Saturday, May 23, 2009

Two-plate linocut series

In the spring of 2008, one of our assignments was to create a series of two-plate linocuts. Initially, I had no intention of trying to do an entire series, but wanted to try the technique:

Like reduction linocuts, multiple-plate linocuts allow for color images, but production volume does not have to be decided at the outset. For the simple two-plate print, the plate designed for the darkest color is prepared first, and then the image is transferred to the second plate: 

The second plate carries the medium tone and only needs to be cut where the white of the paper should show through, as the darker color will cover the medium tone. Like multiple-plate aquatints, a system of registration is required:

For my first plate, I used an image of a windmill that came on a tin for Trader Joe's stroopwafels. I was so pleased that I decided to attempt the series, using functional buildings as the theme. 

I wanted to do the Rua Reidh lighthouse in Gairloch, Scotland, where I had stayed a night on my way to the Isle of Skye. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any pictures that I liked, but Anthony told me about the beautiful Split Rock Lighthouse in his home state of Minnesota:

On that second set of plates, I also began experimenting with a rainbow roll-up for the medium tone plate. It added some nice depth to the image and became a standard for later prints.

My third set of plates was for a barn and silo, which lacked some of the interesting shapes and patterns from the first two, but I began to explore making the lines from the cuts part of the image's texture (see the cloud above), rather than trying to create solid blocks of color.

The last set of plates in the series, the factory, embraced the cut lines much more in a way that I think added to the composition. 

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