I first fell in love with linocut printing during freshman year of college. This technique is similar to woodblock printing, although the process is much easier since the linoleum is softer and easier to cut, and there is no wood grain to contend with. Linocut has become easier still since the development of a soft rubbery surface. I’m grateful for this option, since too much cutting aggravates my hands. However the hardness of traditional linoleum is better for fine detail, so I prefer it if I feel strong.
I was particularly interested in learning how to do multi-block prints, in which each block is designed for a specific color. This is a challenging process, since it means cutting images that would fit perfectly together to create a finished picture. I choose a photograph of a Roman aqueduct and added my own design elements.
While I’m proud of my aqueduct, I wanted something easier when it was finished. I made small blocks that I could print randomly to make a background. Here you see a fatsia leaf and a nasturtium flower which I copied from photographs. The spooky spiraling leaves are dried delphinium photographed by the early German photographer Karl Blossfeldt.
The background and the star in the center were copied from seed pod shapes, borrowed from Karl Blossfeldt. I can play with where every image is placed, and I’m pleased with how good they look overlapped. I also discovered that printing the same image in different colors in approximately the same place creates a pleasing shadow.
This is my unintentional Hanukkah card. I copied the design from a tonic water box. I painted the leaves with gold or silver acrylic paint, not consciously thinking menorah, but that’s what they look like. They were very popular at art fairs this year.
I was ready to do something completely abstract after all the prints that were based on photographs. The gold dots and the central diagonal line are acrylic paint.
I carved most of the blocks in the fall of 2013, which allowed me to sell or barter them along with skincare, potted succulents and other items at various events. This is my booth at an art barter event in Oakland. I did very well that day, and I sent the remaining cards to friends and family for the holidays.
All text and images copyright Ilah Jarvis 2014