Tuesday, January 29, 2013

More stencil-inking!

After a flirtation with satisfying "big ink" it's back to the bird. Tiny progress isn't nearly as exciting, but it's certainly important.

Ah, but THIS time I remembered to take some shots of the stencil, or mask, in use!

This is the third time I've employed the same coot-and-reflection-shaped hole in a sheet of acetate. Here it is on the linoleum block, with ink:

Here's the stencil removed from the block so you can see the shape:

And here's the inked area of the block, although a bit light because didn't remember to take a photo until after I had already printed the last sheet.

And here's the before-and-after result... another darker tone in the bird and reflection.

I also applied the coot's reddish eye color today. Another stencil, this one placed directly over the print itself. Color was "pounced" into place with a stiff brush. The dark ink was quite wet when I did this, which meant it offset to the stencil despite my delicate touch. Cleaning off the stencil after each use was imperative. Tedious. But imperative.

The stencil is a sheet of clear acetate, but perhaps you can see that my hand is holding one edge of it just off the paper. The thin black "alignment" marks were drawn on the acetate with a Sharpie permanent marker.

I think there are but three steps left for this one: Another multicolor pass in the water, then one last dark in the bird, then resolve the darker reflections on the left-hand side of the image. But you know me... could be more than that.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Yellows + Blue = A bunch of colors

I'd like to say it was a confident and definitive action that led to the next step of this linocut, but really it was more about wanting to see big progress... and that meant big ink.

So after some more carving it was back to the ultra-transparent-bright-blue-over-everything trick that I worked out in the previous coot-on-water print.

It's a lot of inking, by golly. (And in case you're wondering, that's a skosh of pthalo blue in a mound of transparent base. Purdy.)

And now it gets really fun, I think. You can see where we're going with the water ripples.... essentially a great, big horizontal ring. I'm hoping that means my choice of format makes more sense now. The left-hand side will be darker and greener. I could have been inking the entire piece all along, but it just seemed like too many opportunities for registration to go astray when the yellows don't appear on the left side anyway.

Here's a slightly closer look. I'm tickled with the variety of colors in the reflection. It's what I hoped for, but I wasn't at all sure it would work.

The always-questionable lighting in my studio is further compromised by intensely overcast skies today (*which did finally turn into about four drops of rain)... so the photos are coming out really contrasty-looking. Here's one more shot of the prints on the rack, with every light in the room pointed at them. A little more accurate... you just have to turn your head or your monitor sideways to see it.

I think we're back to the bird after this, and then the drama will really crank up. I hope.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Long linocut: Bird bits

Time to get some action going on our little coot buddy. It's almost become habit to pull out a sheet of mylar or acetate and cut a stencil for inking things like this, although remembering to take a photo of said stencil is less of a habit.

A light grey, lightly applied since most of it will be covered by the next color. A bit more carving and then a second grey was inked through the same stencil and printed. (Annoying shadows in all of these shots, sorry. I tried to avoid them, really I did.)

The next step is to pause and figure out the next step. One, maybe two more darks to go in the bird, but I don't want to print those using the stencil. Inking through a stencil works really well, but the edges of shapes can be a little fuzzy. In this image I have water ripples coming up to the edge of the bird's head, and I want a clear, clean line to separate them. The next colors for the water are more yellows and some greens... which oddly enough means it might be time to print blue. Or maybe I'll just procrastinate some more and print some red eyes.

And if you followed all that... well. Clearly it's not my mental state we should be questioning, is it?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Long lino moves ahead

The big overall shapes of this image have been established and now it's time to get after the crazy little bits of color in the water reflection. The reference I'm looking at is over-the-top subtle with zillions of shades of yellow and green. Can you say, "Don't go there"?

Still, I want some life in the water around our avian hero, so the next step was to work up a less flat yellow-ochre blend.

The block is as wide as my widest ink roller, so in order to get really good inking on the edges I employed a second, smaller brayer to run the bottom edge. You can see the two blends inked up on the glass in the background above.

Another long printing session and the third pass is down. I think the next two steps will be to establish the bird better, then back to the water.

Here's a closer shot of just the right side of the image. I love this water pattern... so exciting to carve! And for those of you who work with linocuts, you'll understand when I say how happy I am that this particular piece of linoleum is fresh and soft. A delight to carve, especially with all these parallel lines.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fieldwork Fishday

Fish sketch on Friday? Why not? Parrot cichlid and flag-tailed prochilodus, in case you're wondering. Guess which one's the flag-tail.

I was in Denver yesterday to shift some work around at Abend Gallery and to have lunch with my wee nephew, Alex. As you can see, he's not such a wee lad anymore. In fact, he turned 23 this week. Time flies. Fish flies? Flying fish? Sorry, I can't seem to tie these two together. Although when Alex was little he could do a very passable imitation of fish lips. ;-)

Back to el lino grande this weekend, although the fact that we're getting a warm reprieve after several weeks of sub-zero weather will probably keep me more out of the studio than in. I'm in serious need of some outdoor time.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Printmaking as Contact Sport

It's too bad that the back of my neck and fingers of my right hand are probably the only parts of my body that don't really need a workout, because they're getting one!

Here's the first color on "the long lino," an effort that took nearly 3 hours to complete (15 sheets) since I was burnishing by hand. This is one of those times that a real press would come in real handy.

But I don't have one, so hand-rubbing it is. That was Friday, and I spent large parts of Saturday and Sunday carving. Not a particular break for either neck or hand.

I am nervous about registration on this baby, but the second color went down just fine. Granted, it only went halfway across the block, so who knows what will happen when I have to print a color that has to register along the entire 32-inch length. The block hangs out of the jig by more than a foot. But so far, so good.

Maxing out my printing space.
Here 'tis with the second color applied.

Only two hours to print 15 sheets this time. It's probably a good thing that I have to give my attention to a contract project tomorrow, I think my hand needs a break. But it's pretty darned exciting to be working this size! I'm already thinking about the NEXT big print.

I've said it before: Happiness is a full drying rack.
And speaking of big prints... stay tuned for news about a hugely (and I mean HUGEly) exciting project coming up this spring. (Hint: Think industrial machinery.)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Holy Printpaper, Batman!

Yes, this is the start of a new print. Yes, that's a yardstick next to the block/paper in the jig. Yes, the paper is longer than the yardstick. (The lino block not quite as long.) Yes, I think I might be crazy.

Took me close to three hours to get the first color printed on 15 sheets. It's a heckuva lot of baren-power. I'd have printed a few more, but I didn't mix enough ink! Yeah, apparently I don't know how to guesstimate for something this size. It's gonna be fun. Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Fieldwork Friday: Snakes and Wine

The house plumbing went down again on New Year's Eve, taking the laundry, kitchen and upstairs bathroom with it. Luckily we have a second bathroom on a different line, so we were able to limp along until the plumber could get out to us on Thursday. (These things always happen on holidays, of course.)

David was scheduled for gigs in Manitou Springs Thursday and Friday, and I decided to go along and use more reliable plumbing elsewhere for a couple of days. It was a good theory, except that when we arrived home this morning we discovered that we might have cleared drains, but now we have no water. (sigh) The utility guy should be here in the next hour or two, the problem is a frozen meter at the street.

But, hey... yesterday was fun. I skipped out of David's morning gig and took my sketchbook to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. 2013 is the Year of the Snake, and the CMZ recently remodeled their reptile house, so it seems appropriate to share a corn snake sketch first.

I have to admit that not all snakes are created equal where charm is concerned. This one, I thought, had a rather cute face, what with its stubby nose and whisker-like cheek spots and all.

The Cuban knight anole was an unusually cooperative model, which was good because my first drawing was pretty wretched. I'm still struggling to manage the (ahem) changing vision issues of midlife... looking up at a model and down at the sketchbook is no longer the efficient operation it once was, even with my stylish spectacles.

But anole don't care. Anole don't give a sh@#. He just expects to be drawn with some respect and sensitivity and he will only sit still for so long. (Yes, this is a poor and "so 2011" reference to a certain honey badger video.)

It was too cold to skip out of David's Friday evening gig at the Mona Lisa Wine Cellar (and really, who doesn't enjoy an excuse to spend the evening in a wine cellar?), so out came the Sharpie and a more discrete sketchbook. (Patrick, this one's for you... no pencil!)

In all, a fine way to spend the first Friday of the new year.

Ah! Our intrepid Water Knight is here. It's going to be a very fine first Saturday of the new year now, too.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Cheer.... kudos everywhere!

My goodness! What a great start to 2013. There's nothing like recognition to inspire me to work even harder in the new year.

My little magpie linocut (now titled "Lurking," in honor of silent blog followers hiding in the cyber shadows) was voted "Best Picture of 2012 (Nature)" by readers of Katherine Tyrrell's Making a Mark.

This was the 7th year for the Making a Mark Art Blog Awards... so kudos are due back to Katherine for her devotion to art and artists around the world. Thank you.

And THEN... who woulda thunk it? Charley Parker over at Lines and Colors surprised me with a feature about my work in his December 29th post. Charley presents some really beautiful work with concise and thoughtful commentary and links to all sorts of online resources. And, holy cow! "My" post comes between articles about Monet and Le Brun? Get. Out. (Amusing aside: A scraper site that gathers celebrity gossip picked up this post, too. My name in big letters and an article excerpt next to photos of Hillary Clinton and the Denver Broncos. Yeah, baby. Linocuts are All That.)

And THEN... last but not least, Ian Rogers at Grey Not Grey put together a nice post about my linocuts just yesterday. I love that Ian hit on one of my own inner struggles with the following statement:

" There’s something deeply refreshing about somebody who simply makes art based on their experience of nature. We don’t all have to be exploring the implicit tension between modes of art history or whatever."

Yeah. What he said.

All this cyberbuzz is wonderful, but DANG. I have to get back to work. Guess what the FedEx driver brought me yesterday? 24" x 36" sheets of lino! Now all I have to do is figure out what to DO with them. New year, here I come!

Linocut in Progress: The Third Act

Time to wrap up this linocut ! And we are wrapping at warp speed (see what I did there?)... because there are deadlines. Exhibition deadline...