of the sky layer forgetting to cover up areas of the lino which had ink on which I didn’t want in the print. So the result is a not so perfect finish – this is fairly disappointing but at least I know this paper is worth paying a bit extra for.


Print on Fabriano Rosaspino Paper 220gsm.

The print to the left was printed on Fabriano Rosaspino Paper – another thicker paper. I had printed on this in my first year so new to expect a textured finish. However I think I soaked the paper before printing last year – I wasn’t sure/confident to soak the paper when using water based inks.



Another set of prints to mention were printed on Cartridge paper – a much cheaper but smoother surface to print on than most of the other papers.

Cartridge paper prints.

The finish isn’t perfect on these prints – mostly because the paper was fairly thick and I struggled to get the pressure right. But otherwise I think for a cheaper paper it performs well.




The final print to mention is the Artists Proof. I didn’t print all the layers on this because I discovered once I’d printed the blue layer that I hadn’t cut away some areas of the block which meant parts of the sand block had been covered over. I then cut away the areas I needed to and continue to print the layers correctly. Having said this, I returned to print the final dark blue layer on my AP because I wanted to see how a more limited and cooler temperature coloured scheme would’ve looked (see photo below for proof).

Artists Proof Print with three colours.

Ironically this is the colour scheme I like the most! I think because it’s clearer what the light and dark areas of the print are. If I had created a medium dark blue to create a mid tone I think this would’ve been a great print!




In terms of evaluation I would say that the prints were generally of good quality and more ambitious than previous prints in terms of details, colour and registration. But I am still unsure of my choice of colours – I really want to get to a point where I’m happy with the colour palette, not just expressing a realistic portrayal of colours but to express mood or seasons more effectively.



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