Monday, December 17, 2012

Red eyes and transparent ink magic

This morning I mounted some larger lino blocks, still psyching myself up for a couple of more ambitious pieces. I've got water-loving birds on the brain...

In the meantime, things continue to creep forward on the coot linocut.

Though you can rarely see this feature in the field, adult American coots sport a reddish eye and forehead "shield." They are tiny little things and not visible at a distance in either the field or on the print, but I wanted them anyway. It's a job for a little stencil and a stiff brush.

It's a bit more challenging to see what's happening here because I had clear rather than matte acetate at hand. If you look at the corner where the overhead lamp is reflected in the acetate, you can get an idea of what's happening. The clear acetate sheet has two small holes cut in it... one for the eye and one for the shield. I "pounced" the color directly onto each print with a stiff brush and a light touch.

And here is the result with the stencil removed. Get it? Got it. Good.

And now for the magic.

It's time to get some countering dark values into the water, and maybe a little more subtle shading into the bird. The dark values I need to add in the water are green, reflecting a pine tree, but I don't want the bird to start looking "pine-y." Enter our pre-school color theory education.

I mixed up this fabulous blue color. Rather bright and garish, don't you think? Suitable for perhaps balloons or clown costumes.

But I have this wonderful, fresh tub of transparent base, remember... and transparent base is a marvelous, magical thing. There's a healthy scoop of it in this blue. I inked the entire block with this transparent blue, which you can see on the left-hand side of the photo.

Here it is, all printed up! A little too subtle for the camera to show what's happening in the coot, but his shadows remain blue and the water reflection sure enough is green. I love magic, don't you?


  1. I love printmakers! They are so generous and sharing of their process and secrets. There isn't anything more fun that the reveal of the next color! xxoo

  2. And some printmakers, while being extraordinarily generous are also, perhaps, a touch bonkers!
    Love your stencilled shield, Sherrie. Maybe, one day, I'll cut a print of my gravatar...

  3. lol bonkers ;)

    i am going to have to get some type of transparent base and try this, works well :)

    i wondered if you were going to put the red on with it being so small, some people never notice it. looks good :)

  4. Bonkers? Who's bonkers? I resemble that remark!

    Jen, I dunno if you can get Graphic Chemical products over there, but I do like their base better than the Daniel Smith. It's litho base, I think, but works with relief inks just fine. Sometimes it needs a little loosening with Setwell.

  5. I love your coot, gorgeous colours and movement in the water.

  6. Ahhh...very clever indeed! That's a trick I'm going to have to try. Thank you for sharing.