Assignment 2



Open College of the Arts

Tutor report


Student name Christine Bruce Student number 505070
Course/Module Printmaking 1 Assignment number 2



Overall Comments


Your first relief prints show an excellent use of line, texture and pattern. You have used new tools and process well, creating a strong group of prints. Your sketchbook studies show plenty of observational sketches and the necessary planning and preparation in order to translate some of these into print. Your developing subject matter develops and changes as you become more confident with the language of lino-cutting. Emphasis is given to subjects that depict contrasting areas of dark and light and a landscape scene that shows perspective. The migrant group of prints is excellent; where you begin to develop your own theme and style and where the image itself resonates a message.



Feedback on assignment


Project 5


Your test cut prints show a great variation in texture and pattern. You have confidently used the cutting tools in a whole host of ways, developing contrasting areas of light and dark. This exercise has given you an insight into how some of these marks can be adapted and used to translate a variety of subject matter; especially landscape. Often when ‘proofing’ a plate, when you want to see clearly everything that’s inherent in the plate, best results are achieved form printing in black. The example of the sunset and bird is superb; how amazing the effects just by altering the way you cut parallel lines. In comparison you make room for a little spontaneity in your cutting, allowing the tools themselves to go where they naturally to. Striking this balance of control, between you the artist and the tools you use within a printing process is a large part of printmaking. The transfer of ink on the paper looks even and well distributed. When printing by hand it’s often worth just lifting a corner of your paper to check on how the transfer is going and you can readily see which part need more rubbing and burnishing. As you ink your plate, look very closely at all areas of the plate to ensure an even coverage. It would be good to note what papers you’ve used for each print so that I can try and discern the differences in quality and effects of the final print (this is easier to establish when I have the paper in my hand though!)


Project 6


Your preliminary sketches examine line and form in detail – you have also used a variety of media which is an essential part of observational studies. You can mix medias too to create richer surfaces of texture and colour. Pastel and graphite, paint and collage, pen and ink etc. Your trip to Yangshuo with it’s powerful dramatic landscape of Karsts was a great starting point for your subject  matter. You have successfully broken a viewpoint down into linear structures and simplified the composition. The school playground shows a lovely sketch (chalk pastels/charcoal?) The sketch on black paper in white paint or ink is a particularly effective way of seeing how your cuts would look if printed in black. The black and white print of the karsts is very effective, looking like a free-hand sketch, where you’ve made use of two different cutting blades. Perhaps staying with one single size could keep all the line structures uniform, on the other hand, using other blades opens up room for further textural possibilities. I’d like to have seen the Lalinde canal single print too; have I missed it somewhere on the blog?

The single colour prints that you’ve put forward for the assignment, using the Spanish landscape are excellent. You have carefully considered how you can incorporate more texture and surface detail into your prints and refer back to a Spanish landscape. The final prints very striking; you have really captured the essence of the place and made great use of differing directions of cuts to help perspective and depth of field become apparent. Your decision to add more detail to the foreground was well worth it.

The migrants print is a very different subject altogether; it’s very iontrsting to see how your thought processes developed with regards to the first early relief prints, referring to Kollwit’z prints of the 1930’s. Propaganda prints, posters – using woodcuts, screenprinting and lithography then developed; the Russian Constructivist’s too. Everything here had historical, political and social significance; continue to take a look elsewhere later in history and these ideas and concerns continue to prevail for many artists. Black and white can be very emotive – you assess the use of positive and negative shapes. Some of your sketches remind of me of some I saw depicting soldiers in the Japanese PoW camp in Kanchanaburi on the banks of the Rive Kwai in Thailand – many artworks where made by the prisoners themselves. You aim to tell a story, to make a statement and there’s strength and power in these studies that you then take into print. You cuts are rough and sharp; a great contrast to how you have used your tools previously. You are manipulating and exploiting the various degrees of cut marks to actually depict a ‘feeling’ and a sense of atmosphere. Shapes are then simplified and you look for the simplest of forms to construct a number of ‘portraits’. As blocks they sit in juxtaposition well together, but you may like to consider making the spaces between each block slightly more obvious to enable each to sit on it;s own as well as in unison with the others. The overlapping in other colours is intriguing – it would be good to see these printed on coloured papers too; black on red paper for example. The stamp effects  when overlapped and printed onto passport paper are intriguing and have an unsettling ambiance, which  only goes to portray the subjects in their true light. I love the inventive way in which you have made the ghost monoprints using perspex to transfer the original lino print. The Migrants A3 image, where you have made a repeat pattern, with the odd block being printed at an angle is very appealing – you have increased the scale and therefore the potential for further experiments and it’s visual impact grows.



Project 7

The composition of the boatman is well balanced, and a simple enough design for you to make your first multi-block print. Planning and preparation is key, and your preliminary colour sketch gives you indications about line, structure and colour. You split the image up into light and dark colours, but you could have done a number of colour variation studies in your sketchbook to judge the strongest combination. You note later how the colours are too – ‘straight form the tube’ colours are never subtle. Make a start on mixing you own palettes and do little swaths in your sketchbook so you can gauge how they sit together. The black is too heavy – fine for an outline, but maybe terracotta dark brown/red could have worked better. You don’t have to use black straight form the tube. The late Sir Terry Frost  (of the post-war St.Ives in Cornwall group of artists) always advised his students to mix their own black using secondary and tertiary colours, so you can create warm and cool blacks…’When you paint black, it must have colour’ (


‘Through Blacks’ 1969


You can add an extender to your inks to give them more transparency and less weight. Oil based inks can also benefit from a tack-reducer additive so its not so thick and tacky, and of course, as you realised, the drying time tests anyone’s patience! There is another additive called cobalt drier that can help speed up the drying time of the inks. All these can be purchased by TN Lawrence, based in the UK. The image is quite flat, even though you have light and dark areas throughout. This is where a further plate with another colour can come into play (but prior to the black layer) Some lino-cutting artists have used up to 20 colours using the reductive method – Robert Gillmor for example (

You could try cutting far more away for the black layer and varying your directions of cuts. The sense of light on the water is beautiful and the overall image really tells a story. It’s always good to let other people look at your work, and especially when they love what they see! With fresh eyes, they can give you an honest opinion and often notice things that you yourself had overlooked. It’s easy to end up cutting the image the wrong way round and you soon realise your error, but rectify it! Registration is good, and you developed your own way that worked for you. The suggestion to lay your block on the paper and flip it over is the quickest way, but yes the paper can risk slipping. Although if there’s enough ink on the plate this helps the paper stick to it, and I find I need to keep a very firm hand on the paper itself as I flip it over…practice will help. I do think you’ll enjoy combining lino and monoprint later on in the course.

Your Christmas card design is very strong, with it’s simple shapes and overlapping colours – just the two complimentary colours; often less is more. Where white is allowed to still be a part of the image a greater sense of depth is achieved.




Rich and inventive, your sketches employ a good variety of mediums and show how you plant to translate these into print. You could paste extra prints in – even if some don’t work you could work into them, cut and collage them in. Try out more colour tests in your book as you plan your prints and continue to draw from life, making observational studies. Chalk and oil pastels can bring colour to your drawings with large free and expressive marks. Oil pastels can be applied in layers and scratched to create texture.



Learning Logs/Critical essays

Your learning log, which is a reflective journal sitting alongside the images of your prints on your blog, analysis every step of your working process. You keep a discerning eye on how you develop your drawn ideas through into print. You might like to appraise more technical aspects of the printing, by comparing papers, inks and colour combinations. Continue to look at other artists, especially those that might inform and inspire your own thoughts. Ask yourself why they might have used a preferred printing process and begin considering your preferred subject matter. Your prints all tell a story, the narrative is very important and this worth investigating further.



Suggested reading/viewing


Take a look at the woodcuts by Kandinsky, Edvard Munch, Paul Gaughin and Hans Arp.

Picasso made great use of the reductive lino process and Matisse used a very liner approach to lino printing some figurative subjects.

Henry Moores prints, paintings and drawings of underground bunkers and shelters during WW2.

Barbara Rae RA  –

Printmaking Today is the only magazine journal devoted to international printmaking and well worth a read.

World Printmakers network –

Howard Jeffs –


Pointers for the next assignment

I love to look through a full sketchbook; it’s not the same just seeing a couple of photographed pages on the blog,however yours is looking good, but if you are able to show a few more ‘planning’ pages that relate to your prints that would be great. Make your inks work for you and give attention to every detail of the printing process as you take your print. Check for even distribution of ink throughout and experiment with different coloured papers or papers with a fibrous quality – there’s no right or wrong, just experiment freely and see the results. Brown parcel or packing paper, or even brown envelope paper is very absorbent and makes for a good printing paper. Cartridge or newsprint works well for mono’s and lino’s, but you’ll want a slightly thicker paper for the collagraph where you are to lightly spray it with water.



Tutor name: Nichola White
Date 12th January, 2012
Next assignment due 01/03/12



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