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greenwich park lino cut print

You know how I've been doing all these tree drawings in Greenwich Park? Well, I finally drew a tree I was proud of, and it wasn't a drawing, exactly, it was a print. And it made me very happy! Here's a photo of it:

I'd never done on-location linoleum cutting before, but I thought I'd try it, since I can never seem to get a line I really like with pencil or pen.

There's something so lovely about making lino-cut prints; instead of trying to give an image bulk, you're subtracting bits from the solid bulk it already has, chipping away at the negative space. The park squirrels liked my equipment. See the wooden handle of one, sitting on my bag, next to the eraser? Well, I've discovered, it looks just like a nut to a squirrel. We had several tug-of-war sessions, which finished with me wiping off the squirrel spit off the handle and examining the teeth marks.

Here's the scene I drew, it's really just a loose interpretation of it, because my hand kept slipping and lopping off branches I'd planned to include. Ah, well, it's still a tree, just a different tree.

My illustrator friend Heather Kilgour lives locally, and nipped over to the park to draw with me.

We left when it got too dark to see, and I came back to the park two days later to work on the picture again. But it was so much colder that day that the lino kept getting too hard and brittle (it cuts more easily when it's warm) and my knife kept slipping, rather dangerously, and making big slashes across the picture. I'd already cut myself during the last session, so I thought, nope, time to take this home and work on it there. So here I am, working at the dining room table with a photo of the tree.

The closer I got to finishing, the more exciting it got. Here's what the block looked like, just before I printed it.

The best bit is rolling on the ink, that's when I get to see what didn't get cut away, and how the picture really looks.

The way I printed it up was to put some ink on a piece of glass, ink up a roller on it, then roll the ink onto the lino block. Next, I lay a piece of paper on top of it, then take a wooden spoon and rub the back of the paper, pressing it into the block. When I peel away the paper, TA DAH! There's a reverse image on the paper. Exciting!

Then there's the tricky bit of finding somewhere to lay them out to dry, that won't get Stuart too annoyed. If I was in a print studio, I'd have drying racks, but the only place at home I had to spread these out was on the lounge floor. Fortunately, since the ink I used was water-based, they dried overnight. (Oil-based ink rolls on way better, but it can take days and days to dry.)

I'm hoping to do more tree prints at the park. Comics buddy Jim Medway suggested I do one a month, and make up a little book of twelve prints, so I might try that. (Thanks for the tip, Jim!) I just saw a lovely A3 lino cut he made for a book he has coming out with Blank Slate this year, called Playing Out. Should be good!


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 3rd, 2012 11:30 pm (UTC)
Holy cow, everything about this is super gorgeous. (I especially love the galls, and the one branch that looks like a tentacle). High-fives for being hardcore enough to do LIVE OUTDOOR LINOCUTTING!
Jan. 3rd, 2012 11:32 pm (UTC)
Ha ha, thanks so much! LIVE ACTION LINOCUTTING, it makes waterskiing over sharks look boring.
Jan. 4th, 2012 03:06 am (UTC)
Beautiful! And I love the idea of making a little book of tree prints.
Jan. 4th, 2012 10:44 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'm going to try to find the time to do that, it'd be so nice to have a little collection. :)
Jan. 4th, 2012 08:22 am (UTC)
Oh so lovely! I have a real soft spot for prints - both making and viewing, so your tree really appeals to me. If you ever come to sell any of your prints would you let me know?
Jan. 4th, 2012 10:45 am (UTC)
Re: Zoe
Sure, thanks, Zoe!
Jan. 4th, 2012 09:05 am (UTC)
wow! you could sell that! or give lessons! or cover your wall with prints and skip the wallpaper!
i don;t understand why you need the pane of glass?
re heather - that photo effect makes her head blend into the sky!!! love that app!
Jan. 4th, 2012 09:06 am (UTC)
oh wait, i get it, you use it to ink up the roller!
after you've inked it, do you get the chance to make corrections? and do you wash off the block and keep it for another session?
Jan. 4th, 2012 10:46 am (UTC)
Hi, Candy! Cheers! Yes, I'm hoping to do some better prints with better ink and a less dodgy roller. I did clean up a little bit around a few of the twigs, where the ink was clotting slightly. My ink was being very tempermental!
Jan. 4th, 2012 09:29 am (UTC)
That is just stunning. I think you caught some tree 'soul', there.
Jan. 4th, 2012 10:46 am (UTC)
Aw, thanks, Lee! Those trees in the park have loads of character.
Jan. 4th, 2012 12:18 pm (UTC)
I need a Greenwich icon
Gorgeous. I think I love the actual lino even more than the print - sorry, is that a horrible thing to say to an artist? The lino looks like a wood carving.
Jan. 5th, 2012 09:27 am (UTC)
Re: I need a Greenwich icon
Thanks, Libbi! No, not horrible, I like the look of the lino, too! I vaguely remember one artist who took photos of the inked blocks for his illustrations, instead of using the prints themselves. It's something to keep in mind! I think I'd be even more keen to do it if I'd actually used wood, the blocks for that can be so lovely.
Jan. 5th, 2012 03:44 pm (UTC)
Amazing stuff
Hi Sarah, Simon T here. I've just found your blog again and saw this post. Really lovely work and so effective. i am inspired! Hopefully catch up soon, simon.
Feb. 10th, 2012 08:16 am (UTC)
Re: Amazing stuff
Hi, Simon! Great to hear from you! And yes, definitely hope to catch up soon. :)
Feb. 2nd, 2012 01:59 am (UTC)
hi sarah,
i am a high school student and i want to reference your work for one of my lino printing projects. may i ask your some questions regarding your greenwich park lino print artwork?
thanks, jess
Feb. 10th, 2012 08:15 am (UTC)
Re: hi sarah,
Hi, Jess! Sorry, somehow I missed your comment. Yes, feel free to ask questions!
Oct. 6th, 2012 05:59 pm (UTC)
Where do you take linoleum for this? Or it's linoleum for floor covering?
In the past I used hard linoleum (USSR made), it stands lots of prints. But there are few sheets left. This new linoleum at stores is too soft.
I like this tree, harmony of white and black.

Edited at 2012-10-06 05:59 pm (UTC)
Feb. 20th, 2014 01:46 pm (UTC)
your lino cut of a tree in Greenwich
I think this is really great. Well done!
Feb. 20th, 2014 01:49 pm (UTC)
your lino cut of a tree in Greenwich
Have you tried teaching? I am sure you would be excellent because your photographs express very well the process and the image is strong.
Jun. 3rd, 2014 09:16 pm (UTC)
surprise artist!
Hi Sarah,

I'm Jane, Dave Cousins' wife. I was looking for linocutting images, spotted this tree - which I thought was amazing, and laughed when I saw it was yours. Small world...

I don't know why I'm even looking for inspiration just now, Dave bought me some equipment for xmas and I have told myself I'm not allowed to use it 'til all the fabric bits and paper mache bits and other projects lying around have been made into proper 'things'.

Anyway, just to say, wow! Beautiful tree,

All the Best,

Jun. 7th, 2014 10:59 pm (UTC)
Re: surprise artist!
Aw, thanks, Jane! I had a lot of fun with this one. Good luck with your next project! Lino cut's great; no matter how many mistakes you make, it still seems to come out looking pretty good.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )


Sarah McIntyre

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