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

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sherrie, this is my first comment on your blog-- I love the way you write in so much detail about the options you are considering in a print. It always sounds so familiar :)
    I wanted to give a vote for trying out two blocks in one reduction print! I really like doing this myself--it actually means less forethought is needed, in some ways. If you carve an area away on one of the blocks and find you wish you had added something else there, you always have the other block to work with. It allows for actually more spontaneity, not less, I think. (Planning out a print is not my strong point, but I relate so much to your working style!)

    Thanks for a great blog! Happy New Year to you--