2.5 Sea Impressions: Linocut Test Block

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The Brief

Use an A4 block of lino and mark this out with 4×6 squares. In each of the squares cut a variety of marks using a different cutting tool or approach.

Present your test linocut prints. Choose impressions where the design has been clearly and cleanly printed. Accompany your print with your notes describing which cutting tools were used. Each print should have clean edges and a good print quality.

The first selection should include:

  • two printed test cuts

To support these prints you will have notes from your learning log. (see Logbook 2 p11)


I had purchased a full set of Pfeil linocut tools as a birthday present and long term investment in my printmaking. It is also very important for me to be able to work with comfortable tools as I have a tendency to suffer from RSI. Though this is not an issue if I pace myself properly and heat the lino before cutting.

I looked in detail at a manual on Chinese woodblock cutting and this gave me many ideas for types of markmaking on linocut (See Logbook 2 pp8-9). One approach would have been to go through and practise each of these. But I wanted first to explore the possibility of freer and more dynamic marks. And the range of marks that could be made through varying the angle and pressure of the same tool.

In my head I had sea images from my Cornwall sketchbook and used that as the basis of my linocuts in this Assignment. For details of the tools used see Logbook 2 p11). I also looked at the abstract linocuts of Andrea Epstein (Logbook 2 p13).

Even in simple monochrome prints there are many possible variations:

– the marks themselves, textures and patterns

– colour – does the colour reflect or contrast with the mood and overall effect of the markmaking. Possible use of multiple colours on the same roller as a ‘rainbow’ roll

– paper – is the desired effect a very sharp flat image or a more nuanced and atmospheric image eg on Japanese paper

– printing by hand or on a press – again is the aim a very sharp crisp print or something more atmospheric?

– possibilities for turning the plate and overprinting in a different colour to create textures and contrast – again possibilities for using a ‘rainbow roll’. This possibility can be foreseen and planned in the design of the plate itself by creating contrasts between top and bottom or right and left of the plate.

– possibilities for masking to create further variations.

I experimented with different papers in my print and also colours and rainbow rolls. This is reflected in my choice of prints for assessment – for further examples see logbook p5. And with masked versions, drawing on some African sketches I was doing in Sketchbook 4 ‘Images of Africa’.

After completing the assignment I continued to experiment with markmaking and abstraction of rockpools, using overprinting and different colours. I quite enjoy a lot of these text



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