Printmakers Unite! Print Day in May 2013

Yesterday (May 4, 2013) was Print Day in May when printmakers from around the globe got together to “virtually” print together. The Print Day in May blog explains:

“Print Day in May, the first Saturday in May, celebrates the art and community of printmakers. It’s a day to get together in studios across the world to make prints. Each year participation grows; we have had people from Australia, Argentina, France, Mexico, and of course, the US. Printmakers have opened their studios to friends, used their cars as presses, made prints on the beach all to spread the joy of printmaking.”

I love to spread the joy of printmaking. It’s a big part of why I love showing my processes at art demonstrations, teaching printmaking to children, and it is the passion that drives this blog.

It was also great to engage some printmaker friends that I have found on WordPress, Etsy, Twitter and Instagram. Throughout the day, we tweeted photos of the works we created. You can check out these other fabulous printmakers here: Cosmikgoo, Cat Among the Pigeons, Jackie Curtis, Sarah May, Jean Stevens, Darcy Watt, Coco Press.

LINDA COTE-Print Day in May

The sun lights my studio this fine day.

For my Print Day in May creation, I wanted to create a print in honor of a new baby in my family.

My niece had a baby girl, and her grandmother (my sister-in-law) is one of the best gardeners (and best grandmas!) I know. I also love gardening, and thought that it would be fun to create a print that was a take on the children’s  nursery rhyme “Mary, Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow?”.

So I got up early to make sure I had the whole day to create, draw, carve then print my Print Day in May print. (Thanks to my husband who took our two boys out most of the day while I worked in studio on this beautiful Saturday!)

Here is the process of my newest print.

LINDA COTE-Garden Transfer

9 am: The drawing is completed on tracing paper with a graphite pencil and transferred to the block with a bone folder.

LINDA COTE-Garden Transfer2

9:05 am: The image on the block will work as a guide for me to carve the art into the printmaking base. For this print, there was little room for error, so I made the drawing very detailed.

LINDA COTE-Garden Grow Carve2

10:30 am: Part way in the carving, the detail starts to appear.

LINDA COTE-Garden Grow Block

12:30 pm: Pretty close to being done. The pencil is still evident on the block, but will be inked over soon.

LINDA COTE-Garden Ink Block

1:15 pm: I love the first inking, always! It’s a thrill to see what I’ve done. I’m happy with this and only make a few adjustments to the block before starting to print.

LINDA COTE-Garden Print test

1:45 pm: After a few tweaks and tests, I hand-pull the first print. Here I am using a terrific paper that is so thin you can almost see right through it. I love this paper, but it has a fair bit of texture to it, which is fine for a print where I don’t mind a little bit of irregularity in the ink. For this print, though, I want very strong black lines, so I switch to a different paper to get the final effect I want.

LINDA COTE-Garden GrowFirst Print

2 pm: After trimming my new paper to size (34 sheets) I print a couple of artist proofs to make sure the print is the way I want. It is, and I am excited to get printing, but I have to take a break because I have a movie date this afternoon with my 11-year-old son. So I wrap my block with plastic, and make plans to come back later.

LINDA COTE-Garden Print

7:15 pm: After a fun movie, dinner and a bit of a break, I come back to studio to finish my print run. Here, the prints are nicely lined up. Such a good feeling!

LINDA COTE-Garden Grow Drying

8:50 pm: My printing is done, with just over 30 prints. I’ll inspect these again once they are dry to arrive at the final number I wish to offer for sale. Since I also had a lot of cards drying in the studio, I had to use the portable print rack I use for demonstrations to hang my last few prints.

LINDA COTE-Does Your Garden Grow9:15 pm: My tools and studio have all been cleaned, and here is the final print, still hanging to dry. Very happy with the result of a full day of printing.

For my grand-niece, I printed one copy on watercolor paper and once it is dry I will paint her copy with watercolors and frame it as a gift. Hers will be unique, and the others in black and white will go up for sale at my spring shows, just in time for gardening season!

What fun it’s been to participate in the Print Day in May. A shout out to those printmakers who are behind organizing this wonderful event. I hear it all started in Monterey, California, which is not so very far from where I live, and one of my favorite places on earth! I may just have to plan a Print Day in California in May sometime in the future!


16 responses to “Printmakers Unite! Print Day in May 2013

    • Thanks, Judy! Practice certainly helps. I find I can do more now that I know the process well, and I’m more courageous about trying something new!

  1. At first I thought you mostly did mountains and pine tree scenes. Then when I really started looking I realized what a range of images you create…from the natural scenes to cute ones like this. Really very nice. Some of the prints look like they would be very cute as illustrations in a childrens book.

    • Yes I do have a bit of a divergent style. I love nature and am pulled by trying to capture it somewhat realistically. But I also like to capture the sweet side of life as in some of my art for children or even my “Little Bird” series. Mostly I play with more whimsical subjects in my greeting cards but sometimes it creeps into my prints, too. 🙂 And funny, I’ve always wanted to illustrate a children’s book. Maybe someday!

  2. Very cute print and a great blog post as well. You must love printmaking to have spent such a beautiful Saturday in the studio. The print made me think of a book I read to the littles at the library on Friday where the whole book was illustrated with linocuts. Thanks for the post.

    • I did look outside a few times longingly. It was SO gorgeous Saturday! But I got out a bit midday at least (and lots today). It was a fun event, and I missed doing it last year, so wanted to make sure I did it this year. Thanks for reading!

  3. Brilliant, thanks for that… I did not know about the print day but it sounds like a marvellous idea, I always enjoy your posts with the “in progress’ pictures as it gives us all a peek into the creation of the final work.

  4. LOVE THIS!! Thank you for documenting your process so clearly. I’ve been an admirer of printmaking for years, and have always resisted trying it myself, but seeing your process here has me tempted and inspired! Your work is awesome, and you make it look like fun. I’m wondering if you suggest any particular type or brand of ink or paper?
    Thank you for sharing!

    • Hi Linda! I’m delighted to have inspired you! For starting you can use Speedball water-soluable inks (they brand it “Block Printing Ink”) widely available at art stores. They are inexpensive and clean up with water. The final print will not be permanent, though (water splashed on it will make it run), so if you are looking for something more permanent, for all my printmaking I use Caligo Safe Wash Relief ink, which I order in from Toronto, Ontario.

      For paper, there are all kinds, and it’s really just a personal preference and experimentation to find your favorite. I find something with a smooth surface (like Speedball Printmasters Printmaking Paper) gives great solid color, but you can use anything. A good art supply store will have lots of recommendations. Depending on where you are, and if you want more information, or links to art supply stores where I purchase my materials in Canada, send me an email to linda(at) and I can give you more detail. Thanks for reading!

  5. This print is adorable! I had so much fun participating in Print Day in May! I would have like to do something bigger but I loved my little leaf print. 🙂 I swear I fall in love with linocut more and more with every print I make!

    • Thanks — I had fun, too. It was great to have you join me in printing on that day. I loved your leaf print, too! And, I am so like that as well — the deeper I get into printmaking, the more I want to explore! 🙂

  6. Pingback: The secret of my linocut base art | Musings From The Studio·

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