Last week I made my first attempt at a three color reduction linocut. Or the “suicide” method, as Picasso coined it, because instead of carving a separate block for each color you want to print, you carve away at a single block incrementally and print it in a different color after each carving session. The advantage is that you only need to carve one block. The disadvantage is that once you are done, the block is usually no longer usable.
This way of making multi-color prints always sounded very confusing to me, but now that I’ve done it once, it’s much less intimidating. In the interest of simplification, I only used three colors, and ended up with a set of four serviceable prints.
I drew a pineapple and transferred the image to my lino block using graphite paper. Then I carved away all the lino around the image of the pineapple and printed just the shape of the pineapple in my lightest color – pinkish peach:
I pulled several prints of just the shape of the pineapple in this pink color, then cleaned the block and carved out the areas that I wanted to remain pink during the next printing, which I did in a salmon/orange shade. I inked the block in orange and printed that color onto the pink pineapple (forgot to take pictures.)
Then I cleaned the block, and carved away the areas that I wanted to remain orange during the next printing. Finally, I inked the block in my darkest color (dark brown) and printed it on top of the pink and orange pineapple prints to end up with this:
It ain’t the Mona Lisa, and I wish the orange shade had come out darker, but at least now I feel confident enough to do a more complicated multi-color print.
It was the first time I used my new Akua intaglio inks, which are non-toxic and clean up with soap and water. I was pleased with the colors, but the printed image looked a bit too “watery” for my liking (though that might have been due to the type of paper I used – it was fairly thin washi, since this project was just meant as an experiment). The Akua ink didn’t take very well to it, but then again, the Akua intaglio inks are meant to be used with thicker paper.