These birds are ubiquitous out on the water in Poole Harbour and they are beautiful. I produced this reduction print a couple of weeks ago and I am very pleased with it. The reduction process uses just one linoleum block. You print the largest areas of the lightest colour first, then cut away the areas you want to remain that colour and print the next colour, and so on. If you print 10 copies of the first colour, then that is the maximum number of prints. You can’t go back and print an earlier colour, because the block had been cut down. With mistakes, I ended up with an edition of eight, and that is it.
The first layer, with just the white areas cut away, looks like nothing at all, and I wasn’t sure how it would end up.
The second layer, a light grey, suddenly brought the birds to life.
The third layer, a dark grey, nearly completed the image, but I wanted a red wall at the bottom. No cutting needed, I masked off the area above the wall with a temporary strip of masking tape and just inked the wall.
The final layer of black barely shows on these photos, but defines the black heads of the birds and sharpens the drawing. Just my seal needing adding to complete the work. All was printed on my home made press, which works remarkably well.
I’ve made myself a printing press, using some kitchen worktop, an old bed frame and a hydraulic jack, as you do. It works remarkably well.
The last image shows a woodcut I have been working on at GPC. Interesting to do, but at the moment I still prefer linocut. The colour in the image is from a mini block.
And to carry on with my sketchbook making, I have lagged together a little bookbinding press, using some more of the bed frame which went into the printing press.
Haven’t used it in earnest yet. I need to get some decent paper first.
Today was all about preparation. I bought 10 sheets of Zyrkal printing paper and cut them in half. Then cut five more MDF backing boards with a router, nearly messing up all of them in the process (always check TWICE… ). Stuck lino to each. I’m ready for at least three more designs, if not six. Stuck registration tabs on each sheet, using the new Ternes Burton registration pins I got from Handprinted in Bognor Regis, who delivered in under 24 hours. I’ve never used them before, but they look like they should work. Keeping everything registered is crucial. Now just need to get drawing.
One more colour layer to go, which will be a darker blue. Possibly shadows afters that, but dependent on how the blue works out. I’m not completely convinced by this brown layer. Some of the foreground/background contrast is lost. No way of going back to change anything
The eighth stage of this lengthy process. A light blue layer for the sky and some of the water. I’ve carved lines out of the background for reeds. These show as the previous yellow layer and will have a darker sienna added to them next.
The first background layer, printed from the second block. This is a long, multi stage process, which is part of what I like about it. You gradually see the image emerging, and can makes changes at each stage.
This color is meant to form the basis of a reed bed behind the duck. Just a few areas of white cut out for highlights and cloudy effects.
My main concern was how well the second block would register with the first. In particular, it is slightly loose in the frame so I need to push it into the same position each time.
I’m pleased with the result, but every time I add to an image, I think it looked better without the addition. I think the duck sat better in the overall sheet than it does in this more restricted rectangle. Now to leave it to dry and to think.
I’ve added the final black layer, which defines the whole shape of the bird. I’m pleased with the result so far. Will have to work on the background block next, which is a bit intimidating.
Not much of the block left now, after all of the reduction. There will be no more than eight prints in this series.