Friday, March 28, 2014

Linocut in Progress: The eiders get scary

Lately there's been a lot of muttering on this blog about making decisions via The Avoidance Method. One would think that since it's a technique I use frequently it must have some sort of value.

One would be mistaken.  I started work on this eider linocut in order to avoid making decisions about the puffin piece... and then found myself smack up against troublesome indecision again. Nothing like Avoidance-Times-Two to make one think about starting a third piece.

Which, okay, I confess, I'm drawing up now.

In the meantime, things have gotten dicey in the eider department. I carved some more pattern into the water and printed that bright-to-dark blue roll again. 

Eider linocut: Step 7

Looking good, feeling good about it. And then the trouble started. (Go ahead guys, insert some comment about trouble-making females here, 'cause that's who's causing the grief.)

The female Atlantic eiders can have a bit more "rusty" tone to some of their plumage than their western counterparts.... so I messed around until I found a color that looks VERY orange on the block, but not so much when printed over blue.

Eider linocut: Step 8

It seemed a little dark, but I planned on a second, darker brown and a black yet to go, so wasn't too worried. I have a tendency to under-estimate value rather than over-estimate.

Or at least I did until now.

Eider linocut: Step 9
I had planned on just two steps after this... a transparent blue to add some shadows to the female and then the blacks in the male bird. But I'm worried that the hen is just too dark overall... so I'm going to attempt to bring this all around by adding a lighter color over the dark on her back. I'm not at all certain this will work... but desperation being nine-tenths of the law (or something like that).. I'll have to give it a try.

So while I'm waiting for ink to dry and my courage to return I've started drawing up another block. I'm running out of time to do any more reduction prints before the deadline for the Maine exhibition, so I think I'll be returning to my roots for this one: Single color!

WHAT?!?! Maybe handpainted with watercolor, maybe not. I'm still working out the composition. (More birds and rocks, what a surprise.) But as I'm drawing up the block I'm finding it a nice break to work without the specter of color decisions looming in the background. At least it's nice until I start thinking about how cool a green-to-ochre blend would be in this area... and a multi-gray blend here.... and OOOH... what about the sky......????


  1. Take Courage, Sherrie.
    (Good thing your name is not Courage, cause then I'd advise you to take Sherry!)
    It's not the colors but their relativity. I know because it's the same hell with this carving. When I carve on the face, must then change the body. Put the darkest value on the male and see if that helps her settle?....or jump onto that next print right now....

  2. I agree with Patrick. I think it looks ok especially when bearing in mind that there will be a big shift in the appearance of the male when you put the blacks on him.

  3. Laughing in emphathy, Sherrie. That's how it is around here right now, only with fiber instead of ink.

  4. Your blog always makes me smile-you are so honest about what you are doing and feeling. ANd FUNNY!
    Plus your spare use of line-well I just really enjoy your work!
    take care,

  5. single colour?? believe it when I see it ;)

    the female does stand out more then the male right now, but you did write you need to add the blacks to the male, and that might push her a bit back more

  6. Thanks for the support team. I've left this one sit for a couple of days while I carved on the new, SINGLE color piece (doubters, beware!). I'll get back to it in another day or so... maybe she won't seem so awkward by then!

  7. A little bit of time and space can sometimes bring surprising clarity.

    Are you still hand printing or have you bought a press? Also, what kind of registration jig do you use? It seems like your registration is always faultless - very impressive.

  8. Hi Marta... Yes! Still printing by hand. I did a post wayyyy back about my jig. I'm still using the same one.

    The jig looks even more beat up now than it did in... holy cow... 2008! But it's a workhorse. If something about it doesn't make sense, let me know. :-)

  9. Hi Sherrie, I'm a linocut newbie and you are set a tremendous example to which to aspire. It's fantastic and we inexperienced guys really appreciate the time you put in to providing all this information in addition to meeting your commitments.

    If I can ask a small technical question - when you spot-ink, how do you fix the mask to the block to avoid the inked baren picking up the mask? Many thanks.

  10. Hi, Unk... welcome to Brush and Baren!

    That's a great question about the mask. I don't fix it to the block, because it of course needs to be removed each time you're ready to print. I just hold it in place with my fingers and roll the ink in the same direction. Roll, lift the brayer back to the beginning, and roll again. No back and forth. Does that make sense?

    If I'm not getting good coverage then I might move my hand to a different spot and ink from another angle, but still roll, lift, roll. It's a delicate process, to be sure.

    For the female eider I didn't use a mask at all. She's separate from everything except the back of the male's head, so I ink her up as is. If I get ink on the male's head I just wipe it out with a cloth before I print.

    Hope this is helpful!