Custom artwork: a mandolin

linocut of mandolin artwork handmade swirls A local musician requested a custom piece of artwork based on his mandolin. He requested that the art be in the same style as previous linocuts I had made, and that it incorporate swirls to show motion and life. To best understand his particular mandolin, I was able to take his beautiful two-toned instrument home and study it.

Then I made sketches. To carve linocuts, I work in the mirror image. To transfer my sketch into its mirror opposite easily, I scanned it into the computer and flipped it, then used a sharp awl to poke the outline into the carving material. I then recreated all of the tiny lines and details with my pen again. Another way to transfer the reverse image accurately (besides drawing it backwards to start with!) is to use a blender pen or transfer pen, but they stink and have a lot of chemicals so I avoid them as much as I can.

I printed four copies and selected the best one. Then I used watercolour to bring in rich, deep colours of the wood. The final touch was to draw in the doubled strings with a fine tipped pen. After signing the original print (1 of 1), I ripped the other test prints in half. Similar to how traditional film photographers destroy their negatives, it feels more ethical to keep only one copy of this art in existence.

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