Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy End of the Old Year!

Oh, beloved readers of Brush and Baren, my apologies for long silence this month. I've been down with The Crud for a couple of weeks, during which time I was also technically homeless. I'm still coughing but finally upright and returned to my temporary housing situation, so almost ready to return to adventures in printmaking.

Today I felt well enough for a little walk around my patch... which probably did more for my recovery than the assortment of meds I've been chugging.

While I was out I picked up a couple of little willow twigs to bring back and draw. It's been too, too long since I have drawn anything just for me, which seems clear when I regard my impatience with the process and my less-than-stellar results. But I did it, and that was good.

My plans for the remainder of this week include continued recovery (oh please oh please), some year-end administrative tasks, and some print time. It's safe to say that 2013 has been one of my least favorite years ever,* so I'm looking forward to putting this one on a shelf and getting a fresh start in the new year.

(As a friend said recently, "It's enough to make one triskaidekaphobic!" So one good thing that came out of this year: a legitimate excuse to use that word in a sentence!)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Linocut in Progress: Finishing the puffin

Things in puffinland have ended somewhat anti-anticlimactically. After more layers of gray than I care to think about, I started work on the background.

Puffin linocut: Step 10

After this grayer-to-brighter blue blend I had ambitions that involved waves and surf and assorted other intrigues. But I was never satisfied with the shapes I carved or the colors I mixed, so in the end I decided that simple was best. This image is only 5" x 7," after all. All that other stuff just made it too busy, so out it came.

One final blue-black and our lone puffin perches pensively on a chunk of rock in unknown seas.

Puffin linocut: Step 11

Well, they're known seas, actually. You might not have noticed before, but this particular bird is wearing some jewelry around its legs. A little research on my part will be required to understand if the double silver bands mean he (she?) was hatched at Eastern Egg Rock, off the coast of Maine,where we encountered each other. It's an important part of the story that I hope to tell when all of the work for next summer's exhibition is complete.

In the meantime...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Buena Vista Holiday Artwalk!

I'll be participating in this event for the first time this weekend. Look for me at the former Coggins building, the temporary home of the Chaffee County Arts Council, southeast corner at the traffic light in Buena Vista, Colorado.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Linocut in Progress: Back to the Puffin

For now the decision on the laughing gulls is no decision at all. Thankfully I have plenty of time before that particular piece is "due" for next summer's exhibition at the Puffin Project Visitor Center in Rockland, Maine. It's back to the little puffin.

The puffin is destined for Maine, too, of course... but it seemed like it would be a smaller and less complex piece to mess around with for a while. (BZZZT! Wrong! Well, right about the "smaller" bit, but not about the "less complex" bit.)

So let's see. After the "unifying" gray of Step 5 I added the gray to the bill. Just two tiny shapes, accomplished with a mask and spot inking.

Puffin linocut: Step 6
And then another, sort of mid-gray to bring some more detail to the rocks and some contrast to the puffin's head.

Puffin linocut: Step 7

And then I hemmed and hawed for a while. There are more grays to go into this piece, but in what order? I wanted to get something going in the background, which I tried... but then I decided it was too soon. I'm concerned about building up too many ink layers in the background, but I also don't want to build up too many in the bird. Finally the advantage of the way my friend and colleague Andrea Rich works is made apparent.

Andrea does reduction prints, but she typically reduces at least two blocks. One "foreground" and one "background." I've never tried this, but I'm sure that it keeps the buildup of ink layers to a minimum when applying dozens of colors (as I seem prone to lately). Methinks my next piece might head in that direction if it appears it's going to involve an excess of colors. The problem with this technique, in my mind, is that it does require planning and forethought... never one of my strong suits when it comes to printmaking. (Which those of you who know anything about my tendency to obsessive organization and planning in every other aspect of my life should find incredibly amusing. Or at least puzzling. I know I do.)

ANYWAY... back to the puffin in question and another gray.

Puffin linocut: Step 8
Okay. The rocks are looking good and the bird is getting some volume, but I'm not happy with how much contrast there will be between this tone and what I imagine to be the ultimate black of the bird. More hemming and hawing. My options appear to be these:

a) Do I add another gray and THEN work on the background? This increases the amount of ink layers in the background and will affect the colors that go on top of it.

b) Do I add another gray and then spot ink the black and THEN work on the background? I don't like this idea because my spot ink shapes are never as precise as cut shapes, and the black bird shape is critical to the final piece.

c) Do I add another gray and then black over the ENTIRE block... and THEN work the background? Risky. What if the water ends up looking murky? Then again, what if it looks COOL?

d) Do I skip the gray, work the background for a while, then come back to add a gray and the black? This could be problematic if my background layers build up too much and interfere with the bird.


In the end I decided on one more gray (the first half of choices a, b, and c) but now I have to choose what comes next again. I think I'm headed to the background. Stay tuned.

Puffin linocut: Step 9

Monday, December 2, 2013

Back to the Laughing Gulls: To Sea or Not to Sea.... that is the question!

Work continues on the little puffin, but while I wait for ink to dry I decided to take another look at the laughing gull linocut.

In my original design I had these birds sharing a joke on a rock in the Gulf of Maine because that IS, after all, where they are. But as work continued on the piece I thought it might be getting too "busy," so I ignored that upper corner.

I had lots of technical problems with this piece, so I have plenty of rejects to play with before I give up on an edition. Today I pulled one of those rejects out and ran a bright blue just to see what it would look like.

To sea or not to sea? Click to embiggen and help me decide!

Hm. Okay. What do you think? If I DO use the blue, I would probably add a second, subtle tone just to keep it from being a flat shape. Too much? Or just what the jokesters ordered?

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...