My Wood Block Print Adventure

I’ve been working on a different technique these past few weeks. I have done wood block prints in the past for images for holiday cards and such but decided to see what I could do to turn my painting images into 2 color block prints.  The results were pretty cool.  Well, at least I think so! 🙂

So, first I had to create my image and carve the wood block.  I decided to use the two paintings that I had with trailers in them. They have a nostalgic feel and I just thought they would read well with only 2 colors. I took the images in the computer and converted them to black and white and then reversed them. The image will print opposite so if you are trying to create an exact image it has to be flipped so everything is opposite. Then I used graphite paper to draw/trace the image onto the the linoleum wood blocks and voila!… its ready for carving.

ImageThis is a painting called “Retirement Plan” that I’ve carved into a wood block.ImageThe next one is called Happy Camper and the unfinished one on teh right is Fresh Paint. I haven’t had time yet to finish carving that one.

I completed the two campers for a show I had last weekend at SOPA Studios in South Pasadena.  I got some nice feedback on them so I’ll definitely do some more.

After I carved the blocks I had to test the print to see if I needed to make any adjustments to my carving. You can see here, there were some problem areas that I needed to adjust before the print would work.Image

ImageIn the shadow area I’ve lost the bottom of the trailer. I needed to make the lines a bit thicker so they will show a separation in the ink.  So, I carve some more…Image

Then I retest…

ImageThen I retest a million times more because I seem to be having problems with the ink consistency.  So I give up for the day and take my work an art meeting to get help from the experts who do this print making all the time.  I discovered several possible problems:

  • Oil based ink is better because it has a nicer consistency, it goes on better and gives better prints.
  • My paper needs to be softer, lighter even.  I was testing on copy paper then did some on watercolor paper (this is too rough for the print) although I was told if I used hot press it would be better.
  • But the BIGGEST mistake I was making was trying to press the print from the backside like this…ImageWhen I discovered this I had to laugh because it was so silly!  I hadn’t worked with these big blocks for so long I’d forgotten that I laid them on top of the block and pressed the paper to it.  This was THE reason my prints weren’t coming out right. It wasn’t the ink or the paper! Although those things may contribute to a nicer print, it wasn’t what was ruining it!

In the end, I got two decent prints in time for the show…

What do you think?  I’d love to hear your feedback!


Filed under Art Work

3 responses to “My Wood Block Print Adventure

  1. I totally LOVE these prints!!! And I love that you posted your process. Definitely an inspiration.

  2. Love your explanation of how that whole process works.

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