Colour Mixing with Dave Hall
Hello Printmakers! I am Dave Hall, an artist based in Bristol specialising in lino block printing. My work is always bright, colourful and quirky and often influenced by my graphic design background.
I work from a small home studio where storage space is at a premium and although I would love to have a spectrum of printing ink bottles at my fingertips, I have to be resourceful with my printmaking kit. Luckily, I haven’t met a colour yet which couldn’t be mixed with just five tubes of Essdee Block Printing Ink.
Years ago when I was pulling together my lino printing paraphernalia, I bought Essdee block printing ink in Black, White, Brilliant Red, Brilliant Yellow and Turquoise, fully expecting to purchase more colours once I was up and running. However, with some basic colour theory and plenty of ink-roller elbow grease I was able to mix every colour I needed from these five tubes, thus saving me money and shelf space. The only limitations are fluorescent or metallic colours, which are also available from Essdee.
Mixing your own colours from store-bought shades is an easy way to diversify your prints, making them more personal, unique and valuable. The beauty of lino block printing is the differences in texture and depth each print can deliver, so why not add an extra layer of individuality by using colours unique to you. You may even end up creating a signature colour scheme, which helps people identify a piece of work as yours.
Here are my top tips for achieving an endless rainbow of colours from just a handful of Essdee Block Printing Inks.
I always begin with the lighter or less dominant colour in my ink tray then very gradually add the stronger colour to reach the shade I need. For example, when using White and Brilliant Red to create Pink, I begin with a solid layer of white in my ink tray then add tiny dabs of Red with a paintbrush or pallet knife, fully blending the colours together with my roller until I reach the perfect shade.
Once you know the colour theory, don’t assume the ratio will be 50/50; some colour pigments can be very strong and it’s easier to add ink than to take it away.
Before you commit to using your ink roller, try mixing different combinations of ink with a paintbrush, using your ink tray like a painters pallet. A few minutes of experimentation will save you wasting ink on gloomy colours and you may come across a colour combination you hadn’t considered before. You can even create a colour reference chart to hang on your studio wall, which will help to remind you of all the possibilities you have at hand.
Once block printing ink has fully dried, it can appear lighter and brighter than it did when you first removed your block from the paper. When you’re trying to work out your colour scheme, it is well worth letting swatches of the colours dry out on your chosen paper to get a true idea of how they will look. See how the colours stand out when they are printed side by side, overlaid or printed twice on the same spot.
There a have been a few occasions when I went to bed disappointed with a print, only to be thrilled in the morning when I saw that the colours had dried much more vibrantly!
Once you have concocted the perfect shade of ink for your prints, make sure you take the time to write down your ‘recipe’ so you can create the same shade again later. Most of the time you won’t be using enough volume of ink to record the combination in grams or mililitres but just the list of colours will jog your memory;
Did you create that beautiful shade of purple with just Red, White and Blue? Or is there a dab of Black in there as well? Did you begin with a Pink and gradually add Blue? Or start with Dark Blue and gradually add White? Even the order you added your colours will have an effect on the outcome so it’s worth writing it down.
If you are producing a large edition of prints it might be worth mixing handy pots of all the colours you need before you begin. Keep a few small airtight containers in your studio for storing mixed colours and you won’t have to fret about colour matching your ink if you are unable to complete the print edition in one session. Any excess ink can be stored or adjusted by adding new colours for your next design.
Experiment with different papers
There is no need to stick to white cartridge paper when block printing and you can achieve brilliant results on all kinds of colours, textures and weights of paper. An ink colour that appears dull on white paper could look amazing in contrast against a coloured paper background.
My own favourite material to print on is brown recycled kraft paper. Essdee ink colours appear really rich and vivid against the muted brown and each sheet has it’s own details and character. Old maps, sheet music or newspaper text will add a unique depth to your printmaking and the upcycle is friendly to the environment. Coloured inks look great against black cartridge paper too, but you may need to print your image in pure white ink first then layer over the top with the coloured print.
Got 5 minutes? Have a read of one of our other blogs for more inspiration!
Christmas Linoprint ProjectWe have been excited to work with students at Walsall College this term. We set second year students on the Level 3 Art and Design course a brief to design some Christmas themed linoprints. We are really impressed with the prints that...
We are absolutely thrilled to have been Highly Commended for three awards by the expert judging panel at the Best of Craft Awards 2021. Read our blog to find out more about the award categories and our Highly Commended products.
We were excited to catch up with Andy Greenacre from Unruly Print to find out how he went from being a teacher to running his own printmaking business, the online virtual market he helped set up during lockdown, and to meet some of the Unruly Print team – Dave the Printing Press and Rodney the Roller.
Turtlemoon's Tricks of the Trade Hello! I’m Jasmine and I’m a printmaker with a fascination for nature, mess and all things witchy. In this blog post I’ll be sharing some pointers and hints I’ve learned over the years that have helped me along the way. So,...
Learn how to lino to print onto fabric. Jodie gives us a step by step guide to lino printing onto fabric, using the example of creating a geometric print on a tote bag. Her blog is full of tips and advice to achieve the perfect fabric lino print.
introducing the essdee fabric lino printing range! We are excited to launch our fabric lino printing range! Carve your own unique designs and print them onto fabric. You can print your own clothing, bags, cushions and more, the possibilities are endless! Check...
We are delighted to have been shortlisted for FOUR industry awards - two awards from Craft Business awards and two awards from Best of Craft. Find out more about the categories that we have been shortlisted for, including Best Sustainable Craft Company.
Meet the Printmaker: hayley andersonWe were excited to catch up with Hayley Anderson, lino print artist, to find out more about her printmaking business, the challenges of running her business in different continents, her amazing workshops, and how her daughter is...
Essdee are proud to be sponsoring Print Day in May (PDiM) for the second year running. Our mission is to inspire the next generation of artists and printmakers, so PDiM is a fantastic opportunity for us to help encourage people to get printing. Every year on the...