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Making my new Reduction Linocut 'Spring Mist in Green'

I'd like to introduce my latest reduction linocut print 'Spring Mist in Green'. I'm so excited about it I thought I'd write a little blog about it's creation and let you know it's now available to purchase here.

As February turned to March I noticed the light was doing some wonderful things and creating some gorgeous misty effects in the Swinley Forest where I walk most days.

I also had a hankering for some new paper but between 'The Virus' and 'Brexit' the gorgeous Japanese Okawara paper I've used before was hard to get hold of. I spent a lot of time on the Handprinted website and decided that I fancied trying Kitakata, also from the Awagami Factory. I could only get the green variety but since I was planning forest prints green seemed rather suitable. I also thought that it would be a good exercise in using the colour of the paper to inform the print.

This paper is semi-handmade and has a beautiful deckle edge. I was desperate to preserve the deckle but didn't want to use the paper full size. This was partly because the largest lino I have is A3 and the paper comes in sheets which are much bigger, partly because I don't have anywhere to hang the prints to dry without them being threatened by the family's washing in winter and partly because I had just taken delivery of a new press and the paper wouldn't fit in it (obviously I wanted to play with the new press!). I have a special deckle cutter and used it to halve the paper whilst preserving a deckle on the cut edge. I made sure this was along the top of every piece when I set up the alignment tabs.

Here's my new Blue Boy Press and the paper all set up and ready to print on. This is my utility room and I'm doing rather a good job of accidentally turning it into a printmaking studio. No one else really goes in there so I don't think they've noticed yet, except Studio Pup who sleeps there and she thinks its great I'm spending more time where her food is stored!

I drew the design and transferred it onto the lino but wanted a really interesting effect for the clouds and treelines. I achieved this by painting (rather horrible, chalky children's) watercolour using the mankiest, most divided brush I could find and cut around the brush marks. This is a highly effective way of getting more interesting marks than simply drawing or cutting randomly. It tends to involve a lot of painting, wiping away and repainting until you're happy with the marks, then the painstaking task of cutting begins. I think in total this print has at least 15 hours of cutting in it as every layer was repainted and cut; the third layer alone took over 6 hours, so it's not a quick process.

Since the paper was such a gorgeous colour it was important to leave some bare areas in the print. I decided the sky would remain bare but wanted the overall print to be very green to really enhance the subtle green of the paper. The colours used are all mixed from burnt umber, pthalo blue and white with a lot of extender. The only exception is the foreground which is a rainbow rolled blend of yellow ochre with the tiniest hint of pthalo blue and lots of extender. I wanted to get the feel of the mist deepening into the distance with layers of trees. One striking thing I noticed about the mists was that they were at their most spectacular in bright sunlight. I needed to capture the sun hitting the tree trunks in the foreground, I also needed the distant tree trunks to almost disappear into the mist at their base. It all came together in the final layer which involved rather a long and complex inking process.

First the dark colour was applied, then the right side of the three foreground trees were dabbed to texturize the ink and completely clean off some of this colour. The base of the distant trees were also cleaned. A mainly white colour with the barest hint of the mid-tone green was dabbed and rolled onto the cleaned area of the foreground trees to simulate light hitting the textured bark. A rainbow roll from almost nothing to the dark colour was reapplied to the cleaned base of the foreground trees and then the impression was taken. It took 10-15 minutes to ink up for each impression so the final layer was a rather long process, but completely worth it.

Overall there are 5 layers in this print. Here they all are:

'Spring Mist in Green' is available to buy on the linocut page of the website and would look fantastic framed with a float mount to show off the deckle edge of the paper. It is a limited edition of 10 prints with the paper measuring approximately 43x26.5cm.

I hope you enjoyed seeing how this print was made and some of the 'behind the scenes' techniques I use to create my linocuts. You can follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I share progress most days. If you subscribe on the homepage you'll also get notified of new print releases and receive a bi-monthly newsletter with exclusive offers and discounts, and if you've already done that you'll have received a little ping to tell you that I've just written this blog post, happy days!

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