Monday, October 31, 2016

Linocut in Progress: Could this be the end?

It's definitely the end of this linocut, and for a day or two I thought it might be the end of me. But we both survived. Let's see how it went, eh?

One of the most amusing (to me) things about this particular piece is how many greens there are and how little green ink I actually used. Take a look at the Step 10 rollup:

Step 10 rollup

Yep. A top-to-bottom, gray-to-blue blend. But do you see any blue or gray in the printed result? Nope.

Step 10 printed

I was generally satisfied with the shapes at this point, but still wanted to tone down the brightness of the greens. Step 11 employed another blended roll. THIS time, however, the blend went from left to right, instead of top to bottom. As for color, it was a transparent gray, dark to light. (Sorry, no photo.)

Step 11 printed

NOW we're getting somewhere! The image was soooooo close at this point, but I felt it needed just a tiny bit more contrast in the background. I carved away all of the "simple" parts of the background and added quite a few more shapes (perhaps it's more accurate to say I removed more shapes) in between the leaves and flowers.

But what color to print? After a couple of tries I settled on this ridiculously transparent brown for the next pass. Doesn't seem like it would do much of anything, does it?

Step 12 ink rollup

But it did! The difference is subtle, but that's what I wanted: A wee bit more contrast behind the flowers and further "dulling" of the background greens. If you click on the image you should be able to scroll between the stages in a slightly larger size and hopefully see what happened.

Step 12 printed

I had hoped this would be the last step, but unfortunately it's wasn't. There are a LOT of small flower centers that stayed too blue-green, and some of the larger centers could use a little more oomph, too. (I think the one in the lower middle is just about perfect.)


I was resigned to one more VERY fussy step.

I didn't like the idea of carving away all of the remaining block other than the flower centers. Tiny raised shapes over a wide carved area? Too much risk of paper slippage, uneven rolling, stray ink marks, and damaged prints. However, I didn't want the unCUT areas that also needed to be unINKED to damage the prints, either. Enter one more annoying mask.

Masks cut for final step

The only consolation here was that each mask could be reused a few times, so I only cut six of them.

Step 13 ink rollup

The advantage of cutting the masks is that I could be loose with the ink rollup and it wouldn't matter. Below you can see the inked block and its mask in place on the press, ready to print.

Step 13 inked block and mask in place

Suddenly I am reminded of that kids' game of the late 60s/early 70s: Operation. The one where you had to remove internal organ and bone shapes from an electrified "patient." If your metal tweezers hit the metal sides of the openings the electrical circuit would be completed and the buzzer would sound. Seriously. Who thinks of these things?

ANYWAY... I was finally ready for the last color pass.

Step 13, final

It probably doesn't look significantly different from the previous step, but the small flower centers are no longer blue and there's a wee bit more contrast in the large flower centers. Trust me.

So, whew! Talk about squeaking in under the wire! I wanted this one finished by the end of the month and here it is the last day of October.

No rest for the weary, though. Tomorrow morning I'll take a better photograph of this piece and then upload the image to the exhibition's website. (Done, and better shot substituted here.) After that I must produce at least one more complete edition (and photograph and upload it to the aforementioned website) by November 28. Two editions would be better, but I'm not counting on it.

I'll spend the remainder of today and tomorrow catching up with all the little things that have been neglected for the past week and prepping paper for the next piece. Then it's off to the races again by Wednesday!


  1. As always with your work, it's beautiful! Thank you for sharing the process with us non-artists...

    1. Thank YOU, my friend, for always being so supportive! You're the best.

  2. oh my goodness.. HOw DO you have to patience and forward thinking.....?? I sit mystefied and delighted :)

    1. There's the irony, right? I am not a very patient person AT ALL. I am my own punishment, working this way. ;-)

  3. Gorgeous print, and it's great to get more understanding of the process, especially using the mask. Best wishes.

    1. Thanks, Kate. I'm always happy to offer as much as I can to help people wrap their brains around printmaking. It helps me to think more about it, too. Cheers!

  4. another wonderful piece :D you will need a long vacation soon after all these deadlines are met

    1. Vacation? What is this "vacation" of which you speak?

  5. Wow. What a process! I would never have the patience to do all that, but the results are certainly stunning.

    1. Printmaking is definitely all about process, Coreopsis! For better or worse.... ;-)