Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Linocut in Progress: Greens from blue

The shocking chartreuse color printed in the last installment of "Sherrie Tries Strange Things in Reduction Linocut" taunted me for a couple of days. When I finally got back to work I made the most logical step to address that yellow.

I used transparent lavender, of course.

I apologize for the cruddy photo. Ambient light has been questionable the last few days and I keep forgetting until the last minute to take a shot of the current stage. Too many other things on my mind right now.

The photo is sort of streaky, but the overall effect of layering Leftover-Flower-Color across Overpowering-Yellow-Color gave me the Toned-Down-Green-Color I wanted. (Don't you just LOVE how technical these descriptions are? I should write a how-to book.)

I was so pleased with the result that I carved some more and used the exact same ink again. Why mess with success?

Well, maybe it wasn't the exact same ink. I might have added a touch of blue to it. It looked like this:

And then a little more carving... and the same ink again. And now some shapes are starting to resolve:

The flowers still look a bit chunky, but I'll start addressing that soon. I am undecided about whether the next pass will be more of the lavender color or something with more yellow in it. There are a few stems that would benefit from "warming up" with yellow... but I also have some shadowy bits that would not benefit from yellow. Thinking cap required to address the conundrum.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Hog Island Artist Residency Deadline!

Bingham Cove at high tide

Longtime readers of Brush and Baren know that I spend a portion of each summer at Hog Island Audubon Camp in Maine, teaching workshops and reveling in the coastal environment that is so different from here in Colorado.

Earlier this spring I announced a new Artist-in-Residence program on the island... visual artists, writers, musicians are invited to apply for a two-week residency at the Bingham Cottages on Hog Island, but the deadline is fast approaching! Next week!

Program description and application can be found on the Hog Island / Bingham Cottages Artist-in-Residence web page.

Just in case you need a little more inspiration to apply:

Sunset from the Writer's Cabin

Hog Island woods

Bingham Cottages Main Lodge

Main Lodge interior

Writer's Cabin

Looking west, Writer's Cabin

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Linocut in Progress: A weird, wild, wacky mess

Why, yes, it has taken a little bit of time to recover from the bufflehead print.

Even more annoying than my slow return of energy, however, is the edition's reluctance to finish drying. More than one print has the bonus personalization of a vague Sherrie fingerprint ghosted in a section of dark ink:

"Surely it's dry enough to take down by now."
 (Light finger tap applied to print.)
"Oops. No."

There are many factors involved in the rate at which ink dries: the particular pigment (Daniel Smith traditional black is very slow), the addition of any ink modifiers (in this case I used lots of Graphic Chemical transparent base and a wee bit of Setswell compound), the number of ink layers already on the print (15, I think), and the ambient temperature of the room (cold, because it's spring and I refuse to turn up the heat). All have combined to slow things down for the buffleheads.

I wasn't troubled by it a week ago because I had to turn my attention to an illustration contract and was quite happy to let them hang. But this week I wanted to get on with something else and they were hogging up all the space in my high-tech custom drying rack*. (*More about this in tomorrow's post.)

Fortunately, the buffleheads are finally dry enough to allow for back-to-back hanging, and I was able to free up the top row of the rack to accommodate new prints.

And that's when the weirdness started.

I decided to work on a very small (5" x7") flower linocut... something "simple" and about an eighth the surface area of those buffleheads. Easy peasy, eh?

HA! It's ME! Let's make something easy into something hard!

Right off the bat there's fussiness. The flowers are a lovely periwinkle blue and the surrounding foliage has elements that are bright yellow-green. These are not colors likely to interact gracefully if printed one on top of the other, so before anything else could happen I had to cut spot inking masks.

Here's a sloppy ink-up of the second color. (If you look closely you can see a few tiny marks already removed from the block.)

And here's a newsprint mask placed over the block before putting the print in place:

I worked five colors into these tiny spaces. Carve, ink, mask, print (x 30 prints)... Carve, ink, mask, print... Until I had this:

A collection of strange blue shapes. The edges aren't perfect, but ultimately they will be surrounded by dark shapes, so they should be fine.

But then things got REALLY weird. There are a few areas that require a really light, bright yellow-green. I could cut another mask and do more spot-inking but A) I am sick of messing about with paper masks right now and B) green under everything else on the block isn't going to hurt anything. I don't think.

So I mixed up a bright, transparent lime green and printed it.


It looks very yellow in the photo, but the biliousness is about right. What's nifty is how this transparent yellow-green printed over a few purple-blue areas created that lovely mid-tone green!. Had I realized it would be so pretty I might have saved myself some time and not fussed about with the masks so much. Oh, well!

The effect of the rest of it is pretty obnoxious, though. I really hope I know what I'm doing.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

It's Finished! "Dinner Party" linocut

"Dinner Party," reduction linocut, 18" x 18"
embiggenable with a click

Holy cow, has this been a long one! Between technical difficulties and aesthetic challenges I had long weeks when I was ready to throw up my hands and go find a job that was less nerve-wracking. But it's finally done. The drying rack has been moved out of the way for the first time in two months (when I'm working on large pieces it has to occupy an inconvenient spot). Everything has been cleaned up and the studio is ready for the next project.

I'm definitely anxious to get started on something new, but have to go out of town again for a couple of days. (Reception at Ann Korologos Gallery in Basalt, see previous post.) I also have an illustration project that needs some attention and this print will need several days to dry, so... some time next week the lino chips will start to fly again.

But blah blah blah... I'm sure you want PICTURES, not babbling, so here's how it ended.

The step prior to this one didn't look much different... it darkened the males a bit, darkened a few areas of water, and added yellow to the crab. It gave me palpitations, though. I tried to use a newsprint mask because I didn't want to go through the effort of removing ALL of the water from the block. WRONG! The prints were too tacky. The mask pulled up color AND stuck to the print, so out came every bit of lino except for the birds.

Here's a look at the block inked up for the very last pass: a dark, almost black, transparent gray.

It's hard to see the details of the birds in the overall shot of the print... so here they are in close-up:

 My biggest complaint about the piece at this point is that once again I've done something with way too much blue, and it's a complete pain in the neck to try to get decent photos. (The birds are still wet and I'm fighting ink glare, too.) My next piece is going to have NO blue.

Well. Maybe a little. ;-)

Thanks for sticking by me through this piece, everyone. Your encouragement and interest stamina kept me going!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Colorado Color at Ann Korologos Gallery

Aspen-Glenwood area peeps: Please join us in Basalt this Friday for the opening of Colorado Color at the Ann Korologos Gallery. This will be my first group exhibition at AKG, and I'd love to introduce you to this beautiful space, the work of my unbelievably accomplished colleagues, and the experienced and thoughtful gallerists who, among other things, enthusiastically embrace work on paper. It's a win-win-win-win-win.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Linocut in Progress: Almost there now

Aside from putting me even further behind on the current reduction linocut, my four days out of the studio last week were a good thing. Most importantly because I got to spend two of those days with friends I hadn't seen in 20 years (!!) but also because it gave me a little time away from this piece that has been making me so crazy. The solution seemed more clear when I returned, although it required revisiting some earlier work.

Mostly I decided that the lighter areas I had added back to the female birds were too light in some spots, too dark in others, and that the overall hue was too "cool." Thankfully I hadn't thrown out my inking stencil, so I could go back and adjust everything. Tedious, but necessary.

I also got brave and tackled two small areas on the male ducks that required some tricky pochoir technique.

The males, while strongly black and white, do show some iridescence in their heads. I initially left this out, but since I was working the females so much I decided I might as well give it a try. Because the males' heads were already dark I first printed small areas of white, and then applied a tiny rainbow of color over the white.

Finding the right colors took a little time, but after so much blue and brown it was nice to play with other hues. In the end I used the yellow, the light turquoise, and the dark burgundy color.

Fun, eh?

In the last two days I've fussed around with this piece so much that I have lost track of what happened, and I neglected to take photos. But once all the tweaking of duck heads was finally accomplished I hit the entire block with another transparent gray. I'm calling this Step 14, but if you count all the adjustment of little color shapes it's probably more like Step 493.

There's another little surprise in the beak of the foreground female. Yes, she's got a snack! This was part of all that shape-fussing, too. I'll bet no one will be surprised when I say that I intend for my next piece to be mostly big shapes. It probably won't happen, but I can proclaim an intention, at least.

At last I'm only two steps away from being finished and I think it's going to work. Unfortunately when I tried to print the second-to-last step this morning I discovered the prints were entirely too wet and even with a newsprint mask I was pulling ink off instead of getting it smoothly on. The end is in sight but I can't get there from here. Rats.

But there's plenty to do in the studio even when I have to wait. I have framing to do again this week and paper to tear down for upcoming prints (and images to choose for those prints), and.... you get the picture! (Even if we don't get the end of this picture just yet.)

Linocut in Progress: The Third Act

Time to wrap up this linocut ! And we are wrapping at warp speed (see what I did there?)... because there are deadlines. Exhibition deadline...