Tag Archives: Designing Linocuts

Waratah Tryptich – A Fine Art Linocut

8 Waratah Tryptich - Limited Edition Handcoloured Linocut 1

Well anyone who has followed me on this blog for a while will know I LOVE Waratahs.

Drawing Images-WARATAH 2 ILLUSTRATION 1 WEB

There is such a majesty & structural quality to these particular Australian wildflowers not withstanding their bright red colouring with deep green leaves & the fact the flowers occur on long stems coming up from the ground. They really can be ‘seen from afar’ as their name means.

For a while now I have planned to do a Tryptich design using waratahs as a kind of companion print for my Flannel Flower Tryptich. This particular print was a commission for someone as a gift for his wife’s birthday. Did I mention I also LOVE flannel flowers too?

Flannel Flower Tryptich

Last year after my shoulder surgery I found it really difficult to work at all for a few months which was most frustrating! I knew I had to slowly get back so I started with thinking through ideas for new designs & taking some photos.

Eventually I was able to at least draw so one of the first artworks I started on was my Waratah Triptych.

I already knew I wanted to make it into a triptych & I had taken some photos pf both red and white waratahs over the years so decided to incorporate both into this design.

1 Waratah Tryptich - White Waratahs 1 WEB 4

I worked as I usually do. First with the framework for the design, then trawling through the hundreds of images I have of waratahs and finding suitable ones for this particular artwork. This process is interesting for me as I gradually reduce the amount of images I want to work with so I refine the vision I have for this work. I ask questions like – is my point of view from below or above? do I want to abstract any of the images or stay more true to for? How simple do I want the work to be visually? How much black do I want to incorporate? DO I really want to keep the defining structure I started with or would I prefer to break out and change it a little? or a lot?

Eventually I end up with a series of images which I will use as the basis of the work. I then start the drawing.

SKETCHBOOK - Flannel Flower & Waratah Trytiches WEB

Drawing is a process I love and have always loved. I feel that all artists no matter their medium of choice a strong skill base in drawing will always hold them in good stead. It teaches you to look more closely and especially in my case where I like the get the wildflowers I use botanically correct. Even if in the carving of the wildflowers compromise is made as to how they are depicted due to the process of carving lino, I know that they have started as botanically correct.

These are the final drawings of the three panels of the triptych.

DRAWINGS - Waratah Trytich WEB

When it comes to working the drawings into designs that can be carved I again work through creating black and white inked versions. This refines my designs and allows me to experiment with what I think I may be able to carve. These days after having to have shoulder surgery, I really value the ability to still be able to carve my linocuts so I guess for me if I have a clear template of what I want to carve it means I will hopefully will be able to a long time into the future.

Waratah Tryptich DEsign 5

I then transfer these final designs onto the lino ready to carve.

I must say after initially deciding to start small when starting back carving I just could not resist getting stuck into these three larger panels! It was weeks of carving and I must say did challenge my shoulder’s capacity to comply & caused a bit of pain. But I do have the most wonderful masseuse and physiotherapist who both help keep me on the straight and narrow & take away the pain!

And to printing!

For this particular design I decided to just do a colour rough using photoshop just to get an idea of the balance of the colour before handcolouring.

Finally I get to print the designs and then handcolour them! Finally I get to see the original concept from a few years ago actually come to fruition. I am really pleased with the results.

Lynette WEir - Waratahs Tryptich - June 2013 WEB

Here is a little video about the whole process from inspiration to Fine Art Linocut.

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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 new linocut…and the use of photcopies and computers…

This is a design based around waratahs…we have 2 quite large local plants which flower really well each spring/summer. One is a roadside planting – mind you the people who live there wondered what this odd person was doing drawing and photographing the waratah – had to explain myself yet again! One of the funniest things was doing a similar thing outside a local farm with the farmer coming to check out what I was doing – “just drawing and photographing the scotch thistles (a weed here!), do you mind if I pick some them from your property?” was greeted with laughter indicating their great amusement at this weird fascination with a weed! She walked away shaking her head…

In designing a larger piece like this I thought I’d give a little insight into the beginnings of the process.

It started with a scrappy little sketch on the back of the only piece of paper I could dig out of the bottom of my handbag one day. I had an idea and just had to get the basics down on paper. Progressing on from there I have been researching, photographing, drawing up and developing different aspects of the original sketch.

This is the original drawing I did based on my research of waratahs, photographs and originals thumbnail concept that involved ideas such as the use of patternwork with leaves and waratah stigma/style, black and white sections vs colour…

I then photocopied this original drawing and using black permanent markers ‘ink’ in the design as a template for carving. It is at this ‘inking in’ stage that I may also adjust the design and use of black vs white areas. I often re-photocopy, cut up sections, glue on extra areas on or use liquid paper to white out areas. Eventually when I am happy with the final design I will photocopy the design one last time and this becomes the final template I use and transfer to the linoblock for carving.

Above is the final blocked in B&W design.

Another tool in designing process can be the computer – you can scan in parts and using photoshop (or something similar) move bits around and try out ideas. An example of this is the use of photoshop to get an idea of the colour tonal values in this new ‘Waratahs’ design. Basically the central waratah will be deep rich colour and the outside leaves will be pale washes of colour – I think they would be paler than here and not this particular green (basically hate both the greens in this photoshopped version but as I said they are only about the tonal values)! The ‘background’ central flower is black and white patternwork essentially. Although the colours I’ve used in the colour image shown here are really nothing like how it will look – the idea of the deep red/green tone and the pale tones helps me in looking at adjustments I may consider or make in the design. Another method is to photocopy a number of copies – even different sizes and cut them up and work with them to experiment with the design.

I try to take some time ‘thinking’ about the designs – though as in the case of this design sometimes I leave or get deadlines that make this hard which can be frustrating. Whilst watching the Rolf Harris portrait series on the ABC I noted there was made mention by the artists of the ‘thinking time’ in working on artworks. Not too long on this one though as I need to get carving the lino as soon as possible…

Copyright – Lynette Weir