Saturday, October 16, 2010

That's not carving, that's hacking*

(*With apologies to Truman Capote.)

Well... I finished the latest reduction linocut yesterday, but it was an arduous crawl to the finish. I have a couple of excuses explanations for why things seem to be a struggle challenging. If you wanna hear 'em, I'll put them at the end.*** Otherwise, here's What Happened Next.

My three large foreground pines needed to be delineated, and my thought was that a warmer, lighter value green would do the trick. I didn't want the value to be TOO different from the distant hillside, but enough to make the tree shapes clear. Probably I should have put this color down earlier in the process, but for some reason my brain started working compositionally from back-to-front (more like painting?) than from light-to-dark.

No big deal except that it meant I had a lot of material to remove from the block. Hack, hack, hack.

The challenge with removing so much from the block at this stage, when there are so many other ink layers already on the print, is that there's not much inked surface for the paper to grab on to when it's time to burnish the image. Can you say "high chance of slippage"?

I tweaked this color a LOT. Too dark. Too light. Too blue. In the end I settled for this, but felt as though these pines were floating rather than settled in the landscape. They're fine at the top, but at the bottom there's too much contrast with the dark blue on the hillside. (Sigh) I decided I needed to squeeze in one more color, but only in even smaller amounts.

Hack, hack,  hack. This is bordering on ridiculous, now. (Keep in mind this block is only 5 x 7 inches.)

Better, but there are some shapes I'm just not satisfied with. This may be an opportunity to try pochoir, but I'm going to sit with this for a couple of days and see if it grows on me. At the moment I'm not sure whether it's done, or I'm just done with it. After so much experimentation and futzing around, I think I might have an edition of 5 from a start of 12 prints. Not my best percentage. However....

I think once before I invoked the mantra of a high school friend who tried to teach me to ski: "If you're not falling down, you're not trying hard enough." Granted, I never learned to ski... but I did learn to be a little more philosophical about bruises– both the physical and the mental ones.

So, for a little change of pace, this afternoon I'll be doing a quick little hands-on printmaking adventure at Shed Fest. (Our local post-harvest-season celebration of our food shed.) Pencils on foam plates, black ink on paper bags. Come on by the SteamPlant if you're in the 'hood.

***Angst excuses: I'm trying to apply everything I learned at this summer's woodcut-on-a-press workshop to linocut-by-hand, and it's too much at once: Different paper, different ink modifiers, different ink application, and a change of subject matter. (Distant view and big shapes as opposed to complex underfoot noodly shapes.) It's a little crazy! But I'm learning even MORE. Always a good thing, even when frustrating. I just need to learn to be a little more systematic!

Like that's gonna happen.


  1. "I'm not sure whether it's done, or I'm just done with it"

    How well I know that feeling!

  2. It's a fine, fine line.. isn't it, Mike?

  3. Me likes! When you've crossed that line and put it up for sale, let me know. If I can afford it, I'd like to buy one.

  4. From this end, the print looks great! The colours and landscape are very evocative of parts of British Columbia. We drove through country very much like that just last week.

    And, ironically, at first glance, I thought it was a woodcut (the looser lines maybe?)so your "woodcut-on-paper workshop" seems to be coming through.

    Maybe your dissatisfaction stems from this print being too different from the intricately detailed images you've been doing?