Tag Archives: Design for Linocuts

Blue Mountains Wildflowers Fine Art Linocut – A Step back in Time

Lynette Weir -Blue Mountains Wildflowers - Oct 2013 WEB

The linocut ‘Blue Mountains Wildflowers’ is really a step back in time for me on many levels from the design inspirations to my memories of this region. As I’ve spoken about before I love the Blue Mountains region west of Sydney, it has such a rugged beauty & the flora & fauna is integral to the whole region. The Blue Mountains has a strong Art Deco influence in architecture and design & examples of that can found throughout the small villages along the ridges leading all the way to Katoomba & beyond. The area really had its ‘heyday’ in the 1900-1960’s and in particular the 1930’s. This linocut art piece is also grounded in family experiences & an inheritance of sorts.

I guess this artwork had its beginnings with family. Both my family & my husband’s family have been keen visitors to the Blue Mountains for many years. When thinking about the Blue Mountains region I found I had so many stories & photos of that time from my mother-in-law & her family in particular, many of whom still live in the Blue Mountains. From honeymoons to day trips and in fact, it is where my husband & I had our honeymoon. It was also somewhere we took our kids for day trips, holidays & to visit family & friends as well.

The wildflowers of this region are truly spectacular. The waratahs & flannel flowers are two of the iconic Australian wildflowers found here & of course I could not go past the ‘Mountain Devils’ – Lambertia formosa – which I have childhood memories of the seedpods dressed up with tulle on sticks like cupie dolls but there are some more vivid examples of these dolls in this newspaper article! I actually still have a couple of  my mother-in-law’s tulle simple versions in an old china cabinet from her ‘nic-nacs’ which I just haven’t been able to part with. So the central panel of this work for me just had to be these three wildflowers.

A lot of research goes into investigating the species of an area, then I always take my own photographs & drawings of each of the species. This helps me to understand the structure of each plant & flower & increases the draftsmanship & design of the piece. There are usually so many I then have plenty to choose for the design.

So a little gallery in of inspirational wildflowers for Blue Mountains Wildflowers.

When my mother in law passed away a few years ago we inherited an old Art Deco style mirror. Looking a little shabby & worse for wear it does however have such an interesting shape. So I started with the mirror’s shape then developed that to create the overall structure of the design. It is then a matter of putting together all the research & developing that into the design. I spend a lot of time drawing, I think it is one of my favourite parts of the process. I have always loved drawing.

I see the linocuts as an extension of that & a way to push my vision & drawing further – the art of creative-art thinking. There is the ‘practical’ aspect of what can actually be carved out of lino but then there is the creative side of shapes & patterns. After I have finished the drawing of the design I then photocopy it several times & start to work on the actual linocut design. I use black felt pens to work on the designs, often photocopying, pasting & then using white out to work on this side of the designing. I guess I am still ‘old school’ in that I love to work with the physicality of paper, pen, pencil & ink but I do sometimes ‘dabble’ with computers & photoshop. I can spend weeks refining the images into exactly what I am happy with in the design & which I am able to produce in the medium.

Then to the carving of the design in lino. I have talked about different type of lino previously but I am pretty settled with the grey Silkcut & even managed to visit their gallery & workshop in Melbourne when I was there last time. I love my new Pfeil linocutting tools as they have made the carving just so much easier reducing the strain on my shoulder. There are actually 12 different blades in my set & I think so far I have only used half of them! Like a painter may use different brushes a Fine Art linocut artist uses their carving tools to create different effect within the surface of the lino. Some use it to create rough textural pieces but mine is a more methodical approach. I see my linocuts as botanical in nature so I try to represent the wildflowers as close to their essence as I can and this includes within the carving to create the images.

An interesting aspect to my work is the ‘uneven’ edges. I do not feel limited by the square or rectangular shapes that lino is usually presented to us from the art shop. I have always sought to move outside these shop bought restrictions. In order to do that I need to carefully cut back the edges. I start by making several strong cuts into the from surface of the lino. I then very carefully split the lino edge I want to remove & fold it towards the hessian back. Then I turn the lino over & cut along the hessian backing with a sharp bladed knife.

Often there can be a rough edge which is not something I want to be on my print. So I carefully remove the rough edges until I have a clean smooth cut. You need to take care especially around pieces with more ‘organic’ lines rather than the straight edges within this particular design.

Then to the printing of the linoblock. I have talked printing previously so here is just a little gallery for ‘Blue Mountains Wildflowers’

Then the handcolouring. I print with oil-based ink & handcolour with watercolour. I like that I can sue multiple layers & colours within each section to create the overall vibrancy of the wildflowers. You will see on the first ‘handcolour proof’ patches of colour & notes on which colour mixes I used. Although the aim is to paint each one the same you can appreciate that each one is actually individually painted & there are always variations.

Blue Mountains Wildflowers - A Fine Art Linocut

Here is a little video from photos about this whole process of creating Blue Mountains Wildflowers.  For those who don’t want to read explanations & learn better through images rather than words, you can now watch it in a little video format.

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Waratah Tryptich – Fine Art Linocut Tutorial Video

– Waratah Tryptich –

The Development of a new Fine Art Linocut

Blue Mountains Wildflowers – Fine Art Linocut Tutorial Video

 

– Blue Mountains Wildflowers –

The Development of a new Fine Art Linocut

Seaside Wildflowers – Fine Art Linocut Tutorial Video

– Seaside Wildflowers –

The Development of a new Fine Art Linocut

The Art of ‘Creative Art-Thinking’ – designing linocuts

In describing some of the processes I that go through in designing my linocuts I have not talked a lot about the ‘art-thinking’ processes. This is probably because they are often complex and hard to describe.

FRAMEWORKS FOR ARTWORKS

For this piece  and many of my pieces I will often start with the idea of a ‘framework’ – of working within/without of a particular shape – rectangular, square, circle etc. Starting with the framework – drawing up thumbnail sketches of different shapes, sizes, ideas – some people hold their hands up together to create a picture frame to limit their vision and provide a frame to work within for designing the edges of the artwork and what they want in it. It narrows the visual field and helps an artist ‘art-think’ what they are trying to achieve/include within an artwork.

A framework can also be suggested by the actual subject matter. So the first step in working in this way is to consider the subject matter – in this case I look at my extensive file of photographs that I have taken. But for me this process means taking one step back again – it begins with the plant/flower ‘in the flesh’.

SOURCE MATERIAL AND ‘CREATIVE ART-THINKING’

I take the photos I work from, so for me my designing starts with ‘seeing’ and photographing, for me a lifelong interest and passion of seeing and representing through taking photographs and filing and preserving family photographs. So in the case of the above design I look at the plant and take numerous photos (thank goodness for digital it is a lot less expensive these days).

The designing and looking is part of the photographing process for me – I was taught a long time ago about the importance of ‘seeing’ through your lens as you take the photo instead of ‘cropping’ later. Not to say I don’t crop but I try to ‘frame’ the photograph in the lens these days. I consider the shape, size and special features of the flowers, buds, leaves, stalks, overall ‘effect’ of the plant. These can be quite quick and spontaneous images – even at this stage I am considering the artwork and what information I may need from the source plant. If I have time I sketch the plant or do quick sketches of ideas to refer back to. Somehow for me it involves a different ‘vision’ and thinking – that for the process of this tutorial I am calling ‘art-thinking’. It is like I go to another place that is entirely visual and yet pragmatic about collecting all the info I need, or producing the image/design I want. I am often unaware at this stage of much going on outside this little ‘visual world’ – ask my family who now seem to know that taking a good book and ensuring a coffee shop ‘sanctuary’ is nearby to disappear from their ‘weird wife/mother’ who is off in another head space, and often gets quite excited about a particular plant flowering!

PROCESSING TO CREATE ARTWORK AND DESIGNS

Even before I get the photos I need printed I am often already ‘art-thinking’ – processing visual ideas often making a number of quick thumbnail sketches of my ‘art-thinking’, making notes of ideas in my journals or even on a scrap of paper that I later stick int my journal. These can lay around for even years – I have many in sketchbooks and will often flip back through and find these sketches. They are a rich source of inspiration even years later and often I can then flip back to the process of taking the photos and remember the time and what was significant about the image. Sometimes it feels like a ‘visual memory filing cabinet’ and the actual physical photos (catalogued and filed) help provide finer details and trigger more visual memories that I can use.

DESIGN ART – EMBLEMS – BREAKDOWN OF THE PROCESS OF DESIGN

In designing a piece like the DESIGN ART – Emblems – it is quite complex in the amount of visual material I am wanting to include within the overall design. This means it will be overall quite a ‘busy’ design unlike the DESIGN ART Waratah which is a simple single graphic image relying on this for visual impact.

However in creating the overall design for the Emblems I needed to bring some sort of order to the ‘busyness’. I have done this by providing the top central waratah echoed by the Sturt desert pea below. The golden wattle flowers/leaves and kangaroo paw provide framing and visual movement around the design with the Tasmanian gum blossom leaves stabilising the image at the bottom. The other plants of heath (at top either side of waratah), Sturt desert rose on right and Cooktown orchid on left are all pink shaded flowers and seem natural to provide a circular movement  around the work.

Whilst drawing all of this into a design I can revise the overall and minor details of the plan as I go along. This includes spending often large amounts of time ‘art-thinking’ visually assessing over and over what I am doing and where I am placing the elements within the design. I stick photocopies of the images on the walls – even in the bedroom so I can look at when I first wake up. Often I do nothing but look at the progress, source material, or framework and do nothing – it is all in this process of creative ‘art-thinking’. This includes the inking in of the design – again it is returning to this visual head space where I don’t like to be interrupted – it is like switching my brain into another space. It can be frustrating when I cannot get into this zone and things just don’t work – best to go and do something different. Equally it can be extremely frustrating to have this background zone sitting there with ideas and not the time to actually get it happening!

‘ART-THINKING’ VS ‘DOING’ OR USING BOTH!

Not everyone understands the process of stepping back and thinking through things – of sorting through ideas, images, assessing, re-assessing and thinking of alternatives and possibilities. Many people are ‘doers’ and impulsive and many artists work this way and create amazing works. I work more spontaneously in the initial stages of thumbnail sketches but then I get tend to move into this more detailed way of working. Funny my house can be disorganised, messy and spontaneous but my artwork processes are often detailed organised and ordered.

Copyright – Lynette Weir

Designing a linocut – the process of one design – Part 2

After working through design ideas using a number of photocopies cut up and moving them around and then adding them lightly over the template (size/shape of the basic linocut from the DESIGNART series) I settled on the seedpod over to the right of the template and spilling off. It needed something else so after consulting my plant and photos I decided to add a more ‘ragged’ representation of the flower head after it has opened and is starting to head towards fading from its robust bloom into the ‘softer’ and then wilted phase leading to the seedpods. This is the added on drawing I came up with.

I struggled with the ‘joining’ of the original drawing and the new section – especially as I worked not from the original drawing but the b&w design phase. Trying to get the leaves ‘just right’ was frustrating. Here is one of the images from my plant that I used where you can see all those new growth leaves all falling out over each other.

Eventually I have ended up with 2 images that I have been  ‘sitting  with’ and deciding which one I will use or which combination I may adjust. I will post more when I  start carving. I have actually made a decision.

It is a bit like a game of ‘spot the difference’ – note to self : printmakers and artists can be horribly pedantic!

Just wondering as an exercise for those inclined to design – what would you do?

Copyright – Lynette Weir

Designing a linocut – the process of one design – Part 3

They say sometimes what goes around comes around.

Or perhaps it should be called in this instance the sometimes ‘obsessive’ nature of artists!!

  

After spending ages on the original drawing design – inking it up and then deciding to fiddle around with it to make it just that little bit better – I have took it back to the original drawing design!!

Another artist at a workshop I did a few years back said he spent weeks deciding to change the wall colour of his lounge room from a mustard yellow. So after much contemplation, colour charts, mixing etc he repainted the room…and yes it was almost the identical mustard yellow!!

So the design is finished – and yes after a week it is back to the original concept!!

Now for transfer to the lino block, carving, printing and handcolouring – I must admit moving from one process to another actually raises the excitement level. Yes I know a bit boring that at each new step it is seen as ‘exciting’ but I think that is why I like the art processes that I am currently working in and keep coming back to them! I do actually really enjoy each step and it provides interest and hopefully challenge. Even if I sometimes end up back where I started!

Copyright – Lynette Weir

Designing Linocuts – Design Process for Tasmanian Christmas Bells

This is a design I was asked to complete – a small linocut of Tasmanian Christmas Bells. Fortunately I had taken some photos a long time ago of the Blandfordia punicea and have in my garden grown the local NSW Christmas Bells Blandfordia nobilis and Blandfordia grandiflora. I had previously completed a small linocut of the NSW Christmas Bells. So as it worked out I actually had plenty of my own reference material.

I started firstly with a small quick sketch idea as I always do. These form many of the design basis of my work. It is amazing how a quick small ‘doodle’ can become an actual design. Sometimes I spend hours searching around trying to ‘improve’ the original concept (or design as in the case of the previous Banksia serrata) because it seems like the thing to do when in actual fact I end up back at the small sketch and working from there. Other times I have to think for ages to come up with a design – this process is never really predictable but often just keeping your eyes open and a small sketchbook in the handbag to jot down ideas and inspiration as you go about your daily activities can pay wonderful dividends later on.

So the original quick idea to base it on an earlier ‘template’ of a NSW Christmas Bush was what I worked with. I then researched the differences between the different species of Blandfordia and noted the differences in my sketchbook.

          

I continued the process by working the original idea sketched into a drawing and then inked in the black for the design. This is what I then used as a guide for carving the lino block – I do this as I have often simply carved the wrong sections in the past and wasted lino, time and my patience!

  

Copyright – Lynette Weir

Designing – Redesigning and ‘Re-tweeking’ Linocut Designs

Sometimes I do some drawings and leave them in my sketchbooks for later reference. Likewise with some linocut designs – for a number of reasons including not being fully happy with a particular design I will set them aside.

In the case of two designs this is what happened. I had worked up both a Hakea and Grevillea design in a larger format of the Design Series but I wasn’t really happy with them so to the side they went.

Whilst working on some new square 15cm x 15cm designs I went back to my file and found these older designs, re-scanned them and had another look at them reformatting them into the new square designs using photoshop.  I then photocopied them and produced several different size formats of the various elements of the work.

From there with trusty black felt pens, liquid paper, scissors and glue I went to work at ‘re-tweeking’ the designs.

At this point I am still not sure about whether I will cut these designs but I thought I’d show one of the processes I use in designing. At times I will work designs parts of designs through on the computer or photocopy them and cut sections up. It is just another method that can be useful in designing.

These are the original designs:

  

These are the results:

Grevillea aurea

Hakea multilineata

Copyright – Lynette Weir

Designing for a Commercial Commission – Part 1

I was contacted by the Hanna Group to design something around an ‘Emblems’ design for a drink coaster. They  specifically liked the idea of the Australian Golden Wattle used as a feature – perhaps around the edges, they also wanted a design that had no ‘up’. In other words so that it could be spun around. I guess when I have one of those cardboard coasters whilst out I do tend to sit there a bit and ‘spin’ the coaster around so this is what I was thinking when I undertook this commission design.

A difficulty I always struggle with is how much to charge – usually I end up under charging especially given the time it takes to design.

The most important thing for a commission piece I have found is to talk to the client and work out what they are looking for and feed back your progress.

For this project I had a time frame of about 2 weeks from designing to final handcolouring. This is a major ask! My designing frequently can taken months or even years where I can often scribble an idea even on a scrap piece of paper and not come back to it for 2 years!

So I set to the task – the first being to get down a basic idea – thumbnail sketches and then eventually a full-blown idea scribbled down as a starting point. The image on the left was the basic idea I started with but using the wattle as a central panel. Then I went on to develop this into 2 design ideas to present to the client – one with the wattle as central and the other with the wattle as a feature around the outside.

 

The client decided on the second design using the wattle as the outside feature encircling all the state floral emblems. I then ‘inked’ this up into a full black and white design, represented this back to the client, carved, printed and painted the design to the final stages. All within the timeframe but working VERY long days. I do not think people realise just how many hours go into each and every step of designing a linocut to the finished piece – often longer than a lot of painters take to do a painting!

 

Copyright – Lynette Weir