Linocut printmaking is a form of relief printing, using a linoleum block as a matrix. The artist sketches a composition on a block of linoleum, and then cuts away pieces from the surface with a chisel or gouge, leaving a raised area which will receive the ink. A roller is then used to apply ink to this raised surface, and the image is transferred to paper with a press or by hand burnishing and rubbing. Since the recessed cut-away areas do not receive ink, they appear white on the printed image.
The method matches that of a woodblock, but since the linoleum block does not have a directional wood grain, the surface of the print will have less texture and the artist has more freedom in the line work. The linoleum takes all types of lines, but it is suited to large designs with high contrasting tints. If an artist wants to incorporate multiple colors into the linocut, each color will be printed with its own carved linoleum block. The print is created by printing a sheet of paper with each of the blocks in turn, using a strict method of registration to avoid overlapping or misplacement. The greater the complexity, the greater the rate of failed or imperfect impressions.
Below are several of the linocuts we have in our 20th century and contemporary inventory. Stop by our Georgetown gallery to see the prints in person, and look at more linocuts!