Yes, indeed, I am happy to say I have COWmpleted this tiny linocut without further mishap. As usual, I can see a half dozen things I would do differently next time, but here she is. This is Cindy Cow, and she has a nice story, but I think I have to save it for a couple of days. I'll tell ya' later...
Before the final dark went on, I briefly succeeded in cleverness and inked two colors in the same pass.
In addition to deep philosophical knowledge about the achievement of cleverness, I gained a few "light bulb" insights. (Okay, we could also call them "dope slap" insights. )
1) I think best with my hands.
I've often been asked about my planning process, and I always joke about not really having one. More than once I've regretted this reality... realizing that a little more planning could have made a better piece. But I don't always see the options until I'm in the middle of something. I like being flexible, and staying open to changing my mind, but it's not without risks if one is working on a reduction plate.
2) I have two distinctly different approaches to reduction linocuts.
(This was a d'oh!) The larger, more complex pieces (lately) have come from a combination of photos and sketches, and the process involves taking things OUT of the visual mayhem. As I work I think about some judicious simplification.
But in the smaller pieces I tend to work from field sketches. My on-location sketches are generally spare and linear, with big, flat shapes of color. If I try to make them into linos, I find myself adding things in. Or wishing I had added. Or realizing I could have added. Or...
Hm. Here is a place where planning might come in handy.
3) Making little prints is to big prints as sketches are to drawings and clay maquettes are to sculpture (sort of).
They're a (relatively) quick way to try out ideas and get one's fingers dirty. Sure, it's more time consuming than making pencil sketches, but one really needs to manipulate the material to get a sense of what is or isn't possible. (There's just no getting around practice. Ever.)
The first day I worked on this little cow I also realized that making linocuts is not entirely like riding a bicycle. One DOES forget. Or at least one loses the rhythm. It had been a couple of weeks since I printed, and I stumbled around a surprising amount before I got into the right head space again. Could be a symptom of middle age, but I don't think so. I think it's one of the challenges of moving back and forth between media and focus. The work I do as an illustrator is not the same as the work I do as an artist: focus, goal, method–mindset–are all quite different, even though it could be argued that either way I'm making images. For me they are two distinctly separate beasts, and I need to give myself time to make the switch.
So. A cow and an education. It's been a good couple of days.