One from the archives / “What awaits the morning after” reduction linocut

by Matthew Carey Simos


“What awaits the morning after”

Multi-block, Reduction linocut

Edition of 22

31cm x 35cm

Printed in 2013 at Edinburgh Printmakers

on Saunders Waterford HP 190gsm paper

Available for sale here


“What awaits the morning after” was my first linocut where I attempted to recreate a nocturnal scene. Following my obsession with the theme of the “Explorers”, I chose to have my heroes resting by a campfire under what appears to be a strange, almost claw-like, rock formation.

The framing of the image and the distance, positioning of the viewer was meant to create a voyeuristic and slightly sinister feeling. This is intensified by the surrounding darkness and the somewhat menacing formation above the two figures. However, the same formation and the warm colours from the camp fire have a protective effect and create a haven for the weary travellers.



The process

As with all my recent linocuts, I prepared my image complete with the colour layers using digital editing software and a pen tablet, printed it out and transferred/traced the black lines on a fresh piece of lino in order to create a “key” block.


After carving the key block out, inking it up and transfering the image on two fresh pieces of lino through the method of offsetting, I was able to create my “blue” and “yellow” blocks.


These were then reduced multiple times to print four blue layers and three yellow, while black one (the key block) was printed in the end.



The two colour blocks were done in such a way that there was almost zero overlapping and therefore I was able to produce a linocut with vibrant, contrasting colours.


If I had used one block for both warm and cool colours I was likely going to get colour mixing (blue + yellow = green) due to the transparency of the inks. I could of course have used a lot of white in my ink, or printed a layer of pure white before changing from warm to cool (or vice versa), but that would add more work to an already long printing process. It would also not give me the results I was after.



As with all my linocuts there are things I regret once the print is finished and has been sitting in a box for a few months. With this one, apart from the odd detail, I sort of regret not sticking to the original, minimal aesthetic of the line work, but  I am overall happy with how it turned out. Although I love black lines, I sometimes tend to leave more than planned beacause linocutting allows me to do so.  It sometimes seems like a shame to remove all that lino.


A visual comparison of the final linocut on the left vs the digital, reference  copy on the right

Another thing I always forget to do is flip my image horizontally and therefore I always end up with a mirror image of my original idea. This mostly does not affect the final image as there is no text, but it is quite strange to spend many hours viewing an image one way and then countless more viewing it mirrored. I mean there must have been a reason I chose a certain orientation over the other when designing an image.