Designing a new linocut…and the use of photcopies and computers…

This is a design based around waratahs…we have 2 quite large local plants which flower really well each spring/summer. One is a roadside planting – mind you the people who live there wondered what this odd person was doing drawing and photographing the waratah – had to explain myself yet again! One of the funniest things was doing a similar thing outside a local farm with the farmer coming to check out what I was doing – “just drawing and photographing the scotch thistles (a weed here!), do you mind if I pick some them from your property?” was greeted with laughter indicating their great amusement at this weird fascination with a weed! She walked away shaking her head…

In designing a larger piece like this I thought I’d give a little insight into the beginnings of the process.

It started with a scrappy little sketch on the back of the only piece of paper I could dig out of the bottom of my handbag one day. I had an idea and just had to get the basics down on paper. Progressing on from there I have been researching, photographing, drawing up and developing different aspects of the original sketch.

This is the original drawing I did based on my research of waratahs, photographs and originals thumbnail concept that involved ideas such as the use of patternwork with leaves and waratah stigma/style, black and white sections vs colour…

I then photocopied this original drawing and using black permanent markers ‘ink’ in the design as a template for carving. It is at this ‘inking in’ stage that I may also adjust the design and use of black vs white areas. I often re-photocopy, cut up sections, glue on extra areas on or use liquid paper to white out areas. Eventually when I am happy with the final design I will photocopy the design one last time and this becomes the final template I use and transfer to the linoblock for carving.

Above is the final blocked in B&W design.

Another tool in designing process can be the computer – you can scan in parts and using photoshop (or something similar) move bits around and try out ideas. An example of this is the use of photoshop to get an idea of the colour tonal values in this new ‘Waratahs’ design. Basically the central waratah will be deep rich colour and the outside leaves will be pale washes of colour – I think they would be paler than here and not this particular green (basically hate both the greens in this photoshopped version but as I said they are only about the tonal values)! The ‘background’ central flower is black and white patternwork essentially. Although the colours I’ve used in the colour image shown here are really nothing like how it will look – the idea of the deep red/green tone and the pale tones helps me in looking at adjustments I may consider or make in the design. Another method is to photocopy a number of copies – even different sizes and cut them up and work with them to experiment with the design.

I try to take some time ‘thinking’ about the designs – though as in the case of this design sometimes I leave or get deadlines that make this hard which can be frustrating. Whilst watching the Rolf Harris portrait series on the ABC I noted there was made mention by the artists of the ‘thinking time’ in working on artworks. Not too long on this one though as I need to get carving the lino as soon as possible…

Copyright – Lynette Weir

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