After doing the test cut, I was again floundering on the topic of subject matter. I did some searching in magazines and cut out pictures that were in monotones, being aware that this had to be a fairly stylised design. Looked back at sketches made in summer for those with patterns or startling light/shadow effects.
Then I tried a small linocut based on a sketch of Lalinde canal. This suited the kind of grid patterns I had been practising in preparatory sketches. The cuts seemed to lend themselves to the highlights made by light on the ripples in the water. Again, no ink, so could just make a rubbing.
I decided to try more landscape.
I had just got back from a trip to Yangshuo where I sketched the characteristic limestone karsts. Using the sketches for inspiration, this image was cut almost freehand using the new woodcutting knives I picked up in China (cost only 18 yuan- much less than the interchangeable blade one, and much nicer to use, with wooden handles on all the blades.) It felt more natural to use these than the plastic-handled one. The cuts seemed to be “natural”, in the sense that they looked like cuts with a blade, in that you could see the cutting movement in the finished design, and it was quite a relaxed, loose piece to do.
I tried out other designs based on sketches from Yangshuo- a school playground which I had sketched in black and white – but decided it didn’t work as a design.
Finally I got some inks too- Sakura oiled-based ones this time There were no water-based available apart from in huge amounts, about a litre- sized bottle. (This is going to be much more awkward to use, and I will miss my garage/ studio space in France.)I tried them out on the lino I had already cut- the sampler, the Lalinde canal, and the limestone karsts.
It is a magical feeling, peeling off the paper to see what will emerge! And using black was especially exciting, when I saw how startling the effects were. I have to say the consistency felt better than the water-based inks- much thicker and stickier- and I was really impressed with the depth of colour, compared to what I was getting before. So it’s worth the extra work.
My very first print was ok, though some parts had not been pressed enough to pick up ink, and I had managed to move the paper a bit in turning it over. A second try on a larger sheet of coloured paper came out better.
The Lalinde canal looked much better in ink than as a rubbing. There’s quite a lot cut away in this one, which means the edges are rough. I thought it was quite striking though, when I first saw the black and white version- the ripples on the water seemed to be suggested because of the strong black and white contrast.
The simple freehand sketch of the Yangshuo karsts was in another style- linear, with a large printed surface, like a drawing in negative. Also quite effective I thought! I liked the consistency of the cuts which were the result of working freely. The tapering lines have some of the appearance of ink drawings. I had used two different blades- if doing it again, I would stick to a single size.