This month’s solo artist, Lila Oliver Asher, works almost exclusively with linocuts. This printmaking technique is very similar to a woodcut, but done into linoleum instead of a block of wood.
Artist linoleum is exactly the same as linoleum used for flooring, and essentially is a compound material of solidified linseed oil and pine resin mixed with particles like saw dust and backed with a heavy-duty fabric, such as burlap. It has a smooth surface that can be cut into using woodcutting tools, creating an area of relief that takes the ink, much like a woodblock.
After a linoleum plate is cut, it is inked with a brayer and either run through a press or hand pressed onto the paper to make the print. Lila, for instance, hand-prints all her images using a printmaking barren, a little disk with a handle that is rubbed over the back of the print so the paper picks up the ink on the front.
Linocut is a great way to start experimenting with printmaking. With a little ink, a small, inexpensive piece of linoleum, a few tools and a barren the novice printmaker can start at their kitchen table. As you can see in the image Young Girls, above, some of Lila’s simplest images are the most beautiful. As one gains experience, new techniques such as multi-color printing or larger prints can be made (such as Jazz Piano, above). Come to the gallery to see more examples of linocuts in this month’s exhibition, Reflections Past and Present, through March 27.