Experimenting With Linoleum Block Printing

It's always a good weekend when I get to work on some art. I also got to painting the window sash, but blew off painting the walls. They'll be there next weekend, right?

I bought some silk flowers at Michael's so I could practice drawing some images that I want to make linoleum block prints from.

How could anyone hate hydrangeas? They're one of my favorites. I'd prefer a bouquet of hydrangeas over roses any day. Take that, Madonna!
This is my model sunflower. I got my sketch carved into the linoleum block and printed out. You can see my first printing down below. It's a trial run, seeing as how I'm pretty new to this form of printing. I was going to try silk screen printing, but there are so many supplies you need. And then the light exposure thing sounds complicated. Block printing feels old-fashioned (although wood block printing would feel even more old-fashioned) and there's no emulsion involved, which looks messy. 
Here's a little sushi cut (that's a rubber block on the right). I did some sketches of my dinner one night back in Japan. I thought I might use a camera to shoot my subject and then trace it onto wax paper, but I ended up drawing freehand. Then I traced my original drawing onto some wax paper and pressed the wax paper face down onto the block. I rubbed over the pencil lines with my finger nail to get the image transferred onto the block. Then I carved, and carved, and carved using a tool made for cutting lino blocks. When you print, you'll end up with a mirror image of what's on your block.
While searching the shelves for an unfilled sketch book, I came across this book I used for a painting class in Tokyo. That was two years ago and about this time of year. I got a lot of practice drawing Christmas wreaths my teacher brought in. If you've ever been to Japan from late October to December, you know that Christmas decorating is huge.
If you recognize these collage thingies I did then you've been reading my blog for at least a few months. One of these icons is still in use on my Linkin' Blogs page. Get it? Linkin' Blogs? Like Lincoln Logs?

Here's my first edition of "Sunflower." I was so excited to print after hours of carving, that I went overboard on the ink. Normally, you make sure the ink is rolled out smoothly and evenly with a brayer and then roll the ink onto the block. You then put your paper over the top of the block and press down in quick, circular motions with a wooden spoon.

The nice thing about printing is that you get lots of chances to make it look just right. Don't think that will happen today though, because, among other things, I've got to find some cheap shades for our living room windows. We're feeling pretty exposed with our bare windows, especially now that it's getting dark around 4 p.m.


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