Sunday, September 2, 2012

Back to the Gull, or, How the Linoleum Crumbles

With the duck piece ready for next weekend's demonstration, it's time to get back to "gullus interruptus," the linocut that should have been the demo, but wasn't.

(If you didn't follow that statement, it just means you missed this post here. We'll wait for you if you want to go read it and come back.)

So where were we? Oh, right. Here:

An interesting start, but before I went any further with it I applied a subtle reddish spot in the lower bill. Such a tiny section, and barely noticeable, but I wanted it to be there. I used a stencil and "pounced" the color in place. (More about the pochoir technique here.)

Then it was time to start defining the bird's body. I mixed a very transparent blue– so transparent that you can barely tell it's on the block in this photo. But it is. I promise.

The difference was subtle, but did what I wanted it to do: It separated the back of the bird's head a little more from the background and deepened the shadow below.

Next– define the bird's body, wings, and tail. More transparent ink, this time a soft gray.

And then things started to get a bit wacky. I wanted to define the volume of the bird's body, which seemed like something that could be accomplished with a second, darker gray. My first try was WAY too dark and contrasty, and the shapes looked all wrong! Argh! To make matters worse, when I tried to do some delicate carving around the eye, POP! Out came the pupil in a crumbled mess.


I added more transparent base to the ink to lighten it and achieve a more satisfying value change.

Click image to embiggen

The image on the left is the first gray pass, on the right I've added the (improved) second gray. It looks good in the photo, but I'm not as happy with it in "real" life. There needs to be one more dark in the body and I need to figure out what to do about the tiny black pupil. (More pochoir, I think.)

The ink layers are too tacky to do any more today, so the resolution will either have to come tomorrow or wait until after I get back from Birds in Art. Hitting just the right value for the last pass will be an interesting challenge.


  1. Well, despite the rough start and the "issues", the result thus far is wonderful. I'm really diggin' the shadow; it's funny how something so simple can add so much!

    Gulls crack me up. They are quite the intrepid food pilferers, almost as bad as ravens ;).

  2. i love the shadows, they really work well here and the colours make the print look like an old photo of a gull.

  3. Thanks, ladies... I'm pleased with the shadows... overall there's an interesting sense of light that I frequently struggle with. But, ooooph, this last (?) color is giving me fits. Thankfully it's all still too tacky to continue, so it will just incubate until I get back next week.