Monday, October 5, 2015

Linocut in Progress: Feeling Blue - or at least Printing Blue

Even after almost four months away from printing I can see that some work habits will never change. Let's see if you can guess which habits I'm talking about.

The first layer that I printed was intended as a kind of "underpainting," (underprinting?) since I thought I would quickly be moving to a blended color roll. Experience has shown me that, at least at my current skill level, trying to print a blended roll on the first pass can be an exercise in frustration.

So... with that first "underprinting" of pale blue accomplished, it was time for carving and printing of the second blue. Also not a blended roll. There were some small subtleties I wanted to chase after first.

Step 2: snow scene reduction linocut

Any contrast between first and second blue is difficult to see in this small format (slightly embiggenable with a click). But it's there. Trust me.

With two colors down I thought it might be time for that blended roll... but to my surprise I found myself losing interest in the idea. Or at least not ready for it yet. The blues are not yet rich enough to hold up to the contrast I think I want in a blended roll. Again, a wee bit of carving and another blue. This blue has a little bit of purple mixed in, although the camera has ignored that.

Step 3: snow scene reduction linocut

This is getting closer, but I'm still not convinced that it's time to try a blended roll... and in fact I am no longer sure that I will want one at all. My original thought was to suggest distance by rolling a darker, more violet, shade towards the top and blending it to a lighter blue, as I did with a piece titled "Longing."

"Longing," reduction linocut, 12" x 16" Edition of 10, sold out

But for this new piece I have an idea that maybe the deeper, richer color is toward the foreground. In the current piece the view is longer and wider, where "Longing" was a close-up, more intimate one. With "Longing" I wanted to suggest the viewer and the foreground elements were in the sun, that maybe the tangled shrub was at the edge of an open area.

I'd like the new piece to have the sense of a deeper, darker wood. I think you can tell that there will be many tree trunks and some greenery along the top edge... but no sky. Just dense tree canopy. There are no big expanses of snow exposed to the light, instead the ground is mostly in shadow, with sun coming through where it can.

In my reference image all the snow shadows are the same flat gray-blue... but I don't think that's what I want. Perhaps the answer will be to change the brilliance of the color from background to foreground, rather than the hue. I'm going to have to think about it for a little bit.

As for those questionable work habits... It should be obvious that "failure to plan ahead" and "tendency to wander off and make things more complicated than they need to be" are at the top of that list. If you've noticed others, feel free to point them out. I'm always happy to serve as an example of what NOT to do. It's one of my best skills!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Linocut in Progress (!): Getting reacquainted with Presston

Linocut in progress: Do you think it might be a snow scene?

I spent the afternoon getting reacquainted with my press (Presston), but first I spent the morning doing everything I could do to avoid getting reacquainted with my press.

It sounds completely ridiculous, I know. I am a printmaker. I want to make prints. I've been losing sleep over not printing for several months. So WHY did it take all morning to psych myself up to get to work?

Plain and simple fear.  After so long away, would I make a complete and frustrating mess of things? Would I lose hours of time and many dollars of paper trying to find my way? And, scariest of all, would the ongoing trouble with my elbow and wrist prove too painful to even work?

As with most obsessive worrying, it thankfully turned out to be largely overblown. The inking of the first print was uneven, but that is usually the case. I did have a small problem with transfer of my Sharpie drawing from block to print because I forgot to sand and wipe it down before I started, but in general it went surprisingly smoothly. I had to take a lot of breaks to keep my elbow happy, but I have 22 prints hanging from the rack and I feel like myself again.

So now it's back to carving... and obsessing about whether or not I got the lino block aligned correctly for upcoming registration tasks.  Because, you know, obsessive behavior is what printmakers are all about.