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Making Langdale Pikes - 5 colour multi-block linocut print

Updated: Feb 21

I use the multi-block method to create my multi-coloured linocut prints. Below I've outlined each of the stages used to make Langdale Pikes.

Video - Making Langdale Pikes - 5-colour multi-block lino print

This video was created for The Great Print Exhibition at the Rheged Centre. It shows the process of making Langdale Pikes lino print from start to finish.

Step 1 | Inspiration

The inspiration for this print came from a week walking and camping at the National Trust’s Great Langdale Campsite in the Lake District. I’ve popped an arrow on one of my photos of roughly where I was.

After I’d pitched my tent, settled in and made dinner I made the most of the longer evening. Walking directly out of the back of the campsite takes you up to Blea Tarn. The reflections of Langdale Pikes in the still waters of the Blea Tarn were perfect.

In my photos, the details of Langdale Pikes were quite hazzy. I did a shout out on Twitter and a follower, Nick, kindly let me use one of his photos as reference.

Step 2 | Sketching design concepts

This print was going to be a challenge for me. How would I create water in a pared down palette and silhouettes? Apart from my Ennerdale Water lino print, I’ve only created water for seascapes. In those I’ve used carved lines of the waves to add interest. Using a single bold colour is effective. The Lakes are different.

To begin, I sketched ideas on Procreate on my iPad so that I could just think about what I wanted the print to look like in terms of blocks of colour and not get too tied up in knots about how on earth I was going to make it. I paint onto a separate layer for each colour so that I can separate them out in Photoshop to make a rough plan.

At this stage I wasn't entirely sure how it would work. I use Hawthorn’s stay open oil-based inks. They’re semi transparent and I use a transparent pigment to make them paler, rather than white. This maintains the transparency. In fact, the paler a colour is, the more transparent it is. I wanted to use this to layer colours over the water, without them looking flat and solid.

Once I was at a point of having a rough plan, I sketched the design onto paper. I prefer to draw directly as I get more of a sense of what marks are achievable at the scale I’ll be carving my lino in.

I cut five pieces of lino and mounted them to backing boards.

Step 3 | Carving lino block 1

The first block is for the Langdale Pike mountains in the background. I wanted to bring them to life and be a prominent feature in the print, by carving out the details of the rocks, so that they would be the colour of the paper.

The reflection of the Pikes in Blea Tarn was something that I didn’t think would work but worth having a go at. After all, I didn’t know how else to do it.