Monday, November 28, 2011

Exhibition Update

I expect you're all chomping at the bit to know where you might find original linocuts during the month of December. Let me help you with that!
This Thursday, December 1, I'll be hanging work at the Salida Café in... Salida, of course. Grab a latte and gape at linos. There will be a few brand-new, only-ever-seen-on-Brush-and-Baren pieces in the mix. Show runs through the month of December.
300 Sackett Street, down by the river.

This Friday, December 2, the 21st Annual Miniatures Show opens at Abend Gallery in Denver. There will be hundreds of small works (really!) available for cash-and-carry holiday shopping, including 6 of my linocuts.
Show runs through January 7, 2012.
2260 E. Colfax (Colfax and York), Denver.

And, of COURSE, you can always find my work at the Maverick Potter in  historic downtown Salida. The brand-newest piece from last week will be there!
(And if you're lucky you might even get to meet the brand-newest member of the MP family, not-quite-two-month-old Thor!)
119 F Street, Salida

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Prints and camaraderie in the mail

(Hey, Jill.. I pinched this pic from your blog.)
Just over a year ago I received an envelope from my friend Jill Bergman of Art on the Page. In it was a tiny handmade book, blank but for a little image by Jill herself, along with a request to add a little print and send it on to another printmaker. Jill's hope was that eventually the book would be filled by a succession of print artists and make its way back home to her.

My contribution in place, I shipped the book off to Amie Roman of Burnishings. Seems to me my timing might have been a little dodgy, since I think I sent it around the time Amie had her baby! She already had her hands full with a new project of her own.

But some time later I had a message from Amie that she'd added her own piece and moved the project along to another printmaker. Gratified that it was off to a good start, I promptly put that little book out of my mind.

So imagine my surprise and delight (and Jill's!) when I learned that the tiny book did indeed make it back home, full of wonderful prints! Jill tells the story and includes photos of all the images in her celebratory post here.

It's a story with a happy ending, but it also has a delightful postscript. This week I received another envelope from Jill... this time it included something that I'm not mailing anywhere. Ever.

It's a beaut, ain't it? A Jill Bergman original that makes me smile and reminds me that printmakers the world over are a wonderful bunch. Thanks, Jill, for initiating the project and thanks to everyone who played along.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Autumn leaves... outside the box

Well, the waiting is finally over. Sort of. The wait now is for this piece to dry enough to frame, hopefully by the end of this week. There are holiday shows to hang, and SOON, afterall.

Here's how the end game played out:

After the blue, a gray. This was one of those nervous moments when I wondered if I had made the right color choice.

But the final dark made it all happy again... whew!

I definitely like this boundary-breaking approach... I'll have to keep my eyes open for other images that would work well.

In the meantime, I'm moving forward on the new piece for the Underfoot series. Three colors are down... the three easiest ones to figure out. I think I have the next color sorted out in my head... but in the meantime I'm spending an awful long time carving with only a tiny pile of linoleum chips to show for it.

Seriously. Whose idea was it to carve all these little, tiny shapes? She should be reprimanded severely. Or at least denied dessert.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Things to do whilst waiting for ink to dry

In the ongoing list of things to do whilst waiting to proceed with prints in progress*:

# 12) Package up one's contribution to the Monumental Collaborative Puzzle Print project so that tomorrow one can
# 13) Take it to the post office.

All the gory details for Maria Arango's demonstration of insanity printmaker prowess can be found on the MCPP website and blog. The short version is that Maria cut several large sheets of cherry plywood into small, odd-shaped pieces and sent one to each of the more than 100 participating printmakers. We send our carved blocks back to her, she reassembles the puzzle and prints copies for each of us.

The project theme is "City of the World." I'm pretty sure that my block fits "behind" a house-shaped piece and "in front" of a skyscraper-shaped piece.. which made me think of an alleyway. Cities large and small have all sorts of creatures (also large and small) frequenting their alleys, especially at night.

Who-who-who goes there?

I had never carved cherry before, and I have to say I quite liked it. There are a couple of spots on this block where the carving went too deep... blame it on poorly sharpened tools and brief lapses of attention on the part of the carver. I just hope it prints okay... we're not to do test prints for risk of warping the blocks before they are returned to their mothership. Ummm, motherboard. Ummm, proper place in the puzzle.

(*What? You didn't see list items #1-11? Let's just say some things are best kept to oneself. Like laundry. And dishes. And whining.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chasing the blues

No, not THOSE blues. Although if this thing doesn't start cooperating soon, we might be going down that road in the near future.

I let the little leaf lino sit for a day and a half before I tried to print the 4th color. My goal is to put blue over yellow and have it remain blue. It's something I've managed before so I know it can be done, but it requires a bit of timing and, in this case, patience.

The previous layers need to be quite dry, and since I'm trying not to use cobalt drier (it's nasty stuff) I'm obliged to wait. And (it turns out) wait. And wait.

Why, yes, I AM also using two different kinds of paper.

Yesterday's efforts went something like a chapter from Goldilocks and the Three Bears. First blue was too dark. Second blue was too light and looked greenish. 

The third blue was just right, but DANGIT! The prints were too damp and color started to lift. So I conceded the battle, cleaned up the porridge, and went on to something else.

I went back today and gave it another try (thankfully I kept all that ink I mixed yesterday)... still too wet. Huh. Whatever the reason, it means a few more days before I can pick this piece up again.

In the meantime, I have resurrected a block that I drew... what? More than a year ago? It's been languishing on a shelf, another piece for the "Underfoot" series. The first color required no carving so I printed a bunch of blue-green rectangles and then carved for the second color.

It's been a while since I have tackled something this intricate, and I'm not sure my heart's entirely in it. But, hey! Why not? It's better than sitting around watching ink dry.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Stumbling ahead

I did say I was going to take this linocut a little more slowly than the last one... but apparently I didn't move quite slowly enough. I printed the third color and started carving for the fourth when I discovered... woops! A section that was supposed to remain green didn't get removed before the ochre pass went down.

Hmmm... what's wrong with this picture?

I considered leaving it alone... it's not critical to the overall image. I decided instead to remove all the material for the fourth pass except the little area in question.

I rolled-up that area with leftover scraps of the previous green ink plus some white. Even with the addition of white it's still darker than the other greens (because it's over TWO other colors, not one, and not benefiting from the luminosity of the bright yellow below it) but I don't hate it. I'm calling it pass three-and-a-smidge.

I spy something not-quite-the-same.

I took today off to let things dry a bit. I only hope the studio doesn't blow away before I get back to it! It's been beyond windy here since yesterday... we heard that Monarch Ski Area (just uphill from town) recorded wind gusts over 100mph overnight. No precipitation, mind you. (Okay, about a dozen water droplets.) Just ridiculous wind.

That is, of course, why we decided to take our recyclables to the bins today. So we could wrestle large sheets of cardboard and bags of plastic in the wind. Never let it be said that we don't like a challenge around here.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Starting another print

There's nothing that makes this printmaker happier than a drying rack full of prints, so of course that means starting another linocut!

Goals here are multiple: 1) get one more piece done for the upcoming December show, 2) do a "simpler" (read: fewer color passes) image and 3) push that border-breaking idea a bit.

It's funny... I use a broken border frequently in sketchbook drawings and journal entries and graphic design, so why did I never explore it in printmaking? It's not a particularly innovative idea, but I'm hoping it will at least be interesting for this piece.

First color– yellow. Gee. I wonder what it might be? (Not.)

Second color– green. I'm trying to be more patient this time and not load up too many colors too quickly. Believe it or not, I'm trying to keep this one to 6 or 7 passes. Uh huh.

I'm also trying out a different paper this time around, Rives lightweight. I've used it before with Elvis, but not for hand-rubbing multicolor prints. So far I like it just fine. I'm also doing a half dozen on the old standby Hosho so that, all other things being equal with inking and timing and environment, I can make some comparisons.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Just for grins: Everyone's a critic

This evening I spent some time looking through photos for some print inspiration and came across these shots from a winter drawing expedition to the Denver Zoo. It was several years and much longer hair ago, but the photos made me laugh. Just thought I'd share. (And, yes, they're in chronological order.)

It's nice to be able to get close to your subjects....
...although they can get sort of pushy...
... and there IS such a thing as TOO close.
No, really. Too close! And the drawing isn't THAT bad.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Steppin' Out! Ibis linocut finished

"Steppin' Out," (white-faced ibis)
reduction linocut, 8" x 10"
Whew! I confess I was feeling really uncertain about this linocut after the previous color went down. It seemed a little flat, despite eleven (!) colors. But after this last pass (color 12) I feel much better.

As often happens, I think I could have spared myself one or two print stages. There are two pinks, for example, but in the end they're not different enough to matter much. I'm not in love with a few of the shapes I carved, either...

But I am happy with the color palette... it's different from what I usually do, as is the value range. Compositionally I like the bird's bill breaking the border on the left... I think in the future I'd like to try to do more of that. (As with the wire in the little warbler linocut.) I debated making the border dark, but in the end I think it was a good choice.

One of the things I love about this process is that it turns up so many ideas for the NEXT piece! Not sure what that will be... I have a large piece in the mental incubation stage, but I need another small one for an upcoming show.

But first I have to finish a client project, so that's where my brain will be the rest of the day!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Keep Calm and Carry On

Finally made it back to the studio today and got the second-to-last color down on the ibis linocut without mishap. But I decided to leave well enough alone and not print the last color. Hopefully I'll get back first thing tomorrow and wrap this piece up. (Sorry about the pink tinge to the image. This was the best I could do to tweak it out of there...)

This weekend I finally hit the wall I'd been expecting... you know the one: too-much-too-fast-for-too-long. Crash! Nothing for it but to sit on the sofa with a book and revel in that one extra hour of sleep last night.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Technical head-scratching. Please stand by.

Not much left on this block!

There's some weirdness going on in Studio V.

Yesterday and today I put a few more colors down on the ibis linocut (we're up to 10 now), but it looks like the last two colors are going to need to wait a few days. I'm bumping up against some technical hiccups that I haven't encountered in a looonnnngggg time, and I'm not sure what to do except wait for everything to dry before moving on.

Bits of pink legs and bills, and lavender water. Good.

I've got me some fuzzies. And I don't mean the warm and cuddly kind. Remember I said a few days ago that I was experiencing a bit of paper-pulling from what I assumed was too-wet ink? I hoped it was that I didn't yet understand the temperature and humidity ambiance of a new space and just needed to let things set a couple of days longer than usual. Which I did.

Dark green for wings: Good. Paper fuzzies: Bad.

Today, however, I got back to work and ran into problems again.. and more of them. They're centered in the bird bodies of the image... the place with the most ink layers. Yep, I've still got paper fuzzies. Lots of them. Enough that I had to clean off the block for every inking of the most recent color. That ain't right.

I have two main suspects. The first is the paper. I like the domestically available Hosho "pro" because it's a bright white sheet, but the last few batches I've purchased have been less and less consistent. Paper thickness varies from one end of the sheet to the other, and where once there was a clear difference between the "smooth" side and the "soft" side the texture seems more nebulous. Overall I think this batch of paper is just too soft... I had a difficult time telling which side was which and there were lots of little loose fuzzy bits before I even started.

The other suspect is, I'm sorry to say, the transparent medium. Usually I use the Graphic Chemical tint base extender when I want a transparent ink, but I ran out and a new can is on backorder. I used some Daniel Smith transparent medium that I had in a drawer. I remembered that I didn't like using it when I bought it (too sticky), but a) I was desperate and b) I thought maybe I'd become a better printmaker and I'd be able to work around it.

Apparently not.

Mind you, I LOVE Daniel Smith inks. I use the oil-based relief inks almost exclusively and they're beautiful. But I dunno what happened when they formulated the transparent base. It's just not right.

So keep your fingers crossed that I'll still be able to salvage this piece once everything has had a few days to de-tackify. I hate having to wait, but what are you gonna do?

Start a different one tomorrow, I guess. ;-)

Linocut in Progress: The Finish and the Rescue

 In the first post about the process of this linocut I mentioned that I was distracted and unfocused during the time I worked on it... whic...