Cutting Out Bumble Bees

Bee Linocut Detail

Last week, I discussed the development of an illustration - this is a relatively quick project to do, and usually you have a result at the end of a few hours.  It is completely different when you are making a multi coloured linocut - this process usually unfolds over a number of months.  Today, I'm going to share the steps I took to create the 5 linocuts for my bumblebee designs.  You can see a detail of the linocut here.  As you can see, it is a two colour linocut - a yellow block, overlaid with black. Next week, I will go through the different stages of printing the two blocks up, but for now, I will detail cutting the blocks.

Photograph sources

My initial concept was to have a number of bumble bees on a flower background.  I started by taking lots of photos of bumblebees, and making sketches of these.  I found the perfect flowers for a background while on holiday in Croatia.

Cutting out bumble bee linocut

In the end, I decided to do 4 linocuts of bumble bees.  Here, you can see one bumblebee linocut emerging from the initial sketch on the lino.  I always do my sketches onto the lino using a 'sharpie' marker, as it is impossible to rub this off.  You can see I do reminders to myself of which colour will go where, and which textures should be created in a certain area.  Each bee took about 3 hours to cut out.

Four bee linocuts

Here are the 4 bumblebee cuts together.  I made them fairly large scale - they are about 9cm in width and 6cm in height.  Once I'd cut them out, I arranged them onto a piece of mountcard in their final placements.  I took a draft copy of this in red waterproof ink onto paper.  I then passed this back through the printing press onto the piece of lino cut to size for the yellow block.   (If you want to know more about how to use this technique of registering linocut blocks, have a look at my blog post here).

Cutting out yellow block

The photo on the left shows the bees printed up in red ink and pressed onto the yellow linocut block.  I've then marked out the areas for the flowers, and which areas should remain for the yellow of the bees.  The photo on the right shows the yellow block cut out.  You can see why it is important to make notes about what should be cut out, as it does not really make visual sense!  Next week, I will go through the process of printing these two blocks up.  






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