The Process of Relief Printing
Relief printing is one of the earliest methods of reproducing works of art. It involves taking an impression from one object with paper and ink and transferring it. The impression is made by placing the paper onto the inked object and applying pressure. In this manner the impression is made on the paper.
The process of transforming a drawing into a print involves several steps. It is a hands-on experience that allows the artist to understand both positive and negative space within the drawing. The drawing is reduced to its most essential parts. The art of printmaking is reduction; the use of simplicity to convey meaning.
The majority of my prints are done using linoleum or other similar material.
How does the process work?
First, my original drawing is transferred, in reverse, onto a piece of linoleum. Then, using carving tools, I carve away the areas that I don’t want to be printed. This forms what is called a relief block. If you have been to a craft store, a relief block is like a stamp.
Ink is rolled over the carved relief block. The ink comes into contact with the raised areas of the block. After the ink is applied, paper is then placed over the inked block. Pressure is applied to the back of the paper by rubbing with a pad, called a baren. The pressure applied through the baren transfers the ink from the block onto the paper, making the image.
The paper is allowed to dry. For some prints, additional layers of ink are applied to achieve multiple colors. In other cases, when the print is dry, I use paints to create the final image and overlay multiple colors.
In art terms, the first print is called an ‘artist proof’. If a limited amount of prints will be made from the block, it will be called a limited edition (example: 15 prints). If there is no limit to the number of prints to be made, it is called an open edition. I experiment with various types of paper and techniques in making my prints. Each print is signed, and if it is a limited edition, it is numbered.