A printmaking technique simular to woodcut, where designs are cut in relief, but using blocks of linoleum. It was introduced at the beginning of the 20th century as an alternative graphic medium than wood, as it is a lot easier to cut, and has no grain. Because of this ease of use, it was introduced in schools to teach printmaking. This led to linocutting being regarded as not sufficiently technically advanced by many artists. That all changed when heavyweights Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse started using lino for their prints in the early 1950's, to great effect.
A wide range of impressions can be achieved with linocutting: finely-detailed lines; bold, graphic strokes that can be cut spontaneously; and large, flat areas of colour. Successive colours in a lino cut can be achieved by cutting away areas after each print run. Black and white prints are also sometimes hand coloured, using watercolours.
To make a linocut
Use special linocutting tools - this usually consists of a short handle, and a set of interchangable gouges and blades. Also useful is a linocutting board, that has a short edge that hangs off the edge of the table, and another short edge at the other end of the board that stops the lino from moving about. And a block of lino! You will also need printmaking ink (water-based ones are available), and a brayer (or roller) is useful too. These are all available at art supply shops.
First choose a design, or draw one yourself. Either copy it freehand onto the lino block with a soft pencil, or use carbon paper. Next, set up the board and place your lino on it. Start cutting with the tool. Start by cutting away the areas of your design that you want to be white. Always cut away from your body, and keep your other hand behind the tool. These tools are sharp, and if you slip (which can be quite easy to do), it is no fun having a gouge taken out of your finger (BTDT!).
Spread some ink onto a flat piece of glass or perspex with the brayer, then use the brayer to spread the ink in a thin layer evenly onto the surface of your lino block. Wash your hands if they have ink on them - you don't want it everywhere! Carefully place a sheet of paper, which should be thin (Japanese paper is ideal), on top of the inked lino block. Rub the back of the paper gently and firmly with a burnisher, such as the back of a teaspoon. If you have access to a hand printing press, so much the better. Gently remove the paper from the block, and there is your print! Leave it to dry. When you have finished doing as many prints as you want, clean up the mess. Printing can be very messy indeed, and used to be sometimes known as the 'Black Art'.