In this blog I'll show you how I created my new Robin Hood’s Bay 3 linocut print. The design is a 4 colour print made using the multi-block print technique. This is where the design for each colour is carved into a separate block. Unlike the reduction method of lino printing, this method gives me flexibility to print some of the edition to begin with and then go back and print more at a later date.
Step 1 | Inspiration
The inspiration for this design comes from a walk along the Cleveland Way on the Yorkshire Coast with a friend. It’s a favourite walk. Starting at Ravenscar, the path goes along the cliff tops, past the old alum works. I recommend checking the tide times. At low tide you can go down onto the beach at Boggle Hole and walk along to Robin Hood’s Bay.
The photo I took that inspired this print, is looking back to Robin Hood’s Bay, as we walked towards Ravenscar along the cliff tops. We met a lovely couple sitting there soaking in the view of the bay.
Step 2 | Carving lino block 1
Carving the main elements of the design into the key block.
This block took 100 minutes to initially carve the block and another 15 minutes to make adjustments to it once I’d test printed it. I set a timer to 10 minutes, take a break and then carve for another 10 minute. It requires a lot of concentration and I find I make less mistakes that way.
Step 3 | Transferring the design to lino block 1 to block 2
I use the offset method to transfer the design from one block to another. This ensures each colour in the design will line up.
Step 4 | Carving lino block 2
Carving a lino block for the sea.
Step 5 | Carving lino block 3
Carving a lino block for the sand.
Step 6 | Carving lino block 4
Carving a lino block for the sky.
Step 7 | All lino blocks carved
Each of the four lino blocks ready for test printing. I clean the ink, pen and pencil off first.
Step 8 | Test printing and mixing colours
Once all the lino blocks are carved I test print them. This is primarily to see if the blocks need any adjustment and line up correctly. I was fairly confident on the colours I would use on this design, so just tried out a few ideas for the sand: a couple of grey tones, a sand and without that block printed at all. I decided that the grey tone worked best. The sand was definitely too much like ice cream!
Step 9 | Printing colour 1
I usually print light to dark, although I often print skies last if they’re not adjacent to other areas of printing. On this design I printed the sea first. I use Hawthorn Printmaking Supplies stay-open oil-based inks. They’re semi transparent which means there's a real depth to the colours. This is one of the colours I use a lot for seascapes, a combination of 4 different colours that I’ve mixed.
For each colour I roll several layers of ink onto my lino block. I then place the block in my etching press. Put paper onto. Wind the handle and lift of the paper. I repeat this for each colour and each print.
Step 10 | Printing colour 2
I leave 2-3 days drying time between colours. Next, printing the sand using a bluey grey tone. This has lots of transparent ink in it to make it paler.
Step 11 | Printing colour 3
Inking up the key block with indigo blue.
Step 12 | Printing colour 4
Inking up the block with a very pale blue. It’s very hard to see this on the lino block, so I have to count the number of rolls of ink I do. Usually 4-6 rolls.
Step 14 | The final print
I print small amounts of the print edition to begin with. Usually between 10 and 20. I often reject quite a few the first time I print a design for printing mistakes and imperfections. I then get to know the individual quirks of each lino block and mixed ink.
Limited edition linocut print. Edition of 60
Image size 160 x 160mm Mount aperture 190 x 190mm
Mount outer 305 x 305mm
The first 10 prints are available in my online shop.
Would you like to learn how to make a linocut print using this multi-block technique?
How to make a multi-block linocut print
Learn how to make a two and three-colour linocut print at home, using the multi-block technique.
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About the author
Michelle Hughes is a North Yorkshire landscape artist. Much of her work depicts the Yorkshire landscape and Yorkshire coast, including the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors.
Michelle loves exploring the British countryside by bike or on foot, camera in hand, capturing ideas for her next linocut prints. Back in her garden studio, Michelle creates simple but stylised silhouettes based on her photographs, and hand carves these shapes into lino. She hand prints with an etching press, using oil-based inks to create tonal blocks of colour.
Michelle’s original linocut prints are limited editions.