2.7 The Patio: multiblock linocut

The Patio

The Brief
This project creates a multiblock linocut using three different colours and three separate blocks of lino.

Select impressions from your coloured multi-block linoprint. You should choose those that are well aligned and registered and which demonstrate a dramatic use of colour contrast, adding to the impact of the final print. Also send one impression of each lino block printed in a single colour to show the different stages of your print. The third selection should include:

  • three multi-block linoprints
  • one impression in a single colour of your individual lino blocks

To support your work you will have drawings, comments and ideas for further experiments in your learning log.

Concept and drawings

I considered a number of possibilities for this assignment (see other ideas below). But, inspired by a visit to the Patrick Caulfield exhibition at Tate Modern, I decided to use an ink sketch of a patio seen from the cafe in Tate St Ives from my Cornwall sketchbook.


I began by considering different crops for the image using a scan of the drawing and annotating them. I experimented with different aspect rations for landscape and portrait formats and square formats with different focus – the chair, the cat, roofs etc. I became interested in an image with:
– an empty chair and the question as to why it is empty
– a cat as the main inhabitant of the patio – black cat for luck
– the possibilities of people looking out of one or more windows – what might they be doing? Arguing? Waving?
– diagonals of the roofs and fence
– different trees typical of St Ives tropical Mediterranean feel

In the end I chose a square crop that telescoped the roofs more compactly, with a firm fence keeping the viewer out.

I drew this on a new sheet of paper in my sketchbook and transferred it to the linoplate. I drew onto the plate directly using the thumbnail sketch and the larger ink sketch. In the process I experimented further with composition, changing the relative sizes, pattern of the roofs and added some details like a figure at the window.

I then thought of how the colours might look and did some digital mockups on my iPad (I seem to have lost these unfortunately). I arrived at the following three stages:

I then started to cut the blocks varying the mark-making and direction. I wanted to contrast the solid line of the fence keeping outsiders out with a fluttery/shadowy feel for the patio itself. Then higgledy piggledy roofs with the enigmatic person at the window – calling for help or waving – might depend on the overall colour impression.

I am quite pleased with this print as my first multiblock linocut. I quite enjoyed the process. With hindsight I realise I lost a bit of the perspective of really looking down on the patio from a height – the final image is more side on than top view.

I then experimented with many different colour combinations – learning quite a bit about how you can sequence these variations eg going from yellow to orange but not to too dark a colour for the first layer. I had to clean and re-ink the blocks several times.

The final selection was based on quality of print – some of the prints were a bit mottled. Following the suggestion of my tutor to try transparent inks and avoid black, I was having problems with transparency on the Hawthorne oil-based inks. It is quite difficult to get the consistency right – not too thin and not too thick that the ink is very shiny as does not dry. Also I think because I was in a bit of a hurry I did not let the ink dry sufficiently between layers.

But I think the selection is quite interesting as it potentially shows the change of colours through the day – a morning dawn, warm midday and shadowy evening.

Other ideas

I developed a number of other ideas from my figure drawing and Cornwall sketchbooks. But the possibilities are pretty much endless with the sketches I have- particularly from my later Japanese, African and Seasons sketchbooks.

First idea was a sketch I had done of a Congolese woman who came to one of my workshops in Africa. I find the iPad very useful for doing these type of mock-ups. Any of the abstract monochromes I had done in Project 6 could also be adapted for 3 colours, as could my figure sketches.


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