Project 7 – Multiblock Linoprint – A Winter Scene or Pas De Deux


  • multiplate linocut
  • produce a print which could not be done as a reduction print
  • shapes should overlap and create different colours or complexity
  • at least three colours
  • a design with overlaying textures
  • a bold graphic design
  • a representational design
  • base design on personal experience

My first idea was based on a recent winter walk when I was struck by a dead tree full of crows. I photographed it as they all went up into the sky. I wanted to combine the image of crow and ploughed field, so evocative of the Chilterns.


I developed the image by:

  • enlarging the image to look at the shapes of the crows
  • sketching the different body attitudes
  • thumb-nailed the tree in the landscape but eventually I decided the tree and the birds were too busy
  • edited my design until I got where I wanted.

Then it dawned on me! The delicacy of the distant crows would be lost in the cutting lines in lino. Even if I had the skill to cut such fine detail, it would be lost in the overall printing noise. I really liked this design; although not terribly original, it captured my experience, but it would not do for this exercise.

I have decided to shelve this until later in the course when we look at combined techniques. I could linoprint the landscape and stencil or monoprint the birds. Or monoprint the landscape as a jigsaw print and stencil the birds … or….But not linoprint those birds.

I had to develop another idea.

My tutor had suggested that I return to the theme of ballet for my linoprints. I did a summer school based on ballet and movement:

This involved both photography and drawing.


This image was chosen because:

  •  strong graphic qualities
  • the strong diagonal element
  • interesting negative shapes
  • opportunity to explore texture in hair and skirt.

I am not good at looking in graphic way at an image, so I experimented with photographic filters, posterise, chrome, negative and edges, to analysis the image.


I liked the shapes and colours which were generated/isolated by these filters, and the drama of the images against a dark background. I printed out several and combined shapes from them to arrive at a shape map of the image I wanted. These were traced out and then printed several times so that I could colour in with felt tips in different ways to explore colour mapping.

Colour map, white, yellow, blue, magenta, orange

Colour map, white, yellow, blue, magenta, orange


Colour map of magenta, to yield magenta, orange, purple.


Cutting map

I used carbon copy paper behind my cutting map to trace my shapes onto three pieces of lino cut to exactly the same size as my map.


Cutting required lots of concentration. When I was interrupted, I made a mistake and cut from the wrong side of the outline of the hand. I glued some of the cut lino back down successfully with HMG glue (normally used for arrow making). I used epoxy putty, Milliput (railway modelling product) to repair further.


Lino mended with glue and Milliput

The repair wasn’t perfect but did mean that I didn’t have to recut the plate. An interesting exercise in itself. I used a card jig to print. A series of prints using different inks was produced using both an Albion press, and hand pulling.


Caligo process colours, magenta inked lean to allow yellow to show through


Caligo process colour inks, blue and yellow made paler and opaque by adding white. Orange not produced.


Studio inks in process colours. Better magenta, but behaved strangely over the yellow. I rather like the texture produced.


Home made inks, attempt to produce something slightly more subtle than process colours.


Experiment with different colours, darkest tones inked locally and printed as fourth layer.

I like:

  • the drama
  • the technical challenge
  • the way extra colours are created
  • the texture in the hair and especially the skirt
  • the blocks of tone in the faces
  • different feel from my earlier print for this project which was based on blocks of colour
  • three plates meant I could experiment with the order of printing, transparency and opacity, local inking and different colours.

I don’t like:

  • the photographic nature of the image
  • I made the mistake of not having the cutting lines in the background all going the same way
  • not sure about the abstract shapes I retained in the background
  • overly representational, not sufficiently abstracted from the original
  • unsubtlety of process colours
  • the balance of using transparency and creating interesting colours, not achieved
  • using a press seemed to stretch plates depending on how much they were cut, making registration especially challenging.

About starrybird

I am mature student studying art with The Open College of the Arts. My passion is printmaking.
This entry was posted in Part 2 Introduction to Relief Printing - Linocuts, Printmaking 1, Project 7 - Multiblock Linoprint and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Project 7 – Multiblock Linoprint – A Winter Scene or Pas De Deux

  1. fibresofbeing says:

    Thank you for the comment you left on my blog. I’m enormously envious of you visiting the Courtauld regularly.
    Congratulations on your own work – this and the drawing module. I hope you don’t mind that as a fellow student the thing that really resonated with me was your logical and thoughtful approach to each exercise – dot points of objectives, methods and alternatives sampled, likes and dislikes… Also the clear analysis and points for your own practice when looking at other artists.
    What do you make in yarn and leather?

    • starrybird says:

      Thanks, I am working hard on trying to make my learning log as concise but useful as possible. So much to take in, so much to follow up… My textile stuff is very utilitarian. I knit and I am just trying out some felting. I make archery stuff, bracers, quivers etc in leather and also medieval type purses. If I need something, I try to think how I could make it.

  2. kestrelart says:

    Thanks for calling by at my blog and of course I followed you back here. Great blog, great talent and execution.
    I enjoyed this post on many levels, not least because I also discovered an interest in dance as a subject for drawing, although have been able to realise much. My comment is similar to your own observations. It is always a problem working from photos. However imperfect they may seem by comparison, I find it better to work from sketches.

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