Lino cut Print and Digital Print
For the Edward Bawden inspired illustration I chose to create a lino print. The lino was a soft type and was chosen simply because I haven’t had much experience of lino cutting. I wanted to keep my illustration simple and echo the simpler style that Bawden had engaged with for his ‘A Journal of the Plague Year’ linoprint. The lines were kept simple and strong with Bawdens print and so I wanted to echo that approach as much as possible. I was also aware that he kept it in a single black colour and I wanted to try that first but with the intention of possibly going for a 3 colour print.
The idea came from a sculpture that I saw commuting everyday. It’s a group of limestone beehive cells on the motorway called ‘The Beehives’ that were created by Rober McColgan and Irene Benner in 2001 that were inspired by a bee keeper called St.Molach
The preliminary sketches were done to get a sense of the shape and flow of the structure. For the lino print I wanted something a little less solid and more of a character piece. The first sketch was to get a sense of the shading on the stone while the second and third sketches were to see whether a portrait or landscape would work best. The second gave a more fluid feel but I went for the first because I liked the symmetry and rhythm.
Next I drew out the sketch again on the lino. I then used a marker to colour in the image in a bit to help figure out the bits that needed cutting away. The third image shows the cut away sections before the printing process. As you can see it was definitely a good idea to go with a simple design!! My cutting skills are still very much at beginner level.
A test print was completed with black acrylic ink. I was happy with the amount of ink and so went to do another. Then I cleaned the lino and went for a different colour range. I chose brown, gold and black and used the brown all over the lower half of the image with a gold ink centre, then black for the clouds, birds and edges (shadow effect for edges). These turned out ok, and I opted for a blue paper for contrast just to see whether the blue sky would add anything to the image. The blue paper was a little on the harsh side but it wasn’t bad.
The final image I was happy with because the birds were a little darker than the rest of it and it draws your eye up to the right so you take in the whole picture rather than fade out interest after the second cloud. I also liked how the gold and brown soften the centre of the image rather than having it all black.
The next image I wanted to create was with Joshua Middletons style in mind. He creates beautiful lines and digitally colours his images. In order to show a contrast I went with the same image focus of the beehives, but decided to do all the work in Painter X(Corel). No sketches, just working from the ground up. I was aware that Joshua tends to use colour for shading, so I couldn’t opt for black or grey tones for shading. I decided to try using blocks of colours and feel around the canvas that way.
This was the first installation after a few hours using airbrushes and pencils in Corel. I wasn’t happy with it though as I felt it wasn’t light enough and a had a heavy feeling around the shading still. That light touch just wasn’t forthcoming. So I went away from the computer for a little while and returned the following day and messed about with the layers. At various points I could see something was working but it wasn’t working together. The beehives looked terrible because I hadn’t created a proper line drawing of them. I had ‘felt’ my way through the design of them…and it was taking from the image.
So after much messing about in Corel I stumbled upon the ghost image of the beehives and felt that it was more representative of an illustration inspired by Middleton. I dropped an orange layer at 50% opacity behind the sky and softened it up with more rendering and lightened the grass further and dropped the opacity on it too. The final result was something I wasn’t expecting but am pleasantly surprised at. It’s got the vibe that I wanted and honours the ‘light’ feel that I wanted to achieve and has stuck to the theme I gave myself.
The lesson I take from this one however is plan and sketch out the idea before throwing myself at the canvas! The beehives would have definitely worked out better if I had…I was lucky on this occasion that it worked out.