Two friends of mine were getting married and I wanted to produce a linocut as a gift. They both like hares and moths and collect art with this subject matter so I thought this idea could work.
I treated this exercise as an illustration brief, as I have some interest in possibly working in illustration in the future.
Firstly I did some research online looking at various images on the internet and producing some sketches in my smaller sketchbook (my larger one still being with my tutor).
One of my aims for this course has been to improve my skills with design and composition and I borrowed some resources from the local library to try to improve my knowledge
One book that goes into the basics of design “The Non-Designer’s Design book” (see bibliography) was particularly helpful. From this I have been learning about four main principles of design: contrast, repetition, alignment and proximity. One thing that really struck me was the need to really emphasize and be bold with the focal point of the design. This made a marked difference to the quality of my image, as soon as I made the hare larger the design started to come together.
I also posted on the critique part of the OCA student forum for feedback. The participants provided me with useful advice: to consider using interesting mark-making; and also to carry the rhythms of the sky down into the grass below to give unity to the composition.
This was an incredibly helpful process. I feel that I am beginning to understand design and how to create a picture. I realise that it takes time and practice trying different arrangements until it comes together.
I wanted to use up the other side of the japanese vinyl as I had found that a good surface to cut with. Transferring the design was a challenge as the carbon paper wouldn’t take to the plastic surface. Instead I transferred the image to very thin layout paper and used permanent pen to bleed through to the surface below, which worked quite well. I have since read that this might not be the best method if using watersoluble inks as the marker can transfer with the ink, it worked ok with oil-based inks however.
The carving stage was really enjoyable. I possibly enjoyed it too much however as I think I overdid the cutting on the grass at the bottom.Using a soft graphite stick for proofing was not successful as it produced a darker trace than the real print, this led to the overcutting situation.
In some of my printings I was not using enough ink and the result was patchy, particularly with the flat block of colour for the hare. I found that using more ink, dampened paper and thinner paper and burnishing for longer helped with this process. I do find the actual printing to be a very physical process and can exacerbate the symptoms of my health condition so spreading the editioning over a number of days and pacing myself are also very helpful.
What went well?
• Composition / design skills are improving. Taking time over this stage and producing a number of versions before moving on helped with this.
• I find that the mark-making in the sky and the field are quite successful.
What was challenging / didn’t go so well?
• Proofing stage with soft graphite didn’t work and led to overcutting in the grass at the bottom.
• Some lack of control in the cutting of the hare’ legs and the moth has made these elements look a little clumsy and naïve. I have asked for some finer cutters for Xmas so hopefully that will assist with this issue in the future.
• The printing process is a challenge, there is a lot to think about as noted above but I am sure it will get easier as I progress with the course.
• With this piece of work I felt that I was working to a brief, and therefore this is more a piece of illustration than fine art. To progress I feel it is important for me to go back to looking at other fine artists’ works and follow my interests, which I intend to do in the next single colour linocut.