Thursday, October 20, 2016

Linocut in Progress: More fun with weird color

When we last saw our linocut-in-progress the flower petals were oh-so-close to completion. They needed one more red-orange, but not too bright.

This sounds like a straightforward enough idea, but the color red and I just do not have a good relationship. I own one piece of clothing that's red, a cardigan sweater. I wear it a couple of times in the winter because it's SO soft and comfy, but I almost never go out of the house in it. Red. It's just so... obstinate.

I'm not kidding. Red has a mind of its own.

I am a tidy, tidy printmaker, as a general rule. I wipe my hands constantly and might even stop to have a proper wash several times during a color run.

Which is why, I am certain, my tube of red ink decided to do THE most annoying thing. You know what I mean. That thing where the ink (or the toothpaste, or whatever) just keeps coming out of the tube so fast you can't get the cap back on. (Sigh) SO much red, everywhere. Hands. Table. Tools. Towels. By the time I got it cleaned up my trash can looked like I was trying to cover up a murder.

And of course the trouble didn't stop there, oh no.

Geez. I never use these colors. I wonder why.

After I got my work surface back in order I had to mix my red, keeping in mind that it would be affected by the yellows already printed. It took a lot of mixing and testing (and turning several prints into "testers") before I found the color that worked. Guess which one it was?

The lightest raspberry sherbet color, of course. 

In the photo above, the transparent color is roughly spot-inked on to the block. (Sorry the image will be upside-down in the next few shots, but the light from the other direction caused too much glare.)

Since this color wasn't going everywhere on the image and I didn't want the un-inked portions of the block to damage the prints, I cut a newsprint mask. 

Well, actually, I cut 24 masks. Because...

The ever-so-slightly tacky prints provided more surface for the mask to grab than the barely-inked block. The mask was no more firmly stuck to the prints than a sticky-note (more like strong static electricity), but I couldn't re-use it. It wasn't the trickiest mask I've ever had to cut, but it took a while to make the 24 of them that were required. 

Linocut in progress, Step 6. Embiggenable with a click.

Step 6 printed, mask removed (and right side up).

Okay, that was fun. Time to make a light green. It needed to be somewhat opaque, since it had to cover all this orangey, reddish goodness.

Enter weird color number two: A lovely minty green. Bleah. Plenty of white in it, of course. Nasty-looking on the block, especially next to the print in its present state.

And here's where I made a decision that would make my printing session very, very long. You see those little pieces of newsprint? It wasn't really necessary to keep the green out of the flower centers, but I wanted to maintain the darker value there. Why? Because I hoped it would make it easier to assess the overall value range after this color pass was printed. 

So, yes. Those are six little pieces of paper, cut to fit their individual flower centers. 24 times each. And just as with the previous mask, these stuck to the prints and pulling them off was time consuming. 

But I think it was worth it, because I still have darker value reference points. If all the flower centers had gone green it might have been confusing.

Oh... and look how not-minty the green turned out. 

Linocut in progress, Step 7. Embiggenable with a click.

Fun, eh? Now I get to start carving stems and leaves, and I can no longer put off decisions about the background. My intention (at the moment) is to make the upper left corner dark so that the flowers stand out, but what about that right side? There are some spent stems that will reach into that space, but what else? I kind of like this color, so it could be nice to keep more of it, but we are firmly in the Sherrie-didn't-plan-ahead-and-it's-catching-up-with-her stage now. Let the nail-biting begin!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Linocut in Progress: When printmakers think like watercolorists

Yellow, yellow, yellow. How.... yellowish! Time to start toning this linocut down a bit.

Step 4 was a duller transparent orange. It brightened up on the print because of all the yellow below it, but I think it hit the right value note. And besides, it's autumn! Pumpkin-colored inks are probably appropriate.

Step 4, definitely flowers... but pumpkin-colored?

After Step 4 I'm almost done with the flower petals, which is good because I'm tired of the color AND I'm starting to sweat the greens which need to be added soon. I thought about cutting a mask at this stage, but it would have been too, too fussy and a pain to work with. Yep, there's gonna be some white ink in my future. Again.

But right now I need to push a few blooms into shadow. Back in the days when I was primarily a watercolor painter, one of my options would have been to carefully brush a blue or purple wash across existing color. Hm. I wonder...

Transparent purple!

Yes! It's a transparent purple! How fun to roll out something new, even though I was quite sure that it wouldn't read as purple once printed. In the end I thought perhaps it could have been MORE purple, but it did what I wanted.

It made a darker, duller orange. Seriously. See for yourself:

Step 5: Darker orange from purple. Embiggenable with a click.

And now I have a little head scratching to do. Some of these flowers have streaks of deep red in their petals. I absolutely do NOT want to roll red ink across this entire image when I know I have greens coming up. But again, cutting a detailed mask would be horribly complicated, especially since I would have to cut 24 of them.

I think I will be able to get away with some spot inking if I use a very small brayer and if I am prepared to do a lot of wiping out of stray color before each impression.

I have a day or two to sort it out now, as these five layers of ink are very sticky. Once I have carved everything away from the flowers except those red streaks (and the dark centers) I'll have a better sense of how careful my spot inking needs to be.

Until then, let's give your eyes and mine a break from all that yellowy, orangey, flowery stuff. I was out for a walk before the supermoon set this morning. There's something about a big moon at daybreak that seems particularly wonderful. Especially since the world is blue. Not yellow.