Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Linocut in Progress: The final puffin

Well, it's not really the final puffin. At least not in the sense that the species is lost or I won't ever make any images of them again. You know what I mean. Final print stages. Which sometimes feel like they'll be the end of me, but that's a whole 'nuther story.

As you may recall from about 10 days ago, I had spent some time messing around with the red markings on the rocks, trying to get the shadow right.

"fixer" block
I still wasn't happy with it... so I did something I rarely do. I cut a "fixer block."

I traced the shape of the shadow on to an old blemished block I had floating around. Too lazy to clear ALL the material (and you never know when I might need one of the other corners to patch something else), carved the shape and then cut a mask for inking. I COULD have done this without cutting the block at all, but I didn't.

Because this block is considerably smaller than the full image block it made for some interesting paper management issues... but I propped some other uncut blocks around it and everything went fine.

 Puffin linocut: Step 11, shadow detail

 So.. with that problem solved it was time to face my biggest fear: The background. (Which is why so much progress was made on the little eider print. I face my fears by avoidance.)

With so much "noise" in the foreground rocks I wanted to keep the background simple... but by now there are several layers of color there already. And of course I wanted to do a big blended ink roll.... when my largest roller is 8" wide and the print is 12" x 18". Should have done this earlier in the process. Didn't. More avoidance.

I'm sorry to say that despite all this dramatic build-up I FORGOT to take a photo at this stage. Mostly I was just so tired that all I wanted to do was clean up and go to sleep. Hand-rubbing this big blend with so much ink below it took about 15 minutes per print... and I had 20 of them.

While the undocumented Step 12 was drying I went back to the eiders, AND set about the task of clearing all that background material from the puffin block.

 There was a lot of it.

But now the focus is on the puffin itself, and that's pretty fun. With less material to ink and print things went a bit faster, too.

Puffin linocut: Step 13
So... it's a huge jump now! Background in place, rocks coming together, and puffin appears! The color in this shot is way too... something. Gray. Muted. Warm. An artifact of shooting at night under a "color-balanced" lamp that I later discovered had a bulb out.

The last step took a little longer than I expected, just because I decided I didn't need as much of this darkest color in the rocks as I had on the first print. In addition, I tackled the printing a little sooner than I should have, so to avoid pulling up the previous color I had to wipe down the block on every other impression. Once I started I couldn't stop, so it was a late night... but I slept well knowing this was finished satisfactorily! All it needs now is a title. Ideas?

Puffin linocut: Step 14. Embiggenable with a click, if you want.


  1. oh! he's just lovely
    I can see the point of the red numerals now (I was wondering) and the shadow is perfect!
    another tour de force!

  2. Criminy Sherrie, you get such beautiful details...the little guy's back is amazing and the yellow on his beak and the color under his eye! Just awesome.

  3. Beautiful work.
    Title? How about, Mine or My Rock?

  4. Yet another splendid piece :)

    It is one puffed up (proud) puffin you have created.

  5. Another beautiful print Sherrie. Wish I'd done it.

  6. It was worth the fiddling. Nice and dramatic and I really like the gray primary feathers on the right wing...the whole print looks great. Good decisions.

  7. You pulled off another great one! And think of how much you learned from all of the challenges.... :)
    Captain Puffin?

  8. Thanks, everyone. I'm glad (and relieved) that it meets with approval from the best audience I have!

    I've had a couple of suggestions of "Mine" for the title.... so that's definitely in the running. I'm trying to sort out the story for myself. This is a wild bird in a population that was once extirpated but has been reintroduced and is intensely monitored. For me that's a combination that's both celebratory and sobering. Which is why I loved the contrast of the wide-winged posture with the biologist-generated monitoring tags (and the banded leg, if you noticed). But how to cram all that into a pithy title? :-/

  9. Stunning Sherrie, really beautiful.

    How about 'Puffin Away' or 'Still Puffin'