Thursday, January 28, 2010


The last few days have been spent focused on a client project, which went off this afternoon for final review. Whew! That feels good.

A stout, wet snow blanketed our little valley overnight, and that feels good, too. Snow plays a significant role in our local economy all year long, with skiing and other snow sports through the winter and rafting on a snow-melt-swollen river through the summer. Unless of course, there isn't any snow. Overall I think our snow pack is faring a tiny bit better than other parts of the state, but that's not saying much.

Yeah. Snow feels good.
A shift in work focus and a shift in weather have both done a lot to temper the runaway train feeling of last weekend. (Although there WAS the matter of a several-hour software headache yesterday, with completely unsatisfactory customer service on the part of the company in question. I'm trying to forget it.) I've started to turn my attention back to a print or two this evening, mostly I'm drawing up tiny things just to keep my print muscles loose. I'm still twitchy to try something bigger, but so far the "perfect" idea hasn't quite come my way.

Tomorrow promises to unfold as a "scratching" day. I will paw through sketches and go to meetings and have tea with colleagues and maybe print one color on one of these tiny blocks. Maybe go to the library. Catch up on blog reads. Take a deep breath. Downshift.

That. Feels. Good.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

While you were out... Another linocut and a flirtation with doubt

Happiness is a full print rack

It's a good thing I did my happy dance the moment I finished that little mussel shell linocut. Near-panic overtook me in the next breath, when the implications of agreeing (possibly insanely) to produce an 8-color reduction linocut in 10 days became clear.

I am pleased to report that the project moved along quite smartly this weekend. Some judicious masking means only one color remains to be pulled, although the most I can show you at the moment is the tantalizing edge of it as it hangs on the drying rack. It's due at the end of this week, so some time next week I imagine it will be the subject of a new post.

HOWEVER, for reasons beyond my comprehension, I decided to simultaneously work on another small print. I don't know why. Really I don't. It meant I spent the last three days feeling as though I were staying barely ahead of an out-of-control train.

It's a fairly simple little composition, just 5 passes. It is an obvious relative of the aspen linocut from the first week of the year, and came about for two reasons: 1) I need some very small format pieces for an upcoming show and 2) when I had finished the previous aspen/snow/shadows print I had an idea that seemed more interesting... but of course since I'm working in reduction there was no way to go back and try it.

It's all about the snow shadows.

This image represents the first two passes, both of which involved a gradation of light blue to more purple-y blue. The top inch or so was rolled and printed first, using a mask. The next pass used the same colors over a wider area. This blended inking was the entire reason for trying this image again....

The next day I carved out all the blue areas and printed gray.

This morning I printed the green in a little band across the top.

And this afternoon the black. Finished! (6" x 4")

I hoped that the blended inking of the snow would be more interesting than the flat shadow color of the earlier aspen print, and I think that's the case. Overall the composition and shapes are less complex than in the other image, but I think it's still a pleasing little piece, especially considering that it flew in the face of the way I usually work and went start-to-finish in such a short time. I don't always want to work this way, it reminds me too much of production deadlines, but it was interesting to give it a try. And I hope that "giving it a try" is the theme of the next few weeks (and months!) for me.

Some time last week I think I mentioned feeling that restless need to stretch outside my comfort zone. Maybe you know this feeling.... It's the one that says "this is okaaayyyyy, but surely it could be more/better/other." For me it's always a tricky time, because this sort of discontent can take one of two distinct paths:

Path #1: Experimentation, stretching, and growing. "Yes, this could be more/better/other and I am setting off to acquire the skills/knowledge/experience to make it so."

Or, less helpfully, Path #2: Doubt and despondency. "This could be more/better/other but I don't have the skills/knowledge/experience and there are a thousand people already doing this more/better/other already, so what's the point?"

Uh huh. We go there what? Once a week?

Path #2 is the easier trail-- Well-traveled and down hill all the way. Path #1 has thorny undergrowth and rocky terrain. It's twisty. Impossible to see what's beyond the next bend: stunning vista or muddy bog?

More than 20 years ago a friend gave me a bootleg tape of author David Viscott speaking about the creative process at the (now-something-else) International Design Conference in Aspen. I can't remember his exact words on the subject of self doubt, but the essence of it was this: Doubt is always with you. Now, get back to work.

From time to time I flirt with that seductive downhill path, but then I hike up my jeans and thrash up in to the scrub. Out-of-control trains lose momentum uphill.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Race to the finish: tiny mussel shell linocut

Oops. I got so excited to put the last color on this little print today that I forgot to take a photo of the step before. My bad.

Or maybe it was a sort of subconscious avoidance. I was delighted with the last pass you saw, colors 4&5 together. The one that went on top of it? Not so much. It seemed as if the life had gone out of the image, so maybe that's why I "forgot" to take a photo. Nervous avoidance.

But this last color (a dark blue-black) made sense of the preceding layers, and all was well. At the big reveal I shouted "BOO-yah! Dodged disaster again!" and did a happy dance.

That's two editions in three weeks... how much longer do you suppose I can keep this up?

Mussel shells, 3" x 3", Reduction linocut

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Back to linocuts

The DM is home from the NAMM show, still recovering from sensory overload but full of ideas. It's good to have him here, but it's funny how quickly I got in to a different routine and how much I'm struggling to find my way back to the old one.

Once again I'm hearing the pounding of deadline drums. I have a contract project that's due, but I also agreed this weekend to a little commission which is due in 10 days! What was I thinking, an 8-color linocut in 10 days? I'd show it to you, but the person it's for is a sometimes reader, and we just don't want to spoil the surprise.

In the meantime, I've also gotten back to the tiny shell lino that I started last week. I think probably just 2 more passes for this little thing, but I'm pleased with how it's moving along. Could be finished by the weekend!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Come draw with me at the Monte Vista Crane Festival!

Grab a sketchbook and your sense of adventure and come on down to the Monte Vista Crane Festival, March 12-14. Early spring in Colorado's San Luis Valley finds thousands of sandhill cranes loafing in the fields, resting and fueling up for the next leg of their northward journey. It also finds hundreds of bird enthusiasts lining the roads to watch them.

I'll be there, gawping with the rest of 'em, but on Saturday morning I'll be leading a group in a little more focused observation. We'll start out at the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge headquarters, then wander on out in to the refuge to spend some quality time experiencing the spectacle.

The Festival itself is free and open to the public. Field sketching workshop is Saturday morning, 9am-noon, with a $30 fee and a limit of 12 people. Registration form can be found on the Monte Vista Crane Festival website. Come on out! It's going to be a fun day.

PS: And just so you know, Sherrie workshop information can always be found on my Workshops web page.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Before sunrise

The answer to the question at the end of the previous post is "before sunrise." Despite my intention to sleep, log-like, all through the night, I was awake at 4:00am and downstairs printing before 5:00. The good news is that the current absence of the Darling Man meant I could turn on lights and turn up the radio and stomp down the stairs and generally make a ruckus at that hour.

So here's color three. No more guessing about the subject of this one, I don't think. Now we go on hold until either my ink order shows up or I discover the way to miraculously convert my excess of black ink to white. (sigh)

But who knows? Maybe I'll actually manage to go out and DRAW something tomorrow. Wouldn't that be fun?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Red sky at morning... a new linocut by evening?

Light lingers noticeably longer in the evenings already, not even a month past the winter solstice. Mornings remain another matter... sometimes I am up before the lazy dawn (sometimes WAY before) and others not. When I downloaded photos from my camera this evening, I found evidence that some time in the last few days I was not only out of bed, but also cognizant enough to recognize a lovely sunrise AND find the camera and make it behave. Funny I wasn't also cognizant enough to remember it even happened until now.

The DM is still in Anaheim at the NAMM show, and in his absence I have been a tad manic. Working, working, working... trying to cram as much productivity into four days as is humanly possible. One of the biggest projects is developing a new e-newsletter (she turns and points subtly to the sign-up bar on your right), and one of the smallest (at least in terms of square inches) is a new little linocut.

Yes, tiny again! Just 3x3 inches. The deadline for a mini print exhibition is not far away, and I feel it's a good time to do some itty bitty pieces. What I'm also trying to do (if you must know) is psych myself up for something biggish. 12 x 18 or 18 x 18, methinks. I feel that twitchiness... the kind that foretells a need to stretch past the comfort zone.... but I'm Not. Quite. Ready.

These tiny formats are fun, because I can see progress in a short amount of time... carving doesn't take long, printing doesn't take long. This image will seem a little familiar as it evolves. It's a subject I've done before, larger. I started it because I had scrapes of blue ink left from the "Frozen Shadows" piece... and now, on the verge of a third color, I find I am almost out of white! How did THAT happen? I've more on order, but who knows how long it will take to get here? Argh! I still have light values to mix and print! Bring on the transparent base, maybe?


Well... it's not like I'll be twiddling my thumbs until the ink gets here. Plenty of other projects clamoring for my attention. I just hate it when it's my own lack of foresight that stalls my momentum.

I mentioned last week that I had installed an exhibition at the Salida Regional Library. It's always nice to have an opportunity to be part of the local public art program, especially at our library. I'm probably overdue for the gushing praise I tend to heap on this institution, but timely or not, gushing praise is completely justified. It's a cozy turn-of-the-previous-century space with a delightful staff and a collection that responds swiftly and graciously to the needs and interests of the community. And the director wrote a darn nice review of my show in the local newspaper, too. (Thanks, jefe.)

Art AND education in a Sherrie exhibition whenever possible. In the image above I have a black and white print hung alongside its block, with a process description for single-color and reduction prints. It's a great starting point for conversation. And way easier to point to pictures than try to explain it clearly. Especially if it's before or after sunrise or sunset. Remember those cognition problems.

And below? You ought to recognize these three pieces, as they unfolded here right before your very eyes. More or less.

More on the 'morrow. I'm going to go set up to squeeze that last bit of white in to the third color for the morning's printing. Before or after the sunrise? No idea.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Still life with museum specimens

This morning I deposited the Darling Man on a plane headed for the NAMM show in Anaheim (ginormous music trade show), leaving me contentedly alone with my own zillion projects for several days.

It's a three hour drive (each way) to the Denver airport, so any trip to The City is made more efficient by squeezing in errands and sketching time. There's snow in the forecast again, so I didn't get a lot of time to dilly-dally, but I did wrangle a couple of hours in the dioramas at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Back to linos tomorrow!

Friday, January 8, 2010

7 Colors, 7 Days... First finished linocut of 2010!

Ooph. Awake since 3:30am. Again. Rather than flop around in bed for who knows how long, I decided to get up and finish the first linocut of the year.

Once again, not a great photo. (sigh) I'll swap it out later when I get a better one, but just wanted to celebrate with everyone before I go back to bed. Which should be any min...... zzzzzzzzzz

Thursday, January 7, 2010

One more to go...

Assuming I make it through the last inking tomorrow morning, we're going to call this "seven colors in seven days." Oh, yeah... an entire linocut done in the first week of the year. Today it's color #6, which looks black here but is really dark green. (The prettiest "forest" green I've ever managed to mix, actually.)

Must turn attention to a contract project this afternoon, but just spent an hour at the coffee shop thinking about content for a new newsletter. I've been pretty erratic about newsletters in the past, shameful for someone who used to write and design such things for other people all the time. I've got some exciting (to me, anyway) ideas... now to just get them implemented. (Sigh) There's always something, isn't there?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A color a day keeps the grumpies away...

Although I seem to be caught in some sort of loop in the space-time-printmaking continuum. I keep adding a color, but I still have two colors to go. What's up with THAT?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I know what you were thinking....

.... but you were just too polite to say so.

"There's no WAY Sherrie will stick with only 5 colors," you murmured to yourself. Perhaps even to others.

(sigh) I've become so transparent. Here's color 4. And, yes, I've decided I've at least two colors to go. The good news is, I'm still more than half done as long as I keep it to 7 colors or fewer, so it's not like I was entirely delusional.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Carve, walk, print

Well, I've managed to keep this year more or less on track for three whole days already! Amazing! Tomorrow I'll hang my first show of the new year, at the Salida Regional Library as part of our local Art in Public Spaces program. The linocuts are already stacked in the car, ready for the two block drive to the library. (It seems so ridiculous to drive two blocks... we keep saying that we need a wagon. Not that an entire show's worth of framed work would FIT in a wagon. But it's a good idea...)

In between art-packing and laundry-doing I managed to get the third color down on the new lino. This was the most laborious carving of the piece (read: most material to remove from the block), and I'm only anticipating 5 colors, so golly! It's half finished already. Such a deal. My goal is to get it done by the end of this week... which seems easy enough until I start looking at the other items on this week's schedule. (Show to hang, illustrations to work on, and if the weather holds out, a Darling Man to take on a secret adventure as part of his holiday gift.) I'd keep my fingers crossed, but that would preclude getting any carving done...

Just in case a print of snow and shadows isn't chilly enough for you, here are a couple of little shots from our walk today. Yes, of course... I'm still looking "underfoot" for the series... although can you imagine trying to do either of these as linos? I'm tempted, but not yet completely out of my mind.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Could there be a more perfect start to a new year? I think not...

After the plumbing adventures of Christmas weekend, we were due for a little holiday cheer around here. And by golly, we got it. I'd be hard-pressed to come up with a better start to a new year than the last 24 hours:

New Year's Eve....
1) Carving and printing of first color on a new linocut. (See below...)
2) Torchlight parade and fireworks with friends at Monarch Ski Area, just up the road from us, at dusk.
3) Fireworks AGAIN, this time in town at midnight, viewed NOT from the cold sidewalk, but from our cozy bed.

Skiers by torchlight, Monarch Ski Area, New Year's Eve

Tim, Denny, David, and hot cocoa in the ski lodge after fireworks.

New Year's Day:
1) Brunch with the DM at the café, friends and neighbors around us.
2) Carve and print second color on a new linocut.
3) Walk along the river with the DM.
4) A little drawing and painting in my journal, in solidarity with others of the Journal-Keepers tribe who were also working today.
5) Pork and sauerkraut supper... a tradition imported by the DM and wholeheartedly embraced by me!

Oh, yeah. Perfect.

Two blues. Hm. Do you think there might be snow involved? Sorry, all you Aussies and Aussie-ex-pats, no eucalyptus print yet... I'm feeling a little rusty after a month's hiatus, so starting with something a little simpler to get back in the groove. But soon. Promise.

Daylight view from the same window through which fireworks were viewed last night.
Winter remnants of summer blooms.

Here in the Rockies there are still a few hours left in this first day of 2010, just enough time to wish everyone good work, good friends, and good fun in the days ahead. Cheers, ya'll!

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...