Monday, January 23, 2017

Artist Residency Opportunity!

Every summer I am so fortunate to spend time at a place I love: Hog Island Audubon Camp, off the coast of Maine. The island itself is a 330-acre wildlife sanctuary, and the energy of the camp community can't be beat.

Long-time readers may recall that I spent all of the summer of 2015 on the island, wearing multiple hats during the course of the season. During that adventure I spent several weeks living in a rustic cabin, partly as Artist-in-Residence, and partly as the person who was going to help formalize the Residency program. Which we did.

The application period for the summer 2017 Residency season has almost reached its deadline: February 1. If you are an artist or writer... or know an artist or writer... whose work could benefit from two weeks of unstructured time in a great environment, I encourage you to take a minute to check out the Audubon Residency at Hog Island. I'd love to meet you there this summer!

(The Residency also has a Facebook page here.)

Hog Island view

The Writer's Cabin / Residency site

The Main Lodge / Residency site

Main Lodge interior

Evening light

Island sunsets are fantastic

Friday, January 20, 2017

Linocut in Progress: The cat is out of the bag. Or at least off of the press.

As usual, my assertion that I only needed 2 or 3 more passes on the little cat linocut was premature. If only I were able to restrain myself when I start down the "Oh, but it could be better if I did this" path...

Yeah. Like that will ever happen.

Bitsy, reduction linocut, Step 7

For Step 7 I cut away most of the background but left a border. The color pass was a transparent gray, but with all the other warm colors below it, it looks quite brown. To keep the tag on her collar clear I tried to remember to wipe the ink off that area before I printed. Ha. I probably forgot on every fourth one.

The same thing happened with Step 8. Sometimes I remembered to wipe off the tag and sometimes I didn't. After a lot more carving in the fur I rolled up yet another transparent gray. I did mask out the border, because I thought it was as dark as I wanted it. (Ahem)

Bitsy, reduction linocut, Step 8

Step 9 was really Step 9 and Step 9 1/2. I spot-inked the red in her tag, masked out the border, and ran another transparent gray across everything.

Bitsy, reduction linocut, Step 9

At this stage I had achieved my "only three more passes" goal and I thought I was finished. Once I pinned the prints to the wall and stepped back, however, I decided that the border was really too light. (sigh) It doesn't look too bad in this photo, but trust me. On the wall the whole image felt wimpy, and the border felt disconnected... as if the cat had been cut out and pasted over the background.

So I hacked away at the block and then ran yet another transparent gray pass.

Bitsy, reduction linocut, Step 10.

Aha! THAT's the ticket. I happily started pulling registration tabs off of prints and then... horrors! I decided that I really needed to put just a hint of color in her collar. It was easy enough to do, but on several prints I had to attempt the "eye-ball-it" method of registration, since I'd already pulled off the tabs. Most of those were color tests, so not particularly critical, but it was still nerve-wracking. I did a good, but not necessarily a great job.

Bitsy, reduction linocut, Step 11 and finished.

This is a scan of the final image instead of a slap-dash phone photo, so the color is a little more true. And, yes, my "three more passes" were, in fact, five.

But here's the funny bit. Somewhere around Step 7 I decided the block would hold up as a complete image all by itself, so I printed one. I kept it in rotation for a couple more of the transparent gray passes and hand-touched the eye, nose, and tag colors in. I should have done a bunch more, because I quite like it this way. What's really interesting is that you can see that I DID use transparent grays in all these later stages, even though they look much warmer on the full color versions.

"Alternate Bitsy," a test with its own merits.

So... I think it might finally be time to put on my Big Printmaker pants and start getting everything together for The Next Big Linocut. The image is going to require a full sheet of paper... that's 22 x 30 inches here in the States. I'm not even sure the clips on my drying rack will hold the weight of full sheets once they have ink on them, so assorted experiments need to happen before I ever roll out any ink. But I can feel the ominous rumble of its approach. Stay tuned...