Linocut Printmaking 101: My Process

printmakingprocess.jpg

If you were to ask ten different linocut printmakers to share their process with you, each one would give you a slightly different answer. In this post, I'll be sharing my process. The downside of being self-taught is that I don't know every technique, but the upside is that I have no rules to follow. My linocut printmaking is a departure from the classic form. I don't leave many lines (marks) around the edges of my prints, my subject matter and way of drawing don't fit in with most other printmakers, and I use soft lino for my blocks. 

When I began sharing more of my work on Instagram about a year ago, I started using the hashtag #seedrawprint because it describes the overall process by which I create my work. 

See

grape hyacinth

My work always begins by noticing. My mother who was an art teacher always said that artists are people who see - they look, notice, capture. I love to spend time outdoors and so my inspiration often comes from the flowers in my own yard, or the trees along the path where I walk, and yes, sometimes from the nature-inspired people I follow on instagram. 

Draw

notes and sketches
pencil drawings by samantha hirst

The next step in my work is to draw what I see. I most often make tiny, sketchy notes and lists of things that I am planning to draw. And then I will research and sketch a particular botanical specimen or related idea - sometimes working from a photograph I've taken and other times taking a looser approach to a subject. I use two approaches when I've finalized a drawing, before I transfer the design to my block for carving. If a drawing has thick, sketchy lines, I'll use a charcoal pencil to trace over a finished drawing. And if a drawing is more delicate I'll use tracing paper and a drawing pencil to trace. These tracings are then transferred to my lino block (I'll go over this step in more detail in a future post.).

Print

lino blocks by samantha hirst

The final step in my process is to carve the lino block and print. I use a soft material for my blocks; when I first began printmaking, I was printing on fabrics, and this soft material allowed me to carve large prints, and easily lay them down onto the fabric when printing. I've grown accustomed to this style of carving now and have continued using the same material for my prints on paper. I follow a typical relief printing approach: using ink, a brayer, a baren and printmaking paper to print by hand. I'll go through the detailed process of using a lino block to print in a future post!

linocut printmaking in progress by samantha hirst

My favorite part of the printmaking process is pulling a final print, seeing what I first noticed in nature come to life as a print on paper. Let me know if you have any questions about my printmaking process - I'm looking forward to sharing more detail next week! 

final linocut prints by samantha hirst