Monday, March 31, 2008


Okie dokie! NOW we're getting somewhere. The image is making itself plain now... a twisted, barkless tree against a backdrop of pines and a ridge of Mount Antero, here in Chaffee County. One last carve for the darkest bits and then this new (as yet unnamed, although "Twisted" is a serious contender) linocut will be done.

I'm struggling a little with the paper on this edition. I'm not sure what has happened, except that the batch of paper I just bought seems to have an unusual number of flaws. At least one of the prints in this edition will probably have to be discarded... there are two mysterious spots that just won't accept the ink. They look sort of like fingerprints, but it's not a question of oil spots and water-based inks, as I use only oil-based inks. We'll see what happens with the last color, as I typically burnish the last one with a spoon instead of a baren, which gives me more firm control over the transfer of ink.

There are a few other prints with little "hickies": raised spots in the paper that end up with an inkless halo around them. I am really quite perplexed, as I've never run into this problem with the Hosho paper before. The last print came from this same batch of paper and those sheets were just fine!

Ah, well. What's that line about life getting boring without challenges? (Ha! Wouldn't it be nice to have a blissfully boring day ONCE in a while?)

Tomorrow afternoon I'm running away from home for a bit. Have some errands and a meeting to attend in Colorado Springs on Wednesday morning, so I'll make the 2-hour drive tomorrow afternoon and stay the night with friends. If I get there in time, I might treat myself to a little bit of sketchbook-and-zoo. Yippee!

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Okay... so we've gone from whiter shade of pale to blueified to peachy. Movin' right along, eh? Greeniness is next. I feel like a feature on "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" or something. "Can you guess what the picture will be?"

Cloudy and unsettled outside today.... but me, I'm feeling reasonably sunny. I've been doing a little bit of "stuff" purging lately and I FINALLY made discernible progress. I couldn't figure out how I could take three boxes of books off to the local library book sale and still have no shelf space. And four bags of clothes to our local thrift store and still have no closet space. But yesterday I took out one more bag and, voila! Suddenly I have an entire empty closet bar! Must be that I finally got rid of the clothes I've been carting around since, oh.... let's see.... high school. (But that sweater is still in really good shape! Just because it hasn't fit in 15 years is no reason to abandon it!)

So... I think I'll head out for a little walk before the winds get cyclonic again. (Welcome to spring in the Rockies.) And then, back to carving for the next color!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Um. I can't think of a clever title.

So.... invent your own! You have complete autonomy in this matter.

Second color went down on the new linocut today. The first one I pulled was a tad too light, so I "blueified" the ink some more before finishing the run. I think this will be satisfactory. I quite like that even at this stage the image begins to resolve itself.

We're presently experiencing parched March wind here in the Heart of the Rockies. Bad for people who want to go outside and play (it's 55 F and sunny today, but the wind is at a steady 20mph, with gusts near to 50)... but good for people who would like their prints to dry quickly so the next color can go on in, say, 2 days. I've got the carve for color #3 just about ready to go. It's gonna be orange-y. Oooooh!

This morning I shipped off some entries for the Creede National Small Print Show. It's a nifty little event, but I seem to lose track of the deadline every other year. Feeling quite smug, I am, to have gotten my act together this time. (Sadly, they don't have a website... but the exhibition takes place at the Creede Repertory Theatre.) I submitted the little print finished last week... and this one.... and... hm.... this one (the last version on the right).

Did you think of a clever title yet?

Me neither.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A whiter shade of pale

Or something like that.

The first pale colors of a new reduction print are often difficult for me to mix. Nothing to judge against... is this too light or too dark? Won't know until the next color goes down. I hope I got it right!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Making it up as I go.

Beverly and Willy both tagged me with the Six Word Memoir meme a few days ago (Within hours of each other! It's a conspiracy, I tell you!) and I've been struggling to find the right hexalingual combination since then. I can THINK in six word chunks... I just can't PICK a definitive phrase. (Apparently I can also make up words like hexalingual, but that's another story entirely.)

I think the original intention was for the memoir to be "birdy" in nature... but since that's only a part of who I am, I elected to make a broader statement. (Hmmm... maybe another memoir candidate could be "Rules? There were rules? Oops. Sorry.")

I have a list that looks like this:

- Always curious about the next adventure. (life in general)
- Rarely plans ahead. Lucks out anyway. (linocut process. Or, now that I think of it, life in general)
- Season is changing. Go find birds. (vernal equinox was this week, right?)
- Pencil, gouge, brush, or binoculars? Yes!
- Did anyone bring the answer key? (another general life thought)
- Can we get there from here? (ditto)
- A pox upon my downstairs neighbors. (see previous post)
- This is too hard. I quit. ("this"= meme responding)

In the end I guess I have to settle for this:

Making it up as I go.

For, oh, most of my adult life, I've been living by the seat of my pants. There have been part-time "day jobs" (usually for non-profits so NOT much of a financial boon), but for the most part I haven't been able to see ahead more than three or four months at a time in terms of work security. It's the nature of self-employment, of wandering into art and nature as the topics for that self-employment, and of being loathe to ignore any single possibility that comes my way.

It's not an easy way to live, but because I've been willing to set aside certainty I've been able to capitalize on opportunity. I have met and worked with amazing scientists, artists, musicians, designers, thinkers, inventors, writers, farmers, ranchers, land stewards of all stripes, curious naturalists and birders and snailers and teachers in many parts of the world. Passionate visionaries, the lot of 'em. And they inspire and inform every single day for me.

Sure... these days I'm "making it up" more deliberately than I did in my 20s and 30s, but I'm still aware that every new day is full of possibility. I just have to pay attention. (Oh , look! That was six words, too!)

And now for the legal disclaimers:

Here are the rules (copied from the original blogger who started this):
1. Write your own six word memoir
2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like
3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to this original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere
4. Tag five more blogs with links
5. And don’t forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

So who's tagged? Susan (who has no time, so give her until July to respond), Beth, Amie, Holly, and Debby.

Mr. Linocut Goes to Washington

PS: This week I sold a linocut to one of Colorado's State Representatives and his lovely wife (who has, herself, made relief prints). It will hang in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, DC. Nifty, eh?

On a roll?

Well. First thing this morning (Sunday, Easter) I had to march downstairs to ask my infuriating neighbors to please put their stereo volume at a civilized level. Not a good way to start the day. (sigh) Once upon a time this was a nice, quiet building. When I moved in, one of my neighbors was 77, the other 92. Loud stereos on Sunday morning were NOT an issue. At the beginning of last year the entire building population turned over, and it's just been a trial ever since. I am hoping to find a different place some time this summer, but a lot of the things required to make that happen are up in the air right now.

So. I will shortly head out the door to take a walk and hopefully clear the tension out of my system from this morning's rough start. BUT, before I do so...

During yesterday's little "down time" (it's rarely ever COMPLETELY down time), I started thinking about a new lino. I've a mind to tackle something larger again, but just now I have too much contract work taking my attention to really buckle down for such a thing. This image is (as usual) from here in my county... a wind-twisted pine on Mt. Antero. (Famous for its heart of aquamarine.) Small again, 6" x 8". And I already know it's at least 5 colors. Maybe even six! Woohoo!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Five. (Fini)

Okie dokie!

It's done, by golly. "Shadows and Reflections," reduction linocut, 6" x 6". The last color... hmmm... hard to see in this photo. Subtle, but in "person" it's just a nice little bit of separation for the dark areas. In general I'm satisfied... although there are ALWAYS things I wish I would have done a little differently.

Off to take a couple of hours "off" today. What a concept.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Of course, now I'm thinking about a fifth color. Just some little dark bits. But we'll see. I'm running out of time, since I'd like to submit this little linocut to the National Small Print Show in Creede... deadline April 1 (and they jury from the prints themselves, not slides). We'll see how fast this color dries, eh?

And, it must be my lucky day. This morning two different people tagged me with the Six Word Memoir meme. I'm gonna have to think about it before I commit to a post, since I was thinking about this print and my first reaction was to say "Rarely plans ahead. Lucks out anyway."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Does anyone else remember that when I started this little print I said it was just going to be two colors? (sigh) At this point I think I'm stopping at the next run, which will be the fourth color. But it's always hard to say. As the image evolves I always get new ideas.

You might notice that this third color doesn't extend to the bottom inch of the print. That entire shadow area in the foreground will be a different, darker, color, so it wasn't necessary to let this one cover the entire plate. I could have cut a mask and kept this color out of the lower half completely... and if I intended this to be more than five colors I might have done so. But I think it will be just fine once the fourth (last?) color goes down.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Jim Henson remains the one public figure whose death I truly mourned. And if this doesn't make you weep for the loss, I don't know what will.

Update: I got a message from someone who had trouble with this embed... You can check out the original clip here at YouTube.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Second color down on the new little linocut, woohoo! Of course (sigh), now I'm wondering if it shouldn't be FOUR colors. Good thing I have a couple of days of ink-drying time to think about it.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

And what's more....

A little watercolor finished today, too.

That's better!

The lamented paper arrived yesterday, so of course I spent some time this morning FINALLY getting this first color down on the new linocut. My world always seems much better when the rack is full of drying prints. As usual, I've gone off without a real plan. I thought this was only going to be two ink passes, but now I'm thinking three. We'll see how it goes.

I've never had space for an actual print-drying rack... the kind with wire shelves that stores prints flat. Once upon a time I strung binder clips along a dowel suspended between chairs... but more than once that less-than-optimal system crashed to the floor. (Can you say "dented and dusty print salvage takes time"?)

So, I needed a stable drying system that wouldn't take up space. (The clip-and-dowel thing always came off the chairs and stood upright in the closet when I wasn't using it.) I drew a scribble of a board and some clothespins on a scrap of paper and my friend Randy agreed to help me put the thing up. It goes like this:

Materials: A nice piece of 1" x 2" scrounged from somewhere, a bag of screws, a bag of wooden clothes pins, some clothesline, two eyelet screws, and plant hooks. Tools: An electric drill with a handy screw bit. (Yes, I have one, and I know how to use it.)

I've got my clothespins spaced 2.5 inches apart on center, which seems to work well even when I'm hanging larger paper (larger paper tends to curl when suspended by a single point). I have two plant hooks in the ceiling (about 6 feet apart), and two corresponding eyelet screws in the top of the 1x2 board. Tie a piece of clothesline to each eyelet, make a loop in the other end of each string, and hang it from the plant hooks. Easy.

Randy cleverly suggested that we tie a second loop in the clothesline just above each eyelet screw. This way I can hang the entire thing up next to the ceiling when I'm not using it, so it's out of the way. I tried to take a photo of this, but my camera wouldn't cooperate, so here's a handy diagram: (click on it to see a larger version.)

My rack has space to hang 30 prints at once, but for those times when I want more space I made a second board-and-clothespins rig that hangs from the bottom of the first. (Like double-hanging a closet.) Things start to get a little wobbly... but it works!

In other news, I'm working on illustrations for the new Blake Nursery catalog, some linocut icons for the Southeast Colorado Heritage Trail, an interp display for the local US Forest Service office, panels for Garden of the Gods and Skaguay SWA and..... um... wait.... I'll remember in a minute. Oh, right... it's Audubon Adventures time again. Geez. It always happens this way.

UPDATE: I did eventually rig this to pulleys, so it's even easier to use now. I had to rearrange my studio space, and the only place to hang the rack was right in front of my large, often-accessed flat files. I let it down when I'm printing, hang the prints, and then zip it back up to the ceiling to dry. Plenty of room to get to the files. Peachy!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Thanks, Mark!

The new and improved Sherrie website went live this weekend, thanks to the stellar support of my friend and web-optimization guru Mark Wiard. Probably it still needs a little shakedown time, but I think it's a vast improvement over the old site. I did that one myself, AGES ago... and it had become an unruly, weedy mess.

Until I met Mark I didn't know a soul who knew more about my Mac than I did. Mark also knows all about things like CSS and how to appease cantankerous search engines so I don't have to. This is good. It's also good that I'm learning to give over a little bit of control to people who know stuff already. If you haven't done that before (given up a little control), I encourage you to give it a try. It actually works. (Sometimes.)

What lost hour?

I've been so out of touch lately that I didn't even realize until Friday that we were "springing ahead" last night. I don't understand why a) we did the winter change later than usual and are now b) doing the spring change earlier but I am c) absolutely NOT complaining.

Well, maybe I'm whining a wee bit. I'm just not ever convinced that I can afford to lose an hour, especially at this time of year. I went to bed a tad overwhelmed last night... the list of tasks in the week ahead is enormous.

Of course some people seem to able to get more out of the last few hours of a day than others. Enter Amie Roman over at Burnishings. I stumbled on Amie's lovely work at little while back... I think whilst checking out the possibilities of selling work on Etsy. You know how these things go... one click leads to another leads to another leads to hours of wandering about in cyberspace. (At the right: "Where the Lilies Grow" by Amie.)

Anyway, just last night (the short night), Amie and I struck up a little correspondence and this morning I discover she has linked to me six ways from Sunday. She's got techno-prowess AND printmaking genes! A goddess if ever I met one. And of course, now I have to poke around in all the new places she has led me: Squidoo, Wet Canvas, (Not whining about THAT.)

The weather lost no time in gracing us with some snow overnight. I confess I'm snowed-out for this season, but it could be worse. I could still be in Cleveland, where they've had "the snowstorm of the year." This shot from the window of a house I know well there... and this was before it REALLY started snowing.

For me today it's the start of two new illustration jobs... one in watercolor and one in linocut. Thursday I'm going to take a "Sherrie Art" day... that missing Hosho paper is supposed to arrive Wednesday.

Guess I'd better get busy.

Cleveland weather update: The Great Snowshoveling has begun there. Here in the Heart of the Rockies we've only had a couple of wet-springlike inches of the white stuff. I'm trying not to gloat. I'm told that nice, even little wall of snow is about 2 feet high near the house.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The stuff you find in the drawer...

Okay, so I'm still grumbling about my paper shortage... I've ordered a stack, but haven't even seen a shipping confirmation yet. Grumble grumble grumble.

Ever-hopeful, I went back to the flat file this morning... hoping I had some tucked away in another drawer somewhere. No luck there, either, BUT.... I did come across this little tiny (3x4) linocut.

I'd forgotten all about it. It's actually part of a larger piece that I did as a t-shirt design for the Colorado Breeding Bird Atlas II . The sort of "high concept" here is that the Atlas project takes each 7.5' quad map of Colorado and divides it into six blocks for the purpose of surveying the status of breeding bird species in the state. Six blocks, three major landscape features, three groovy birds of those landscapes... and a linocut to boot. Fun, eh?

Hopefully the big news later today or this weekend will be that the remodeled Sherrie York website will be going live. It's hiding behind the existing site now... a secret bit of evolution that I'm feeling quite pleased with so far. Just you wait.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Okay, back to work. Sorta.

Well, I had intended to pull the first color (I think there will only be two) on this little linocut tomorrow morning, but I have just discovered that I do not have enough of the paper I need. (The stack I had set aside was only the right paper for the first 5 sheets... something else underneath it. Dang it.)

So. Only posting the plate this time, carved and waiting for the first color to print. A small image, 6x6 inches. I'm aiming for a couple of pieces for a national small print exhibition which juries at the beginning of April. Not off to a good start if I don't have the right paper!

On the topic of which: It's not like I don't have paper. Much to the contrary. I have oodles of paper. Drawing paper. Watercolor paper. Glassine. Tracing. Newsprint. I even have printmaking paper, and some stuff I can no longer identify, which is too bad because I like it for drawings.

But what I DON'T have are enough sheets of beautiful Hosho... a bright white Japanese kozo paper. I love this stuff for hand-pulling, and I know several people who also use it with great success on a press. If you're shopping for it, I recommend the "professional" grade over the "student." I'm actually wishing right now that I could give a try to this beautiful hand made version, but it's not in the budget for this particular project. When I've got the right image in mind, though.... ooooooooooooooh!

Bad, bad, bad, bad me

Sorry, sorry, sorry. I've been out of town again, and despite my best intentions I haven't been able to post.

As a first peace offering, a sketch in a coffee shop in a city 1500 miles from my own. More soon. Like how about a new linocut getting its first color in the morning?

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 deadline...