My Favourite Materials ~ Linocuts

This is the last post by this month’s Special Guest Blogger Julie Gibbons. She’s sharing 4 of her fave creative materials, and why she loves them!

Linocut is a totally wonderful printmaking medium. I did a little bit of lino while I was at uni, and I loved it. I loved the carving of the lino block, the inking, the beautiful paper, and the breath-holding moment of putting those things together through the press. So much manual input means that no two prints are ever the same – there are always slight variations in ink density, and how the block bites into the paper.

Lino is a very graphic medium. Most often just black and white, it is capable of immense strength because of its starkness, but it is also capable of great subtlety. I love its bold lines and the delicate little flicks of lino often left through the carving process.

{RubyVictoria – Australian Crow}

I have been a big admirer of Narelle Baladassi’s work {aka Ruby Victoria} for a few years now. This beautiful crow demonstrates her mastery of this medium. The texture of the feathers and the shadows are created under the layers of feathers through careful use of black, white and hatched lines. This, with the shiny beady eye and the soft downiness of the head all work together to create an image of great tactility.

{Rowanne – Swimming Fish}

This little fish shows just how gorgeously flowing those lines can be. Even in such a simple print you can feel the gentle drift of that tail, and the sinuousness of the body.

{magprint– Double Pine}

Short sharp chips have been carved into the body of leaves to suggest the texture of pine needles. The few stray lines left from the carving process around the edge of the leaves and between the two trunks, as well as the ploughed field, also give the impression of active life and growth.

{lisahope – Dandelion}

Multiple colour printing in linocuts is less common, as it is a much more demanding process requiring careful planning and execution. This dandelion is printed using the reduction process, whereby one piece of linoleum is carved and printed many times to achieve the design (i.e. initial carve and print the lightest colour, carve more and print next colour, and so on). This print uses six colours.

{WilliamHays – Paper Shadows (White Birch)}

This work also uses six colours, and achieves a high degree of realism through its clever use of light and stippled shadows.

{WingedLion – Blossom}

A delicate print on Japanese paper, this print is full of grace and elegance. I love the sweet petals (a heart-shape in the hair), the pattern on the dress and the softly graduated background. The flowing lines of the hair and the dress, and especially the gentle curve of the hand on her neck, seem to suggest she is remembering an absent lover as she gazes into the mirror.

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I really hope you have enjoyed this series on my favourite materials, as much as I’ve enjoyed finding beautiful examples to show you! It has been fantastic fun (although I’ve probably spent way too much time looking at pretty things…).

I know there are a LOT of makers who read this blog – I would love to hear what your favourite materials are! Why do you do what you do? What is it about your chosen medium that you like? Is it how it feels? Looks? Is it the finished product, or is it the process? Let me know your thoughts below!

And lastly, and most importantly, I would also like say an enormous thanks to the lovely Jess for generously allowing me this column for the last month.

Seeya! Julie x

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Julie Gibbons is tractorgirl, a maker of homewares and accessories, and a lover of colour, texture and pattern. She completed her PhD Fine Arts in 2001, majoring in Silversmithing, and now she blogs about contemporary craft, surface design, food and books at tractorgirl.com.au.

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