Monday, April 6, 2015

Linocut in Progress: A pelican looking for a title (and maybe for love)

With one more deadline looming I decided to just push on through and finish the pelican linocut this weekend. At about midnight:thirty this morning I wrapped it up. My hands and feet and neck are tired from marathon printing sessions, but I'm satisfied. And today I am finally catching up with mundane things like laundry and grocery shopping, which were sadly neglected while I marched to the sound of deadline drums.

Of course now it needs a title. I'm leaning towards Cruisin', but I'm open to other suggestions. Cruisin' is a double reference to this bird's slow-but-steady movement across the water and to the activity of spring. This pelican is sporting the beak bumps that develop during the breeding season, so clearly our bird is cruisin' for a mate.

Here's how the last steps unfolded:

Step 8

(Oops, I don't even remember what happened in this step. Please stand by while I go look at the previous post and figure out what's different now.)

Ah. Okay. Focus has turned to the water. The existing grays were pretty cool, reflecting sky, but now the reflections are taking on the tone of bare trees and need warming up. A little brown was added and printed transparently.

Step 9

More water reflections, also warmer in tone. Feeling pretty good, but it stills needs some deeper darks.

Step 10

And here they are. It's so, so close now... (and at this point it was about 10:30pm). All that remains are the darkest bits of the bird's primary feathers and their reflection in the water. Spot inking shouldn't take THAT long, should it?

I cut an inking mask from clear mylar and used it to limit ink to a small area. It took me a surprisingly long time to find just the right tone. It needed to be darker than anything else in the image, but not SO dark that was a harsh contrast.

I didn't take a photo of it, but I also cut a hole just like this one in newsprint sheets the size of the full block. A newsprint sheet was placed across the block each time it was run through the press to prevent the un-inked areas from damaging prints.

And finally, the finished piece. I'm feeling pretty darn good about this one. :-) It's a completely different color palette for me and an exercise in pushing the complexity of water as far as I can.

"Cruisin'" (maybe), reduction linocut, 18 x 18"

I'm definitely ready for a couple days break from printmaking madness, and I've got some exciting news coming up about how I'm going to be spending my summer, but first? I need a nap.


  1. "Pushing the complexity of water as far as I could." That captures it perfectly. Love this. I keep expecting to look back and see that the pelican has swum right out of the frame.

  2. Great job, Sherrie. Totally captured the scene, that crazy water reflection...awesome. Love the greys and just the beak color. Love it!

  3. Sherrie, you are amazing. I love it!

  4. Beautiful. Well done.

  5. Thank you all! I must admit that somewhere around the third or fourth color pass in the water I thought I would lose my mind. There's not one area in which I got to employ a nice, wide tool until the last pass. But it was really nice to get up the next morning and realize I was finished!

  6. Having followed your blog for about the last year I think this one is particularly elegant. All of yours are really but since I live near the Pacific Ocean and see a lot of pelicans, a lot of pelicans, I know that they are that unique combination of being both gangly in appearance (their large heads) and elegant or smooth in their action (flight etc.).
    Oh Mother Nature and her ironic ways!

    Anyway, you have definitely captured that spirit of hers in this one and I love the unusual composition of placing the bird in the upper right facing out. In the hands of a lesser artist it would not have worked. The grays for the water certainly contribute to the his elegance as well as the placement of him with all that water underneath/foreground.
    I mention all that because I live in the port of LA in So Cal and frequently see the Cruise Ships leaving the port in the same manner ("...slow-but-steady..." as you say) and announcing their voyage by blowing their horn (his beak bump). Just before they get out to open sea they look much like him, that same feel here, high on the horizon, the port behind them.
    Well, that's what I see in this for what it's worth.
    If it were me I would name it "Pleasure Cruise".
    Or maybe "Voyage Plaisir" (Voiage Plaisir?).
    I don't know French but I think the word voyage is origins in french.

    Keep printing...

  7. wonderful work!

    the bird reflection in the water is amazing!

  8. Yowza! Your water work has been stellar for the past year and some, but this pelican piece kicks it up to another level. You go!

  9. Sherrie,

    I am with David and Susan. Really sharp work with this one! Excellent! My favorite (besides the bird) is the reflection in the water. Nice!

    I really enjoy the brown pelicans around the Gulf Coast here. They are comical, and plenteous. You've nudged me into dusting off my reference photos.