Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Linocut in Progress: In which I call "uncle"

The problem with accolades and the excitement that goes with them is that eventually one must return to the "real" world and face things like electric bills and uncooperative prints.

Although to be fair, it's probably less that the print is uncooperative than it is that the printmaker has been scattered and disconnected from it. But let's see how it all turned out, shall we?

I did, indeed, try to moderate some of the thin hash marks with wood filler. Minor problems here included the discovery that I didn't HAVE any wood filler and the later discovery that the store I went to only had the kind with some sort of "tintable" grit in it. Oh well... try it, eh?

So here I am, mushing filler into tiny cuts and hoping for the best. I did this twice, lightly sanding away the excess in between coats. Seemed to be holding okay, so I put together another transparent olive-to-dark-green ink blend and rolled up the block.

Paintbrush linocut: Step 11

As we say in the business: Hmmm.

It actually worked, but the olive green ink was SO transparent that it didn't really moderate those hash marks very well. They are less bright, but still obvious. The filler also lifted out of a few lines as I rolled ink over the block, and I suspect a couple of reasons: First, that the hash marks were very thin and second, that I probably didn't do a great job of cleaning oils out of them before applying the wood filler. (Jen, that's for you!)

By now I was more than ready to wrap this this up and move on to something else, so I carved a few more lines into the background and inked up one last time with a green-to-dark green blend. Interestingly, the color appears purple-brown and blue when printed over the existing layers.

"Paintbrush," reduction linocut, 7" x 5",  Step 12
This time the hash marks were toned down better, and I liked the addition of the background suggestion of grasses, so I'm calling this one finished. There's a lot of wet ink glare in this particular shot... once the prints dry some more I'll post a better photo.

Whew! That was a ridiculously protracted image birth, but at least we finally made it. I'm drawing up a new block now... something a little bigger, a little simpler (HA!), and hopefully a little faster. But there's major news brewing in the background that could disrupt things again... stay tuned for the next chapter.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Back from "Birds in Art" with even more excellent exhibition news!

Opening night crowd at the Birds in Art preview.

Whew! What a fantastic weekend! Once again (for the 39th time, to be precise) the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum staff facilitated a superb weekend of art and artists for this year's "Birds in Art" exhibition.

It's always wonderful to spend time with "the tribe" of wildlife artists, but this year I enjoyed the added surprise of visits to the exhibition by friends I hadn't seen in more than 10 and more than 20 years! So great to reconnect with Jon and Erin and Ella... thanks for coming out.

L to R: Anne Faust, Guy Cohleach, Sherrie York. Hey, that's me! And that's
my piece now permanently in residence at the Woodson Art Museum.

The bonus excitement happened after I left Wisconsin, however. My flight was delayed in Dallas because of a leaking coffee maker (yes, seriously... water everywhere) when I my phone rang with an unfamiliar Wausau, Wisconsin identification. "Great," I thought. "What did I leave behind at the hotel THIS time?"

Wood ducks find a new home at the Woodson Art Museum!

But it wasn't the hotel, it was curator Jane Weinke calling to give me the news that the Woodson Museum will purchase Shower With a Friend for its permanent collection. Wonderful and humbling, as this is my third purchase by the museum, and the second through funds from Project Postcard. My contributions to Project Postcard were shared as distorted blobs here, but I can now show them in their entirety here:

Birds in Art artists donate 4" x 6" images to the project, which are offered to reception-goers for a flat $50 each. The "postcards" are hung together in a "secret" room and buyers can't see them ahead of time. Ticket holders enter the room one at a time and have one minute in which to make their choice. Artist signatures are on the back of postcard so buyers can't be certain whose piece they are getting.

My linocut, Ripples, added to the Woodson collection via Project Postcard in 2011... and to be so honored again this year... well... it's definitely something special.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Cool exhibition news!

If I do this right you'll be reading this post on Friday, but I'm typing it in a rush on Wednesday afternoon... ten minutes before I'm supposed to begin the first leg of my journey to Wausau, Wisconsin for the opening of this year's Birds in Art exhibition. My flight isn't until oh-dark-hundred Thursday morning, but I'll stay the night with friends in Colorado Springs and do a little catching up. Assuming I get there in time for dinner!

But I'm delayed a few minutes more because I just received an email from the Society of Animal Artists letting me know "Coot du Jour" will join the 54th Art and the Animal national tour through 2015. That's my COOL du Jour.

Now did I remember to pack my hairbrush?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Linocut in Progress: Step 10? Seriously?

There is no good reason why I should be on step 10 of this linocut already. Nevertheless, here we are.

Still not satisfied with the darkest bits of the flower, I did some more carving and then applied a transparent olive green over the entire block. Really. Olive green.

The result is subtle, but necessary.

Steps 9 and 10 side-by-side. Subtle.

NOW I can walk away from the bloom. But of course that background has gotten extremely problematic. I originally thought it would be interesting to add more hatch marks at each step and build up a subtle texture... but it's flattening out the image rather than adding depth.

There are several options (aside from abandoning the image altogether):

1) Cut a second block that carries only the solid background and overprint. Potential registration headaches there.

2) Decide I can live with it and make more marks. Eh. Maybe. Could just make things worse.

3) Print an opaque color in the background that doesn't contrast with the hatch marks so they will become less noticeable. Okay, but I hate to lose the luminosity that's going on now. And what color would I print? Not that ocher-y thing... the flower would get lost.

.......... aaaaaaaand the thing I think I will try:

4) Filler. Yep. I think I'm going to try mushing some wood filler into the existing marks on the block and see what happens. I've used filler before, and ink doesn't adhere to it in the same way it adheres to the unadulterated linoleum, but I think I'd be happy with toning down the hatch marks instead of completely covering them. If it works, I might be able to get by with just one more color pass. If not... well... cross that flower-covered bridge when I come to it, I guess.

Paintbrush linocut: Step 10

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sketchbook...umm... Tuesday?

The paintbrush linocut remained too tacky to print over the weekend (hopefully today, after I take down a show here in town), so here's a little tidbit from my sketchbook to celebrate heading back to work post-holiday-weekend. (For those of us in places that just HAD a holiday weekend.)

It's called a crested screamer. (Although at the moment it looks rather placid.) Appropriate for back to work? Your call.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Linocut in Progress: Can you say "Oops"? Again?

The problem with erratic print time is that I also apply erratic brain cells to the process and as a result I get erratic... erraticness. Erraticity? Erratification?

Whatever. I got problems.

My theory was that a nice, very transparent blue over the entire block would create shadows in the red flower and tone down the background overall. It was a good theory, but....

Paintbrush linocut: Step 8 mistake!

Whoa. All the life went out of the flower. Paintbrush (for that's what this is supposed to be) are renowned for their intense color and this is not it.

So. I cleaned the block and scraped the inking slab. I used the same blue in the lower half of the block, but ran a nice, juicy red across the top. Blended roll number.... whatever. I've lost count.

Once again these colors appear over-the-top intense, but transparency is a wonderful thing.

Paintbrush linocut: Step 8, improved

Better, wouldn't you say? The flower is looking good. I'm not happy with how many layers of ink are already living in the background, but it's too late to do anything about it now!

I carved some more and THEN I went back to the same transparent blue and ran it over the entire block.

Okay! Now I have a red flower with some darker shadow areas and can finally get on with resolving the background. The bulk of the flower area will now be removed from the block and hopefully the rest will go smoothly. All this mucking about means I've already lost 4 of the initial 20 prints. Oh, well... as they say... "It's a learning experience." (Commence eye rolling behavior)

It's a holiday weekend here in the States (read: Hooray! More time to get work done!)... However you're spending it, I hope it's a good one!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Linocut in Progress: More pink... with green.

Finally this summer of craziness is starting to wind down. One more trip on the schedule next week, to the Woodson Art Museum in Wisconsin for the opening of Birds in Art, and then maybe I'll be able to reclaim some sort of work routine.

In the meantime this little linocut goes forward as haphazardly as it was begun. Today I added a little more red to that crazy pink and a little more blue to the previous green and rolled them up together like this:

Wow. Seems a bit over the top. I worked the blend a little longer after this photo was taken, then inked up the block and crossed my fingers.

Paintbrush linocut: Step 7
Not bad. But now, of course, I am obliged to figure out what to do with the background other than the few hatch marks I've made so far. I think the next pass will be a solid-transparent-blueish-something. Narrows it down completely, doesn't it? But I want to settle the shadows in the flower, darken some of the lower area, get rid of the red in the background, and try to pull everything together before going on. I'm toying with the idea of making the upper background really dark. Not sure if that's a good idea or not.... We'll see!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Linocut in Progress: Aaaaannnd... hmmmm.

Check out this color:

Borderline obnoxious, isn't it?

But it's also pretty transparent, so let's see what it looks like rolled up on the block.

Still pretty darn obnoxious, even with the tan of the block behind it. You'll note I didn't ink the entire block... wasn't sure I wanted this color to go everywhere.

Paintbrush linocut, Step 6

But now that it's down... not so bad, eh? Only the tiniest bits of the previous pink remain, but I got two (well, three, if you count the portion of the image that starts to be greens) colors for the price of one pass. That's pretty fun.

I really need to decide what I'm going to do about this background. Right now I'm just making some random marks for the heck of it. Don't know if I'm going to continue with that or not. It's all plenty gooey now, though, so it's a good thing I'm headed to the Big City for a couple of days. Maybe an idea for the background will magically materialize before I return.

Have a great weekend!