Printmaking studio class – Linoleum block printing #4

During January-February-March 2023 I took a printmaking class at Abington Art Center in Abington, PA. I have some experience of printmaking, primarily relief printing with linoleum, and we did some work of this type during the sessions. In addition, this class exposed me to several other methods of making prints. I’ll give you my experiences in a series of posts.

Wondering what the process of linoleum block printing entails? Look here if you want to get a full explanation of how I go about making an image in this way.

Here is the final block print I have to show you from this series of classes. I used a photo as my reference. I took this shot of people waiting for the bus at night in Philadelphia from the car as we were driving home one night about a year ago.

I got out my 8″ x 10″ piece of linoleum and thought about how I’d handle the image. For some reason I started drawing directly on the plate, depicting the scene as you see it here.I have no explanation for why I did that! And you might say, so what?

Well, what it means is – my printed image will be reversed from the real scene. By the time I remembered that, I’d gotten so absorbed into the drawing and taken it to such a point that I decided, So what!

I went over my penciled lines on the plate with India ink. Then I traced it on tracing paper (so that I could have a drawing to refer to as I worked, seeing as how my original was going to be cut into and altered…)

Here is what the image looked like, and this is what I was seeing as I worked.

I carved the plate and took it to class to print.


As some background to this printing session, the heating in our studio worked really well. Too well. In January we were wearing short sleeve shirts and still – it was ultra-toasty.

Why does this matter? Well, I was using Speedball water-based ink. And this ink dries pretty quickly in normal circumstances. In our tropical studio, it was even quicker. All my printing efforts using this ink were affected by the warmth, but with my other images, eventually I got prints I was satisfied with.

With this image, though, I never got one I felt totally happy with. If I inked it more lightly, it dried too quickly, and the details showed up, but the overall print was not the beautiful dark black I wanted.

If I inked it more aggressively, I had too much ink on the plate, and it filled in some of the lines so that details were obscured.

Well, it’s all ok. I can try again some other time, or I can hand print it at home. I did get decent enough prints to know that I am happy with the plate and I love the feeling it has.

Here are some of the best results.

All right. That is the end of my series of posts of my printmaking experiences. I learned a lot, I made some artwork I am pleased with, and it was fun. Thank you to Patricia, Peg, Margaret, Jenny, Martha, Janet, and Kathleen for all your help and companionship during this past winter!

15 thoughts on “Printmaking studio class – Linoleum block printing #4

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I love this photo and I am glad its essence comes through in the print. I had to give a lot of thought as to the lights and darks here so as to get the right impression.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Yes, every once in a while I might get an “art” photo, but most of the time I am aiming just to record a scene to use in some other medium or project. I don’t have any visual memory so photos are very important to me (serving as my “memory”). I liked this one for the arrangement of the people and I knew right away I could draw it or do something with it.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I think that quality is enhanced by the way I like to cut a lino block – I don’t like big blank white areas as I have found sometimes they will pick up ink from rolling it on the plate, and pressure of the press or whatever forces the area to print when it shouldn’t. So I started leaving little bits behind to go against this problem, and I found I really love the look of how they print – they do convey motion and liveliness, I think. The trick is to know how much to leave. Because the whole balance thing is what makes a black and white print work, too much of these little bits and it reads way to busy. I enjoy trying to figure this out as I carve.

  1. marissthequilter

    I have enjoyed reading about your printmaking course and the different techniques. The linoleum print has great resonance, despite the problems you had with the ink. One can sense that the figures are waiting for aomething

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I feel I’m this class I pushed myself (and had good instruction) and I sort of found another layer in me for printmaking. I enjoyed making the plates as much as the print results. Which I think is essential to wanting to keep doing prints. I hope to have a chance to try more in the future.

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