Exploring a design theme

Concertina Card with stamped leaf
Concertina Card with stamped leaf

Using lino printing to explore colour combinations.

My design training always comes to the fore when I’m considering new subject matter, I like to explore a theme in as many visual formats and mediums as possible, these can include: sketching, painting, printing, digital art, laser cutting, ceramics, 3D modelling, to name a few of my favourites!

Initial Ideas

Its important to grab your initial ideas and start running with them as soon as possible, in the early stages I often work them up in one of my sketch books, once I have a design I’ll often explore different colour combinations.  In this case I was inspired by some of the many photos of leaves I’ve taken over the years

Quickly draw up your designs

I settled on a simple leaf design, and then created a lino cut from vinyl, so that I could explore a variety of colour combinations with it. I used gauche paint, watercolour paint and stamping inks to create a series of leaf prints in a concertina sketchbook.
Its easy to create one of these sketchbooks using a long thin strip of watercolour paper, folded in a concertina fashion, this one is about 4′ x 6′ on each page.

Print your design and experiment with colour

I then was able to explore a variety of colour combinations quickly, using watercolour washes. When I want to keep things loose, I stand up to paint, use a big long handled brush and stand as far away from the paper as possible.

Using a stamp keeps the process quick and spontaneous, because you know you can just print out some more designs if your first combinations don’t hit the mark!
I was encouraged to try a few combinations that I would normally have stayed away from including a burnt sienna and dark purple wash.


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