The WIP: Handprint

Welcome to a new segment of, The Work In Progress. To start off, we’ll go through the process of my linocut titled, “Handprint.”

hand study painting

The idea all started a semester before I created the piece. I wanted to practice my hand at… well, my hand! This was during the portion of the Painting II class where we had to create non-objective paintings. People who know me know that I am not interested in making abstract art, so out of interest I studied my hand. I used oil paint to roughly take the form and color of my left hand while it was resting on my jeans. By not painting in the blue jeans, I left room for interpretation. That space would soon become an abstract form in my linocut.


State I shows the problem with those jeans. It became apparent to me that these could no longer be seen as such. The main focus must always be the hand. If I added the same amount of detail in the jeans then it would detract from the intended focal point for two reasons: one being the tight connection between the two shapes, and another being the lack of color that I wanted. Having just black and white would strengthen the highlights and heighten the shadows in the hand.


State II shows the attempt I had at making the jeans into a slightly textured object. Remember, you cannot uncut what has already been cut. It’s always good to create proofs, or states as you go along to completely see what you want to take away. Even in the hand you can see my slow advancement in creating highlights. At this point I haven’t even talked about the background, which is how it should be for my work. No interpretation and no intense value. As long as it unifies the piece as a whole, then it is doing its job. For example, imagine the background being just white. That would throw off the balance of the heavily left aligned black forms, and the eye would be stuck in that place all the time, therefore I need space and movement in the background.


State III is where I got the idea of creating these mosaic-like areas in “the jeans” section. I also realized that, unlike State II, more lino needed to be cut out from that section. In this case, since the majority of the proof is white, the black ink creates a focal point. Since I want “the jeans” to be noticed as little as possible, adding more white would produce a distinct hand form, and thus a normalized focal point. In the fingers I added swirls instead of detailed fingerprints to balance the piece. There comes a point where too much is too much. By adding them it gives a playful touch to a detailed image.

Handprint web

The final proof ended up in five editions. I just added some larger highlights in the hand for a very fine balance. After my first print, I started to feel love towards the printmaking field and the beauty it can give.

Please leave a comment below if you have any critiques or comments, or simply just LIKE and SHARE!

For more, visit Tristan’s Website

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