Thursday, November 28, 2013

Linocut in Progress: I am thankful for ink! and tools! and paper! and blog readers! (That's you!)

It's Thanksgiving day here in the Heart of the Rockies, sunny and bright after last weekend's big storm. I'm taking advantage of the quiet day to get a little work done in the studio before joining friends for supper this evening.

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I started a new little linocut before completely resolving the question of the laughing gull piece. This piece is just 5 x 7 inches, so it's kind of like doodling in the margins while trying to figure out a larger issue.

So. Here we go.
Puffin linocut: Step 1

The problem with puffins is that they are immediately identifiable even with just one color pass completed. Where's the fun in that?

And of course I'm again confronted with that ludicrous puffin bill. The yellows and red do not appear anywhere else in the image, so there's no point in inking up the entire block. I cut a mask from mylar and used it for selective inking of the next three steps.

Masking for spot inking
Spot ink in place, mask removed
Puffin linocut: Step 2
Puffin linocut: Step 3. Camera failed to capture the difference
between the first yellow and the second.
Puffin linocut: Step 4. I expanded the area of the face mask and
cut a second mask for the legs.
Things were looking spotty... which always makes me uncomfortable. The next step was to print a transparent gray over the entire block, both to add a level of tone and to tie everything back together.

Puffin linocut: Step 5.
It also added some shading to the lower part of the bird's bill without having to resort to printing another red. Here's a detail:

Fun, eh? There's some gray to go back into two areas of this bill. I could have cut those areas out earlier, but I want them to feel more opaque. It means one more little mask area, but I can live with that. Then it will be time to tackle rocks and water again. I'm already a little... um.... challenged... by the idea that a body of work about seabirds in Maine could involve a lot of the same sort of background habitat. I think my next piece will break out of that... at least a little. But for now... rocks and waves, here I come!


  1. yay! another puffin :D

    have a good thanksgiving!

  2. Please reveal your secret technique for putting the red shading on the bottom of the bill without printing a second red! Did you carve away the top of the bill, and then print the overall gray on the block? If so, may I just say that you are brilliant. As usual. Please let me know if I have it right, because I could use that technique in my next piece. It has lots of shading.

  3. Thanks, Jen... I ate more than I should have, so I guess that means the day was successful!

    Karen... YES! I only carved out the brightest bits of the bill and then let the transparent gray do the work of shading. It's a neat trick... and sometimes I think about cutting a separate block JUST to do shadows with. I might try it one of these days.