Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What's it All About Wednesday: Willow Tapestry

After three months of head-down focus on deadlines for exhibitions and illustration projects I had hoped for a little break, but now that my entire summer has to be sorted out before the end of May, well... Instead of a coming to a full stop I've just skidded around a corner and headed off in another direction.

Which might be why I find myself thinking wistfully about "simpler times." (I'm old enough to know that what I think of as simpler times were often just clueless times, but, hey! I'd take clueless for a while if I had to. But I digress.)

Simpler times, simpler linos. That's where I was going with this thought.

Willow Tapestry, linocut, 12" x 12"
There's an active group on Facebook called "Linocut Friends," with many of its more than 2,500 members posting new work on a daily basis. It's fun to see the wide variety of subject matter and technique tackled by artists throughout the world, and the group has been very welcoming to newbies and pros alike.

I posted my complex reduction linocut Treasured Path to the group a few weeks ago and received some interesting push back from printmakers who felt that the point of lino was simplicity of color and design. A lively discussion ensued, surprisingly respectful and fun, given the usual tenor of internet "conversations" these days.

Since Presston the Press came in to my studio I've been having fun pushing both the medium and myself to see what is possible, but I have my more "spare" moments, too.

Willow Tapestry is an older piece... executed long before Presston was even a twinkle in my eye (although not before he was manufactured in 1999). I was already living in Salida, and making a regular habit of walking along the Arkansas River at the edge of town. I remember the moment the I saw the potential of these branches as a block print. It was one of those "aha!" experiences in which I realized how much I love the spaces in between objects. Relief prints are all about negative space, since one has to carve away areas that will not print.

From time to time I still go back to the basics and carve a single color lino. I guess it's like brushing my teeth after a rich, heavy meal. The meal was satisfying and engaging, but a little clearing of the palate (or palette, as the case may be) can certainly be refreshing.


  1. missed that discussion sadly, but while lino looks great when "simple" I think one of the big points about being an artist is taking any medium/subject and pushing the boundaries of both to see what you can do with it :)

  2. How small the world is... I have been lurking on Linocut Friends for about a month now and I somehow missed your Treasured Path post. However, earlier today, I posted one of my pieces for the first time on that group! I learn so much from your blog - you are so very generous! I am beginning to feel that maybe us linofreaks are just good peeps all around!

  3. :-) Now that I think of it, it was probably more like two months ago that the thread happened, but fun to know that both of you are happy contributors to the "Friends."

    I agree, Jen, that pushing boundaries is part of being an artist exploring his or her craft. I love when I discover something new about the process... even if some times it means I've destroyed a bunch of prints!

    And yes, Redtail... linofreaks in general ARE good peeps. More than once I've had painters express surprise that printmakers so gleefully share knowledge with each other. ;-)

  4. This single color linocut is wonderful, but one of the reasons I love reading your blog is to see how you are pushing the boundaries and creating such subtle blends of color in your linocuts. So I say go for it and bush those boundaries as much as you like.