Having been making single colour linocuts for the last several years, around a year ago I decided to step out of my comfort zone and explore colour layering using the reduction technique. It’s a process which at first really confused me but once I physically gave it a go, feeling ready to embrace any mistakes I might make along the way, it started to click with me. Now I’m addicted!
Unlike with multi block printing, with reduction printing you are carving and printing from the same lino-block. This means that once you’ve printed from your first layer and you’re ready to carve your second layer, there’s no going back as you’ll be cutting away all the work you did for the first layer! The thing that’s particularly unique to the process is that with each
colour layer that you print, at the next stage you are carving the areas where you want to reveal the colour that you have just printed. Any existing un-cut lino acts as a ‘block’ over the top of the colour you have just printed, so it’s only what you cut away that will reveal that colour. As each colour lays over the top of another, it’s important to try and print using the lightest colour first, so you need to carefully plan out and identify which are the lightest colours in your image and therefore what will be the first areas that you carve.
Still confused? I made a step by step 15 minute video which follows four stages of me printing a reduction linocut in the hope that this will help explain the process!