Project 15 – Series of four combination and experimental prints

I enjoyed doing the figure print in Project 10, so I decided to explore this further. To get a series, my thinking was to capture expressions/emotions and use these as a basis for the prints.

Some sketches from life drawing classes which I did with these lino blocks in mind:


It was going to be easy to get “calm”, or “sad” from a life drawing session, but a model wasn’t going to stand in a position of “angry” or “happy”, as it would be too difficult to hold for any length of time. I also realised that the face was going to need to be big enough to see the features to be able to do some expressions.

I decided therefore to do a series of self-portraits with different expressions.



  • Red/black

  • all straight lines. Triangles?

  • Slashes of colour?


  • Light green

  • all sweeping curved lines

  • chine collé?


  • Light blue/dark blue

  • Curves

  • Dab printing?


  • Violet? Yellow/orange rainbow rolled

  • Draw in curves/spirals?

  • chine collé?



  • ‘Broken glass’ background

  • orange/blue?

  • Dripped red? On yellow with dark blue print

  • Hands in mouth? Mouth open?

  • Print lino twice miss-aligned?


  • chaotic print

  • scratching head

  • cubism style?


Portrait prints

The use of line for shading works really well in these images by Mark Rowden:



I could possibly try a dark background print and white linoprint on top using this method?

Or Dirk Hagner’s work:

These two look sad:

I love this one:

Finally Chris Pig does some fantastic portrait work:

I love the atmosphere in this linocut. Maybe try this for the calm print?,-linocut,-11-x-10cm.gif


I could try doing this in a cubist style like these:

I liked this idea, but decided that I didn’t have the time to explore this sufficiently to produce this print. Also, it would result in one print being wildly different from the others which would seem to go against the brief of a series.


The bottom left image on this site works well for this –

Print planning

I started out working on ‘Happy’ and ‘Angry’. As it was going to be difficult to pose with a fixed expression, I set up a photo-shoot with myself, resulting in these images and sketches:

Happy1 Angry


Rather than try to paint 20 different options for each expression, I worked on them in Photoshop to establish how to work them with the backgrounds. Some of this process is shown below:


Happy black cut out colourHappy white cut out colour curved borderHappy white cut out colour

Deciding whether to cut the light or dark areas + border options (curved option decided against)

Happy rainbow rolledHappy with stars

Background image option & texturing

Happy with background 1Happy with background 2

Images using a rainbow rolled print as a background to work out orientation


angry black on redangry white on blackangry red on black

Deciding whether to cut the light or dark areas

angry red on black eith grey linesangry black on red stripesangry black fragment on red stripes

Background options

angry black fragment on red stripes 2

Final background option

Plate with masking tape used to mask the areas which were not to be printed:

Red lines

Print planning continued

I decided that the other two blocks should be white prints on darker backgrounds, using some of the influences of the research mentioned above. So after mulling over various options for the other 2 prints, I settled on ‘Fear’ and ‘Sad’ and took some more photos and made some more sketches:

Fear photo Sad photo

Sad sketchFear sketch


For this background, I thought I would try using a background of yellow with thinned red ink splattered on and run down it to look like blood. When I came to do this, the ink was still too thick and when I printed it, the red areas merged into each other a lot, but I still liked the result:

Fear background

Testing the print options on this background:

Fear with backgroundFear with background 2

I changed my mind with this and decided that ‘white’ with fright would be more appropriate and would go better with representing the light areas of the face. I also decided to texture the lino with saw marks:

Fear lino


Well the colour for this print was going to be blue, but I was struggling to think of how to do the background. A textured option would be easy and would probably work well, but was it interesting enough? Maybe three shades of blue might work, a plain background, followed by a print from tissue paper, followed by the lino print?

Test image:

Sad with backgroundSad with textureSad with texture

For lack of any other inspiration, I went for this idea. I printed a plain medium blue background, then a darker blue tissue paper print. Unfortunately it didn’t provide very much contrast so didn’t quite give the effect I was hoping for.


‘Happy’ was the first print to be completed in 3 versions:

"Happy" chine collé

“Happy” chine collé

"Happy" plain background

“Happy” plain background


‘Happy’ rainbow rolled

The chine collé print didn’t work as I used insufficient pressure on the edge of the tissue paper. The plain background worked well, but the rainbow rolled version was the best print of the three.

Unfortunately this print was damaged due to being posted to my tutor whilst the ink was still wet:


The replacement print didn’t have quite as good ink coverage and was rainbow rolled red – yellow which didn’t work quite as well as the orange – yellow:



‘Fear’ was the next to be finished. I was really pleased with the background so I was keeping my fingers crossed that it would work out well. The white didn’t print as dense I had hoped and the textured surface didn’t show up very much. I also got a grey line around the print from the black pen I used to draw the design on the lino. Despite all these changes, I am really pleased with the result:



I did try this print again to see if I could improve on the saw marks. However, I needed so much ink on the lino to get a dense white print that making these deeper did not have much effect as the ink filled them in:


Next came ‘Sad’, a couple of versions which didn’t work fully:


And one which did:



And last but not least, ‘Angry’:



This print was also damaged due to being sent to my tutor whilst still wet:


The replacement print is not quite as dense a colour, but a definite improvement on the damaged print:



Overall I am very happy with the results of these prints.

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