Friday, February 22, 2013

Gannet linocut: Now things get weird

So far this linocut has followed a more-or-less straightforward image development: White birds with shadows. But now it's time to come to terms with the background. In a perfect world these striking seabirds will be flying across a suggestion of dark ocean waves, but I have only a vague idea of how to make this work.

Obviously the next step is to add ochre, lavender, and green where the dark blue water will go. Don't you think?

Steps 7 and 8

This had to be done in two stages because I don't have a single roller wide enough to manage the 12" height of the square background all in one pass.

Step 8 and 9

For some reason these two steps made me really happy to be a printmaker. Some moments are just like that. Roll out the ink, rub the print, lift the paper– instant cheer. When it works, anyway.

So now what? As I mentioned, I'm aiming for a suggestion of dark waves behind the birds. These three colors will only show in very small areas, but I wanted to be sure the overall background wasn't just a flat, boring blue. After another carving session I inked up the block with a lavender-to-blue blend and crossed my fingers.

Steps 9 and 10. A bit embiggenable if you care to click the image.

Well, whaddaya know? This might work. I have a chunk of carving to do and then another, darker blue in the background. Depending on how that goes it's possible there will be just one more pass for the finish: wingtips, faces, and a border.

Step 10


  1. What a beautiful print this is turning out to be, actually it has been ever since I could see the birds.
    Been having a bit of trouble with an ocean background for a sea bird myself. I'm about to carve out the waves that didn't work and make a second plate with better water. Like yours very much.

  2. Oh yeah! Those background waves with the ochre, lavender and teal green highlights are just gorgeous. Great work (again).

  3. thank you for posting this, its very helpful seeing how the colours are put down on the print to get the end effect :D

  4. I would never, in a million years have thought of using those colours, but they look wonderful. Bravo!

  5. Oh, Robyn... thanks for the reminder that I can still save this if the water flops. Maybe. ;-)

    Water highlight colors.. well.. You can see that the background bird is in light while the foreground bird is not. My thought is that there might be low light raking across the wave tips... lighter and warmer in the back and cooler and deeper in the front. Might be a bunch of hooey, but that's the idea.

    Of course I've just realized a rather large fubar that needs to be dealt with first. Something I forgot to carve out several steps ago. Oops.