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  • Clare Morgan

The Mindful Maker: Unwinding and unfurling with the printmaking process as meditative art practice.


carved lino plate with pfeil tool and flowers. mindful printmaking.

Have you ever felt the world melt away as you engage in something that takes you into flow… that activity that's a soothing balm for your soul?


If so, you've tapped into the powerful therapeutic benefits of being a mindful maker.


For me it's the meticulous carving of a block, Today, I invite you to join me on a personal journey, exploring the ways this unique art form has become a sanctuary for my mind and the driving force behind my art practice.



Photo of Clare Morgan in studio with inks displayed behing.
Me in the studio

A Journey to Calming Carving


Confession: I wasn't always a printmaker, my original love was painting, brushes in hand, I loved the way I could manipulate the paint on canvas and use the brushstrokes to add evidence of the process, it was immediate and raw, like the abstract expressionist painters I admired. 


Printmaking sat on the sidelines, I enjoyed it, and the workshop inspired me greatly but the process slowed me down. Then, in 2005 I met a passionate printmaker who was in the process of setting up a studio which became known as Green Door Printmaking Studio.  Anna Johnson opened my eyes to the vast array of processes, and what I view as the ‘ritual’ involved in printmaking.


The ritual included the careful setting up of the space, the steps involved, soaking of paper, drying and signing, all things that take time and patience, and steps that have to be carefully considered to ensure the success of a piece. I found this an unexpected welcome in the busyness of the everyday. I found the studio became an escape in some ways and a connection to myself.


I saw examples of how one matrix, plate or block could ‘hold’ those expressive marks and recreate them, this was the real gateway into the world of printmaking for me. I tried out many processes, drypoint, etching, aquatint, waterless litho, collagraph, mezzotint, and screenprinting, relishing what each process brought to the artwork. Printmaking became my meditative art practice.


My practice took on a new direction in 2020 when shielding, I needed a technique that I could do from my home studio. I picked up a lino starter kit and started to experiment, and as I found my style I became obsessed. I realised that I could leave carved lines to create the energy and process of making that I so love in the other processes.



Carving a linocut block featuring a portrait in nature. Clare Morgan artist
Carving a lino block

I now mostly work in linocut and woodcut. The methodical nature of carving is a slowing down that I desperately need, the precision required for each mark, became a form of moving meditation. Each stroke of the blade is a response to the last, the repetitive motion, the feel of the tools and the gradually carved surface lull my mind into a state of quiet attentiveness.



Close up of a printmaking roller covered with black ink ready to print a piece of lino. lino printmaking process
Inky roller ready to print.


The Inky Dance: A Symphony of Focus and Flow


The magic doesn't stop at the carving block. The printing process itself unlocks a whole new level of mindful engagement. The anticipation of pulling the first print, the delicate dance of ink and paper, demands complete presence. Each impression is a unique testament to the present moment, even if sometimes they are imperfect.


Here, the mind surrenders to the flow. The worries of the day fade as I become one with the block, the ink, the paper. It's a state of deep concentration, yet effortless creativity, a feeling akin to the focused calm of yoga or mindful meditation.



Roling black ink onto a carved piece of lino ready for printing. figure unfurlin. mindful printmaking.
Rolling on the ink

Beyond the Studio: Printmaking's Ripple Effect


The therapeutic benefits of printmaking extend far beyond the studio walls. The mindful practices embedded in this art form translate into daily life. The focus cultivated becomes a lens through which I approach challenges, the patience honed translates to navigating relationships, and it helps to think of creative solutions to challenges. I am always figuring things out.



Calming interior decor featuring linocut artwork in a frame, figure in nature black and white, minimalist style.
Unfurl linocut

Ready to Unwind and Unfurl with printmaking?


If you're seeking an artistic outlet that nourishes your soul and quiets your mind, consider printmaking. It's more than just an art form; it's a doorway to mindfulness, a journey of self-discovery, and a path to profound creative expression.


Has this got you inspired? 


Let's explore how YOU can unleash your inner printmaker!


Start Simple, Stay Inspired


  1. Pick your poison: Begin with a beginner-friendly technique like linocut, Linocut uses linoleum blocks for bold, graphic prints, working in just positive and negative space.

  2. Gather your tools: Start with a basic kit containing carving tools, ink, a baren (for hand-printing), and paper. Online retailers and art supply stores cater to beginners.

  3. Embrace the online guide: YouTube tutorials and websites like Handprinted.co.uk offer free, step-by-step lessons for various techniques. This is a great tutorial from Handprinted

  4. Find inspiration: Browse online galleries like Etsy or Pinterest for printmaking artwork. Local art shows and museums can also spark your creativity.


Sketching out a lino block ready for carving, surrounded by basic tools on a workspace.
A simple linocut set is the perfect place to start.

Dive Deeper, Expand Your Skills


  1. Level up your tools: As you progress, invest in some better tools like a Pfeil tool, which carve lino-like butter making the process much easier.

  2. Join the community: Sign up for local workshops or online courses to learn from experienced printmakers and connect with fellow enthusiasts. There is a great community on facebook you could check out.

  3. Experiment with materials: Try different papers, inks, and textures to create unique effects. Don't be afraid to get messy and explore!

  4. Showcase your work: Share your creations online, participate in local art fairs, or gift your prints to loved ones. Connecting with the world through your art fuels motivation.

Remember

  • Be patient: Mastering printmaking takes time and practice. Embrace the learning process and enjoy the journey!

  • Focus on the process: Don't be obsessed with perfection. The meditative qualities lie in the mindful act of creating, not just the final product.

  • Have fun! Let go of expectations and allow yourself to experiment, explore, and express your unique creativity.


Graphic Introducing clare Morgan printmaker signing prints with a link to about page.


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