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...

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Linocut in Progress: Pussyfooting around

Never thought I'd use the word "pussyfooting" in... well... anything, to tell the truth. But I'm making a linocut of a cat and I'm sneaking around trying to avoid

On Sunday when the forecast called for 70% chance of snow and all we got was gray and cold and about 4 flakes, I decided to tackle the little bit of spot inking required for eyes, nose, and tag. It's important that the eyes not look opaque, so even though the overall tone of the print is a kind of beige, I'm still going to use very transparent color.

Transparent watermelon-y inks.

Just because it's transparent doesn't mean it's not going to be fun. Watermelon colors! I bet you can guess which is for the eyes.

Spot ink rollup

These colors only have to be in the smallest of areas, and luckily they are separated enough on the image that I can roll them both up at the same time. And print through a mask, of course.

Cat peeking through a mask. Why does this seem so typical?

Something about cat eyes peering out from two little holes just makes me think of every cat-in-a-box or cat-in-a-hamper or cat-in-a-sofa photo that runs across the interwebs.

Bitsy, reduction linocut, Step 4

Well, that was satisfying. The eyes seem just right... transparent and reflective. The tag eventually wants to be a darker red, I think, but this color is good for the highlights.

And then... OOPS! I apparently neglected to take a photo of Step 5! I wanted some subtle texture in the fur, so did a fair bit of carving and printed a slightly darker gray-brown. Sorry you missed it!

Once that was in place I decided it was time to do something about the background color. I don't often use reddish tones, being a sort of blue-green girl, so I decided I'd step out of my comfort zone and put a sort of dull red in the background. I cut a newspaper mask to cover all the cat, but of course I neglected to take a photo of that, too. Not very helpful, am I?

Mask in place, I took a deep breath....

Bitsy, reduction linocut, Step 6

I think I like it! Although I did notice that the color looks a lot like the light red of her ID tag, so I might have printed both at the same time... but no matter. It's the same number of steps either way, and the tag will ultimately be darker, anyway.

Two... maybe three steps to go!