Thursday, February 16, 2012

Here we go...

Today's marathon printing session was successful enough that I think we're out of the "this could all fall apart at any moment" stages of the current print-in-progress. In other words, I feel like it's finally "safe" to take a bit of the mystery out of what's been going on in the studio.

This piece is the largest one I've worked on in a while: 12" x 18" (about 36 x 44cm), but the first stages were quite small. And they sort of blew the "surprise" aspect of a reduction print by giving away the main subject right away.

Yup. These are ducks. In a row.

Ah, but you might be wondering why, if this is a 12 x 18 print and I usually work using the reduction process, there is so much white paper showing in these first stages. Quite clever and observant you are!

The answer is that I didn't want to build up too much ink too quickly in the background. Transparency and luminosity are key to the overall image, so I wanted to leave the white of the paper as long as possible. Enter the stencil!

I carved the white bits of the duck (male common goldeneye, if you want to know) out of the lino block, then cut a mylar stencil for inking the overall shape of the bird and its reflection. I printed the lightest blue (shown above) over all the sheets, then carved a bit more out of the bird and reflection and printed the second blue.

(Sorry it's crooked. The other shots I took at this stage were really blurry.)
The next question was how to handle the eyes which, as you might have guessed in a bird called "goldeneye," are yellow.

I cut another stencil, but since the areas to be yellow and ochre were so small, I didn't see much point in inking the block, registering the paper, and rubbing the print. For this stage I employed a little pochoir technique... "pouncing" the color directly on to each print by hand with a stiff brush.

At this point I was finally ready to get on with the rest of the image, but things got a little bumpy. I  envisioned a blended roll from top to bottom of the entire block, but I had trouble getting my blend to work smoothly over such a large area. I had borrowed a 16-inch-wide roller from a friend, but I didn't have a big enough space to get a good ink roll-out AND the block has some low spots in it that didn't take the ink well from the big roller. (I did sand the block before I started, but apparently it wasn't enough.)

So I bagged the idea of a blend at this stage and instead printed a solid light blue.

Duck with googly eyes and pale blue background. So far, so good.


  1. Great Illustration of your process, as an artist I know it's hard to let the experimental out into the open. I'm glad you did.

  2. look very good :)

    thanks for the new word, can't say it :p but good to know

  3. Awesome! You are rocking this. Your ducky is beautiful, a really serene image.
    Thank you for the explanations, I've never quite 'got' the whole stencil thing before. I feel an experiment coming on....


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