Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Reduction printing: It's about what remains

Eight colors. I know I said seven, but you know that I know that I sound like a broken record*, so from here on out I will try to refrain from making too many predictions about total colors in a linocut. I'll mention my approximate goal when I start, but as I can no longer remember the last time I met a target, I'll just stop bringing it up. Deal?

(*Wait. Does anyone even get this simile anymore?)

The preceding warm green color added some interest to the background shape, but I still wasn't satisfied. It needed another intermediate step, so I carved a bit more out of the two "suggested" trees and started in with a third one. I didn't want a flat color, since that's was what was making me so crazy about the background shape, so I added a whole bunch of blue to the leftover green ink scraps and then rolled it up as a color-to-transparent blend. Like this:

Maybe if you click to embiggen it might be a little easier to see??

Unfortunately it's still something that my camera can't seem to record.. at least not under studio light conditions. And since it was -12 F this morning I did NOT go outside to try a daylight shot. (I draw the line at some kinds of suffering for my craft.) You'll have to settle for this fuzzy detail photo and try to imagine what it looks like in real life.

Satisfied with the background at last, I turned my attention to the final dark. A straightforward printing, but a good bit of carving to do. Not much material to leave on the block. Hmmm.

It's always a bit risky to have the last color involve minimal printing surface, for several reasons. Thin lines over the built-up layers of ink can be difficult to print, registration gets delicate, and without much inked surface to "grip" the paper chances of slippage increase about a gazillion-fold. (That's a scientific calculation, I swear.)

But I carved away, anyway.

It was at this point that the phrase "what remains" started rattling around in my head. I'm not convinced that it's the title for this particular piece. But I do feel certain it will turn up somewhere down the line.

ANYWAY... Carving complete, the last color went down with far less headache than I expected. I'm feeling fairly confident that when I finally sort dry prints I'll have an edition of 10 or 11 (from a start of 12).

I think I mentioned at the start of this reduction print that it was a color reworking of an image I did maybe 4 years ago in a single color. I made a point not to look at that piece while I was working on this one... I was curious to see how my sense of it might change. While I still like the concept of this image in black and white, I think the drawing and carving in this new color piece are a marker of how my skills have grown.

I do like the slightly "compacted" proportions of the black and white version. I drew the scene a little narrower and exaggerated some of the curves more than in the new version. The single color version is also smaller... 8"x6" as opposed to 12"x9".

With this piece completed it feels like the next steps for me are going to be a bit more experimental. I have a collaborative project in the wings that seems to be asking for something white-on-white with some blind embossing. I've not tried embossing by hand before... so we'll see how it goes.

But in the Now for Something Completely Different category, my brother started his first blog last week, showcasing his renewed interest in photography. I think he's off to a good start, so if you have a chance pop on over to Steve's Photo Blog and show him some blog love maybe he'll keep it up!


  1. *you sound like a... corrupted mp3? maybe?
    I've wanted to play with white-on-white/embossing but I think I'm waiting for the perfect paper to come along. And for the perfect, AKA free, time to come along.

  2. Sherrie, you crack me up. I am going to smile at "embiggen" all day. It's a wonderful new print. One of my favorites!

  3. its so hard to choose which version i like more. the colour one gives me more sense of the cold snow, but i like the stark look of the black and white print.
    records are making a comeback in some parts, better sound they say (who they are I have no idea tho :p)

  4. Yes, I do get the simile but here is something very strange. I was watching Robert Plant last week on David Letterman and he released a new album. Yes, Dave held up a vinyl LP. Can you still get a record player?

  5. Loooooove your snow shadows, Sherrie. You always handle them so beautifully. Nice final (although I do quite like the b&w one too).

  6. You did such an excellent job with that background. I know it wasn't straightforward, but you definitely got there! I just wish I could embiggen it more!

  7. Beautiful print, even to this sick-of-snow New Englander.

    I've heard that the kids are playing records again. Here's a cute quote from Wikipedia: "In spite of their flaws, such as the lack of portability, records still have enthusiastic supporters." I've missed album covers (remember staring at them while listening to the music?) ever since we got CDs and those ridiculously teeny tiny jewel cases.

  8. I'll try for a better shot of this print once it stops being -12 outside. It was nice to come down to the studio this morning and be greeted with a rack full of finished prints.. and to still be satisfied with them!

    Records and CDs? The musician in my household tells me even CDs are decidedly old skool... a resurgence of either would be welcome here!

  9. Ah albums... or rather the covers. I've lost count how many I bought just because I liked the cover artwork. Can't do that with cds, they are so small they don't have the same impact. As for mp3 whats that give me something in the corner of the studio with big speakers! Printing goes better with music. I got the Robert Plant album for Christmas from my daughter, she thinks its a bit old fashioned but I think its great.

    Very good print by the way, we seem to have lost the thread a bit with these comments.

  10. I like both versions of this image. Really.
    I can hardly wait to see your blind embossing. I love blind embossing !
    Last June I tried some with a bookpress and thick rubber mat, but I had to increase the effect by hand. I used the wooden rounded end of a gouge handle and the rounded end of a pen cap.