Waratahs! Waratahs! Waratahs! – Waratah Tryptich – A Fine Art Linocut

Waratah Tryptich Fine Art LinocutWell anyone who has followed me on this blog for a while will know I LOVE Waratahs.


There is such a majesty & structural quality to these particular Australian wildflowers not withstanding their bright red colouring with deep green leaves & the fact the flowers occur on long stems coming up from the ground. They really can be ‘seen from afar’ as their name means.

Waratahs 41. Waratah

For a while now I have planned to do a Tryptich design using waratahs as a kind of companion print for my Flannel Flower Tryptich. This particular print was a commission for someone as a gift for his wife’s birthday. Did I mention I also LOVE flannel flowers too?

93 Flannel Flower tryptich

Last year after my shoulder surgery I found it really difficult to work at all for a few months which was most frustrating! I knew I had to slowly get back so I started with thinking through ideas for new designs & taking some photos.

Eventually I was able to at least draw so one of the first artworks I started on was my Waratah Triptych.

I already knew I wanted to make it into a triptych & I had taken some photos pf both red and white waratahs over the years so decided to incorporate both into this design.


I worked as I usually do. First with the framework for the design, then trawling through the hundreds of images I have of waratahs and finding suitable ones for this particular artwork. This process is interesting for me as I gradually reduce the amount of images I want to work with so I refine the vision I have for this work. I ask questions like – is my point of view from below or above? do I want to abstract any of the images or stay more true to for? How simple do I want the work to be visually? How much black do I want to incorporate? DO I really want to keep the defining structure I started with or would I prefer to break out and change it a little? or a lot?

Eventually I end up with a series of images which I will use as the basis of the work. I then start the drawing.

SKETCHBOOK - Flannel Flower & Waratah Trytiches WEB

Drawing is a process I love and have always loved. I feel that all artists no matter their medium of choice a strong skill base in drawing will always hold them in good stead. It teaches you to look more closely and especially in my case where I like the get the wildflowers I use botanically correct. Even if in the carving of the wildflowers compromise is made as to how they are depicted due to the process of carving lino, I know that they have started as botanically correct.

Waratah Tryptich DEsign 2 Waratah Tryptich DEsign 3

These are the final drawings of the three panels of the triptych.


When it comes to working the drawings into designs that can be carved I again work through creating black and white inked versions. This refines my designs and allows me to experiment with what I think I may be able to carve. These days after having to have shoulder surgery, I really value the ability to still be able to carve my linocuts so I guess for me if I have a clear template of what I want to carve it means I will hopefully will be able to a long time into the future.

Waratah Tryptich DEsign 5

I then transfer these final designs onto the lino ready to carve.

Waratah Tryptich DEsign Transfer 2 Waratah Tryptich DEsign Transfer 1

I must say after initially deciding to start small when starting back carving I just could not resist getting stuck into these three larger panels! It was weeks of carving and I must say did challenge my shoulder’s capacity to comply & caused a bit of pain. But I do have the most wonderful masseuse and physiotherapist who both help keep me on the straight and narrow & take away the pain!

And to printing!

For this particular design I decided to just do a colour rough using photoshop just to get an idea of the balance of the colour before handcolouring.

Waratah Tryptich - Colour Photoshop

Finally I get to print the designs and then handcolour them! Finally I get to see the original concept from a few years ago actually come to fruition. I am really pleased with the results.

Waratah Tryptich SCAN WEB

Blue Mountains Wildflowers first prints

Well today I tackled the first printing of this new design.

I set up the print studio and rolled out the ink onto the glass plate ready to ink the carved lino block.

Blue Mtns Wildflowers Print 1

You get an impression of how the print will actually look printed from the first roll of the black ink onto the carved lino block.

It is exciting to see the image come up as you may or may not have imagined it. There are always surprises which is nice.

Blue Mtns Wildflowers Print 2

This is a section of the first proof pulled off – you will notice the mirror reversing of the image from block to print. this is always something to be aware of when designing and transferring the design to the lino block – ALWAYS REVERSE THE IMAGE TO CARVE THE BLOCK. This is especially relevant if you are depicting a particular scene or using lettering.

Blue Mtns Wildflowers Print 4

This is the first image if the first proofs of the design. I’m pretty happy with it.

I may do a little deeper carving on the two Banksias on the far edge of the design but I will see how it colours first.

Blue Mtns Wildflowers Print FIRST

Four new printed linocuts – well the black and white proofs at least!!

I have finally got around to printing four new linocut prints this evening. These have been sitting ready to print for months but ‘life’ has just been too busy so far this year – hopefully there will be more time for art in the second half of the year.

Here are some images of the first ‘proof’ prints waiting to dry before painting with images of the ‘real thing’ beside them so you can envision the coloured prints.

There are two of a new series of smaller 15cm x 15cm designs,

This first one is Eucalyptus caesia – also known as ‘Silver Princess’.

The second one is a Waratah – Telopea speciocissima.

The third is a Coastal Tea Tree – Leptospermum laevigatum


Finally some flying foxes – the Grey headed Flying Fox – in amongst some Grevillea robusta – I am looking forward to painting this one in particular,

It is always interesting how I use music in the studio when printing – depending on my mood I usually make a playlist or listen to a particular artist. Today’s selection was of 70’s, 80’s and 90’s Power Ballads!! I use the music to help get into a groove for printing. Printing is a process that involves the elements of even layering of ink, carefully placement of paper and printing multiple images form the block so it is important to set up a pattern of working kind of like an assembly line. I particularly liked Caren’s description over at Ampersand Duck – Be the roller, grasshopper

So today selection ‘in the groove’ included things like The commodores ‘Easy’

Now I just have to wait for the ink to dry!! Coloured prints coming soon!!

and PRINTED!!! Linocuts to Linoprints

Just finished printing the last 3 designs I carved. After getting all organised to start early this morning in my old printing clothes I went to the paper drawer to find what I thought was a packet of the particular acid free rag paper was not the one I was using for this particular series….sigh…

So it was getting into some respectable ‘town’ clothes and trekking into Lismore – and of course the usual art store was out of paper but the other store had some!!

So iPod loaded with some new music including Aston that I am enjoying I finally got to teh studio this afternoon and get the prints done.

Now I need to wait for the ink to dry to paint some proofs making decisions about colour and then the final prints for editioning.

Banksia serrata Linoprint


Australian Floral Emblems Linoprint


Australian Rainforest Linoprint


Waratahs – first proof linoprint

Waratahs Linocut - First proof print

Have just finished and photographed the “Waratahs” linoblock – this is the first proof print to check the carving. One mistake that is glaring is on the left side down the bottom between the bract of the flower and the central panel. So will fix this tomorrow and any other minor adjustments….

Printing Linocuts…some common problems…

The aim of printing a linoblock is to achieve a smooth even transfer of ink from the raised surface areas (or relief) that has been left after carving away the areas you wish to remain white or in the case of a reduction linocut the areas of colour you are building from the background to the foreground as each colour dries and another ‘layer’ is added.

I have included 3 of the linocut prints (which are printed fine) I did last Sunday…


Waratah 2008 Linocut B&W

Printing on good quality rag based papers is an expensive exercise – especially if you have a ‘bad printing day’ – I know this from first hand experience. Some days I just clean up and leave it when it keeps going wrong. So I can well understand why linocut artists edition some of the less successful prints. But it can also be an experience thing – as you get more experienced in printing you learn what can be better achieved and then raise your expectations on what you see as an acceptable ‘editionable’ print. This has certainly been my experience.


Flannel Flowers 2008 Linocut B&W

All of the following ‘flaws’ in a final print would cause me to discard that particular print from an edition. However, if careful then issues such as ‘missing’ a couple of small dots in the ink surface can be overcome through further burnishing. It is a matter of trial and error to see how you can overcome some of these imperfections and create better prints. Unless the flaw in the printing is either deliberate or by accident it creates an effect that enhances a particular image (but in an edition you would need to repeat the ‘accident ‘ to ensure all prints are as close to the same as is possible in a handmade artwork), any print that is not well printed you should consider discarding from an edition.

Christmas Bush 2008 Linocut B&W


That all being said there is a certain ‘rustic’ quality to a hand pulled linocut – it is handmade and small imperfections are part of the ‘charm’. I am by no means a master printer – they are just amazing and many many times on a ‘bad printing day’ I wish I could afford one! I struggle with printing – some days you get into a zone and it all goes so well but often I find that can be on the last couple pf prints for the day!! I do however also believe that as an artist printmaker I should print my own linocuts – so persisting in trying to improve my printing is something I strive to do.


Here a few tips about some common problems….



** Make sure you cut any hessian backing from around the edges of the linoblock **

Hessian backing on linoblock

Hessian backing printing flawAs I pointed out in my last post the linoblock has a hessian backing. It is really important to ensure any ‘stray’ piece of that backing are cut off neatly. This includes stray fine ‘hairs’ from the backing. These can be a problem around the edgeline of he linoblock print as they can pick up ink in the process of inking the block and transfer to your final print. Also check your edges are neatly cut if that is part of the image as this can give ‘fuzzy’ edges..



** Make sure you have applied even pressure across all the surfaces of the linoblock *

Linoprinting - Uneven Pressure

In this discarded print you can see small white patches where the ink has not been evenly applied. Essentially the aim is to get an even coating of ink transferring from the linoblock to the final editioned prints. There will nearly always be small imperfections in hand pulled print, however, in the wattle print above and the close-up of another print below – this level of uneven printing would indicate that I needed to discard these particular prints from an edition. Also check your roller has no imperfections (small indents, chips) causing small areas to not pick up ink evenly and therefore not transferring ink evenly. If hand burnishing then try and make sure you work in a pattern across the print. With a press sometimes turning the print around running the print through a second time helps if the press is not giving even pressure.



** Make sure that you cover all sections of the linoblock evenly with the ink **

Uneven Linoprinting 2Linoprinting - Uneven Pressure 1The above problems with uneven pressure can also be caused by not putting enough ink on the linoblock or missing sections – as seen on the left. The opposite can also occur with the over-inking of the linoblock – as seen on the right. This can happen as easily as under-inking ! It is essentially when you try and roll too much ink on the block – this could be to avoid under-inking. It means the finer carving work such as fine lines “fill in” or you end up with raised lines of ink around the edges of the carved or white sections or you can see a ‘texture’ of ink on the surface of the dried print. I find viewing the inked linoblock against the light to check the ink levels can help – sometimes you can see some of these problems – add additional ink or print this over-inked block on cheap paper and remove excessive ink before moving back to the editioned prints.

The problem of oil-based inks and their susceptibility to weather conditions can contribute to over or under inked prints. Cold weather the ink gets stiff and tacky and may need warming a little and in hot weather when the ink is thinner you may need to apply less. When using the roller whilst inking the plate before transferring the ink there is s definite ‘even hiss’ sound to the ink indicating the ink is ready to transfer – as opposed to an ‘uneven tacky’ sound that indicates the ink needs more ‘work’ (rolling) to even it out. Much of this is trial and error for individual linocut printmakers to find what works for them.


There is a larger circular mark in this following print.

Linocut printing flaws - inking and printing

This leads me to the next common printing problem or flaw….



** Make sure you clean all excess ‘linochips’ (from carving) and any dirt particles from your linoblock before printing **

Linoblock printing flaw - dirt & linochipsPrinting linoblocks flaws - linochip/dirt spotSmall ‘chips’ left on the carved sections of the linoblock, dirt particles or even fine hair can be picked up when inking the linoblock and end up on your print or linoblock. These then create small white ‘patches’ on your print. So if you end up with a spot enclosed by an unprinted white circles – this is what has caused it. Often this can be avoided by checking against the light your linoblock after inking and looking for any raised surfaces. These can be removed using a small palette knife before printing to avoid this problem. Ensure that you re-roll this section to ensure that ink now is in the ‘missed’ section. Check your roller for these particles as well. If you are careful you can lift the paper off that section without removing the whole paper then remove the particle, place the paper back and re-burnish or press – but this needs to be done carefully….



** Make sure that you do not move the paper on the linoblock **

Printing linoblock flaws - moving printA final problem I will talk about is if the paper moves at all on the surface of the inked linoblock or if when you carefully place the paper on the inked block you move the paper then you get a ‘doubled’ or blurred image. Generally you would set up a clean baseboard indication where to place the linoblock and where the paper needs to be placed. Start by placing one edge of the paper (I use the left side) in the correct position – hold this edge gently on place whilst you carefully place the paper across the block until you reach the other side. This is an extremely frustrating problem and essentially means this print is discarded. I do however use these particular prints when do ‘proofs’ or trial runs in the handcolouring with watercolours – so not all is lost…


Copyright – Lynette Weir

Printing a linoblock…Linocut…Linoprints…

Printing a linoblock is not always an easy task – there are so many linocut prints out there that have been have not been printed well. This was highlighted again to me yesterday whilst in a building with numerous artworks hanging throughout the large complex (I am very impressed by this!) including linocut prints (even more impressed!!). The images were fine but some of the printing was…

So, as I spent the day in the studio printing several linoblocks, I decided to post about printing linocuts or a carved linoblock. This is my print drying cupboard with some of todays printing.

Twany Frogmouth Linocut block Linoblock hessian backingThis is the latest linoblock that I have carved – it is of a Tawny Frogmouth.

The lino is ‘mounted’ onto a hessian backing. This holds the lino all together but can be something to watch when printing – especially if you cut the block at all. Make sure that the linoblock is clear of all dirt and excess chips from carving.

Cutting paper to printThe first step in printing is to make sure you have the paper cut to the correct size and set up a ‘production line’ from inking plate – paper for linoblock to transfer (roll onto) the ink – clean backing sheet to place linoblock on – felt for press or burnishing tool (spoon or baren).

We can be a pedantic lot – printmakers!

Lino printing - inking blockYou start by setting up a line of ink across the top of the glass or perspex you use for the inking. You then pick up a small line of ink on the roller by dipping it into the line of ink. Then you set about in a small area square of the size of the roller and roll the ink up to an even layer. It starts with a tacky sound and then as you get an even layer it changes to a smooth hiss – yes I know very technical!!

NOTE: The aim is to pick up a layer of ink around the roller and then transferring the ink onto the linoblock. Therefore you roll in one direction (I usually go forward) and then ink in the same direction onto the block – not backwards and forwards. You can think of this as picking up the ink and transferring it rather than the rolling the ink on and rolling off in by moving the roller forwards and backwards.

Lino printing - ink transfer

Lino printing block - inkedThe aim is to transfer a thin even layer of ink from the inking block to the linoblock – it is great to see the first print of a carved image come up clear and dramatic. If you view the block on an angle and catch the ink in the light you can see the general lay of ink and get some idea of whether it is even. Using thin gloves for inking helps keep your hands clean.

Lino printing block - add paperLino block printing clean paperThen you MUST transfer the linoblock to a clean surface before placing the paper on it. Otherwise the ink that gathers around the outside of the block from the roller will simply transfer to the nice clean expensive paper. Take off you gloves and move your inked block with clean hands. Be careful any stray ink on fingertips is removed otherwise in you get not so lovely inky fingerprints on nice clean paper.

Place the paper you are printing on carefully over the linoblock – then burnish with a spoon or baren – or place felts on top and into a relief printing press.

The final print…

Lino print - Linocut Tawny Frogmouth

Tomorrow I’ll talk about some printing flaws and their causes.

Copyright – Lynette Weir