Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Linocut in Progress: Those pesky greens

Ugh... this is taking longer than I wanted it to. I do keep telling myself that it's all in the name of Art, but this Art fellow is going to need the witness protection program when I'm through with him.

Because now I'm fussing with greens.

I thought I had a brilliant idea to create a blended roll from left to right in the image, dark to light.

It wasn't a horrible idea, but I was still kind of attached to that pale green in the upper right. It's not good to get attached to a particular color in an area that hasn't really been resolved in the design stage. (Bad Sherrie.) I compromised by cutting a rough mask to protect that upper right corner and added a mid-green everywhere else.

Reduction linocut in progress: Step 8

Okay. Workable, although this green felt... cheap. A bit wimpy. Thankfully I  wasn't going to keep a lot of it.

I tried the blended roll idea– dark to light, left to right. (Oooh! Poetry!) Meh. Not really what I wanted.

Instead I did a top-to-bottom roll that was, believe it or not, a very pale transparent blue to a darker green with a fair bit of brown in it.

Step 9

Hm. Okay, but I was still avoiding the problem of the background. I started carving away some more bits, with an eye to printing a blue-grayish color next... but GEEZ. The block was getting really confusing at this point. Don't tell anyone, but I decided it was time to grit my teeth and engage the P word. (shudder) Planning.

I've done this a few times, to tell the truth... and it's helpful for everything except my impatience. I took the image above and flipped it in Photoshop so it was the same orientation as my block. I printed an 8" x 10"-ish version from the computer, got out my trusty pencil, and started filling in shapes so I could see what NOT to cut. (If you click on this image you'll get a slightly larger version and hopefully get a better idea of what I'm talking about.)

"Mapping" the next pass with pencil.

It's getting close, although I still haven't come to grips with that darn background. I think I have one side sorted out, but the other... well. You can see I've even been experimenting with some swoopy abstract shapes, but I'm not sold on them.

With perseverance I might be ready to print again tomorrow, although I would encourage you not to hold your breath.

In the meantime... I thought you might be amused to see one of my "testers" on this project. I started with 24 prints, but of course several of them will not be part of the edition because they've been used for color tests. This particular print is the very first one in every color run, and you can see I've made some alarmingly bad first choices. You can also see what a print looks like with out the laborious masking that I've been doing. Lovely green flower centers, don't you think?

I think it looks like some sort of 1960s or 70s wallpaper. With a little metallic ink it will be ready for someone's retro bathroom.

Color test. A wee bit over the top, wouldn't you say?

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!