Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Linocutting Class On-Line

I have previously indicated that i would be conducting an on-line linocutting class starting on 13 May 2013.That is still my intention but I have decided to revamp my notes in light of what I learned at il Bisonte in Florence and also in light of the work I have been making in the last year or so, where using linocut prints has assumed much greater importance in my own work. I am told that the linocut notes form the classes I have previously taught are very comprehensive and that there is  nothing quite like it available as a book or  via the internet. I would make it into a book, but am working on my France book and that is number 1 priority at present- and I am trying to think of ways to raise some funds to pay a designer for the book and to publish it in French and English.

So Linocutting- online- the course. The course gives some background history and then there are a series of exercises to build your skills and learn the use of your tools and to give you ideas of how you might design  initially simple blocks building up to more complex blocks and  multi-colour printing,multi layer printing, using photos to create blocks and creating a monogram. The workshop has been designed for printing on fabric though I will now add  things about printing on paper.The program will be delivered in 3 fortnightly lessons and there will be a forum in which to discuss and share. The notes comprise of pdf files totalling  about 80 pages or more. The course will cost $60 AUS- if within Australia fees can be paid via internet banking and outside of Australia by Paypal- you will need to email me so that i can give details of how to do this.

So i wanted to share what I did at Il Bisonte. Let me start by saying it was a great course, I learnt a lot and  it gave me a lot of food for thought. It was an inspiring environment to be in, because not only were there students doing the woodblock cutting and printing course I did ( some of them were year long students) but there were other print makers using  other rooms and presses making all sorts of wonderful prints with lithograps, etchings and photo emulsions.Surprisingly few of my fellow students  had websites or blogs ( except the young Indian student who sat beside me and whose name I spelt wrong so now I can't find her website or FB page) being worried about copyright infringement and the time it would take to build a website.

Another aspect that arose was the fact that this was a week long course. In quilting and textiles we do so few week long courses and everybody wants fast fast techniques and thinks that simply learning the technique enables you to  go off and do it by yourself- and I would possibly have subscribed to that view to some extent, being a bit of an autodidact ( though I do read and research). However after a week at Il Bisonte i  can honestly say fast fast is not the best way, and in a way I knew this because I know it takes time to develop work.I loved that I had a week to be there to develop, to think about what i was doing ( and I did go home and do homework by way of drawing) taking on board  the input of the teachers, researching their work ( when I was able) looking and seeing what the other students were doing, watching them print and being inspired what emerged when the paper was lifted, and most of all working harder to make my second wood block better than my first but also taking in what i had seen some of the others do in terms of creating textures, lines and impact.It didn't feel right to photograph their work as  copyright did appear to be a sensitive issue, so I cannot share some of their inspirational work. I learnt from being in the presence of a master print maker, though the language was a challenge, i learnt from being in the presence of a workshop where Henry Moore once taught, I learnt from my fellow students and I learnt that to improve on your first  attempt actually teaches you more than your first attempt.

The blocks we worked on were 12 "x10" ( 30 x 25 cm)- we were taught how to  back the  blocks properly to protect the back, to prepare the blocks for best conservation and then set to drawing and preparing our drawings for transfer and then preparing the block for carving. The carving of wood is quite different to lino though you use the same tools, and it was more time consuming, but the results were worth the time. From Gianni Verna I learnt to explore the graphic qualities and positive negative space to a greater extent, to not get too fiddly but think of how to make the graphic qualities  work for you and from Manuel I learnt that subtlety is no bad thing- two opposing views you might think, but one that gave me a lot to think about.
So here is the work I did:
from drawing...... and I am still playing with faces,

 To carving- and I changed things as I went along simply because I knew this was not going to be a great print and then decided to  explore creating texture  and working out how differently the tools behaved in wood compared to lino...
 To my first print, which I did not bother to execute on better papers- I could see it's failings and  wanted to do better and learn more,
 To my drawing of a tree, thinking about putting in background texture, but heeding Gianni's words about positive/negative and  opting for less
 Carving the wood, which because I wanted my contrast to be about  fine lines took a long time- no shortcuts here and no point only doing a small patch because that would not give me the full extent of possibilities
 To the carved piece which looks beguilingly simple but took two days to carve
And the final prints- I brought these two home as the ink had dried , but the prints I liked best are being sent because it was printed on paper that takes longer to dry. We also used the back of the block to create a textural landscape of the actual woodgrain- letting it do the work in creating a relief that created the ground for which to print over.There were a few slip ups- as I need to learn greater control of my tools  as they behave differently in wood compared to lino and to apply the pressure differently and to use the knife tool more, and there's room for improvement but on the whole I was better pleased with this block compared to my first block. Thank you to Il Bisonte for giving me this opportunity.


Anonymous said...

I used to do lino cuts at school but never attempted anything very complicated. Maybe I should try again. Thanks for including photos of your original drawing and the final print, I always find the transition fascinating.

Lyn Weeks said...

I think the tree one is amazing. And I'll take on board the positive / negative spaces hint. Thanks. Look forward to seeing them in 'real life'

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