An artist printmaker
I began my journey to becoming a lino print artist, a printmaker, over 10 years ago.
My lino printing story
I studied several fine art printmaking methods, and intended to make collagraph, monotype, and woodcut, part of my oeuvre.
Lino printing has proved so fascinating, however, it's left little space, so far, for developing other original print techniques.
When I first started printmaking over 12 years ago, there were few artists making prints. Making simple lino prints has since become a fashionable hobby, resulting in an explosion of one and two colour prints for sale.
One or two colour prints are easy to make, and are guaranteed to look quite pleasing because of their simplicity, even when poorly executed.
I'm unusual because I make original prints using more than two colours. It's an involved and challenging thing to do. That's why not everyone does it.
Even the prints (below) that appear to use a very limited colour scheme actually have at least three closely related colours in them. It's not always obvious from the small thumbnail.
I've always made limited edition lino prints. This means that if a print is one of a limited edition of 25, then there will never be more than 25 in existance. My limited editions are as small as 10, and so far, no bigger than 75 impressions.
I'm a lino artist who uses two lino printing approaches to make the multi-coloured prints in my collection.
The first way uses multiple pieces of lino, one for each colour in the print. The second way uses just one lino sheet from start to finish.
A single lino block is cut away a little more between each colour added to the lino art (called ‘reduction‑cut’ printmaking).
Coloured linoprints are complicated to make and many lino printing artists stick to using just one colour only, two at the most.
My lino art is currently for sale only in Yorkshire, UK (as at 2019). I hope to add more locations in the near future, and offer prints to buy, here, on this website.
Some of my lino prints
I use more colours than other printmakers…
The more colours in a print, the harder it is to make, and it takes a lot more time than printing with only one or two colours. Many of my prints involve five colours, meaning each print has been through my press five times!
An artist who uses lino
Lino print artists make art using lino, or linoleum. It has few limitations, is easy to use and supports several different ways of making fine art original landscape prints.
Artist's lino, or linoleum, is a sheet material made largely from cork/wood dust and linseed oil. It has a hemp backing attached to it, to help stop it cracking.
Lino comes in two colours: yellowish-brown and grey. There's not really any difference between the two colours in my opinion, though I understand some people find one is very slightly softer, so easier to carve.
Artist's lino is not the same as the flooring, though it was originally.
Lovely likeable lino
Lino is altogether very workable, though it has some constraints. It takes pencil, ink or paint, which means an artist can draw or paint directly onto it as a guide for cutting, if they want to.
Lino is a soft material, so it's not difficult to carve using almost anything with a blade. Unlike wood, used for woodcut printing, there's no wood grain to deal with, so it can be cut in any direction.
Its surface is also uniform and smooth – perfect for ink without any initial preparation. Altogether, it's an easy-going material to make art with.
Lino is a very ordinary material, that is nevertheless capable of being used to make extraordinarily beautiful art – its ordinariness is one reason why I like it.
A softy, but not butter
Lino needs looking after, like anything. It's limitations are minor, and easily accounted for.
For example, it won't take really fine cuts, because it is in fact quite a brittle material. Very fine detail is liable to break off, especially after it's been put through a printmaking press several times.
Because it's soft, it also has to be stored where it can't end up being damaged by things pressing against it, or subject to extreme temperatures. It can warp or curl and it ages, becoming harder to carve and prone to breaking.
Some artists glue their piece of lino to wood before they cut a picture into it, in order I assume, to stabilize the pliable medium. I've never found the need to do this myself.
Oddly, despite being soft, tools used for carving lino become blunt much quicker than those used for carving wood. I'll admit my linocut tools always need sharpening.
Big or small art printing ambitions
Unlike other printmaking media, lino comes in large sheets and many professional artists delight in taking advantage of this by printing huge linocuts. I've limited myself, so far, to pieces of lino that will fit my small printmaker's press and everyone's wall space.
Though I plan to make some slightly larger linocuts, using a baren instead of my press, small linoprints can be as rich and vibrant as larger ones. (A baren is a disk of material, used to firmly rub the sheet of paper placed over the inked lino block.)
A creative artist's medium
Though lino is simple to work with, it's capable of making beautiful, sophisticated, complex art.
A relatively modern material, it supports long established ways of making prints. Indeed, it's a close cousin to woodcut, just without the wood grain! It can be carved much like woodcuts, but also impressed or etched. Many of the effects possible using printmaking materials with a longer history can be achieved with lino too – so it's not a crude material, but a great creative medium, and that's why I'm a lino print artist.▲
Linocut artists who've influenced my printmaking
There are many-many lino printing artists who have influenced and inspired me. Here is a list of some artists whose art prints I admire.
Inspiring artists include: Edward Bawden (1903-1989), Sybil Andrews (1898-1992) and Dorothy Burroughes (c 1895 - 1963). Though not linocutting artists, John Piper (1903-1992) and Gwenda Morgan (1908-1991), both printmakers, are also inspiring.
With all these printmaking artists, it is their landscapes I much prefer. They're artists who regularly, if not exclusively, depicted the UK landscape in all its beauty in their print art.
Artist Edward Bawden (1903-1989)
Above are two lino prints that blow me away made by UK artist, Edward Bawden. I aspire to produce linoprints which rival his one day – it's good to set your sights high!
Both of the prints (above) are big, which is why there is such a richness to the texture in them. It's also why they look so impressive at a small size.
‘Lindsell Church’ is actually a metre and a half wide! That's almost as wide as I am tall (and I'm quite tall).
My prints appear much simpler by comparison – this is because they're a completely different scale. I've not had the space to print large linos like those above.
A prolific and experimental lino artist
Edward Bawden was a prolific artist as both printmaker and painter. He had a distinctive eye for colour, texture, and pattern, that I much admire whenever I see his art.
Though his linocuts are filled with texture and pattern, his pictures are not dominated by it.
His use of colour too, was subtle, strategic and inventive. That pink sky in the linocut ‘Tower of London’ warms the top half of the print and draws the eye up from the contrasting cold, neutral, but intensely patterned bottom half.
He was an artist who experimented with linocut by printing colours on top of each other to create other colours. He played with different ways of applying ink to the surface of the lino print too. It's no wonder I find much to admire, and inspire me, in his lino prints.
Printmaker Sybil Andrews (1898-1992)
Three examples of Sybil's linos are below.
We have a particularly rich history of printmaking here in the UK. This is especially true of the Grosvenor School of printmaking. It inspired a revival of lino printing art among artists, between 1925 and 1940.
Many lino art printmakers came to the fore during this time, further enhancing our linocut printmaking heritage in this country. One of these artists was Sybil Andrews.
Sybil is not always the name that comes to the fore from the Grosvenor School. However, I find her art of particular interest because she had great skill with organic composition and pattern – as illustrated by her prints I've selected below.
Many of the artists of this time produced art which was angular. Sybil did too, making many modernist, cubist prints.
In my opinion though, she experimented more than the others, and her command of strong flowing lines in dynamic and exciting compositions is something to delight in.
I'm now making modern prints in the style of my lino prints!
My prints (and paintings) have always been of the British landscape (so far) and I explain a bit about how I approach making landscape art.