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Illustration Art using Linocut – Hélène Bautista
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Illustration Art using Linocut – Hélène Bautista

Illustration art using Linocut

by Hélène Habbot Bautista

I started my journey through the world of illustration five years ago, and I choose printmaking (mostly Linocut) as a mean to get the results I wanted. The historical links between illustrating and printmaking are important to me, and I try to explore them in a contemporary way thanks to Linocut.

My linocut prints usually dry in front of my books – on clotheslines attached to my library – but I don’t want the images to illustrate the text literally. Most of the time, I don’t work on a book in particular, but I let all the books I’ve read work inside me till an image comes to my mind.

I usually do a quick sketch of the image, then I transfer it on to the plate with carbon paper, being careful not to draw too precisely so I can stay free in my movements with the gouges. I’ve got Pfeil Tools, and it’s very unusual for me to work with more than three gouges on the same plate. Probably because with two or three gouges, I feel better the rhythm of engraving.


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Pfeil Tools are high quality Swiss made carving tools suitable for either lino or wood cutting.

Each tool is made from chrome vanadium steel, precisely forged, sharpened and polished for excellent results. Palm-handles are made of hardwood from ecologically managed Swiss forests.
Full bolster and square tang for optimal stability. Internal steel ferrule under bolster prevents the handle from splitting. Tools are hardened to the edge of the bevel. Blades electronically hardened to exacting tolerances.

These tools can be found in different sets or bought one by one in order to make a set more suitable for you.

PFEIL: LINOLEUM AND BLOCK CUTTER SET OF 6: SET D 

Or…


It’s really important for me to feel the material and the tools, just as a musician feels the instrument. I’m very careful with the choice of paper and the inks I use. The ones I prefer are from Charbonnel, a Parisian shop. I like to use Opal Paper from JoopStoop (another shop in Paris) and I also use their inks, the oil-based ones, because of its texture and the light it keeps after drying. It’s also very important to me to print them myself, and I use a good unknown press for that.

Illustration in the original sense of “image” suspends time: it becomes an autonomous language that says the text differently. It is good for itself, as a story or a fragment of a story. This idea of narration certainly joins my love for literature, but also for old movies, particularly the American film noir and the German expressionist cinema.

Intense contrasts, sliced, incisive lights cut out the page. From the backlight to the counter-field, I exploit and explore the space of the page and reconfigure the perspectives. The black immobility of the figures is counterbalanced by the cutouts of lights that animate the whole composition. The shadow seems to grab the volumes, but they emerge through the light games. Black and white become paradoxically as vivid and noisy as colors.

It is by the suggestion that the image works and reacts to these disturbing and familiar atmospheres. The spectator is no longer confronted with a single image but with a succession of imaginary plans: would it be a film? Perhaps, but his, summoning into himself the images that are in the off-field of the page and overflow the white margins that frame the image. The spectator is always put to the test in his eyes, not knowing if such a figure against the light is back or face if he is not himself observed if he really guesses what he sees.

With my prints, with my illustrations, I want to offer this game that allows the viewer to imagine the before and after of the image he has in front of him, and to take him out the literary sense…

Black and White: always …

From the backlight to the counter-field, I exploit and explore the space of the page and reconfigure the perspectives. Colors are not useful to me and would parasite, interfere with my purpose.

The black immobility of the figures is counterbalanced by the cutouts of lights that animate the whole composition. The shadow seems to grab the volumes, but they emerge through the light games. Black and white become paradoxically as vivid and noisy as colors.

From time to time, someone asks why I don’t try colors… Black and White can suggest them all, and it’s obvious to me I haven’t finished yet to explore, to seek for the balance between them.

So … get to know some of the illustrations I’ve developed recently:

… and I dream to illustrate a whole book from one of those masters of Literature whose books have fed me for so many years… Dickens, Stevenson, Dostoïevski, Faulkner


This article was written by Hélène Habbot Bautista and all images copyright © helenehabbotbautista 2019

You can get to know her better on her website and Facebook.


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3 Comments

  • Christine November 12, 2018 at 7:30 pm

    Very inspiring!

    Reply
    • TOP Team November 12, 2018 at 7:37 pm

      Hi Christine.
      Many thanks for the visit and comment. 😉

      Reply
  • Hélène Bautista December 8, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    Thank you Christine !

    Reply
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