Friday, April 18, 2014

Linocut in Progress: But not as much as I'd like

The best laid plans, and all that. Wednesday was to be a studio day, but a series of more administratively-related tasks unexpectedly popped up and well... things got stalled.

So the intended demo piece is not where I wanted it to be, and the next step is more complex than I want to deal with in a people-coming-and-going situation. Hm. I'll take it with me to talk about what's happening next, but I've drawn up another B&W block to work on during the day tomorrow.

Here's where we are, though:

Duet: reduction linocut, Step 4
Duet: reduction linocut, Step 4, detail
Except for the bits of black in heads, wings, tails, feet, the birds are (I think) finished at this point. Seems odd, but I do like the simplicity of them in just these few colors.

So now it's time to load up the car with half the universe. Honestly... is it possible I might some time go somewhere without my car loaded to the gills? Art to deliver, supplies for demo, even borrowed taxidermy to return to a museum. When I think about it... it's kind of funny! What might a future archaeologist make of the dig site that is my vehicle?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Linocut in Progress: Upcoming Demo in Denver

I suppose I could say I'm relieved to report that I delivered 15 of what will ultimately be 17 or 18 seabird images to the framer yesterday. Thankfully she's just matting them for me... can you imagine trying to ship 18 pieces of framed artwork across the country? Yes, yes... I realize it's done all the time... but not by me.

That task accomplished, it was time to turn my attention to this weekend's demo at Abend Gallery in Denver. It's a very laid-back sort of demonstration event, with several artists working throughout the gallery. Printmaking isn't well understood by many visitors, so I like to have work in various stages available to share with people.

 Of course there isn't a lot of time between now and Saturday, so this new edition is small and the design is simple.

Terns, reduction linocut, Step 1

The problem with images that feature white birds is that they give themselves away so early in the game. Yep, two birds in flight.

The next step involved some amusing little areas of spot inking... If by amusing one means fiddly and not particularly dramatic or rewarding. Which I do.

In fairness, at least this sort of thing only requires a small batch of ink and cleanup is quick and easy.

Terns, reduction linocut, Step 2

Step three and we're already at the halfway point. I think. I haven't yet come to terms (terns?) with what to do with all that background. In my references the sky is just a flat, deep blue. Not terribly exciting.

Terns, reduction linocut, Step 3
But the next step is also a transparent gray. In fact I think it will be the same ink rolled a second time, since its purpose is to deepen some of the shadow areas in the birds.

In the meantime... I've just had a request from our local newspaper for some photos and info about area birds for an upcoming feature. After all these seabirds it will be nice to think about "my" critters for a little bit!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Linocut in Progress: Finishing the eiders!

"Tandem" - reduction linocut - 8" x 10"
Shirtsleeves weather yesterday, rain and snow today... time to finish the eiders. There wasn't much left on the  lino block at this point, just the border and the wings, tail, and head of the male.

You'll see that there is a small portion of the female's body remaining. I did a little experiment with some extra dark in this area, and it was interesting, but the black was overbearing. I could have mixed a second, lighter color to print just in the female, but decided that some self restraint was in order. Have to draw the line somewhere.

While the eiders are drying I'm sorting and signing prints and organizing things for the trip to the framer tomorrow. And thinking about the demo I have scheduled at Abend Gallery in Denver next weekend.

And despite the fact that I am REALLY ready to move on to a new subject, I am drawing up one more seabird piece to use as my demo. Yesterday's sorting and prep work confirmed the niggling feeling that there just aren't enough birds in flight in this collection. I had hoped to create either puffin or guillemot flighted pieces, but all of my reference shots and sketches from my day on Eastern Egg Rock were of birds flying away from me. Compositions of bird butts can be amusing, but I just wasn't feeling it.

So a pair of terns it will be. Simple... maybe six color passes. No time for more than that! (Well, actually not even time for that many... but I'm going to do it anyway. ;-)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Don't try this at home

I'm still waiting for the ink to dry enough on the eiders, so yesterday decided to tackle one last (?) black and white linocut for the exhibition.

Things didn't start out very well. For what I think was the first time ever (in my personal experience, anyway) a Sharpie marker imploded as I was drawing up the block. Black permanent marker ink all over my hands, my drawing table, the block. Not pretty.

I scrubbed up as best I could, finished the drawing, and not 30 minutes later started carving.

"Hm," thought I. "This lino is quite cold. I probably should warm things up in here a bit."

Newbie linocutters, if you don't know this already: LINO DOES NOT CUT WELL WHEN IT IS COLD. Set it in a warm window, place it next to the heater, run an iron over it, sit on it. Anything. Just don't try to carve it cold.

And do as I say, not as I do, because of course I went ahead and carved cold lino and then had to stop for another clean up. This one involved bandages and considerably more swearing. I'd show you my finger, but it's the middle one on my left hand and that would be rude.

Ordinarily after a rough start like that I might put down the carving tools and work on something else, but all this happened before 9:00am and there's that @$%# exhibition deadline. In the end I carved all day and into the evening hours, and managed to get an entire 6" x 18" image ready for printing.

Which I did today. Not the entire edition, mind you. But enough to be ready for the framer on Monday.

"Got Your Back," linocut, 6" x 18"

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Linocut in Progress: The eiders - So close and yet so far

Ooph. I don't know when I might learn to leave well enough alone. Probably never. I should stop pretending it's even a possibility.

I finally drummed up the courage to do some tweaking of the female eider, a decision I don't really regret except for the extra time and aggravation that ensued at a time when efficiency was preferred.

Eider linocut: Step 10
A lighter brown in her head and across her back. It looks like a lot more here, but we're facing some wet ink glare.

Eider linocut: Step 11
And then the birder in me decided that I should really give her the appropriate grayish beak and lighter tail feathers. Fine. Good. It looks scary, but the next color should make everything all better. A transparent gray over the entire block.

Hm. Too wet. That's okay, I'll do it tomorrow.

Hm. Too wet. I'll wait another day.

Hm. Still too wet. @#$% white ink added to lighter color must be slowing everything down. Wait some more.

I started and stopped the gray pass three times, but finally have accomplished it. Just the black to go now, but of course everything's too wet. Again.

Eider linocut: Step 12

We'll call the female finished at this stage. Overall the piece is okay as it is, but I think one more dark in the male will really finish it off. 

I think I have time to do just one more black and white piece and then we'll call the exhibition done. There are a dozen more ideas I'd like to pursue, but time is just about up.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Didn't see this one coming....


Group O'Puffins. Linocut. 12 "x 18"

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Finished. No foolin'!

"Six Cormorants and a Duck"
Can you find the duck?

The biggest prank of my first day of April was meted out by this crazy single color linocut. I mean, really. It's taking HOW long to rub a decent print?

For today I pulled just seven prints on Awagami kozo and two on Arches hot press watercolor paper. (For hand-coloring experiments.) Between the recent carving and printing marathons my wrist is just too, too tired to do much more right now.. but that's the good thing about single color! I don't HAVE to print the entire edition at once. (Although going through all the cleanup knowing I have to do it again isn't very much fun.)

But, ooh.... when you look at this, can't you just imagine a series of blended rolls under all this line work? Yeah. Later.

For the next day or two I need to turn my attention to some contract projects, and then it will be time to take a deep breath and finish the eiders. I also need to start drawing up another single color image, because it would be silly to have only one in the exhibition.  I have about three weeks left to get everything done! Yikes!

Monday, March 31, 2014

For the doubters amongst us

Avoidance of the eiders continues, so carving progresses on what I'm envisioning as both a single-color linocut and perhaps a key block for some future multi-pass experiment.

This block is a 12x12-inch square, but seems to be taking an inordinately long time to carve. Maybe it's because I'm working with texture more than shape, so it's ALL noodly. At this point it's about half carved... or we could say I've got a couple of Harry Potter movies and a Star Trek episode or two invested so far. Kind of fun, though, eh? It's the lovely assortment of cormorant postures that interested me here, and for the someday-future color version there's a great movement of color from light gray to green to dark gray, more light gray, ochre, brown as you move top to bottom.

Who knows? If I manage to print it on watercolor paper (challenging by hand) I might even add some handcoloring. But all this is completely theoretical until I finish carving, so time to get back to it!