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Behind the print: "Late November"

Jennifer Jokhoo’s beautiful linocut prints combine intricate carving and multiple layers of colour to capture natural landscapes throughout the seasons. Find out how "Late November” was made and her inspiration for it.

Late autumn woodland with sunlight streaming through the trees; linocut by Jennifer Jokhoo
"Late November", reduction linocut by Jennifer Jokhoo

What made you decide to make this print? Was it something in particular about this location?

This woodland is loosely based on a place I often visit with our dogs. In the summertime, my son enjoys playing hide in seek with his cousins in these woods – although the dogs always seem to give away his hiding place, which irks him!

For me, this wooded area has both connotations of meditative ‘alone time’ and rowdier playtime. Obviously, the mood of this print is more the former.

I chose to depict a late autumn scene as the woods are fairly desolate, yet peaceful, during this time. We are fortunate to live in Surrey, which apparently has more woodland than any other county in England. In that respect, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to this subject matter. I have been documenting woodland scenes in the form of sketches and photos for a while and felt it was time to embrace a large-scale piece (height 50cm x width 66 cm). My Hunter Penrose press was only just large enough to print it.

The detail is just incredible. How did you keep track? It must require a lot of patience, especially with the different colours on the ground. Do you do a lot of planning or is it quite instinctive as it develops?

Thank you! I have always been a detail person, which is sometimes my downfall, as I often end up having to eliminate some of the intricate elements.

My prints always begin with a plan, which is based upon small paintings or sketches and photos of an area. The subject is then drawn by hand on to the lino with biro pen (as a mirror image from what the final print will look like, as it will print in reverse). As the layers develop, areas can often change, so the plan is not always set in stone and the work can be fluid.

Intricately carved lino block for Jennifer Jokhoo's "Late November" linocut print. The image of the block is a mirror image of what will be printed
The carved lino block for Jennifer's "Late November" print. The block is printed in relief, with the raised surface inked, so she removes the areas she doesn't want to print. The image on the block is a mirror image of what will be printed

What’s the little structure on the right of the print? Is there any particular significance to it?

The structure on the right is a den. My son and his cousins enjoy adding to it (and taking branches away) each time we visit. It’s often used in a game of hide and seek and has been there for years.

Can you briefly explain your working process?

I use the ‘reduction’ linocutting method, which means that all layers are cut from one block, so the work can never be rewound or repeated once an edition is complete.

Once the subject is drawn onto the block, highlights (or white areas) are always removed first. A light colour is used as a starting point, and I normally work within a small edition of 20 prints. More areas of lino are cut away, and a subsequent layer of colour (slightly darker) is applied and printed on top of the first colour. This method is repeated until multiple layers of colour are built up. Normally I use between eight and ten colours.

The linocut block for "Late November", inked in black, on Jennifer Jokhoo's press, ready for printing
The inked lino block ready for printing the black layer on Jennifer's Hunter Penrose press

This is a reduction linocut, so the block is destroyed as part of the process. Does that make it quite high stakes to get it right, especially when you’ve put so much work into the cutting, because you can’t go back once layers are printed?

Yes, depending on the nature of the subject, the block in its final stage can end up looking quite abstract. Sometimes it's more aesthetically pleasing, and I have on occasion exhibited the block as well as the print. Other times, the block is more or less destroyed.

In reduction linocutting, you are having to think in reverse, so a basic plan can be useful. It can be quite unforgiving if you cut in the wrong area. One of the GPA members calls the reduction linocutting process a “printmakers’ crossword”, which I quite like. If you make a mistake, which I often do, the design can be carefully modified, but as you rightly say, once layers are printed you cannot rewind the process.

You mentioned that you sometimes do a small monochrome run of prints just before the final layer - why is that? Is that as an alternative version?

Yes, depending on how the block looks, I like to print a small variation of black and white prints. I find it quite satisfying, and it provides a record of how the block looks during a moment in time. It is often used as a way of clarifying decisions regarding the final layer. I also think the monochrome version has a completely different mood and I enjoy the contrast.

The monochrome proof of Jennifer's "Late November" print

What are you working on at the moment?

We have recently adopted a little rescue puppy, so I’ve not been quite as productive as I would like! The kitchen table has become my studio for the time being.

I hope to produce a nocturne piece at some point in the not-so-distant future. In the meantime, I’m finishing off a couple of older landscape prints I started some time ago.

Jennifer’s featured artist exhibition runs until January 29 and her wonderful prints are available at our gallery all year round. A selection of her work is also available in our online shop. For more information, see her artist’s page and her website.


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