In Part 1, I talked a lot about all the prep work involved in printmaking- the setting up and preparing to print.
Part 2 will explore the reduction process I use. Reduction Printmaking uses one block of wood to print multiple colors in different stages. I start with the lightest color first, then carve or reduce the block color by color until the image is complete.
Once your image is on the block and all your paper is registered, its time to begin carving. In reduction printmaking you print from lightest to darkest, so its best to figure out the order of your colors ahead of time.
First I carved away everything I want to remain white in the print. (along with any area I don't want to print.) I then started with my lightest color (which happens to be yellow) I used a brayer to roll the yellow ink across the surface of the block. Everything I carved away is below the surface, and will not be inked. It remain the color of the paper.
I then place my inked woodblock in my registration jig, grab a piece of paper, and push the tabs on first, then allow the paper to fall over the surface of the inked block. Next, I give the back of the paper a quick rub with my hand so it sticks to the ink and is less likely to slip once i move it. I then take off the tabs and gently slide the block out of the corner of the jig.
From here, I use a wooden spoon to rub the back of the paper and print the first color in the image. You can also transfer the block and paper to a printing press if you have one. Just be careful not to shift of move the paper.
Continue printing your first color on all your registered papers. Sometimes the sharpie marks can transfer while printing your first color. Don't worry about this, they will get covered up by the end. After you have printed your first color, you'll want to clean the surface of your block. From here you can start to carve away all the areas you want to keep yellow in the print. (or whatever color you just printed)
After all the yellow is carved away, and the yellow ink is dry on the paper, you can continue onto your next color. I'm printing orange next. You will follow the same process. Mix up your next color of ink, roll it on the block, place block in jig, and put paper on, and print.
After my second color is printed on all my paper, I carve away everything I want to keep orange in the print. I then continue onto my next color- green. Continue to follow the same steps- carving, inking and printing until your done. ts that easy!
I would say the hardest part in the reduction process is making sure your registration is accurate. Try your best not to shift the paper while printing, or moving the block.
Your image will start to appear as you build up the layers of ink.
With reduction printing, once its gone, its gone! There is no going back and fixing your mistakes, or printing anymore images once your done. So if you want to make 10 prints, 30 prints, or 100, you need to print them all at the same time.
Don't be discouraged if your print doesn't look exactly like your original sketch. Its not suppose to! That's the fun of printmaking- how the image gets translated with the ink and wood. You'll see your image come to life print after print. You really don't know what the final print looks like until your done.
Reduction woodcut printmaking may, or may not be the thing for you, but it's worth a shot.
I absolutely love it! I hope you found this information helpful in getting you started. I also hope you see how unique this art form is; It's truly a labor of love, and nothing beats its unmatchable look.
You can see more work in progress on Instagram @Kristinahooverfineart
Shop Available work online, and find me around town at local markets!
I often get asked how I create my work, as it's not your typical paint on canvas. I'm a printmaker, and not many people know what that term means. Essentially printmaking is the art of multiples. It encompasses a lot of different techniques, but I'm just going to be talking about one, relief printmaking. Also know as woodcuts and Linoleum cuts, relief printmaking is one of my favorite techniques. I really fell in love with woodcuts when I was in graduate school, and I'll be giving you a step by step of how I create original fine art prints!!
There is a lot of prep work involved in printmaking before the actual printing occurs.
Once I've come up with an image I want to print, know its size, and know what size paper I'm going to print on, I start by getting my paper prepped and set up. (The example I will be using is a 5" x 7" image, printed on 8" x 10" paper.) There are so many different printmaking papers out there, I would definitely try as many as you can to see what you like. Masa is a great lightweight started paper, that I use often. Mulberry, kitakata, and Goyu are some of my other lightweight favorites. Hands down my favorite heavier paper for the price, is Canson Edition printmaking paper. Stonehenge, Somerset, and Reives BFK are great too. If your feeling extra special and what to splurge I recommend Pescia, and Hahnemuhle papers.
Because of the way a lot of these papers are made, they have a natural deckle edge. Instead of just cutting your paper down to size with scissors, or an xacto knife, I use a T-Square and tear the paper along the straight edge to give it that deckle look all the way around. Here I've torn larger sheets of Goyu paper down to 30 8" x 10" pieces.
This helps keep my image lined up each time I place the paper down.
I've cut down my wood to the size of image. I'm using pine to carve on, as Its readily available, and pretty cheap. I have also used birch, poplar, and MDF. Pine is a fairly soft wood and easy to carve. It also has a distinctive grain pattern, which can be incorporate into your image depending on the look you want to achieve.
I also usually do a color pencil sketch to act a guide while carving. This print is going to be a woodcut. The difference between a woodcut and Linocut is simply the "matrix" or block your using. Linoleum is much softer and easier to carve than wood. You can carve linoleum in any direction, and don't have to conform to the grain pattern on the wood. I often work with both, each has its own pros and cons, so definitely experiment with each.
As a printmaker, tracing paper has become my best friend. I pretty much use it for everything, but most importantly it's great for reversing and transferring your image. You don't have to reverse your image, but just remember it will print backwards.
I have a piece of transfer paper in between the block and tracing paper, that I use to transfer the image. I then re-trace the image in sharpie so it won't fade away.
Once you've got the image on the block your good to go. You can start carving away all the areas you want to remain white (or the color of the paper you are using) Relief printmaking works off the principal that anything below the surface will not receive ink, and therefore will not print.
Once this is all done, comes the fun part- the carving. Its tricky to carve against the grain of the wood but it can be done. Just remember not to carve toward to hand in case the chisel slips, you don't want to cut yourself. and just in case you mess up wood-filler is a great little trick to fill in those areas you didn't mean to cut.
Next you'll want to mix up your first color. I started using Akua waterbased inks a couple years back after I started working out of my home, and didn't want the smell of mineral spirits and solvents in the house. Overall its a pretty good ink with just a few drawbacks.
I hope this helps get you started.
I'll be covering inking and printing more in Part 2