Thursday, October 20, 2016

Linocut in Progress: More fun with weird color

When we last saw our linocut-in-progress the flower petals were oh-so-close to completion. They needed one more red-orange, but not too bright.

This sounds like a straightforward enough idea, but the color red and I just do not have a good relationship. I own one piece of clothing that's red, a cardigan sweater. I wear it a couple of times in the winter because it's SO soft and comfy, but I almost never go out of the house in it. Red. It's just so... obstinate.

I'm not kidding. Red has a mind of its own.

I am a tidy, tidy printmaker, as a general rule. I wipe my hands constantly and might even stop to have a proper wash several times during a color run.

Which is why, I am certain, my tube of red ink decided to do THE most annoying thing. You know what I mean. That thing where the ink (or the toothpaste, or whatever) just keeps coming out of the tube so fast you can't get the cap back on. (Sigh) SO much red, everywhere. Hands. Table. Tools. Towels. By the time I got it cleaned up my trash can looked like I was trying to cover up a murder.

And of course the trouble didn't stop there, oh no.

Geez. I never use these colors. I wonder why.

After I got my work surface back in order I had to mix my red, keeping in mind that it would be affected by the yellows already printed. It took a lot of mixing and testing (and turning several prints into "testers") before I found the color that worked. Guess which one it was?

The lightest raspberry sherbet color, of course. 

In the photo above, the transparent color is roughly spot-inked on to the block. (Sorry the image will be upside-down in the next few shots, but the light from the other direction caused too much glare.)

Since this color wasn't going everywhere on the image and I didn't want the un-inked portions of the block to damage the prints, I cut a newsprint mask. 

Well, actually, I cut 24 masks. Because...

The ever-so-slightly tacky prints provided more surface for the mask to grab than the barely-inked block. The mask was no more firmly stuck to the prints than a sticky-note (more like strong static electricity), but I couldn't re-use it. It wasn't the trickiest mask I've ever had to cut, but it took a while to make the 24 of them that were required. 

Linocut in progress, Step 6. Embiggenable with a click.

Step 6 printed, mask removed (and right side up).

Okay, that was fun. Time to make a light green. It needed to be somewhat opaque, since it had to cover all this orangey, reddish goodness.

Enter weird color number two: A lovely minty green. Bleah. Plenty of white in it, of course. Nasty-looking on the block, especially next to the print in its present state.

And here's where I made a decision that would make my printing session very, very long. You see those little pieces of newsprint? It wasn't really necessary to keep the green out of the flower centers, but I wanted to maintain the darker value there. Why? Because I hoped it would make it easier to assess the overall value range after this color pass was printed. 

So, yes. Those are six little pieces of paper, cut to fit their individual flower centers. 24 times each. And just as with the previous mask, these stuck to the prints and pulling them off was time consuming. 

But I think it was worth it, because I still have darker value reference points. If all the flower centers had gone green it might have been confusing.

Oh... and look how not-minty the green turned out. 

Linocut in progress, Step 7. Embiggenable with a click.

Fun, eh? Now I get to start carving stems and leaves, and I can no longer put off decisions about the background. My intention (at the moment) is to make the upper left corner dark so that the flowers stand out, but what about that right side? There are some spent stems that will reach into that space, but what else? I kind of like this color, so it could be nice to keep more of it, but we are firmly in the Sherrie-didn't-plan-ahead-and-it's-catching-up-with-her stage now. Let the nail-biting begin!


  1. already pops of the paper :)

    (24 times?!? insane patience, I would just be lazy and colour all of them lol but thats probably why I stick mostly to etching, no patience for making masks :p)

    1. "Back in my day" we learned etching with nitric acid and other horrid stuff that you wouldn't want in your kitchen. One of these days I'd like to learn solar etching...

    2. I have a few of the solar plates but not enough sun to expose them this year. but I did learn the other day that the printstudio at uni has a exposure box so might ask if I could use it :)

      I'm not a fan of the nitric acid method with my shaky hands, I will stick to plexi glass lol Did the "traditional method in high school tho and did like the look but just not safe anymore. I even stab myself with the pointy scriber, my poor thumb gets it the most lol