Laura Boswell ARE – Printmaker


I’ve never done any printmaking before - will I be OK in the class?

Yes, you will be fine in all my classes except for the three day linocut course which requires some linocut experience. I welcome absolute beginners in my class and will enjoy introducing you to printmaking. There is plenty of one-to-one support and I will repeat any class demonstrations as many times as needed - so always ask if you would like anything repeated. It’s unlikely you will be alone; I usually have a few printmaking novices in my two day classes and at my Japanese woodblock summer school.

What are the differences between the linocut and Japanese woodblock techniques?

There are several differences between these two techniques:

My linocut courses teach the reduction method: you will work with one piece of lino to create the finished prints. My Japanese woodblock classes involve making several woodblocks that fit together to make a finished print (a multiblock process).

Linocut involves layering opaque inks, Japanese woodblock is a painterly process using transparent watercolours.

You will apply ink with rollers in a linocut class and use brushes to apply watercolour and rice paste to your woodblocks in a Japanese woodblock class.

You will use a tabletop registration jig to line up your linocuts in class. You will cut your own registration slots (Kento) to line up your Japanese woodblock blocks. Neither method will require a printing press in class.

Cutting and mark making plays a large part in my linocut classes. In a woodblock class, printing is by far the most creative part of the process and blocks tend to be flat shapes rather than intricately cut.

Both techniques require plenty of practice once you have left the class, but of the two, Japanese woodblock is probably the more demanding to learn. Japanese woodblock is the more flexible process for the home printer looking to work without a press. It is the less messy process and takes up less space.

Lino is a bolder graphic method than Japanese woodblock. Expect your Japanese woodblock prints to have a more delicate appearance than linocut as they are watercolour artworks.

Do I need a printing press to be able to carry on working at home?

No, I teach without a press and offer lots of hints and tips for hand printing. The Japanese woodblock technique is not intended for use with a press at all.

You may decide you need a printing press for printing lino if you intend to do large print runs or want to make large scale linocuts. Feel free to discuss this with me in class if you would like my advice on printing presses.

How much preparation should I do for the class?

Please assemble a few ideas for your print. Sketchbooks and photos are good to bring along. Please try to print out any photos as that will make referencing them much easier for you and also for me to advise you. It is better not to work up a specific design beyond a rough idea as part of the class will involve learning what kind of design will suit the technique and the time you have to cut and print during the class. I will discuss your design ideas one-to-one during class to ensure you understand how to turn your initial drawing into a design for a reduction linocut, or how to divide it up into multiple blocks for your Japanese woodblock print.

What kind of image will work for my class? Are there particular subjects or themes I should work with?

When it comes to bringing sketches etc. for working with, my advice is to have a selection of a few ideas. Any subject matter goes, so please choose themes that interest and excite you. No need to work with landscape just because I do, nor does the work have to be figurative; abstract prints work marvellously well too. Have a look at prints in this technique on Pinterest or similar and acquaint yourself with the possibilities of the medium as that will help to guide your ideas, but please don’t feel you have stick to any rules of choice – all ideas can be adapted. The important thing is to choose engaging subject matter, not images you think should work.

I can’t advise on exactly which idea will be the one to work with ahead of class simply because that’s one of the things you need to be in class to learn! I would bring maybe four or five ideas – photos, sketches etc. that you like rather than trying to work up a specific idea to suit a print, especially if the technique is new to you. If you spend time developing a design which is in some way impractical for our time and the method, it will be a disappointment. I will also supply plenty of books for inspiration during class.

During the design phase I will be walking you through the technique as well as explaining the strengths and limitations of the method and how to develop your ideas into a design drawing for a print. There will be plenty of hints and tips for adapting your ideas successfully and I will go one to one with each student to explain exactly how ideas can be turned into a print that is suitable for the time we have in class and each student’s level of experience.

I’m not good at drawing, does that matter and will I have help with my design?

You will have one-to-one help with your design as well as learning about designing for print as a group. Please do not worry about drawing skills, most people underestimate their abilities! I can help with tips about drawing for print, or if you prefer not to make a figurative drawing both the printmaking methods I teach work very well with abstract designs and patterns. Copying artwork for your own personal learning during a course is generally deemed acceptable under copyright law and you can bring in greetings cards or books for personal reference. I will also be providing reference books and have my greetings cards available if you would like to work from my prints.

My husband/wife/partner is coming with me, are there any interesting things to do nearby?

Yes, there are plenty of interesting things to do locally and you will find some useful links on this page. We can’t accommodate visitors during class, but partners are very welcome to pop in at the end of the day to see your work.

I have my own cutting tools, is it OK to bring them to use?

Yes, you are most welcome to bring in your own cutting tools. Some people also like to bring in papers for experiments, or their own watercolours for the Japanese woodblock classes. (Please note that I do provide tools, paper and watercolours for all students)

I have a disability, will I be OK?

Please contact me to discuss any disabilities or special requirements and I will do my best to accommodate you. There is step-free access to all of Queens Park Arts Centre studio spaces and facilities. The main door is automatic. Level access to accessible toilets is available in the main foyer. An induction loop is available at the reception desk. Assistance Dogs are welcome in all spaces on site.