top of page

How my linocut prints of medieval subjects are inspired and produced

Printmaking is a time-consuming business. In its basic form, a print can be made from one block or many, each one inked up and printed. 

Inspiration and creation

I am inspired by medieval manuscripts and the work of medieval illuminators or limners. 


I begin each print by drawing an image taken from one of these onto the master block which is then cut by hand.


Cutting the blocks

I typically create my work using a master block taking many days to produce to remove areas where errors can occur.


From this I create a series of secondary blocks, each registered with the master block to ensure consistent colour printing.

As an example of the work involved, my image of The Green Knight in the Forest took 80 hours to cut. 

Printing the blocks

In printing a multi-colour print, each colour has to be registered so that every colour falls exactly where it should.

Using an old Albion press (see the pictures), is complicated. Often the press has subtleties of pressure which means you need to turn each block around.

My preference is to print "wet on wet" to maximise colour creation and subtlety in the final print. Sometimes I "extend" or thin the inks to enable greater transparency and texture.

A lifetime of learning

Printmaking is about constant learning and the application of new techniques; complacency results in failure.


Concentration is critical - printmaking always has a way of catching you out if you grow tired!

Michael Smith, Printmaker
Michael Smith using the Albion printing press
bottom of page