Monday, September 30, 2013

Linocut demo: Laughing Gull

This past weekend's "Wildlife Art and Wine" event at The Wildlife Experience in Denver was amazing! About 500 people came out for the evening, pretty spectacular for a first time exhibition. The show continues through January 5, 2014.

I was one of eight artists who gave short demonstrations during the event– I printed the final color on this small linocut of a laughing gull. At each stage I pulled one print from the run to help explain the process... here are all six steps shown together:

Click to embiggen
  • Step 1: Light gray
  • Step 2: Medium gray
  • Step 3: Blue
  • Step 4: Red (selective inking)
  • Step 5: Dark gray
  • Step 6: Black

Friday, September 27, 2013

Fieldwork Friday: prehistoric wonders (why not?)

Because sometimes you have to put aside the things you "should" be working on and draw something else entirely.

Edmontosaurus skull and Protostega gigas. Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

**So I just got back to town and checked this post on my computer... Gack! Apparently the Blogger app doesn't do a very good job of resizing photos. The previous image was supposed to be "medium-sized." But here's a replacement.. 

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Exhibition News: The Wildlife Experience in Art

Opening this weekend in Denver!

The Wildlife Experience in Art
The inaugural exhibition of the Rocky Mountain Animal Artists,
regional members of The Society of Animal Artists.
September 28, 2013 through January 5, 2014
10035 Peoria Street, Parker, Colorado
1 mile east of I-25 on Lincoln Ave.

Two linocuts by SAA Signature Member Sherrie York (that's me!) are included in this juried exhibition. As an added bonus, I will be presenting a brief reduction linocut demonstration during the "Wildlife Art & Wine" event on Saturday, September 28. Event details and tickets are available from The Wildlife Experience website, or call 720-488-3344 for more information.

Here's a sneak preview of my demo piece. It's the fastest I ever put one together: first five colors down in a day! (How? Small format, simple design, very short print run.) All that's left to print is the black!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Linocut in progress: Puf-finale

Okay. Enough with the quail look.

I carved out the background and a few details in the puffin's body, and then ran another transparent gray over the entire block.

Puffin reduction linocut: Step 12
I debated a long time about that frame along the top, but because I had decided not to do anything further with the background wanted to give it a try. It seems a little assertive here, but there is one final dark to go and I think it will be okay.

Atlantic Puffin, reduction linocut, 9" x 6"
Final step
. Maybe.
Sure enough, the frame is less assertive.

What's interesting is that the last color was a transparent black... which looks black in the puffin and brown in the rock. I expected it to stay warm in the rocks, but not THAT warm. I'm not sure how I feel about it... I might go back later and hit the bottom of these rocks with a transparent blue to push the base into shadow, but I'm content to sit with it for a few days this way.

In the meantime, I have to put together a quick demo piece this week for the "Wildlife Art and Wine" event at The Wildlife Experience on Saturday.

Don't they look cute in a little flock?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Linocut in progress: Rocking the puffin

I suppose I should say "rocking and skying the puffin," but that just sounds ridiculous.

After spending a day or two enjoying the relative success of the first steps of this linocut (and letting the ink dry), it was time to re-enter unknown territory.

Puffin reduction linocut, Step 9
The next step was a bit of a shock, since I'd become so attached to the harmonious grays of all the previous steps (except that silly bill, of course). Here comes the voice again: "You've ruined it!" But the sky is more blue, and the rocks have the start of some lichen.

Puffin reduction linocut, Step 10
Wow. This step was scanned rather than photographed. Clearly there's a wide difference in color interpretation. The truth is probably somewhere in between, as the only thing that changed in this step was the addition of the darker ochre.

Puffin reduction linocut, Step 11
Back to the phone camera. (Sigh) I tried to tweak this one in Photoshop... it's a little closer to the actual palette than the others.

This step revisited the background. I had big plans to do something really interesting there... it's supposed to be sea rather than sky... but the rocks were getting so busy that I decided any more activity would just be overkill. Additionally, I was feeling some time pressure and had started to add some dryer to my inks. This speeds up the process... but it also can cause some issues with the way ink behaves. This felt like the limit of what the background would accept gracefully.

Everything feels quite awkward again. I wanted that blended background but I didn't want an extra layer of ink to influence the last two steps of the bird, so each time I inked the block I stopped and wiped sections clean before printing. The leading edge of the rock was wiped, no problem. The puffin, however, looks like a quail. I wiped the ink out of most of its body, but not from its tail, neck, or mantle before printing. I promise this will all work out in the end, but for the moment it looks very silly, doesn't it?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Linocut in progress: The pause before more awkwardness

One more transparent gray to give some dimension to the puffin's bill and tie everything back together.

Atlantic puffin: reduction linocut, Step 8

A close-up of the head to show you what I mean:

From here I think it's time to put some blue in the upper background and work those rocks some more. I think it's going to get pretty ugly before it looks good!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Linocut in progress: That awkward stage

Well, one of several potentially awkward stages, at least.

The danger in getting too pleased with an image when there are just three gray values printed is that subsequent stages can scream "You've ruined it!" when in fact it's not true.

Case in point: "Ugly Puffling Stage: The beak."

Part of the charm of a puffin is its bright, chunky, ridiculous bill. These colors don't really appear anywhere else in the image, so a little selective inking will hopefully keep the awkwardness contained. As usual, I cut a mask from clear acetate (which barely shows in this photo).

And now the first shout of "You've ruined it!"

Puffin, reduction linocut, Step 4
It looks completely awkward, doesn't it? The next step didn't help.

Puffin, reduction linocut, Step 5
Nor did the next, which required the cutting of a new mask that included the feet and eye.

Puffin, reduction linocut, Step 6

It's certainly clearly a puffin now, but YIKES! These shapes look clunky. And of course the bright colors against those nice, subtle grays seem totally out of place. But fear not!

Puffin, reduction linocut, Step 7
Another gray to the rescue. This color will only stay in the bill area because of course the eye and the top of the head will be black(ish), but it was a bit of a relief (printmaker pun) to feel the bird pull back together again.

I think the next steps are to hack away at some of the rock, clear out the bird's upper mandible, and run another transparent gray over the entire block. From there I''m undecided about whether to work the background next or the rest of the rock. I suspect it will be rock.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Linocut in progress: Yep, it's a puffin!

There's no fooling Brush and Baren readers. Yes, indeed, this is going to be a small (9" x 6") image of a puffin. A sort of "practice print" for what I hope will be a much larger piece later.

But just because you could identify the critter after only one color pass didn't mean you could tell anything about its surroundings, could you? Glad I could maintain that mystery until color pass number two.

Atlantic puffin linocut: Step 2

Although obviously that mystery is now solved, too, since clearly it's standing on a rock.

Atlantic puffin linocut: Step 3
A slanty rock. With lots of bumps. And possibly some lichen. We'll see.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Birds in Art 2013

Main entrance, Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum
I was on the road again almost all of last week, first for several stops on the Front Range to deliver work for upcoming exhibitions and then to the airport for the journey back to Wausau, Wisconsin for the opening of Birds in Art at the Woodson Art Museum.

Now in its 38th year, Birds in Art is one of the premier wildlife art exhibitions in the United States– drawing over 1,000 hopeful jury submissions from around the world. It's always an honor to have work included in the show and a delight to visit Wausau for the opening festivities.

I've waxed poetic about the Woodson and its outstanding staff many times before, and I'm going to do it again. This time I'll just say that if you look up the definition of the term "Class Act" you'll find a picture of the Woodson team. And if you don't, you should.

Artists' private preview reception. Hey... whose lino is that on the far wall?
 While Birds in Art holds pride of place in the museum's main galleries, there are several other beautiful exhibitions installed as well. This was one of my favorites:

Yes! These are the student-made steamroller prints from my Artist-in-Residence experience this past spring, lovingly displayed.

And in further honor of my time there, here's the museum's marketing manager Amy Beck, wearing her steamroller-printed shirt made from one of my linocuts. Crazy-fun.

The excitement didn't end there! This morning I learned that my linocut, "Coot du Jour," will also be included in this year's national tour to the Heritage Center, State Historical Society of North Dakota, Bismarck (March 1 – June 30, 2014); Steamboat Art Museum, Steamboat Springs, Colorado (July 19 – September 13, 2014); and Michelson Museum of Art, Marshall, Texas (November 4 – December 31, 2014).

"Coot du Jour," reduction linocut, 8" x 32"
Click to embiggen

The best part of all? The opportunity to share the experience with friends and colleagues from places near and far. Thanks, everyone... Fingers crossed that we'll meet again next year!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Linocut in progress: The final tern

Sunday morning of a holiday weekend... and I finally got to enjoy a little pajama-clad printing again! It used to be my regular habit to get up first thing in the morning and head to the studio to print before stopping for breakfast and getting on with the rest of the day. But the last few months have been unsettled, to say the least, so studio time has been strictly catch-as-catch-can.

Here's what the last few days caught:

Common tern linocut: Step 12

Eh... now that I look at it, this is a pretty lousy photo... but what happened at Step 12 was a gradated darkening of the water at the bottom of the image.

Step 13
This isn't a great shot, either... but Step 13 brought the darkest bits of the bird into focus. Believe it or not, it took a couple tries to get this dark right. I tried a straightforward black and it was just too harsh. This is a very dark gray with a fair chunk of transparent base in it.

Step 14: Finished! I think.

It took a couple of tries to get the green I wanted in this last step, too. Geez... it's the little things that trip me up sometimes!

In the end it's a deceptively simple image– Just a white bird against sky and water. But for me it was a new palette and an attempt to reflect an unfamiliar atmosphere. I feel some aspects of the piece are successful and others less so... but I've definitely learned a thing or two that will help me (I hope) tackle additional seabird subjects.

But now it's time to get out of my PJs and (ahem) tern my attention preparations for the busy week ahead. I'll be delivering new work to Abend Gallery in Denver, to The Wildlife Experience museum in Parker for the upcoming exhibition The Wildlife Experience in Art, and then it's off to Wisconsin for Birds in Art! Why, my schedule will be a veritable Art Tern-ado. (Not to be confused with a Sharknado, which is something else entirely. I can't explain it. You'll just have to Google it.)

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...