Visual Arts: Linoleum Printing

Grade level: 6‐12
Duration: Seven 45‐minute class periods
Media Type: linoleum printing
Subject Integration: Math
National Standards for Visual Arts: (see below)
Objectives: Students will create their own linoleum print using proper linoleum printing tools to create a unique, unified, and symmetrical artwork.

Students will demonstrate an understanding of proper linoleum print techniques using various tools, such as, lino‐cut linoleum, cutting tools, printing ink, brayers, trays, and watercolor paints.
(website for help with writing rubrics)


4 - Standards are exceeded
3 - Standards are met
2 - Standards may be met at a very low quality or with some exceptions
1 - Standards are not met or work is not attempted or very poorly done

Materials and Procedure:

  • white drawing paper or other available paper approx. 9” x 12”
  • pencils
  • black printing ink
  • brayers
  • linoleum cutting tools (gouge)
  • lino‐cut linoleum cut into 3” x 3” pieces
  • ink trays (about one for every 4‐5 students)
  • watercolor paint brushes
  • water containers, water newspapers for covering table

Day 1:
1. Introduce the art of linoleum printing. Show slides of various linoleum prints. Discuss/ show famous linoleum prints by Henri Matisse. Henri Matisse is known best for his paintings, drawings, and paper cut‐outs, but he also created linoleum cuts back when fewer artists were. Linoleum printing can be traced back to artists in Germany between 1905‐13 where it had been used for wallpaper printing.

Discussion: “What do you see in these prints?” “How do they make you feel?” “Which do you prefer? Prints of landscapes, objects you recognize? Or prints that are more abstract?” “Why or why not?”

Show Playlist videos:

Betsy Bowen (3:50)
Cecilia Lieder - Woodcuts (1:20)

Show books by Betsy Bowen. If time allows, read one of her books, show her work to students. Show art work by Cecilia Lieder. Discuss.

2. Pass out newspapers to cover tables / desks. Pass out scratch paper. Allow students to plan work. Explain how artists plan their work through sketching, being inspired by other artists, looking at various work examples, etc. Pass out 3”x 3” blank square of linoleum and have students trace it on their sketch paper so they can plan size and shape of finished work. Teacher and student decide together which sketch will be used for final work.

3. Teacher demonstrates process of transferring student’s pencil plan onto linoleum. Image is then cut into the soft‐cut linoleum with cutting tool or gouge. Proper tool usage is demonstrated for safety.

4. Inking process is demonstrated. Tray, ink, and brayer are used. Many prints will be created to get the ‘best’ print. Some prints may come out too light, some too dark. Teacher will explain how students will get a feel for using too much or too little ink.

Day 2:
Recap Day 1. Check for understanding. “What did we discuss during our last class?” “What are the steps to make a print?” “What do we need to do to ensure safety?” “What are the names of the tools being used?” “Which artists did we discuss?”

Students create several prints, getting a feel for what “works” and what does not. Emphasize how trial and error is important in this process.

Day 3:
Review Day 2. Students use class time to print. When students are ready to print their “final” print, they will print their image twelve times on a 9” x 12” piece of paper, with all prints fitting so that the only while space left on the page is part of the image itself.

Day 4:
Printing day.

Day 5:
Printing day.

Day 6:
Printing day / Watercolor painting of white spaces. Discuss pattern, color.

Day 7:
Painting / finish artwork.

Discussion Questions:
What did you learn about linoleum printing that you did not know before? What did you learn about Betsy Bowen, Cecilia Lieder, Rick Allen and Henri Matisse? Which part of the linoleum printing technique was your favorite? Why? What did you find easy to accomplish within your artwork? What did you find difficult? What would you do different next time?



  • Learning Linocut - A Comprehensive Guide to the Art of Relief Printing through Linocut by Susan Yeates
  • Hawk Ridge: Minnesota's Birds of Prey by Betsy Bowen
  • Antler, Bear, Canoe: A Northwoods Alphabet by Betsy Bowen
  • Twelve Owls by Betsy Bowen
  • Great Wolf and the Good Woodsman by Betsy Bowen
  • Gathering: A Northwoods Counting Book by Betsy Bowen
  • Tracks in the Wild by Betsy Bowen
  • Henri Matisse, 1869-1954: Master of Colour by Volkmar Essers

Follow‐up activities:
Create cards from single prints and sell for charity / classroom art supplies. Guide students in classroom critique and discuss “glows” and “grows” of student work.

National Standards for Visual Arts:

Content Standard #1: Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes
Achievement Standard:
Students know the differences between materials, techniques, and processes. Students describe how different materials, techniques, and processes cause different responses. Students use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories. Students use art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner.

Content Standard #2: Using knowledge of structures and functions
Achievement Standard:
Students know the differences among visual characteristics and purposes of art in order to convey ideas. Students describe how different expressive features and organizational principles cause different responses. Students use visual structures and functions of art to communicate ideas.

Content Standard #3: Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas
Achievement Standard:
Students explore and understand prospective content for works of art. Students select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

Content Standard #4: Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures
Achievement Standard:
Students know that the visual arts have both a history and specific relationships to various cultures. Students identify specific works of art as belonging to particular cultures, times, and places. Students demonstrate how history, culture, and the visual arts can influence each other in making and studying works of art.

Content Standard #5: Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others
Achievement Standard:
Students understand there are various purposes for creating works of visual art.
Students describe how people's experiences influence the development of specific artworks. Students understand there are different responses to specific artworks.

Content Standard #6: Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines
Achievement Standard:
Students understand and use similarities and differences between characteristics of the visual arts and other arts disciplines. Students identify connections between the visual arts and other disciplines in the curriculum.

Funding for this program is provided by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Click here for more information or visit the Minnesota Legacy website.

Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment