A knobbly squash, which I had bought for lunch, appealed to me as a subject. A quick sketch was later converted into a gouache painting in three colours to explore how the tone might be interpreted into three layers and to use brush strokes to simulate cutting marks in lino. I decided to crop the image on the right so that the stalk was not placed so centrally.
To transfer the image to lino, I photocopied by painting, backed it with copy paper and taped this to my block. I made registration marks on the paper and sides of the block so that I could repeat the process for subsequent layers. I selected lino because one can flick the lino out to leave rougher shapes, allowing for more organic marks.
To print, I:
- chose my papers, in white, cream and Khadi
- made a registration frame out of card
- tried out colour combinations in my sketchbook, although watercolour doesn’t really translate into ink
- decided to attempt three reductions; four layers
- printed about 12 first layer prints on three different papers to allow for spoilage and possible subsequent colour combinations
- one layer was printed each week, to allow the ink to dry
- used Hawthorn Stay Open inks
- a press was used
- a decision on the next colour was reviewed at each layer and tried out on a test print
- the final layer was in black, for the very deepest shadows
- my cutting for the first two layers followed my drawing, but for the final layers, I used a print and developed that with pen or pencil.
- a graphic image
- wide tonal range
- the texture of the squash comes through
- all colour ways worked well, although I particularly like the blue/turq/yellow mix
- the cream coloured paper (local industrial waste) worked well and includes a Croxley watermark (Croxley is a local water meadow where mills traditionally made paper)
- I find reduction linocut much easier to get my head around than multiplate lino.
- four weeks to do the series; I rather hated it by the end
- suicide method, if you make a mistake cutting, all is lost
- limited opportunities to experiment with colour combinations
- my prints on Khadi paper didn’t work because I chose the wrong registration method for the paper with decal edges; I should have used blocks here
- I think I cut away too much in the reflected highlight, bottom left
- some of the cutting marks are too uniform and reflect the shape of the cutter too much rather than the shape of the squash
- my last but one layer was a bit too dark leaving me nowhere much to go with my final layer
- my later layers didn’t stick very well over my earlier ones leaving a mottled texture; perhaps the ink was too slack in the earlier layers, but actually the texture can add interest.
Developments/thoughts for future such projects:
- print over different coloured papers or flat printed backgrounds to give more colour variations
- use stiffer ink
- gain extra mileage from my plate by printing intermediate layers over chine colle
- manage steps in tone carefully, think about tone and colour at each step.