Monday, March 25, 2013

Wood Duck linocut: The end game

Things got really out of control after step 16 of the wood duck piece. The changes were mostly small and subtle and probably not necessary to the overall image, but I felt compelled to try them. I think that's one of the joys (and potential disasters) of image-making: There's no way to know if an idea will succeed or fail unless one tries it.

So, in quick succession, the wood duck end game:

Step 17: The final darks on the male.
Final dark for the drake. My first attempts were too black and too high-contrast. It was appealing, but not consistent with the flatter value range I was after. In the end I hit on a transparent blue-black overall, slightly darker in the head.

Steps 18 and 19: Tone the reflections.
Here's one shot to represent steps 18 and 19 together. This was a completely obsessive move on my part and it's likely no one will ever notice but me. In flat light the reflections of the birds are hardly distinguishable from the reflection of the tree, but I wanted something to help them set into the water. I printed a transparent blue across the area below the male and a transparent brown below the female. It's barely visible, but I had to try it.

Step 20: Back to the female.
 At this point all that's left is to add some dimension to the female. Here a transparent brown.

Step 21: More tone to the female.
 And now another one.

Step 22: One little tweak to the male's face.
Since I was on an overkill roll, I decided to go ahead and add a tiny bit of orange to the male wood duck's bill. I tried to do this earlier, at the same time I gave the female her pink schnoz, but I couldn't get good adhesion of this miniscule area from the block. This orange "V" was added by hand with a size 5-ought brush. (You know, the kind with about 6 hairs.) Printmaking purists might call a foul (fowl?) here, but I am of the Whatever-It-Takes-To-Get-The-Image school.

Still not quite happy with the overall feel of the female I added one last run of brown in her face and head.

FINALLY! "Shower with a Friend"

I've struggled to photograph the steps of this piece... The effect of light variations in the studio throughout the day seem more pronounced on an image not as "contrasty" as my usual fare. I did finally get a better shot today, and for once I already have a title...

"Shower with a Friend," reduction linocut, 15" x 15" on natural white Awagami kozo.


  1. Wow, another beautiful print! It has been fascinating to see the layers and your process. I really learn a lot from each one. Your registration is expert! I bow to the mistress of reduction printmaking!

  2. As I scrolled down...I did wonder why you wanted to fiddle with your reflections' contrasts.
    Of course, from our viewpoint (Monitor), it is difficult to see the subtleties.
    But having just spent several hours painstakingly shading the same print ...
    Yes, I can see what you were after.And, seeing it, agree that the tonal differences do matter.
    Paintbrush? Scrap of Kleenex? Cat's whisker? If you get the result you're after, who the heck cares how!

  3. It's lovely to see the different stages of printing, it's a really lovely image and use of colour!

  4. I love to follow how you create these beautiful prints and also the sense of humor in your title.

  5. Fascinating process. It's amazing how much depth you get from flat layers of colour. That water looks so... er... watery. Lovely.

  6. Just ducky! Another masterpiece!

  7. Again a beautiful print and I do so enjoy your progression shots. I totally agree with doing anything, using anything to get the desired result.