Sunday, November 20, 2016

Linocut in Progress: The end, and what came after

Alrighty, then. It's time to print the strange leaf concept: Darker at the top of the image, a wee bit lighter towards the bottom. I have imagined that the last light on the horizon would allow a little more color in the lower section of the image than it would against the darker sky. Getting too crazy about it could detract from the overall quiet mood, however, so it required a delicate touch.

So, hey! Why not a gray-to-pukey-bond-paper-green blend? That seems reasonable. (Snort)

Step 9 rollup

Because I wanted the light green to hold up against the already-printed darker tone, I needed it to be a bit more opaque than the gray. To that end I pulled out a green with some white in it that I had mixed for the earlier flower print. It was entirely too opaque as it was, so it took a couple of tries to get the right balance of transparency vs. coverage. I wanted the printed color to read lighter but not obnoxiously so.

Step 9 printed

I used the same mask that I cut for the previous step to keep the gray-to-green ink out of the tree trunk, branch, and owl. Well, it was mostly the same mask. I modified it to allow a little of the dark color in to the upper portion of the owl's head. (Read: I chopped off a chunk.)

I hoped that doing so would accomplish a couple of things: 1) Soften the transition between the top of the owl's head and the leaves behind it, 2) put a little base color into the pupils of the owl's eyes so the next color would adhere nicely, and 3) give me an idea of just how dark the last (I hoped) pass should be.

I was more or less satisfied with the leaves at this point, but wanted a few of them to get one more hit of subtle dark when the last pass was printed. The final carving stage defined the darkest overall color in tree, bird, and leaves.

The Step 10 ink was a solid transparent dark, made by adding some blue and brown to the leftover transparent gray from the previous pass. Et voila!

"Watching and Waiting" reduction linocut, 18" x 18"
© Sherrie York • www.sherrieyork.com

And now it's time for a confession. 

Printmaker readers are probably aware that the first few prints in a run tend to be a bit light. It takes a while for a nice ink base to build up on the block, so I always consider the first sheets as "testers." (In my commercial printshop days we called it "makeready.")

But this time the first color pass didn't settle out as dark as I thought I wanted. I panicked, and in the middle of that very first color run I adjusted the inks to a richer blend. Once the second half of the run was finished, I planned to go back and hit the first prints with a second layer to make them all match.

However. Once I printed the remaining sheets I wasn't sure I was going to like the more color-saturated version. Should I proceed with the plan to reprint the first prints, or should I let myself take an experimental approach, even with the huge deadline looming?

I took a deep breath and opted to continue with two different versions.

Because I work with so much transparent ink, the first color pass affected every subsequent color pass, and I ended up with two small editions instead of one big one. Here's the more color-rich version:

"Watching and Waiting" reduction linocut, 18" x 18"
Version 2
© Sherrie York • www.sherrieyork.com

I ended up with 9 prints like this, and 12 of the first version. I'll title both editions the same, and distinguish them with V1 and V2, or something like that.

But here's the kicker: I can only present one edition or the other at the exhibition for which this image is intended. Which to choose? What do you think?

13 comments:

  1. I quite like the colour rich print Sherrie but you only have 9 copies of this print. Is it possible that more than 9 will be purchased as a result of the exbibition, if so exhibit the first version

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  2. After enbiggening them, I like Version 2 better. Both are great, but I like the stronger color. Seems like there is more depth.

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  3. (Sigh) It's funny, because I like the first one better, but so far people are responding to the second. Maybe I've just been too close to them for too long, and maayyyybe it's a function of my intent. I've been trying to reign in what I think of as a too-bright palette, trying to find a more "naturalistic" feel.

    In all of the major exhibitions I participate in, my linos hang alongside oil paintings. Sometimes I feel like it's my mission to prove that prints on paper can have the same gravitas as paint on canvas.

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    1. then go with V1. These are very good motivations for that choice.

      Either way: it is a choice, not a decision-flow-chart. You cannot choose wrong for both are good. SO choose the first one ;)

      I understand people tending towards a more contrast rich one if presented with both. People also choose sweet rich cake over a subtile flowery merengue, when offered both. Or a bright pop art over a pencil drawing next to it.

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    2. :-) Thanks, Anna. And, curiously enough, V1 has taken the lead in my social media "query," so it's good to know that both options will find fans eventually. I think V1 will go to this show, the other will go elsewhere.

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  4. Go with your gut, Sherrie. Your financial advisor says that's a bigger edition$$$. Outside eye likes version 2 better, I look at the tree much more

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  5. Wow, thanks for all the problem-solving progress on this one! I went for version one, for reasons put in my Facebook comment on that photo. But, nice to know I'm not the only one who's panicked at my initial background inking. There are things I love about the ability to add subtle, layered color in reduction prints - and then there's that control-freak power to change one's mind with multiple color blocks. I'm really torn between the two. This is a good illustration why. ; )

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  6. I prefer the richer colour version but the other ones colours works better at creating a calm feeling. just draw numbers out of a hat to choose? ;)

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  7. :-) As the day has gone on, the FB response has favored the more subtle version. Yep, I'm going to have to flip a coin to decide which one ends up at the exhibition. I'll prop them up next to the rest of the pieces bound for the show and see which one works better with the collection.

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  8. V 2 -- so much richer. Glad that is your decision and not mine...

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  9. This is my first comment on your excellent web/blog site. Yes, both v1 and v2 are great, but I prefer the darker sky in v2. It's a shame you can't take both versions...

    Hope the exhibition goes well.

    Best wishes, Keith

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    1. Welcome, Keith! Thanks for stopping to say hello! I always appreciate the input of readers, and I'm glad you're finding things here are that helpful. (Or at least entertaining.) Cheers!

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