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A friend of mine, artist John Hutchinson, really likes my linocuts. Every year I make a family Christmas card using a linoleum cut image that I design. The theme is always about our family, including dogs, and gives some visual clues about what we’ve been up to that year.
So John suggested that instead of waiting until next Christmas, I make a print of something non holiday-ish. I paint bicycles, so why not make a linocut of a bike?
So, I did.

Thumbnail sketches

It all starts out with sketches of bikes. The drawings don’t need to be detailed or refined… in this stage, the thing I’m working out is a nice composition. In other words, the way the drawing fills the page is the important thing. I also think about how the linoleum cutting tools make a line or hoe they create patterns backgrounds. There’s a sort of classic linocut look that emphasizes bold lines that have straight cut marks in them, and I keep that in mind when I make the thumbnail drawings.

Once I land on a composition that has some merit, I paint the image on the block with watercolor. I use watercolor because it washes off easily and won’t interfere with the lines I’ll eventually cut into the surface of the Lino block.

Time to carve

My method is to cut away all of the unpainted areas, wash away the watercolor,and ink the block and print a proof. Once I see the proof for the first time, I can decide what needs fixing, what needs more detail, and if the composition doesn’t work backwards (because the printed image is a mirror image of the carving, of course!) then I can try to make some adjustments and make it work.


This is the bike linocut I made. This is the basic black and white image but I’d like to explore other possibilities, like adding some colors in the background. Meanwhile, here’s the print in its current state along with in-process pictures of the drawing and carving of the block.

Good Will Bike, 4 x 6 inches, linocut

Good Bike, linocut bike image by Michael Chambers



The linocut in progress The linocut bike block




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