Athena, fresh off the press


In the final weeks of my printmaking class we have been focusing on relief printing, so far using sheets of linoleum. Of all of the techniques this is the one I have most taken to. I have just finished working on a plate of St. Benedict of Palermo (the Moor); I am eager to run a test print.

Relief printing, contrary to my expectations is well suited to the way I doodle, not the way I draw or paint, but doodling.

I have countless class notebooks filled with my doodling marginalia, I have admired the spontaneity but when I have tried to translate the doodle into another medium the results have been disappointing. The spontainity had been lost and the result was too ironic, too self aware, verging on cartoonish, not at all my intention or desire.

But I have found that when I translate my doodling onto the linoleum block the loose line is retained. The quirkiness is an asset.

The following image of the Grey Eyed goddess was first a loose doodle from my mythology class.  I created her as a prayer card for our recent election day, carving the image quickly before class with very little alteration to the original 30 second doodle.  There are flaws but I like her.  She has an archaic quality that I do not usually explore.  She is reminiscent (at least to me) of an early political poster from the first democracy; at least that was my intention.

I’m heading to the frame shop to have two prints prepared as gifts for my two nieces, Grace Sophia and the still to be born Lulu.

Lulu is expected to burst onto the scene December 15th , she is eagerly awaited ; having Athena in her nursery seems a good omen.  

linoleum cut on paper
9 by 12 inches

Until next time,

take care,


Author: babylonbaroque

I am a painter and printmaker working towards creating a body of work that reflects my own developing aesthetic. New work ,first link. The second link is an on-line portfolio.

9 thoughts on “Athena, fresh off the press”

  1. I know what you mean about wishing one could doodle to order. I was sometimes told off for doing it in lessons at school, but it was such good practice really, and actually helped me to listen, but sitting down to do it never seems to quite work.

    How lovely to have nieces called Sophia Grace and Lulu, all good wishes for the arrival of the latter, and she will indeed surely be blessed by having Athena to watch over her, it’s a fine image.

    (I’ll e-mail you this weekend about how you want to go about submitting your alphabet – took the liberty of getting your address from Clive.)

  2. That’s exactly right, when I set about to doodle “properly” it all goes out the window. Perhaps the Surrealists were on to something with their Spontaneous Drawing approach.
    I look forward to hearing from you, email away!


  3. This looks like you’ve been cutting lino for years, it’s a very confident piece, I love how the letters work effortlessly with the image and it all works together so well. I struggled with lino, I think because I was trying to reproduce the look of my painting and drawing work but you’ve been much more successful here, you seem to have assimilated the medium and worked with it superbly – Lucky Lulu and Grace Sophia to have a framed print!

    1. You are quite a kind man, this image may have a naive charm precisely because I lack skill! I understand exactly what you mean about transferring skills from one discipline to another, that has been my experience with etching to some degree, but most especially with mono print. i was so eager to give it a shot, but the results have been disastrous, humbling. I think because lino work, at least for me, does not allow me to noodle with detail, the results are approachable. I’m hoping to gain technical skill as I go along. clive has suggested stainless steel gauges, will give those a try.That said, I appreciate your encouragement.
      I have popped in on your site periodically, impressive work, particularly eager to see the alphabet series. Very clever to have used bodies of water as a theme.
      Take care,

  4. Doesn’t surprise me a bit that you’ve taken to lino-block cutting. It’s the block technique I use myself, being one I can print up without benefit of a press. (I keep looking for a small table-top press, though one hasn’t revealed itself to me yet.) Earlier this year I made the cover design for ‘Witch’ as a print generated from a lino-block. You’re right, it is very direct, and satisfying results can be achieved relatively quickly. (I used once to cut lino-block book-plates as Christmas gifts for friends!) Your Athena is lovely. Great letter design.

    Have you a good set of steel tools? If you haven’t, and instead are using one of the cheap, craft shop lino-cutting tool kits that most of us start with, then do yourself a favour and get online today to a good art/print materials supplier and order yourself a set of steel gouges and an Arkansas Stone for regularly sharpening the blades. ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL!!!

    1. Your “Witch” work is what inspired me to take a printmaking class in the first place. Your posts from that time suggested the stainless steel gauges that can be honed. The art shops in LA and San Diego seem only to carry Speedball tempered steel gauges, they are not hone-able. My instructor has directed me to a printmaker outlet in chicago, I will research their inventory. I too would love a small press, my instructor has a sweet little press, looks to be mid 19th c., beautifully designed and wonderfully straightforward and compact. If coveting your instructor’s tools is a a sin, I’m sizzling’ in hell right now.
      Thanks for the advice, I will post other prints I have been working on when i return to class; hand printing at home with a wooden spoon is tarsome.

  5. I have a little polished stone I use for burnishing, one purchased in a ‘gem craft’ shop about forty years ago. I find the process to be rather pleasingly hypnotic. Find yourself something similar. It’ll add a visual aesthetic to the process for you. I’m not kidding!

    I purchased my steel gouges online from a dedicated print-makers supplier in the UK. You’ll have such suppliers over there. Don’t delay. You won’t regret having them. As the years go by the wooden handles will take the shape of your hand so that the tools become an extension of you in the same way as a well-loved pen. I have a rotary pencil with a cherry-wood barrel turned by my friend Anita, that is no so familiar in my hand that it feels as though it’s grown there! Don’t underestimate the magic that flows from a tool made by a craftsperson!

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