Recently I worked on a sketch of one of the boats here on Hastings beach – turning it into a smallish (approximately A4) colour linocut. Here’s the original sketch:-

Sketch of Hastings fishing boat with the linocut block beside it.

It was done as a reduction linocut. This means using just one lino block for all the colours. The results are rather unpredictable – especially if only a small percentage of the image is going to be dark outline. The risk is that the colours won’t work well enough together – and it’s too late to go back to try again.

fishing boat linocut by Fiona Horan

This is how it ended up. It seems a bit messy to me – but it’s all a learning curve!

The pebbles work, I think. No so sure about the boat, and the seagulls are disappointing.

I think dark highlights (dark lights?) just don’t work well because it is so hard to get a clean print of tiny details without getting dark smudges on the rest of the picture. Stray marks do add vivacity – but I think either you go with it or you don’t. Not a halfway house where you try to achieve a clean blue sky but end up with grey and black inadvertent smudges and lines.

Probably a multi-block approach with the darkest colours printed first would solve this problem…

Another linocut I have been working on recently is a pretty large linocut of the Tower of London. I’ve done a few prints of this one so far in oil-based inks. As it is a multi-block (three blocks – dark, sky, and building), I have been able to do prints in several different colour combinations. I like the one with the red sky. You can see it at the top of this blog. What do you think? Any good?

Hastings has one of the largest beach-launched fishing fleets in Europe. Read more here.