What I’m Doing Now: Processing Ideas

The deadline for Processing Ideas is fast approaching, and as my attention is focused on that, here is a run down of what I’ve been working on for it.

The words I was allocated for my three words project were:

》tractor  》conceptual  》repeat

I have found using methods to generate ideas quite challenging, ideas generally just come to me and this has led to fragmented sketchbooks where I struggle to show both my thinking and a clear progression.  What can I say? I’m a work in progress! I am researching different methods of idea creation and generation.


Having found an old Polish tractor manual, I looked through it for strong images that I could work with. I found a diagram of the steering and pedals of the tractor enlarged it and transferred it to lino.



After cutting it, I did a short print run,  mostly on [whatever the paper is] although I also printed one on a piece of wood patterned paper from Flows book for Paper Lovers as I liked the texture.


I took the linocut into ceramics with me, where I learned how to use paper clay. I pressed the clay into the lino cut, which took on the texture. I then experimented with cutting the clay up, and using slip to attach it to itself. I also used letterpress blocks as stamps and scratched into a piece of plaster to produce the stamps for the piece below.


This is the result of drawing into to clay. I then pressed the plaster stamps of relevant words into it and finally coated it with red iron oxide. I can’t wait to see what they will look like fired.

Screen printing


I’ve been doing a fair bit of screen printing, both for Mixed Media Practice (where I was screen printing onto felt we made) but also as part of my idea generation.

Xerox & Photoshop Manipulation 

I returned to the tractor manual to find more inspiration. I photocopied the title page, cut out the tractor and then ran it through the photocopier set on one-colour settings of Blue, Green and Red. I had some coloured card, so I slipped that into the photocopier behind the tractors and above is the end result. I scanned the tractors on their own and then manipulated them in photoshop to make a tri-colour tractor which I then arranged in a pattern.

This is just a small sample of what I’ve been up to! I will be sharing more on my portfolio pages over the Christmas holiday.


Reduction Linocut

Popping in with a late-Friday night post (never let it be said that I don’t know how to party!) showing the end results of the reduction linocut I created on Tuesday. The basis for my design was the set of mark making ink drawings I did just before half term.

Mark-making with ink.

They were created using everything from the end of my metal ruler, the tines of a fork, paintbrushes, a macron fineliner and my fingers. The first thing I did was transfer the basic ‘K’ shape onto a piece of lino by covering a photocopy of it in whiting an drawing on the back of it. I then traced over the chalk outline with a biro to give myself a clear outline to work with.

My two favourite prints from this lino.

In a reduction linocut, you create each layer of the print by carving away more lino from the same block. For this reason it is a good idea to make sure you make lots of prints of each layer, as you can’t go back and reprint previous layers. For each layer I kept one print of it at that point, and did one of each carving in black. I used these to create the gifs below.

The progress of my reduction linocut, black and white prints.

To design each layer, I chose a different mark-making texture from my original sheet and tried to replicate it using my linocutting tools. There was an increase in detail with the first four prints, but then I had gone as far as I could with adding detail and so to get the last two prints I had to remove detail by cutting it out.

Progression in colour

The last cut I made removed most of the detail that was left in the lino. It looks far more effective in the colour print than on the black and white one. Lining up each overprint was a bit of trial and error; it’s quite hard to line up the detail such as the rouge frame I did, when you can only see the edges, especially as once I’d warmed up the lino on the hot plate to carve it more easily it then bowed in the middle when I was trying to place it!
Some prints were more successful with being aligned properly than others.

I did an experimental colour print which you can see behind the acrylic laser cut ‘K’ above. Instead of printing each one exactly over the previous one, I rotated it by 90 degrees each time. This allowed the colours and patterns to play with each other in a different way.

Colour choice wasn’t something I planned with this piece. I chose the next colour each time by looking at the combined effect of the previous colours and picking what I thought would look nice over it, with little thought. I think in hindsight, a more subtle yellow colour would have worked better as the final one, or perhaps even black, just to frame it. I think that in future it would be good to do an additional print that is varying tones of the same colour too.