Who Rescued Who Linoprint

The idea behind the print

I can't get enough of heart-warming rescue dog stories and this print was a reflection of a sentiment that I have heard many times from people who have given a rescue dog a forever home. Dogs give us so much back in return for our love and a safe home, helping and supporting their humans as they navigate their way through the ups and downs of daily life.

Some time ago I created a card with the "Who Rescued Who" phrase as part of my Bark Side range of greeting cards and I have been asked many times if I could create a print based on the same idea.

I love the idea of a dog and their human sitting in quiet companionship, taking a break from everyday chores and work to enjoy some time together in a beautiful spot. I have spent many happy times on the Cornish coast with my dog so I used several locations as inspiration for the setting. The ever-changing sea and light on the water are a perfect place for some quiet contemplation and the traditional lifeboat station in the rocky cove is a further subtle play on the rescue theme.

For some reason lone, windswept coastal trees hold a particular fascination for me and I wanted to make one part of this print. Acting as a shelter for the human and their dog, yet itself unprotected from the onslaught of coastal gales, it tells its own story of how the landscape and elements have shaped it over the years.

How the print was created

The print is printed in 3 layers, using 2 different carved linoleum plates to create each layer. One plate was used to print both the sky and the background colour/shadows and and a second plate was carved for the detail. The plate is inked up individually for each print which is printed by hand on my etching press.

The sky was printed first onto the plate carved with the background shadows/colour using a subtle graded ink roll from blue to a soft peach tinge to suggest either dawn or dusk.

Linoprint rainbow roll ink
Inked linoprint for sky
linoprint press printing

These prints were then hung up for the ink to dry. I used Japanese Awagami Bunkoshi paper for this print which has a subtle and aged creamy white colour. This is a limited edition linoprint and I was aiming for an edition of 150 prints. It took 3 days to print the sky on all 150 prints.

The next stage was to print the pale blue colour for the background and shadows. I carved away the part of the sky closest to the horizon so none of the sky would be overprinted and then inked up the plate for the first of another run of 150 prints and another 3 days printing. The resulting print now had both the sky and the blue backgound shadow colour printed.

linoprint plate inked
linoprint process

I now had to create and carve a new lino plate with all the detail that would be printed over the top of the previous 2 layers. This plate was full of fine detail with grass, rocks and the tree and the form and details of the dog and person. I transferred my drawing onto the lino plate using the Laser Copy transfer method (which is always a bit nail-biting) but I got got a good transfer with excellent rendition of all the lines. The lino is stained pink with drawing ink so I can see where I carve out the design more easily.

Below left is the plate before carving with the image trasferred onto the stained lino and on the right is the plate after carving. It toook the best part of week to carve the plate.

lino plate image transfer
Carved linoleum plate printmaking

And here's a short video of me carving away some of the rocks...

I made a paper mask when inking up the plate to reduce the chance of stray specks of inks spoiling the print. It is vitally important that the paper goes down onto the new plate in exactly the same postition as it did when the previous two layers were printed so that all the details and the lettering are registered properly. I use a printer's registration system of Ternes Burton tabs and pins to help with this.

inked lino plate mask
rescue dog linoprint seaview coast

I ended up with an edition of 130 prints having lost 20 along the way to various errors including mis-registration, ink smudges and uneven inking. These are to be expected on a print run of this size, though they are still very annoying at the time!!

The Who Rescued Who original linoprint has now sold out.