Saturday, October 9, 2021

Linocut in Progress: Finding Blue

It seems as though every linocut I make goes through a phase in which I spend a lot of time carving– but when I print the next color pass, not a lot seems to have changed. 

And yes, oh perceptive reader, we are at that stage.

Carving, carving, carving. Print some blue! This blue:

(Oh wait... perhaps I should mention the roughly bird-shaped mask first.) 

The creature-to-be in this image has a rusty-red head, some of which appears bright and coppery in the sunlight. From our highly-developed understanding of color theory, we can predict that an undertone of blue in those areas might not be conducive to creating the warmth we intend. Therefore: mask out the bird shape to avoid printing blue in that area. Capice?

Reduction linocut in progress: Step 3 printed

So here's our nice transparent blue printed. It's okay... but I am ultimately going for a much brighter blue in some of the water reflections. It does appear that something has happened at this stage, but not nearly enough to justify the amount of time I spent carving. Oh, well. 

It seems like a really simple statement ("For the next stage I want a brighter blue"), but holy cow did I have trouble getting to the right one! I should have taken a photo of the multiple different blues I mixed (most of which are now wrapped up in wax paper for use on another day). I've got at least three prints that have been moved to the "tester" section of the print queue... wrongly-blued sheets that will be first up for future color passes.

ANYWAY.... I decided to keep this blue out of the upper third of the image entirely, which precipitated another round of mask cutting. 

I also decided that I wanted to minimize the amount of blue ink in a few areas of the water that will reflect the bird's head, but rather than cut a lot of finicky little masks, I just wiped these areas right before printing each sheet. 

At the end of Step 4 printing it looks like this:

It's a lot of blue, but by the time I'm finished less than half of what we see now will remain. At the moment I think the next step will be to put down those bright copper colors previously mentioned so I can carve those bits out of the block and forget about them. I do need to put at least one more blue in the water... and then... whee! I think I can do some greens! Yep. Lots of green to come in this one. 

Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Linocut in Progress: Yes! Back to work.

Here it is October. 

'Way back in August I remember telling people how happy I was that my schedule was going to slow down in September. Workshops over... the peak of the summer gallery season waning... time to get into the studio! 

What I didn't realize was that I wasn't going to be changing velocity.... only trajectory. I've still been quite busy, just in a slightly different direction from how I spent my summer. 

Which meant September escaped, and now it's October. And although I'm afraid of jinxing it by saying so, things finally do seem to be settling down a bit. I'm ready to refocus... into the work of exploring some new ideas and new linocuts. 

And I'm not easing back into it. Oh, no. That would be too reasonable. I'm going straight for a large 18 x 18-inch piece. Just because.

Step 1 rollup

I spent (read: wasted) a lot of time agonizing over the quest for a Great Image Idea. I haven't worked on a proper reduction print since May, and I put a lot of pressure on myself to ramp up in a hurry. Honestly, I am a horrific boss... the kind I would never wish on anyone else... the kind with unreasonable expectations and poor people management skills.

Luckily my only employee (me) put her foot down and demanded that SOMETHING be started... Great Image Idea, or no. So that's how we got to rolling out a transparent gray on what you might be able to tell is an image with some water in it. And yeah, there's a bird there, too. Here's what Step 1 looked like:

Reduction linocut in progress: Step 1 printed

It's been raining here off and on the last couple of days, so the light in the studio is a bit poor, especially when it comes to photography, so apologies in advance for the questionable bit you're seeing here. (The blueish tinge in the lower left, for example, is not the ink, but a shadow of me.)

It was so satisfying to get that first color pass down, though. When I haven't printed in a while I can convince myself that there are a hundred reasons why I'm not very good at this (and put pressure on myself to find a Great Image Idea before I can start again). But finally printing a first color pass on paper almost always settles me down.

Step 2 rollup

So... Step 1 printed, I immediately carved for Step 2. This was going to be a subtle shift in color temperature without much change in value, so again a quite transparent ink. A smidge of cobalt blue in a big pile of transparent base did the trick. I managed to mix EXACTLY how much ink I needed this time, which almost never happens. I was getting nervous about 3/4 of the way through the print session, worried that I was going to run out of ink, but I managed to scrape together (literally) just enough for all 23 sheets*. 

(*I don't usually start with an odd number of sheets of paper, but I accidentally prepped an extra, so went ahead and used it. 'Cause, you know. It's been a while. I expect a higher loss percentage when I'm out of practice.)

Step 2 printed

 Again we have some questionable photography happening. The color is probably better on the right side of the photo, but you can see the slight contrast of shapes better on the left edge. This is not a blended roll... the warm left edge is an artifact of uneven artificial light. 

Surprisingly, I think the next color pass is already going to drop us into the realm of some more dramatic color. There is already a biggish decision to be made at this point, however... there's definitely some masking in my future, but how much and when is yet to be determined. Stay tuned!

Monday, August 30, 2021

L.L. Bean Fall Catalog Cover!


This just happened.

Fall 2021 catalog, request yours at L.L. Bean
Back in July I received a surprising email from the folks at L.L. Bean, the outdoor clothing company based in Freeport, Maine. The author of the email wanted to talk about my linocut "Homeward Bound," and its potential as the cover for their autumn catalog. 

I admit I was so surprised that I did a little online research to make sure the query was legitimate before I responded. (The amount of scam email that targets artists borders on ridiculous, after all.) Reassured, I sent back an enthusiastic "Yes!" and was delighted to work with the project team, who seemed to be as excited as I was about the collaboration. As far as I know, this is the first time they've worked with a printmaker for the catalog cover.

The catalogs should be "in home" as of today, but of course I myself am NOT home at the moment... I am in Colorado! Luckily a friend in Wisconsin received hers yesterday and sent me a photo to prove it really happened. 

So... thanks again to the team at L.L. Bean for their commitment to working with artists! I'm honored to be part of that tradition.

(If you're not on the L.L. Bean mailing list, I think that you will ultimately be able to request a catalog through their website.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

It's that time... Birds in Art and Project Postcard

 September approaches, and with it comes the annual delight that is the Birds in Art exhibition at the Woodson Art Museum in Wisconsin. 

Birds in Art is the museum's flagship show, and a touchstone exhibition for wildlife artists around the world. It is always such an honor to have one's work selected, and indeed one of my pieces will be included in the show when it opens on September 11. 

But before the show begins, there's always the fun task of creating a couple of new little pieces for the Project Postcard event that accompanies the opening. Birds in Art artists create and donate 4 x 6-inch artworks which are then sold for a flat amount. Funds raised through Project Postcard are used to purchase work from the exhibition for the museum's permanent collection.

I am always happy to participate in the event, particularly since my own work has been purchased via the Project on more than one occasion. Of course I can't show you what I've submitted before the sale happens... but I can give you a hint. Any guesses?

Sunday, August 22, 2021

In-Person Demo at Ann Korologos Gallery

It's hard to believe, but it's been nearly four years since I left the mountains of Colorado for the coast of Maine. Harder still is the realization that I haven't been back since I moved! Like the rest of us, my travel plans for 2020 were scuttled, so even though I still have some trepidation about it I am glad I can make at least a short journey this week.

I will be kicking off the adventure with a live, in-person printmaking demonstration and conversation at the Ann Korologos Gallery in Basalt. This coming Thursday, August 26, 4:00-6:00pm. Reservations are required. Please call the gallery at (970) 927-9668 or email I hope to see some local peeps there!

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Coming up at the Wendell Gilley Museum!

Yes, indeed! It's time for live, in-person printmaking workshops at the Wendell Gilley Museum in Southwest Harbor, Maine!

Friday, August 6, 9:00am-3:00pm: Two-color Reduction Printing

Saturday, August 7, 9:00am-noon: One-color Introduction to Relief Printmaking

All materials will be provided! We'll be working with the easy-to-carve "speedy cut" type of block material, so classes will be appropriate for ages 10 and up. Details on the Wendell Gilley Museum website "Events" page.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Printmaking workshop and presentation at the Wendell Gilley Museum, Maine

The 2020 edition of the Woodson Art Museum's flagship Birds in Art exhibition is on national tour, and hooray! It's in Maine at the Wendell Gilley Museum in Southwest Harbor. My linocut, A Tern of the Tide, is included in the exhibition, so I am delighted to be presenting some workshops and a talk about my process at the Gilley on July 16 and 17.

July 16: Single color intro to relief printing workshops. Choose either 9:00-noon or 1:00-4:00. 

July 17: A live presentation about my process that will also be streamed via Zoom. 7:00pm

Details and registration information available on the Gilley Museum's website.

Pemaquid Summer

 It's a spectacularly beautiful day here in midcoast Maine today, which is a wee surprise since the last week and a half has been all over the place, weatherwise. Record high heat (with attendant humidity, ugh) followed by almost record low temps, clouds, and rain. Wacky.

Somewhere in there I managed to carve out this little linocut of the lighthouse at Pemaquid Point. Although it's about 6.5 miles from my house, it IS literally at the end of the road I live on... so it's always nice to think of it as the lighthouse at the end of my street. In the winter time it's a favorite place to walk (in the summer it can be very crowded with visitors), and I have really loved watching many of the different aspects of coastal weather from this spot.

"Pemaquid Summer" is 5 x 7 inches, printed on 300# Arches watercolor paper and then hand painted. I waffled for a long time about whether or not I should limit the edition or leave it open, but in the end I decided that the projected lifespan could be 50. I haven't printed nearly that many yet (ran out of paper!), but it will be nice to have something that I can print in small batches from time to time when I'm either avoiding work on another project or longing for studio time when other commitments are keeping me away. A rather summery sort of attitude, in more ways than one.

Monday, June 28, 2021

There went June! What's next?

Sneaking in work on a little single-color linocut

Wow. Talk about mental and physical whiplash. I don't know how it is where you are, but in my particular corner of the universe things went from zero to warp speed in the space of about 48 hours. In May we were still masking, distancing, isolating, and, I admit, hand-wringing about the future. Suddenly it's the end of June and I feel like things are not only back to the "usual" summer busy-ness... but beyond it.

So far this month, let's see... I've led 7 days of in-person workshops, narrated three Puffin Watch cruises, designed and illustrated a big interpretive sign project, and framed a pile of artwork for galleries and shows. Oh. And I took a class and had visitors from out of state. 

Whew. Is the summer over yet? Oh, wait. It's only just started!

SO. What's coming up in July? More puffin cruises with the Hardy Boat out of New Harbor. (Look for me on weekend trips.) An online class for the Farnsworth Art Museum. Workshops and a presentation for the Wendell Gilley Art Museum. And, hopefully, I'm going to get a little studio time in there somehow!

Friday, May 28, 2021

Nature Journal workshop with Scarborough Land Trust!

Hey! Guess what!?! I'm having my first live, in-person workshop in almost a year and a half! That's right, I'll be facilitating a nature journaling adventure for the Scarborough Land Trust here in Maine on June 5.

Class will take place at the SLT's Pleasant Hill Preserve in Scarborough. I stopped by there recently to check it out and it's a beautiful area! We'll meet under a huge old elm tree to practice some sketching skills, and then I'll send you out into the preserve to fill a page or two. 

There are two sessions... they will cover the same material, but let you choose if you're more of a morning person or an afternoon person!

Saturday, June 5

9:30am-12:30pm OR 1:30-4:30pm

Registration information on the Scarborough Land Trust website.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Linocut in Progress: The big osprey finish

 Well. I see by going back and rereading my own post that I anticipated only two more color passes to finish the osprey linocut. Yeah. You all know me better than that. But honest... I wasn't too far off.

So, where were we? Right. Step 11. 

Reduction linocut in progress, Step 11 rollup

The ink rollup for this step was a transparent medium gray-brown, although in this photo it looks rather dark. Here are Steps 10 and 11 side-by-side (although I should probably say Steps 11 and 10, since that's the order they're in). 

As I hoped, this pass served to unite the darker tones across both the bird and the snag it's perched on. It was so close at this point, and I really wanted to finish it in one more color pass, but deep down I suspected it would need another. But a girl can dream, can't she? 

Here's the rollup for Step 12, a darker, but still transparent, gray-brown. There's not a lot of material left on the block at this stage, and after every inking I had to take time to wipe stray color from the lower carved areas because it was hard to ink the tiny shapes without running over the sides. Time consuming. But that's printmaking for ya.

Step 12 rollup

Printed it looked like this...

Steps 12 and 11 side-by-side

So, so close. I noted with much relief (printmaking pun not intended) that the addition of this dark really pulled all the other values in to line. I had been uncertain about whether the color and value of the shadows in the bird's white chin and belly were correct, as well as the color of the lichen; with this pass it all seemed to come together.

I'll say it again: So, SO close. But I wasn't quite satisfied with the wings... they seemed a little too flat. And if I was going to put some more darks in the wings then I needed to add a few in other parts of the bird to keep the value range harmonious. But... bird only. The tree snag was finished. I removed almost ALL the material from the block until I was left with this:

Step 13 rollup

The ink used for Lucky Step 13 was the unaltered leftover ink from Step 12. I didn't want to change the color, just the value. 

The result?

Reduction linocut, Edition of 16

Quite satisfactory. Technical issues early in the process meant I had more losses than usual, but I still ended up with a solid edition of 16. 

For the first time in over a year I suddenly have a lot of projects and a workshop schedule to contend with, so I'll be juggling studio time around all the other moving targets. It's a bit overwhelming, but it's a more familiar kind of chaos, and for that I'm really grateful. The covid situation is improving, but we're not out of the woods yet, so please enjoy a little more interaction with the larger world, but stay vigilant... like the osprey!

Linocut in Progress: Finding Blue

It seems as though every linocut I make goes through a phase in which I spend a lot of time carving– but when I print the next color pass, n...