Monday, April 28, 2014

Linocut in Progress: Finishing the terns

Just call me the Productivity Queen of the Western World. I spent the weekend working for a friend, walking, bookkeeping, cooking, cleaning, carving, printing... and as soon as I put on my jammies and make a cup of tea I'll manage to squeeze in some reading, too. (Yes, I'm prepping this post on Sunday night.)

Step 5 detail
The foremost goal for the weekend was to wrap up this tern linocut. Apparently I've been pretty mentally distracted, because I don't seem to have taken photos of all the steps. But I DID complete it in under 10 color passes, which is some kind of record in reverse for me.

After Step 4 I thought the birds' bellies could use another level of gray, so I popped one in there. Here's a little detail, although it's difficult to tell what's going on. Trust me, though. It made me happier.

After that it was time to get the drama going. I think I mentioned before that my reference images of these birds were all against a flat, deep blue sky and I wanted to try something a little more interesting.

Enter the blended roll. A sort of violet to pale blue.

Duet: Tern linocut, Step 6
Okay. Promising. But what the heck, let's try something a little crazy in that background. Unfortunately I didn't take a photo of Step 7, but it involved a bunch of little carved marks and another blended roll.

Duet: Tern linocut, Step 8

Step 8 was the same thing. More little carve marks and another blended roll. I did worry that perhaps I'd gone too far and that the background was too busy, but nothing to do about it now! (The texture is hard to decipher in the lower part of this image from wet-ink reflections.)

Duet: Tern linocut, Step 9, final
All that was left to print today were the small black areas... which you might guess were kind of a pain. Ordinarily I don't like to leave such fussy printing to the end, but it was the most reasonable printing order.

I like the effect of this background, and I'm looking forward to trying it again on a future image when I'm not feeling the time crunch. I think with more time to consider color and the variety of mark-making this could have some really spectacular results.

While this print dries I have one last black-and-white image started... although I'm having second thoughts about it. Technically I'm beyond the point at which I should be trying to get anymore done for this show... but I can't help myself.


  1. Terns are so much about flying and the textured background I think echoes their wingbeats. I like the angle of view, the two birds overlapping and the background bright color and nervous energy are spot on.
    I'm not sure this kind of sky would always be a good thing--as it could become a gimmick--but I think it really works in this print.

  2. Thanks, Andrew! I agree there's a risk of "gimmicky," so it's definitely something I'd use sparingly in the future. One of my biggest creative struggles is a tendency to be too literal in my interpretation... an artifact of many years making illustrations that would come under the scrutiny of biologists. In the grand scheme of things this is probably just a baby step away from that tendency... but a step nonetheless!

  3. pretty nice blog, following :)