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!

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Linocut in Progress: The big catch-up...

Reduction linocut in progress: Step 7 vs Step 8. 

Readers, you deserve better, but on this particular image I have totally dropped the documentation ball. I have a number of excuses, not one of which is particularly good, so let's just see what I can do to rescue the situation. A lot has happened since I last checked in.

In the photo above... hmmmm. On the left, Step 7, which was the state of the image after my last post. After Step 7 I removed ALL the background material from the block. Step 8 was two semi-opaque, white-ink-heavy colors applied at the same time. The slightly warmer color (as shown below on the right) was rolled on the bottom of the block, the cooler on the top portion and they were printed simultaneously.

Both inks of the Step 8 color pass.

At this point I thought things might move ahead in a more straightforward manner, but I was, alas, mistaken.

First up... the eye. The only yellow spot on the image. There was no point in fussing about with a full-on color pass for such a tiny shape, so I cut a mylar "stencil" and pounced the color onto each print by hand. Easy enough.

Pochoir technique for the yellow eye. Step 8.5?

This technique is called pochoir. It was used particularly in the hand-coloring of fashion plates in the 1920s and 30s, but I don't think the osprey will mind the association. They strike me as rather posh creatures, even if their breath no doubt smells of fish.

After the yellow, the Ugly Duckling Stage was upon us. While I was pochoir-ing the aforementioned eye, I decided to do the same to beef up some of the color in the lichen on the tree snag. (Sorry, no photos, I forgot.) It seemed fine until I applied the Step 9 color. More on this in a paragraph or so.

Step 9 rollout

Step 9 was a sort of... orangey brown?... applied only to the lower portion of the block. Something about this ink made the "beefed up" lichen green look positively minty when photographed. I tried to correct the color in the photos, but in the end gave up. Don't be alarmed when you see it. 

Here's the rollup of Step 10, with Steps 9 and 10 hanging on the wall behind. The Step 10 ink was a transparent warm gray over the entire block.

Steps 9 and 10, printed

See what I mean about the lichen color looking so alarming in Step 9? It didn't look that bright in real life, but wow... weird color metering on the part of my ancient phone camera. 

As you can see with Step 10, the lichen color metered a little better. Not so lurid. The Step 10 ink looks different in the top half of the image (more gray) because of course it's transparent and interacting with the colors beneath it. 

I think just two more color passes should get me to the end of this image– a transparent gray to pull out some more contrast in the tree and then the darkest bits of the bird. It would be great to be able to finish this weekend, as I've got some deadlines looming and it would be great to have this one complete and drying on the rack before too many days go by.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Linocut in Progress: Mask-er-aid

My process can best be described as creating a problem, finding a solution to it, and then finding a solution for the new problem I just created. If it sounds like I am joking, then you are either not a printmaker or you are a printmaker who is way better at this than I am. 

While linocut at its most basic is pretty straightforward, there are two aspects of my process that combine to create what sometimes feels like an infinite number of non-ideal situations. 

The first is that I work in reduction. This means all colors of an image are produced from a single block. At each stage I remove more material from the linoleum block, "reducing" the printable surface. If I make a mistake and remove material from the block too soon... well... depending on the seriousness of the error I can either live with it or consider options like using another block. 

The second is that I use a lot of transparent ink, layering colors as one might layer watercolor washes. 

Put these two things together with all the other variables... such as the order of carving and the way ink, paper, and lino behave on any given day...  Yep. It's a recipe for magic or disaster or (usually) some combination of both. 

The major hurdle for this particular image is the darn background, which I want to be a rich, consistent blue. This can be technically challenging in lino, especially when working at a larger scale. I started to write an explanation of all the issues I am juggling in my head when trying to work out the order of carving and printing here... but it just kept getting longer and less comprehensible and more likely to put you to sleep. So I'll try to just address things as they come up.

Step 6 rollout

After Step 5 (more blue for the background) I needed to mitigate some of the blue in the branches on which the bird is perched. After much hemming and hawing I decided that I could go ahead and remove the background areas in the lower area of the image, between the branches. Even on a flat blue day the sky is generally a little paler towards the horizon, and the only other way to confine a non-blue color to the branches would be to cut a bunch of tiny newsprint masks. Or wipe color from the branches for every print. Either method would be time consuming and difficult.

I could, however, cut a mask to protect the upper portion of the image without too much difficulty. So that's what I did. You can see above that I didn't roll ink in the upper portion of the block where it wasn't needed, and in the photo below you can see the mask on the block, allowing the color to print on the main branch but not the bird or the background.

Step 6 mask

And here's the result. So much to talk about here. 

First of all, you might have noticed that the color on the block looked like a pale, pale brown (it was). It was also more opaque. I used a lot of "mixing white" to create the color, which is not completely opaque, but I didn't want the color to go too "chalky" at this stage, which can happen with more opaque white. 

If you remember your basic color theory, colors that are opposite on the color wheel tend to gray each other out... so... a pale (we could say orange-y) brown over a blue? It's gonna go gray. I knew that, but wanted to at least nudge things in the right direction. 

The other thing you might notice is that there appears to be a line/slight color change in the blue in the lower third of the image. This is an issue that cropped up early on... let's see if I can explain it. 

In an ideal world one would roll out ink using a roller that is both wider than the longest dimension of the block AND of a diameter large enough that one revolution would cover the entire surface of the block. 

I'm not sure I've explained that well, but if you've ever painted a wall with a roller you might know what I mean. The first revolution of the roller leaves the heaviest layer of paint, but the second time it goes around there's less paint to deposit.

The same thing is true when rolling out ink, and on large, flat areas it's easy to get lap (overlap) marks. I didn't notice them on the first, very pale, layers that were printed, but on several prints the issue magnified as more ink layers were added. 

Enough prints had the problem that I decided to go ahead and print one more transparent blue layer... with a little stippling (carved dots) through the area where the lap mark occurred to visually disguise it. 

Step 7 detail


Stippling would hopefully work for the lap mark problem, but I don't want this blue to go everywhere, so it's time for more masks! Thankfully I saved the cutouts from the previous mask for the bottom of the block, and I cut an additional rough bird shape to fit over... the bird. Of course. I didn't have to be too precious about this, because the edges of the bird will ultimately be (mostly) dark... and I knew it would be better to cut the mask too small than too large. 

Step 7 masks in place

Here's the rollup. Even though I had the mask for the bottom portion of the branches, I didn't bother to ink that area. Slightly less area to clean up? Works for me.

Step 7 roll up

As a result of the funny mask this poor osprey (for that's what it is, if you hadn't guessed by now) looks like an overgrown finch rather than a raptor, but never fear, the proper shape of the beak will appear later.

The stippling fix worked better than it appears in the photo... there's just something about digital photography (in questionable light) that tends to bump up contrast where it's not wanted. And of course there's wet ink glare, but you get the idea.

Now, thank goodness, aaalllllll the background material can come out and I can focus on the branch and bird. I think the shadowed areas have gotten too dark, and the branch is too dark, also, so I see some more ink mixed with white rather than transparent base in the immediate future. 

All this carving will be quite satisfying, and I'm looking forward to getting the rest of the image resolved soon.

Thanks for sticking with this weirdly long and wordy post. I hope at least some of it made sense. If you made it through, give yourself a gold star for today and eat an extra cookie as a reward. You deserve it, after all.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Beyond Artworks: Artists & Their Stories at the Woodson Art Museum

Long time readers of Brush and Baren have no doubt heard (read) me wax poetic about the delights of the Woodson Art Museum. I have been fortunate to have my work juried in to the Woodson's flagship international exhibition, Birds in Art, a dozen times, and honored to have several pieces later accessioned to the museum's permanent collection. It's probably easiest to tell you about the breadth of the collection by quoting from the museum's website: 

The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum collection began with birds and then took flight to encompass and embrace the art of the natural world. The 1976 inaugural exhibition, Birds of the Lakes, Fields and Forests, set the stage. Today, more than 14,000 works of art, including paintings, drawings and field sketches, graphics, photographs, and sculpture, celebrate the essence and spirit of birds from around the world. The collection also includes decorative arts: more than 125 Victorian glass baskets, early twentieth-century utilitarian and decorative glassware and porcelains, nearly 100 Royal Worcester porcelain bird figurines designed by Dorothy Doughty, and a survey collection of historic and contemporary glass vessel forms and sculptural objects.
Like most public institutions around the world, the Woodson spent several months of the last year closed to visitors. They are delightedly welcoming the community through their doors again, and doing so with a new exhibition curated from their collection. Beyond Artworks: Artists & Their Stories celebrates the paths of artworks from creation to acquisition.... and includes sculptures, paintings (and two linocuts!) by past and present masters of wildlife art (and me!). Although I'm not able to be at the show in person, the museum sent along installation photos and, OH! if you are at all in the neighborhood I think you need to check it out. It looks beautiful. 

Show continues through June 6, 2021. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Linocut in Progress: Where were we?

For reasons unknown, the beginning of Garrison Keillor's weekly "Lake Wobegon" monologue just popped into my head... "It's been a quiet week in my hometown...." 

Perhaps it's precisely because it hasn't been a quiet week here. In fact things are starting to feel... well... sort of... not really normal, but certainly more positive. With the increase in available vaccine and the decrease in virus cases, summer exhibitions and workshops are able to be scheduled with more optimism, and possibilities are appearing on the horizon. (Read: Lots of emails and calls and Zoom meetings to discuss!)

Which is why I've been a bit lax about keeping you up-to date with the current linocut in progress. And yes, progress is being made, although still rather erratically.

But here we are at the rollout for Step 3: 

Step 3 rollout

Oh, look! It's blue. How many times have early print stages been blue? A lot of times. But hey! At least we're not stuck in Fifteen Shades of Gray like we were with the last image. 

Steps 3 and 4, printed

I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I am not entirely sure what color was printed for Step 4, since I didn't take a photo of the rollout. Short term memory... it's really a bit hazy these days. I think it was a transparent gray, because I am trying to drag the tree bark back in that direction. Yes... that's a tree snag with a bird perched on top. Does that help you sort out the species yet?

If not, I'm not going to be able to give you much more help on the next step because, again, I apparently didn't take a photo of the rollout... nor did I take a photo of it printed and hanging straight on. I am really falling down on the job here! 

I can tell you that Step 5 was a slightly more opaque, brighter blue, and show you an oblique image of the resulting prints on my drawing table as I was preparing to print Step 6. Hopefully I did a better job of documenting that particular phase, although it happened way yesterday ago and I can't possibly be expected to remember back that far. 

Step 5 printed and having a nice nap on the drawing table.

So, un-informed as you may feel, visually you are more or less caught up. 

Part of the reason for inconsistent recording of the process might be that I have been distracted by technical issues, especially here at Step 5. I don't know if it's the changing weather (we've been warmer and a bit more humid as we finally move more or less into spring), but I've had problems keeping the press pressure consistent. As a result of fiddling around with it at this stage I trashed at least 4 prints... so frustrating! I think I've got things evened out now, but we'll see. This might just end up being "one of those prints."

Monday, March 15, 2021

Observations in the Clearing at Ann Korologos Gallery


It is with great pleasure that I announce my work is currently featured in the exhibition "Observations in the Clearing" at Ann Korologos Gallery in Basalt, Colorado. I am delighted to be showing my work alongside that of Ewoud de Groot, Paula Schuette Kramer, and Mike Weber, who share my love for wild (and domestic!) creatures great and small.

The show opened March 11 and continues through May 15. The Korologos Gallery is open for in-person viewing or you can see the show online here

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Summer Workshops at Hog Island, Maine!

Well! It's been a long time since I've been able to announce an in-person workshop schedule. With improved and improving coronavirus and vaccine news, venues have started to make plans for amended summer programming. Yep, it's a spot of light at the end of the long, tedious tunnel.

Long-time followers will know that the highlight of my summers, long before I moved to Maine, was teaching at the Hog Island Audubon Camp. Summer camp for grown ups has run here every year since 1936, except for one summer during World War II...

... and last year.

So it's with delight that I announce the opening of registration for this summer's camp programs. There will be lots of changes, of course... participant numbers have been cut in half, masks and distancing will still be required. But the island will still be beautiful and even at arm's length the camaraderie and learning will be great.

I'll be on the instructional staff for Arts & Birding week, June 20-25. This year I am particularly excited that not only will I be working once again with the fabulous Jean Mackay, but we've also been able to add good friends and fabulous colleagues Barry Van Dusen and Sean Murtha to the team. The phrase Dream Team might be overused, but in this case it's totally appropriate.

Also new this year are "day camp" programs. If you're not yet ready to join a residential camp experience, but would like to visit Hog Island, I'll be leading a one day on-island sketching adventure on June 10! We'll start out with some skills practice and then roam the island filling sketchbook pages. 

I've got a few more workshops and demos in the works, so watch this space for announcements of firm dates. Yippee! Let's go draw outside this summer!

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 th...