Reduction is a method of making prints. It is not to be confused with a particular medium: it can be employed upon stones, plates, blocks or screens in all the major ways of printmaking, indeed many successful examples can be found in them all. It differs radically from multi-block one plate! screen printing. Normally, as in. most colour printing operations, a separate surface is needed for each colour, but in this method after the edition has been printed with the initial image, more of the block is gouged or eroded away, and the whole edition reprinted once more. So it goes on, serially printing the same block in different colours with more and more of the surface removed at successive stages. So you will see that from the beginning you have to believe in it! Paper, edition size, percentage of colour and texture on the relief surface for each colour, these cannot be left to see how it goes. However once a commitment has been made, freedom from all the other inhibitors of directness associated with printmaking, such as registration and master drawing, are gone, then within these initial constraints you have the most free and direct method of all.

Raymond Higgs 1990

Colour Theory

If you add the three primary pigments together, yellow, red, and blue, you get black. If you add the three primary coloured lights together you get white light. The artist who works with pigment has to compromise, because he wants the effect of light but he cannot use light. For myself, in the field of relief printing where three or four opaque colours is the maximum number I can use, I would hold that the three basic colours must be present in whatever the combination of mixes, in equal quantities. It being more important that a third primary is not present in a mix so maximising the difference.


A plan and strategy is prepared, the work which is to come divided into compartments of activity, each compartment relating to a colour and the amount of surface which that colour will occupy. Erosion scraping, cutting of large pieces of lino, or cutting and engraving of miniature lemonwood, prepares the block for the printing of its first colour. The whole edition is printed because the same block is then further eroded or engraved in preparation for printing the second and subsequent colours. In my case my terrain is the block. Landscape may appear, as behind the raindrops or condensation on a window, but it is there only as a prop or backdrop, supporting the main activity which is preparing the ground for the abstract interplay of several colours.

May 1992