Saturday, January 29, 2011

More linocut progress

I'm feeling a little wishy-washy about this image. Could be that I'm just feeling wishy-washy in general...

Color 4, gray-brown.

Color 5, green.

I think there's a second green and then a dark to go, for a total of a mere 7 colors. When was the last time you saw me do THAT?

There's finally some snow in the forecast for Monday/Tuesday this week. Too bad those are the days I need to go the 100 miles to Colorado Springs to shift exhibitions around. (sigh) Figures. I had hoped to get this piece finished before then, but it looks like the ink won't be dry enough tomorrow for the next pass. Maybe I'll get some thumbnails squeezed in instead!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Okay, back to work.

Now that I'm done hyperventilating over an excess of exposure, it really is time to settle down and get back to work. Colors 2 and 3 have been applied to the current linocut, and of course I'm still working on the icon project and a couple of other illustrations for clients.

Colors 1 and 2 could have been applied simultaneously, but I didn't have quite the necessary roller width to do a light-to-dark-to-light blend all in one pass. This way I managed to retain a few lighter blue bits from the first pass... a bonus I hadn't planned for but was happy to capitalize on. The difference in the blues was hard to express in a photo until I shot the image sideways... sorry if it doesn't make a lot of sense this way!

Color 3 is a straightforward gray-brown, although inked lightly to keep a little variety in the tree trunks and the background-to-be-resolved later. It's time to slow down now, as the next stage involves quite a bit of "noodly" carving of skinny branches.

The snow scene complusion seems to be everywhere right now... Stuart's still doing a delicate linocut dance at Wildlife with Pen and Brush, Sonya's been creating a cloud of pastel at Sonya's Daily Art Journal, and Ann Lewis tells me she's about to tackle the Welsh winter in lino, too. Ooo-whee! I love all the activity!

As if I didn't have anything else to do this week, I started mucking around and updating my website. I shudder to think of the condition of my host server right now... a melange of altered old pages, abandoned old pages, and completely new pages. I'll clean it all up when everything's finally satisfactory, but OOOH. Messy. (Sorry, Ernie. I promise I'll tidy up my space soon.)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Linocuts on PPLD TV! The video is here!

PPLD Off the Wall: February 2011 from PPLD TV on Vimeo.

Oh. My.

Late this afternoon I received an email from Ralph Giordano at ArchAngel Productions with an ominous link.  Yup. To the premiere of "my" segment for the PPLD TV short program "Off the Wall."

I made the Darling Man come and stand next to me when I clicked PLAY. It's probably an understatement to say that I, um, dislike having my picture taken. Video? Even worse. But when the Pikes Peak Library District contacted me to announce that I will be their Featured Artist in February, I learned a video interview came with the honor. My mouth cheerfully agreed, but the rest of me went in to a bit of dread-and-panic mode. (Video. Shudder.)

Thankfully Ralph and his co-producer Lee Graham worked wonders with the limited screen charm they had available to them. They were kind and encouraging and fun to work with. (Although I did tell them I would also let everyone know they put me on a pedestal when I did my interview. Literally. I was a bit vertically challenged for the shot they had in mind. I had to stand on the video equipment's hard case so they could see my linos in the background of the frame.)

You can see other artist features on In My Eye Entertainment's Vimeo channel. I imagine "Art Underfoot" might be the lead video until late February when the next feature takes front and center. (UPDATE: The video link above now goes directly to the PPLD TV channel and is the permanent link to "my" segment.)

If you have a Vimeo account and can leave comments, please let Ralph and Lee know what you think of their work. You can tell 'em I sent you!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

When the cleanup takes longer than the printing...

I did, indeed, manage to print all 18 linocut icons on Saturday. The printing itself didn't take too long, but cleaning 18 little blocks sure did! Ooph. It took the wind out of my sails in a big way, and I spent the rest of the day in a rocking chair with my nose in a book. Time to abandon the Wonder Woman persona.

I'm reasonably happy with most of the images, although there are one or two that I'm less pleased with now that they're printed. I'm going to scan everything tomorrow and send it off to the client and see what she has to say, so watch for at least a few critters to show their little faces here as they are approved. (Or not.)

You might be able to see from this deliberately vague photo that the images seem to have odd smudges top and bottom. This was also deliberate... I left small "railings" of uncarved lino along the edges of each block to support the brayer when inking and hopefully avoid too much stray ink where I didn't want it. Seemed to work. Since these are not prints to edition but illustrations to scan and have in a digital format, the extraneous blobs won't ultimately be seen. Photoshop, baby.

Of course there was that OTHER block in the jig on Friday, too.

I didn't intend to do yet another snow shadows piece, but I think I'm being subconsciously influenced by our complete lack of the white stuff in Salida this year. Snow all around us, but here in town? I don't think we've had an inch TOTAL all season. Not kidding. (Come to think of it, though... I did snow pieces this time last year, too.)

The big 16 x 20 piece is still mentally incubating, but I wanted something else to work on in the meantime. This new lino-to-be is a reworking of an image I did in black and white a few years ago. Block size is 9 x 12.

Funny. I just realized that Stuart Brocklehurst over at Wildlife with Pen and Brush started a snow piece this weekend, too. I'm intrigued by what he has going already, pop over and check it out.

Friday, January 21, 2011

RTP: Ready to print!

WHOOSH! There went another week! I'm getting wind-burn from the speed of January...

Probably my biggest accomplishment of the week was finishing the carving on eighteen (count 'em) little linocuts bound for use as wayside map icons. They're stacked on the table and ready for printing tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it... just imagine how satisfying it will be to have a drying rack full-to-brimming with the little darlings!

I made good progress on a couple of other projects this week, too, and I spent one morning helping the students of the Link School get their birding groove on. But OOOOH! The most fun part of the last few days was the arrival of a package containing this fabulous surprise:

Yup, it's a beautiful journal, hand sewn by none other than Jill Bergman of Art on the Page. Our virtual friendship stepped in to the real world a few weeks ago when Jill (the actual, real-live Jill) visited Salida. Our mutual impulse seemed to be to share books, in addition to printmaking... lucky me!

(By the way, you should pop over to Art on the Page and see what Jill's working on now. Linocut illustrations for a children's book! Absolutely delightful!)

Hopefully I'll get a chance to christen the book this weekend, after I get all these icons printed. But, wait.....

What's that other thing in the registration jig?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Linocut icons... progress!

I really need to get the vacuum in here. I just swept another pile of lino crumbs into the bin, but they're tracked through the rug and hiding behind every piece of furniture in the studio. (Ahhhh.... life is good!)

I didn't intend to spend my entire Sunday carving an outhouse (!) and a tiny jail, but there you have it. There are now 14 little linocuts carved and awaiting an adventure with ink, paper, and baren, but I've still 4 more on the to-do list for this round of the icon project. They're all just critters from here on out, no more covered wagons or grain elevators– at least for now.

Friday, January 14, 2011

January thumbnails update!

After a nudge from Lisa at Seaside Studios, I realized it was past time for an update on the 100 Thumbnails project.

You can see from the scorecard in the sidebar that I came up a little short in December. My only excuse is that it was.... well.... December. Everything tends to go out the window in December.

I'm a bit behind the game for January, too, although if this "unseasonably" warm and dry weather keeps up I might find myself a little more motivated. Sure, I can (and do) work from photos and the TV and the edge of my sofa, but given the choice between drawing from life and working from a flat image...

Oh, who are we kidding? It's really no contest.

Not that it's always easy to get myself out the door. I'm the first to admit that I can be a "fair-weather sketcher." Cold? Uh uh. Wind? Don't wanna. Maybe I should take my camera. Binoculars? Maybe I should pack a snack. An extra sweater? I don't want to get out there and discover I'm cold/hungry/thirsty/missing a new bird ID! I can spend a lot of time wandering around the house with a half-provisioned backpack, trying to get myself in the "right headspace" to go draw.

Even when I finally get out the door, the waffling doesn't necessarily resolve right away. My sit-down-and-draw self wrestles with my go-see-what's-over-there self. I wander around. I sit down. I stand back up. I wander some more. I look at animal tracks. I watch birds. I dodge deer poop. I grumble about the people who leave their trash by the side of the river. I wonder if I should be home doing XYZ or ABC.

Eventually I settle down and open my sketchbook. "It's just a 2x3-inch sketch," I tell myself, and once I start moving my pencil I realize it's the action of drawing that gets me into the right headspace... not the other way around. It happens every time. In fact, the scribbled notes on one of these pages say that very thing.

After a while my attention starts to wander again... to sounds and smells and whatever else is going on around me.  I realize that even though I dislike wrestling with ruffling sketchbook pages, it is the movement of the air that makes these drawings real. They were not made from my wind-proof studio or my climate-controlled car, but from the lee side of a fallen tree in a sunny spot by the river. I got more than a few sketches... I got stickers in my socks and dirt on my pants. I got the indifferent pip of a song sparrow, talking to itself for lack of stimulating company. I got the constant flow of the river. I got a little sunburn. In January.

Thumbnails. Funny how something so small can be something so big, eh?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Aspen linocut... race to the finish!

Okay, okay. I'm not going to go TOO crazy dragging out the completion of this image. I spent yesterday afternoon and this morning catching up (a bit) with some contract projects and am feeling a little more... erm... moderated... in how I'm moving through the week. Time to take a deep breath and see how this aspen reduction print wrapped up.

Color pass 7
All that green from color #6 was a little startling, and I couldn't wait to get a bit of ochre back in there to tone things down. Everything still seemed on track after this pass, and for a brief moment I thought there might be only one color to go.

Silly me.
Color pass 8

After staring at this a while I decided I really wanted to deepen the "shadows" between the background trees and leave the foreground grasses light. I ended up just running a 1" band of darker ochre through the area and printing again without any further carving. It's fairly subtle, but I think it added a lot.

Color pass 9. Are we done now?

So THEN I thought I was at the last color. A nice browny thing. The entire piece definitely turned out mid-day-ish, but I liked it well enough. I cleaned everything up and headed for bed, satisfied with a 9-colors-in-two-days marathon.

But, as so often happens, by the time I was brushing my teeth I thought that maybe I could do one more thing to it. I liked the relationship of the foreground to the background, but couldn't it be just a bit more dramatic? Couldn't I give everything one more layer of depth?

Color 10. Oh, NOW it's done.
Of course I could. I could go on forever... or at least until there wasn't any printable area left on the block. So yesterday morning I experimented, darkening just the left-most tree at first but in the end printing two darker trees. Yeah. Good.

So now it's finished.... really. (Although I do need a title.) Back to map icons and brook trout, bird habitats and workshop preps. And contemplating that 16x20 block that's sitting on the table. Somehow I think that will be a slightly longer than 2-day project.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Two linocuts, 19 colors, eleven days

Oh, don't act so surprised. You KNEW I wouldn't drop this bone until I'd gnawed it to pieces. Sunday's maniacal start became Monday's maniacal finish, and then this morning I decided this aspen linocut really needed one more color (for a total of ten). But since I now have to spend the rest of the week focused on contract projects, I think I'll drag out the image development drama for a few days.

Just because I can.

Color 5

Color 6
Four more to go from here.

This is one of those images in which the mood changed dramatically with each new color application. After color #4 there was a nice, moody, light that I quite liked. Less so when the yellow went on, and once this green was down everything became mid-day sunny. It was a little disconcerting, but I think you'll like what happens next.

Yeah, you're right. It's like watching a movie with someone who's already seen it and keeps saying, "Oh, this is my favorite part," or, "Geez, don't look... this is gonna be gross." Really annoying.

So don't listen to me. Stick your fingers in your ears and enjoy your popcorn. Wait. That won't work. Um. Whatever. Just watch the show.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sit. Stay. No, really. Sit. Please.

Days so often unfold in unexpected ways.

Color pass 1
Take today, for example. Because Friday's video interview took place in Colorado Springs, with me just standing in front of a wall of prints, I thought it might be useful to shoot some "demo" footage here at the studio and send it to the editor to cut in. (A suggestion which was received graciously by the videographers, although they were probably groaning inwardly at amateurs who have "ideas.") But, really... Maybe they could use some footage to sift through beyond Sherrie-the-talking-head?

It was a good idea, but for one small problem. Until last night I had no lino ready to work on. El nothing-o with which to demo.

Thankfully, I had a pre-mounted 5-by-7-inch block waiting on the shelf, so last night before bed I shuffled through my collection of potential images and found something "doable." My trusty Sharpie pen and I got the drawing done and I was ready to roll this morning.
Color pass 2

But, of course, the first color pass required no cutting and was, IMHO... boring to film.

So I printed it sans camera and and set to work carving for the second pass. Also boring. Well, I didn't think the carving part was very interesting for video, anyway. It was mostly little tiny marks at the top of the block. Chip, chip, chip. But we (the DM and I) shot the printing of the second pass and I decided the carving for the third pass would be more interesting.

Except that partway through the carving I decided that the second color had been too dark. So I put down my tools and printed the third (lighter) color.

Color pass 3

Oh, honestly! I think I need to send my inner border collie to obedience school. This was supposed to be a straightforward couple of shots. Carve some. Print some. Stop.


The good news is that the carving and printing of color pass FOUR satisfied my sense of what might be interesting as a demonstration. The bad news is that it took me all day to get there. (Was there something else I was going to do today? Probably.)

Color pass 4. Time to give the dog a cookie.

I have no idea if anything we shot today will make it into the final segment, but I'm not sure it matters. I'm unexpectedly four colors in to the second linocut of 2011!

I think the border collie deserves a cookie and a pat on the head, don't you?
Good dog. Now sit.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

One down, 51 to go!

This morning I told my friend Claire that if the rest of 2011 unfolds as the first week has I'll be 50 pounds lighter and have no soles on any of my shoes by June. What a crazy seven days! 9-color lino-ing, show installing, sketch making, illustration researching, illustration carving, event attending, and yesterday... video interviewing!


A line of linocuts at the library

So let's see... linocutting and printing happened Saturday to Monday, which you've already seen. Tuesday I drove down to Colorado Springs with a car full of linos to hang a show at the Penrose Library downtown. (It's a two-hour drive from here each way.) My printmaking buddies Jean, Jean, and Sally met me for lunch and afterwards I got to take a quick tour of the printmaking facilities at Colorado College. Color me green.

On my way out of town I got a call from Ralph at ArchAngel Productions. Turns out I'm going to be the Featured Artist for the Pikes Peak Library District's public art program in February! "When can you come to town to record an interview for a segment of Off the Wall?" EEK!

Of course I was on my way OUT of town, so tentatively agreed to come back at the end of the week.

It's a map icon for a bike route. Fun, eh?

Wednesday and Thursday I cut linos for the icon project and did work on another contract project. Thursday evening I helped the DM schlep his gear down the street for the first Dies Librorum event at our local independent bookstore, The Book Haven. David and our friend Ed entertained the crowd (and it WAS a crowd) with tunes on Chapman Stick, guitar, and native flute.

Yesterday it was back to Colorado Springs for the "taping" (remember when they used to call it taping?) of the interview footage, some errands, and a quick trip to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo for a little sketching before heading back up into the mountains AGAIN.

Yup. Tired pilgrim.

But for now it looks like I'm home in the valley until the end of the month, when a crazy succession of workshop, show down, show up juggling occurs again. Whew!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happiness is a rack full o' prints

Yeah, baby. A brand new edition to start the year off right. Silly me, to think I would get a good night's sleep knowing there was just one color to go on this piece. Also silly to think that I would be able to focus on any of the other tasks on my list today until it was finished.

It took a couple of tries to get this last color right.. I didn't want it to look black, but my first attempts didn't provide enough contrast to make that last little "pop" that I look for. I had to clean off the block and start over more than once and I now have a big pile of a very dark something-or-other color ink to save and hopefully put to use soon.

I took a few branches out of the tree and most of the printable area out of the rocks. I definitely think it was a good call to do one more pass...

Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce you to the first linocut of 2011? "Standing Still," 9 color reduction, 6 x 6 inches.  I haven't sorted through the prints yet, but I think the final edition will be 10. Whatever else happens this week, I already feel great about how I launched the new year!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

So close, and yet...

I'm sure that at the end of the last post you all snickered into your hands and KNEW that I'd charge forward with this linocut today. I'm not sure why I challenged anyone to make a choice between working and ibuprofen except me.

It's the DM's fault, really. He felt sorry for me last night and gave my too-long-crouched-over-the-lino neck and shoulders a lovely rubdown. That, and a good night's sleep (assisted by, yes, ibuprofen) had me out of bed and ready to roll again this morning. (Roll again? Is that a printmaking pun?)

Right away there was trouble in printmaking paradise. I pulled color 5 and then decided the rocks had gone too dark, too fast. So after just a little carving for the next color I went back and covered most of it with a lighter tan before adding back a middle brown. Unless your nose is up against the print you really can't tell that there are four brownish colors here, but I am glad I went back for the lighter tone.

But now the kicker. I had expected this dark brown black color (#8) to be the last, but now I'm not so sure. It feels like it wants just a few darker bits in the tree and, dangit, I am out of time for today. Tomorrow's schedule is already quite full and Tuesday I'll be gone all day to Colorado Springs to install a show.

Ah, well... I'm not sure I intended to start 2011 at a dead sprint, but it's better than sitting around wondering what to do with myself!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Carving out a great new year!

Happy New Year, everyone! Whew! We made it.

The DM and I surprised ourselves by spending some of New Year's Eve out on the town (such as it is). We enjoyed a fine meal with friends and then celebrated New York New Year down at the local pub. What's New York New Year, you ask? Well! Let me tell you! One finds a television airing the festivities in New York City "live," of course... a party in a time zone two hours later than we are. We can watch the ball drop, cheer loudly, drink a glass of champagne, kiss someone nearby and be home in bed by 10:30.

Yeah. We are party animals. Maybe next time we'll celebrate Australian New Year and get it all out of our system the morning before.

It turns out that I was saving my energy for the first day of 2011, although I didn't know it at the time. I woke intending to get two color passes made on the little linocut I drew up last week, but ended up working straight on through the day and getting FOUR. A new record, I think. Granted, it's a very small piece (6 x 6 inches). But still....

First color pass: A blend of blues with just some tiny bits of white carved away. Followed by much more carving.

Second color pass: A blend of darker blues. Already I'm feeling sorry that most of this color will get covered up in subsequent passes. I love this combo.

I was supposed to stop at this point, but I realized that I'd already done the longest bit of carving and it wouldn't take long to do the third color. So I did.

After which I realized there was still very little carving to do before the fourth color. Which I also did.

After which it was definitely time to stop. I was starting to get some wet ink rejection AND my fingers and wrists and neck were (are) sore. But OOOOO-Wheeeeee! What a way to start 2011!

As for tomorrow... well.... There is definitely part of me (P's "inner border collie" again) that's saying, "Oooohhh! Wouldn't it be cool to have the first print of the new year entirely done by January 2?" But there's another part that's saying, "Oooooh, where's the ibuprofen?" Tune in tomorrow to see which part wins!

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...