Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Linocut in Progress: (Lucky 13th) Final Step

 I am off next week to head up the Arts & Birding session at Hog Island Audubon Camp in Maine, so I have been feeling the pressure to wrap up the current linocut and get on with workshop prep! 

The 10th color pass was a short and sweet one. There are four little periwinkle snails in this image, and I wanted to lighten their overall tone. This was accomplished with spot inking a semi-transparent layer of a very pale beige-y color. (Sepia plus white.) 

Step 10 - Spot inking and mask

I used a newsprint mask to contain the color even further, and, voila... periwinkles. 

Step 10 - Printed

For Step 11 we were back to a bit of alarming-looking color. 

Step 11 - rollup

I really only wanted a wee bit of that orangey color to get involved, and I did NOT want it in the rocks, so for each run through the press I stopped to wipe the color out of places I didn't want it to go. Tedious, but necessary.

Step 11 - Put the color on, take it back off

Step 11 printed

Okay, getting close now! Maybe just one more dark? How about a transparent sepia with maybe a skosh (technical term) of blue in it?

Step 12 rollup
Step 12 printed

And here's where I paced through the house and gnashed my teeth for a little bit. It could have been finished at this point. It probably was. But I waffled back and forth about putting just a few more darks in the deepest shadows of the rock weed. I already felt like the whole thing was a bit more "contrasty" than I wanted, and another dark would make it even more so. But I also didn't feel like I had quite the value range I wanted overall.


One more dark.

Lucky Step 13 rollup

I added a surprising amount of blue to the existing sepia-dominant color. I wanted a little more cool in the shadows... everything is so warm! 

Final color pass. "Rockweed and Periwinkles," reduction linocut, 8x10, edition of 20

I honestly wasn't sure I'd made the right decision when I went to bed that night.... but by light of day I decided it was a good call, and I'm satisfied this piece is complete. 

Now. Will I have time to get another one prepped before I go to camp? Three days to go!

Monday, June 24, 2024

Linocut in Progress: The drama builds!

Okay, maybe not drama. But contrast! We're getting in to a bit more contrast and a lot more of me flying by the seat of my pants. 

I mean, look at this crazy color combo:

Reduction linocut in progress: Step 8

As you can see, I'm trying to keep cooler grays to the outer edges of the image, and to warm up the center.

Step 8 printed

There were two hiccups at this point. 1) I forgot to wipe the color out of the four little roundish shapes that will be periwinkles and 2) while I like the rusty color, when I came back to it the next day it seemed a bit too dark. 

I could maybe not solve both problems with the same step, but I could at least move them back in the right direction. 

Check out this crazy color combo:

Step 9 rollup

The dark looks like black in the photo, but it's more of a transparent dark gray made with sepia, prussian blue, and some transparent base. The peachy color looks good, but it won't print this light over the existing color unless I add some opaque white... and I don't want to do that. Let's see what happens.

Step 9 printed

Okay, that feels better. I think we're getting close now. Two more color passes? I still need to resolve the periwinkles, and I think they will require some spot inking to nudge them where I want them, colorwise. And there's at least one dark to go... probably it will involved some blended color again. I have to think about it.

Unfortunately there will be a bit of a suspenseful delay of progress now, as I am headed out to Massachusetts for a couple of days. A delightful gathering of my wildlife artist colleagues will be taking place at the Museum of American Bird Art on Wednesday, and I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone. Back to work on Friday!

Friday, June 21, 2024

Linocut in Progress: In the Weeds. And the Rocks.

Okay! Carrying on with the current linocut in progress. I did promise things would get a bit more visually interesting from this point... let's see if I was right.

As you have probably surmised by now, I have a certain amount of color moving through the center of this image, and less color on the outside edges. I need to keep building tones in all areas of the print, so it's time to employ some blended color.  

Reduction linocut in progress: Step 5 rollup

For this roll-up I deepened the yellow once again with the addition of some more red, and I mixed a lovely warm beige-y color. I got out my trusty old skool Speedball brayers so I could control the application of ink to the block a little better. I used a small 2" roller to apply straight beige to the rocks (you knew that was what they were going to be, right?), and I used a blended roll on the 4" brayer in a tricky way. I ran the color first in one direction, and then turned the block around to run the blended roll in the other direction! This kept the yellow in the middle-most parts of the block and the blended-to-beige bits towards the outer edges. 

Did that make sense? Maybe it will when you see the result. 

Step 5 printed

You might also notice some lighter-colored blobs in the lower part of the image. I used a paper towel to wipe the color out of these few spots before I printed each time. There are some details going in here that could benefit from being less yellow, and it doesn't hurt to minimize ink layers whenever possible. 

Step 6 rollup

And now it's time for a bit more drama. The ink roll up looks ominous on the glass, but I promise it's not so alarming on the print. Remember there's a lot of yellow in the middle already to minimize the depth of the green.

Step 6 printed

Well, okay. Maybe it does seem a little alarming. But we're in the middle stages of this image, and long time readers (and other printmakers) will know that this is when things often get a bit funky. Nothing to do but cross our fingers and hope I got this right. 

As an aside... you might notice the ink coverage looks a bit splotchy in the lower portion of the image. Not to worry... there is a lot more to be done down in this area and the splotchiness will be covered by subsequent colors. 

Like this:

Step 7 rollup

Back to the big roller, because this color pass is just a semi-transparent gray across the entire block. I would have liked to make it even more transparent, but after the complete fiasco of using a lot of transparent base, I am really, REALLY head shy. 

But I think it worked okay....

Step 7 printed

So! What's next? I think it's time to start working more on the areas around the rockweed (yes! this is an image of seaweed). I think the rocks only need one (okay, maybe two) more darks, and those will be most along the edges closest to the rockweed. Next color? Something orangey-browny, I think. We'll see how I feel after the next stage of carving.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Linocut in Progress: Back to Work

Well! Once again, it's been a while since Brush and Baren has seen some love, and I appreciate everyone who stops by to check in with the posts even when they are so erratic. 

Excuses this time? I was away! Far away in another hemisphere! Six weeks of my spring this year was spent having a second autumn... in New Zealand. It was my first visit there– a chance to spend time with a friend I hadn't hugged in 30 years and to run around seeing as much flora and fauna as possible. There's a lot to say about the trip... but for now I'm going to say, "It was amazing," and leave it at that. 

My post-travel re-entry was a bit bumpy, but I'm finding my rhythm again, and happy to be back in the studio.

I'm working in a smaller format than I have for quite some time; this print is just 8x10 inches. The first step was equally modest... just a plain gray rectangle with no material removed from the block.

Reduction linocut in progress: Step 1 printed

Although the block is smaller than usual it appears I have not abandoned my tendency to make everything rather complicated. But let's not panic yet. I carved... well, perhaps it's more accurate to say I chipped, some small areas of the block where I wanted the gray to remain. I rolled up a nice, creamy pale ochre for the second color pass.

Step 2 - rollup

Not much to see here... although if you squint you might see the cooler gray bits showing within the warmer tone.

Step 2 - printed

Subtle base established, it was time to get the brightest colors in place. I don't want this bright yellow to interfere with all of the image, so I cut some newsprint masks to contain it in a wobbly shape through the center of the block.

Step 3 rollup and mask

This photo of the print after Step 3 is a bit dark, but you get the idea.

Step 3 printed

I'm guessing the subject matter has been illusive up to this point, but a little sleuthing in the photo below might give you a hint of where we are headed. Or not. 

In the photo these two yellows look quite similar, but I promise they are different. The Step 4 color was started using the leftover ink scraps from Step 3, but I warmed and deepened it with the addition of some red (you can see the little blob of it in the photo). 

Step 4 rollup and mask

I used the same mask shapes to contain this yellow, too. (Again with the questionable photography! I've been printing and photographing at night... that's my excuse.)

Step 4 printed

Not much to show for four color passes, but things are going to get a bit more dramatic very soon! Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Linocut in Progress: The Third Act

Time to wrap up this linocut! And we are wrapping at warp speed (see what I did there?)... because there are deadlines. Exhibition deadlines, yes... but another equally inflexible deadline that I will tell you about at the end of this post! 

So here we are at what I am calling Step 7, although if you count all the tiny inking stages that happened between Steps 3 and 4 we could also say it's Step 10. Your call.

I decided that even with, and perhaps because of, the blended rolls, the image was looking a bit like it had three distinct lines of background, middle ground, and foreground. Not that that is bad, necessarily, but I wanted to break it up a bit. 

Step 7 rollup

My solution was to create another ochre-y to greeny-gray-y (my color names are so descriptive!) blended roll, but this time I rolled it up on an angle. Corner-to-corner instead of side-to-side. 

Step 7 printed

Yes. Better, I think. One more big roll of color and then the details of the bird and I'm finished, I think! This time I only put blended color in the top third, and the rest of the block was a solid roll. 

Step 8 rollup

Step 8 printed

Okay! I like how this step broke up the larger shapes at the top and bottom of the image, but did so subtly. The whole scene is very busy with lots of movement, so a few places for the viewer to rest their eyes are essential. But to leave the larger shapes flat color was jarring. I felt good about this compromise.

There was a temptation here to squeeze in one more subtle layer in the water, but I resisted the urge and went for the final color on the bird. 

Step 9 rollup

It looks like I rolled up black here, but it really isn't. It's more of that dark licorice green, but it reads as black in the final image. 

And here it is! 

"In the Shallows"
Reduction linocut, edition of 20
© Sherrie York

Whew! I needed to finish this piece because I wanted to submit it to an exhibition jury that is coming up in April. 

April, you say? March isn't over yet... what's the rush? 

Well, there's always drying and photography time to consider, but I have also been acutely aware of this:

Yep. That is my bag with my passport in it. Something exciting begins in the next 48 hours... another inflexible deadline. Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Linocut in Progress: The Second Act

Alrighty, then! 

When last we spent time in the studio, things were off to a good start. This piece has sort of evolved like a trilogy: The first steps set the tone and set our adventurer on their way. In the second act things got... messy.

I mean, the printing went okay, as you'll see. But keeping up with the documentation didn't. Oops. There were a few little fussy steps that happened with no witnesses but me...

Linocut in progress: Steps 3.1, 3.2, 3.2 and 4.... printed in secret, apparently

These missing steps were mostly about the bird's head, and were done with spot inking and masks, as with the very first step. 

Step 3.1 was the soft green on the back of the bird's head.

Step 3.2 was the bright yellow of the beak.

Step 3.3 was the shadow on the side of the head and neck

And then there was Step 4, which I think was another blended roll of blues, but apparently I took no photo of the rollup. Probably because I was just so happy to be done with the little tedious bits and wanted to charge on ahead to something more satisfying.

But we did get back on track with documentation for Step 5:

Step 5 rollup

Look at those blues, will ya? On the block they look rather alarmingly bright, but printed they feel...



Kind of bright. (Although this is a pretty awful photo. There has been a lot of photography on rainy days lately.)

Step 5 printed

So, okay.  Things here look bright, but there IS a method to my madness. Mostly. A lot of this blue is going to be covered by some very different hues, and I wanted to be certain the blues that remained would be able to hold their own. You'll see what I mean with Step 6:

Step 6 rollup

Yeah, WHAT? What is this all about? 

Well.... the bird is swimming in shallow water near the shore, which is why it's so choppy. I wanted to add some depth to the image, plus suggest the rocks that can be seen (sort of) below the surface of the water. Visually they look like dark greeny-browny shapes... rather nebulous, but they are creating the pattern of the water as much as being a part of it. I don't think I can literally represent the rocks without adding a significant number of intermediate steps to the process, but I want to suggest them.

My hope was that the ochre color across the top would create some yummy greens, and that the greeny-browny color in the lower 2/3 of the image would interact in interesting ways to create some more blues and greens in the foreground.

Step 6 printed

And surprise! It worked! (I bet you thought I was out of my mind. No problem. I did, too.)

It's coming together nicely now and I am fairly certain it can be finished in maybe 3 more color passes. But you know how that goes!

And now, as a bit of an aside:

Those of you who followed along with my recent problems of chromatic shifting of inks mixed with a lot of transparent base might be wondering what I'm up to here, because it certainly seems like there is  transparency going on in this piece! 

There is, although not nearly in the proportions I used to use. In this last step the ochre was rather more opaque than usual, which you can see because the resulting color after printing is still very warm and yellowish. The dark color was created with a mix of sepia ink and... wait for it... Payne's gray ink. Payne's gray is not a color I ever used when I was doing more painting, but both this color and the sepia are "semi-transparent" right out of the tube. I still wanted the color a little more transparent, so to be safe I pulled out my last half-used tube of Daniel Smith transparent extender, which is resin-based rather than linseed oil-based. I didn't use a lot of it, but it helped. 

Wait? Did I say Daniel Smith ink? 

Yes. Yes I did. I still have a small stash that I have been hoarding in the what? ten-plus years? since Daniel Smith abandoned their huge printmaking customer base and stopped manufacturing ink. Am I still bitter about that? Yes. Yes I am. Don't get me started.

I still haven't found a long term solution to the transparency issue... I might try again with the Graphic Chemical 1911 base that I used for the last... I dunno... 15 years? (I never like the DS transparent base... it was too sticky. But somehow ten years of sitting around has made it a bit better to work with.) I had trouble with a couple of batches of the GC 1911 arriving here discolored and already hardening in the can, which is what forced my shift to Cranfield in the first place. Until I have another solution, I'm learning to work in a new way, with a much smaller percentage of base, or none at all. 

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Linocut in Progress: Color in a gray season

 Mud season came early to the midcoast this year. So. Much. Rain.

Seemed like a great time to get started on a piece with a little more color in it. I had big plans, but they started in a quite humble way.

This piece has a fair amount of white in it... mostly little bitty shapes, so there was a bit of carving to do before I rolled up the first color. And even then, I didn't get much satisfaction immediately, because my first color pass was just some spot inking of a pale yellow color. This represents some super-small areas of warm reflection in an otherwise very cool-toned image to come. 

Linocut in progress: Step 1 rollup

To keep the color contained I cut a newsprint mask...

Step 1 mask

And printed...

Step 1 printed

Hard to photograph, since the color was so pale... and the image is at an angle to avoid wet ink reflections, but you get the idea.

The good news is that there was only a small amount of carving to do to hold these shapes before I could get going with a more satisfying color pass. 

I rolled up a cheery, blended seafoam-to-pale-blue. I rolled it on the block in one direction, and then turned the block around so I could roll in the other direction and make the gradation go from green to blue to green.

Step 2 rollup and mask

And oh! I made a little newsprint mask to keep a chunk of the main subject from building up too much color too soon.

Step 2 printed

For bird geeks and sea duck fans the subject is likely already apparent. But we'll keep up the suspense for everyone else, eh?

Step 3! This time just a straight-up light blue with enough transparency to it to be affected by the purdy tones laid down in Step 2.

Step 3 rollup

Step 3 printed

Off to a really satisfying start! I feel good about the movement already, and the cheery color palette. I know, however, that things are going to change dramatically as the piece goes on, so it's best not to get too attached yet. Stay tuned!

Monday, February 5, 2024

Linocut in Progress: Let's wrap this up!

 Okay...  Remember that cartoon in which a couple of scientists stand at a chalk board filled with complex equations, at the bottom of which is the phrase, "And then a miracle occurs"? 

That's kind of how the documentation of this linocut seems to have gone. A bunch of photos and a few steps that seem to be missing and then the piece is somehow done. So..... somehowwww..... Art=Science. Yay! We knew that.

Step.... let's call it 11....

Reduction linocut in progress: Step 11

Hey, this looks like more spot inking. Which I had warned you about in the last post. Perhaps I am psychic. (Or perhaps this piece was already finished when I wrote that last post and I have just been drawing things out for dramatic effect. You don't know.)

Some green in the head, another grey across the back, and oops! I had missed a little bit of rust color in the reflection last time. 

Hard to tell what's happening in the small images of the overall print, so how about I show you a detail for Step 11?  It's still not great.... this thing has been crazy-hard to photograph. But now you can see that there's a little more detail in the head and some subtle color in the the reflections. 

And here's where that miracle mentioned above comes into play. It appears there was another pass of some transparent gray over the bird's head and back, but I don't have any photos for it. Also some more spot inking in the head... tiny areas... ditto. 

Here's what things looked like after Step 12 or 13...

Step 13... Super hard to tell what has changed!

But now we are in the home stretch. One last dark gray-green to hit just some details in the head and those lovely feathers on the side....

Step 14 rollup

And then I waited a couple of days until the prints were dry enough that I could get an actual scan... This image is slightly embiggenable if you click on it.

Merganser linocut (needs a title!), Click to embiggen!

So, whew! That's the first new reduction linocut of the year all finished. I'm sidetracking for a couple of days to work on another project, and then hopefully there will be another one underway next week. 

Linocut in Progress: (Lucky 13th) Final Step

 I am off next week to head up the Arts & Birding session at Hog Island Audubon Camp in Maine , so I have been feeling the pressure to w...