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Paint Linocuts with Watercolor – and a few Linocut Posts

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This is a post from Belinda Del Pesco’s Art Blog Belinda Del Pesco.

Hand Color Linocuts

If you print your linocuts and woodcuts with inks that won’t re-wet, you can have a lot of fun hand coloring your relief prints with watercolors.

Carving a sheet of battleship gray linoleum, inspired by a photo snapped at a Swing Concert.

Hand Colored Block Print Fun

Let’s say you printed a small edition of 5 linocuts in black ink that dries permanently.

Once the ink is dry, you can have a party adding color to the parts of your paper that are free of ink.

And each print in the edition can be painted in different colors!

Rolling ink onto the carved linoleum block, getting ready to print the edition of 30

Printmaking Subjects

The Bill Elliott Swing Orchestra performed at an outdoor festival many years ago. I took my son tp the concert. He just a kid then, but still a foot-tapping swing fan. We had a blast, listening to wonderful music, and watching swing dancers strut their stuff.

If you’re looking for good subjects to use on your linocuts, read this linocut post. Take a look at the photos on your phone to see if they look interesting as a thumbnail. Those images are often just as fine to use as a woodcut or linocut.

Pulling the print after rubbing the back of the paper with a baren.

Painting Your Prints

I snapped a few reference photos, and carved this linocut of the band. After the ink was dry, I painted the print with watercolors.

If you have a folder or a drawer with old relief prints, can I invite you to pull them out, and have a look? Test the ink with a damp cotton swab to see if it re-wets. If the ink remains dry, and a swipe from a cotton swab comes away ink-free, you can paint that print.

Adding Color to Prints with Dry Media

If you don’t have watercolors, you can add colored pencil or caran d’ache water soluble crayons to your prints too. Test a swatch of ink on your print first. You might find, like I did, that most printmaking inks take colored pencil beautifully – even on the ink! Take a look at the linocut in this post to see colored pencil and watercolor on a black ink print.

Experimental Prtintmaking

You’ll see plenty of hard and fast rules about printmaking in Facebook Groups, Printmaking manuals and Online Courses. Most of the rules have a solid foundation in best practices, safety, proper use of tools and best combinations or sequences to lead you towards a successful print. But some rules are dumb. There, I said it.

A handful or purists will be agog that I’m suggesting hand coloring your relief prints. Knit brow questions will arise, asking of it’s still a print, or is it now a mixed media piece? It’s still a print, my friend. It’s a linocut, with watercolor. Or a linocut with colored pencil.

Play with your art supplies, and see if you can raise the level of your old relief prints to new heights that make you smile. At the very least, it will give you a few hours of simple, creative pleasure.

If you want to try making a linocut, here is a playlist on my youtube channel with relief printmaking demos and tutorials. Happy printing!

Thanks for stopping by to say hello, and I’ll see you in the next post -


This linocut is available in my Etsy shop.

Art Quote

Wyeth’s program could have been written by Fitz Hugh Lane: “to escape from the medium with which I work. To leave no residue of technical mannerisms to stand between my expression and the observer. To seek freedom through significant form and design rather than through the diversion of so called free and accidental brush handling.” We can also notice in Wyeth’s paintings those spacial conventions so frequent in Homer and Eakins, along with an interest in odd angles prompted by the camera eye, which often provides his idea of modern design.

B. Novak

Linocut Blog Posts

The post Paint Linocuts with Watercolor – and a few Linocut Posts appeared first on Belinda Del Pesco’s Art Blog Belinda Del Pesco.


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