Reduction lino printing – research.
I currently have this book on loan and although it is fairly old, 1974, it’s full of all sorts of useful printing information. In the relief printing section alone it covers lucite print (perspex or plexiglas), cellocut, collage relief, cardboard relief, wood veneer and balsa wood collage, masonite relief, gesso and plaster print, glue print, stamped print and monoprint.
In amongst the lucite printing instructions there is also some reference to lino cutting. However they refer to the flooring linoleum sheets as becoming harder to find as they are replaced by flooring tiles. I’m guessing that the silk cut lino we buy from the art stores wasn’t around at that time.
The book features a large image of this 1962 Picasso reduction linocut print – Bearded Man with Crown of Leaves. It was printed as an edition of 50 and one was sold through Christies in 2003, where their site marks it as ‘Price Realized’ $22,705.
What a marvellous piece. His attention to detail has created a very dimensional aspect to the bearded man. Much of the paper within the facial features has been left unprinted and I’m particularly interested in the eye area. So many times we see dark shadows surrounding eyes. I know that when I draw them I attempt to sink them into the face by shadowing. However, when I look back at my drawing of Stringer I can now see that, without realizing it, I have actually surrounded the eyes with lightness. It’s only the startling eyes of the Picasso work that has drawn my attention to this.
Looking further down the print, just below his neck, I wonder what the patterning portrays? Could it be a garment? What era is this person set in? What would he have been wearing? In my mind I see the black lines as skin wrinkles on his throat and, lower down, an indication of his collar-bone. I’ve researched a little on-line and there are a number of reduction lino prints by Picasso in the same vein.
John Ross (1921-)
Co-author, John Ross, has one of his reduction prints shown in detail. Entitled Brokedown Palace and made in 1971 as a cardboard reduction print the book shows his step by step layering process, which is very instructive.
Note: The first colour, the beige/brown, is a flat colour and doesn’t have the yellow wavy lines shown in the photos. It’s a trick of the camara and has something to do with the glossy paper it is printed on in the book. Scanning or photographing produces the same result.
What is interesting with this print is that the layers have not all been printed solidly. Each one has some texture detailing where the printing ink hasn’t been applied quite as evenly across the surface, creating slightly lighter overlaid areas. Brokedown Palace indicates an old rundown property and with the ability to see through some parts of the layers to what is beneath we get the impression of either paint peeling or sun faded paint – a property that is in need of some repair and maintenance.
Another thing to note is that each colour layer is sitting atop the others but retaining its original hue, they are not mixing to create secondary colours. Interesting. They must have been applied as pure ink colour with no extender to make them translucent. It’s the same with the Picasso print. This is the opposite of what I hope to be able to achieve. I’m aiming to put wet colour on top of dry but to have enough translucency for them to form a third colour. So if I choose yellow first followed by red I hope to come out with yellow overlaid with orange where the translucent red allows the yellow to affect the surface. Am I being too ambitious? Well, I’m giving it a go anyway, as colour mixing is where a large part of my interest lies.
Obviously this is just a small part of what I’ve been exploring whilst I prepare my design for reduction lino printing.
John Ross and Clare Romano, The Complete New Techniques in Printmaking, Published by The Free Press, New York, 1974. ISBN None listed.