Thursday, May 7, 2009

Headed for the barn

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.


  1. COWabunga! Beautiful!

    Still makes my head spin how you work these reductions out, Sherrie.

  2. Well, you managed to extricate yourself from your glitsch very nicely! Cindy looks lovely.

  3. she looks great! :D great you got 2 inked colours in one pass.

    "The work I do as an illustrator is not the same as the work I do as an artist: " same here. The "Artsy Fartsy" drawings are completely different from the ones that I do of fantasy creatures. it can be hard to switch between the 2, especially if its been awhile since I've done fantasy work. If its a symptom of middle age its about 12 years too early for me :p

  4. Congrats! (or Cowgrats?) It looks great! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who doesn't think things out as carefully as I should.

    As for the middle age thing, I'm beginning to think it isn't the age per se, but more a matter of how filled your head is with all the trivia from X number of years of living, leaving no room for what you need to fill it with now!

  5. I once complained to a friend that it would be nice to be able to delete unused and outdated files from one's brain as from a computer.

    He said, "Yeah, but what you REALLY need is defrag."