In this blog I'll show you how I created my new Nidderdale linocut print.
The inspiration for this design comes from a photo I took in July 2017, while mountain biking in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire. I’ve had the photo on my list of ones to do for a while. I’ll be honest, I had thought it was in the Lake District. I got in touch with my ex boyfriend and discovered it was actually Nidderdale. It’s obvious now that I look at it. Now that I plan a lot of my own routes, I pay far more attention to maps and where I’ve been!
A friend recognised the picture. From her description I've pinned the photo down to the old drovers route of In Moor Lane leading to Middlesmoor in Nidderdale.
It's actually very poignet on many levels. I illustrated a book for a local author last autumn, which included researching drover routes.
I also cycled around Nidderdale with my friend Fiona, on the hottest day of the year last summer. We started at Ripon, going through Pateley Bridge, past Gouthwaite Reservoir and up Trapping Hill, near Lofthouse. It goes on and on and was blooming hard work in mid day heat! We hadn’t realised that it’s a category 3 killer hill climb.
I’m planning on going back to the area walking. This Lofthouse to Scar House Reservoir is a walking route similar to the one I cycled with my mountain bike. It’s a 9.6 mile circular walk, starting at the village of Lofthouse. It walks towards Scar House reservoir and across the River Nidd. Then past the copse of trees in this linocut design to Middlesmoor and back to the start.
There's also a good walk in my green Yorkshire Dales - Pathfinder walks guidebook. It’s a 4 mile circular walk starting at Middlesmoor and back along the river Nidd and through Lofthouses.
The Nidderdale Way is a 53 miler circular long-distance footpath. That’s one for another time.
Sketching design concepts
I treated myself to an Apple pencil last year. I love it! I use the Procreate app on my iPad to quickly sketch ideas. They’re quite rough and free but give me a quick idea if the composition and colour balance will work. It’s made such a difference. I tend to sketch ideas in bed when I get back from cycling or walking. The ideas are then fresh in my head and I think I capture the essence of the landscape better then.
Once I’m happy with a design I’ll sketch it in more detail for transferring onto lino blocks.
Lino block 1 sketch
Transferring the design onto the first lino block using carbon paper.
Carving lino block 1
I’ve chosen to carve the tree onto the first block as this is the main feature of the design.
Transferring the design to lino blocks 2 and 3
I transferred the carved tree design onto 2 more lino blocks and added the other design elements for the rest of the landscape.
All 3 lino blocks carved
Inking up lino block 1 with a mid green Hawthorns oil-based ink.
Test printing the pale green
Inking up the block with a pale green ink for the foreground grass.
Test printing the mid green
Inking up the block with a mid green for the background of the distant landscape.
Test printing the charcoal grey
Inking up the trees with a charcoal grey ink.
Test prints so far with 3 colours printed
The test print so far. 3 colours printed, 2 more to do.
Test prints so far with 4 colours printed
The test print so far. Adding the mid grey for the dry stone walls and details in the distant landscape. I use semi transparent oil based inks. As the mid grey is printed over the mid green it creates another tone of colour.
Test printing the blue sky
The last colour to be added is a blue for the sky. I’ve tried a couple of different tones of blue for the sky.
Test prints for Nidderdale
These are the final test prints for Nidderdale. It’s printed with 5 colours and 3 lino blocks. Using the transparency of the hawthorns oil based ink I’ve created a 6th colour to the design. These are all just roughly printed on white photocopy paper. I’d love your thoughts and constructive feedback.
Hand printing part of the edition...
Limited edition linocut print. Edition of 60
Image size 160 x 160mm
Mount outer 305 x 305mm
Frame size (outer edge) 340 x 340mm
Let me know what you think...
I always love to hear your feedback on new designs. Especially in theses uncertain times. Please do comment below.
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See videos of the printing process...
See my Creating new linocut prints for York Open Studios 2020 blog for videos showing the stages of printing each colour.
I’m in the process of hand printing other new designs that would have originally been ready for York Open Studio 2020. The impact of Covid-19 means that since the 15 March my spring and summer exhibitions have been cancelled and workshops postponed. Everything in my print studio has been on hold, while I work out what to do next. I hope to be back printing soon. Many more new linocut designs to be added to my website shortly.
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.