Exploring mixed media & printmaking

I’ve been exploring the combination of different printmaking techniques in one piece of artwork lately. It’s required some experimentation, and lots of learning.

This year, I discovered sun printing (the technical term is cyanotypes) that use sunlight to expose specially-treated paper to create one-of-a-kind prints. In June, I used the cyanotype medium to create an artist book, and blogged about the process here. Now, I wanted to explore how to make unique prints utilizing cyanotypes combined with relief printing.

LINDA COTE-Mixed Media

My process lead to my newest works of art called “Soaring”. These pieces combine hand-printing on wood (the mountains), then creating a sky using cyanotype paper, and finally adding soaring ravens hand-printed relief-style over top of the cyanotype.

Here is a walk through my process. It begins where much of my art begins: with an inspiring view in my home town.

LINDA COTE-Ehagay Nakoda Range

This is one of my favorite views here in the Bow Valley: the mountains called the Ehagay Nakoda Range which includes Ha Ling Peak on the right and Mount Lawrence Grassi in the middle. (The Bow River is in the foreground.)

LINDA COTE-Drawing block

I began with the mountains, creating the base block by sketching my artwork on tracing paper, and transferring it onto my printmaking medium.

LINDA COTE-Carving block

Here, my carving on the block begins.

LINDA COTE-Ehagay Nakoda Block Carved

The block is carved, and ready for inking.

LINDA COTE-Mountain Test Print

I test-print the block on a piece of art board I have in the studio, and like what I see, so I proceed with printing on wood canvases prepared with white gesso.

LINDA COTE-Printing on wood

Here the wood canvases are printed and wait to dry. For the next layer, I will create the sun-printed sky.

LINDA COTE-Sun Printing

I am working with cyanotype treated watercolor paper. Cyanotype prints are solar-sensitive, and when exposed to the sun will “imprint” onto the paper. Whatever is covered will appear white in the final print, and whatever is not covered will turn blue. The paper I am using is pre-treated so all I do is expose it to the sun, then put it into a bath of water to stop the exposure process. (Thanks to Dea Fischer, local Canmore artist, who put me on to a great supplier of cyanotype paper.)

To get the feeling of clouds in the sky, I am exposing the paper but covering it with synthetic poly-fill. I created several cyanotypes, and only got two I was happy with.

LINDA COTE-Cutting Sunprint skt

Once the cyanotype prints dried for 24 hours, I chose my two best prints, and cut the shape of the mountains out of the bottom of the paper. Next, I will need to adhere the print to the board that’s already been printed with the mountains.

LINDA COTE-Fitting the sky

I treat the wood canvas (base art) with gel medium that is used to bond paper to wood, and carefully line up the printed mountains and the cyanotype sky.

LINDA COTE-Drying print

Then, I protect the art with plastic, followed by a flat board, then load on my heaviest art books. This pile sits in the studio for another 24 hours to ensure an excellent bond between the paper and the wood.

LINDA COTE-Mountains and Sky

This is the resulting base art with two of the steps complete. Next up: adding the soaring birds in the sky.

LINDA COTE-Drawing Birds

I start by sketching a number of flying ravens in different patterns of flight, and transfer those to the block for carving.

LINDA COTE-Carving birds

Here, the soaring ravens are carved and ready for inking…

LINDA COTE-Printing birdsThe inked block is ready to print onto the sky.

LINDA COTE-Printed Birds

First, I pull a couple of test prints. I love the way these birds look like they are flying around my studio!

LINDA COTE-Mixed Media-Soaring 1

“Soaring 1” by Linda Cote, Mixed Media (Printmaking)

The soaring birds are added carefully to the sky, after much pondering about where best to place them.

LNIDA COTE-Mixed media-Soaring 2

“Soaring 2” by Linda Cote, Mixed Media (Printmaking)

Both these mixed-media prints made using these hand-printing techniques will be available at my Artists of Elk Run Open Studio Tour this weekend, December 8 & 9, 2012, along with my other — more traditional — hand-pulled art prints and cards.

It’s going to be a great weekend talking art!

7 responses to “Exploring mixed media & printmaking

    • Hi Ines, do you mean the carving block? If so, I use a variety of materials as the base for carving my artwork, but for this project, I am using a special “printmaker’s rubber” as my base art, which is closer to traditional linoleum than wood. If I was using wood as my base, I would really need the pressure of a printing press to create the prints, but with the special rubber (manufactured for printmakers by Speedball and called “Speedy-cut”) I can print everything by hand in my studio without a press.

      You can find out more about the Speedball material here:

      And, thanks for reading and saying you love my work. I appreciate it!

  1. Hi Linda,

    I just recently stumbled upon your blog…so fun and filled with great information. Curious: what type of ink did you use for the mountains? I’m looking for a way to print directly to a gessoed wood panel but have found me Caligo inks take very long to dry. Any suggestions?


    • Hi Holly, Thanks for reading my blog! I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it.

      I used a Caligo Safe Wash relief ink — probably the same one as you — that is oil-based but dries permanent? It does take a long time to dry. That’s part of the ‘price’ you pay for oil-based inks, unfortunately. I have heard you can use an additive to make the ink dry faster (like liquid cobalt or manganese powder) but I don’t know where you buy these, and I have never used driers. Here is a blog by another great printmaker about driers. http://linocutboy.com/linocut-technique-notes-and-queries/

      One other technique I have heard of — BUT never tried — is that you can put a wood panel/canvas in a warm oven (200-F) for about an hour or two. My friend, an oil painter, said she heard this was possible to dry oil paints quicker! Again, I have never tried it, so you may want to do a small test print on wood before trying it on something valuable.

      Otherwise, I just usually plan to print way in advance of when I need something. The drying time can definitely trip you up!

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