It is a relief print of a menagerie of fish that I'm going to print in black and then color in with watercolors.
I started with this drawing. I think I found pictures of all these fish in my Coastal Fishes of California field guide but I drew them all freehand. At some point I'll make a diagram with the names of all the fish on it but right now I really can't remember what most of the fish are.
Then I transferred the fish onto a piece of linoleum with carbon paper and carved them out. This is what took a really really long time. I've been sitting in front of the TV after work every evening working on this and making a complete mess of my living room. It is best not to be watching anything you are really interested in because it's pretty dangerous. I ended up stabbing myself in the tip of my finger pretty bad when Nate and I were catching up on last season's Heroes. It's pretty much healed now but I'll probably have a scar on my finger for a while.
This is a picture of it all carved out and inked and ready to be printed. At some point, I think before I moved, I had bought oil based black relief printing ink for the purpose of doing projects like this where the outlines are in black and the images are filled in with watercolors. Using oil based ink makes sure that there is no chance that the black image will get smugged when I use the watercolors on top. Of course yesterday searched all over my house and couldn't find that ink so I just printed it with water based ink. It probably won't turn out but I can always print more with the correct ink later.
I printed the fish on watercolor paper which wasn't quite as big as it should have been. I think if I go buy more ink at the art supply store I'll get some nice big sheets of printmaking paper too. I used my barren which is this big round circle with a handle that you press the paper onto the linoleum block with. This takes a lot of arm strength so my right arm is kind of sore today. I kept pressing until I could see the image of the fish embossed in the back of the paper.
One problem with using the barren instead of a printing press is that while pressing the paper down sometimes it shifts and you get a double image like this one. It kind of makes me dizzy.