Monday, November 28, 2016

Linocut in Progress: Murphy was a printmaker

You know Murphy. He's the guy with the law that says "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong."

Things haven't really gone wrong, they're just getting more complicated than I wanted. It's amazing to me that the last linocut, which was 18 x 18 inches in size, was completed in 10 color passes. This one, which is only 8 x 10 inches, is threatening 13 or 14 passes. Ooph.

Blah, blah, blah. Let's get on with it, shall we?

Step 8

The background in my reference is very nebulous, very vague, which is a nice thing if you're a painter, but a little more challenging in linocut. I like the simple background, but how can I create a softer abstract effect in a hard-edged graphic medium?

In Step 8 I carved a few little hatch marks and then printed a blended roll from a sort of olive green to yellow.

For Step 9 I carved more little hatch marks and then lined up a blended roll with colors that I can only describe as "basic camouflage." I don't really know how it happened. (The little pile of minty toothpaste green at the top of the photo was not involved.)

Camo colors, anyone?

Of course it was all very transparent, so gave me something like this:

Step 9 printed

I had sort of hoped that would be enough for the background (optimistic fool that I am), but before I could make that judgment I needed to reprint the darker rust color that was stripped out of the chipmunk a couple of passes ago.

Step 10 rollup

Once again, I only want the color on the critter, so a sloppy inking and another mask were employed.

Step 10, chippy-only mask

And the color looks a little better. It cost me time and a color pass, but I'm glad I did it:

Step 10 printed

Of course now it's clear that I need at least a few darker bits in the background, but I didn't want to put another mask across the chipmunk and strip the fresh color again. So I did quite a bit more carving and printed a flat transparent gray across the entire block.

Step 11 rollup

Step 11 printed

Okay. Now the balance of dark is better but unfortunately the shadow color in the chipmunk looks completely washed out! Time out while I try to decide if it's worth cutting a second block to overprint some shadow areas.

(Full disclosure: At the time I am typing (Friday the 25th) the entire image and edition are complete. The deadline is three days away, but I was so desperate to be finished that I worked several 14-hour days in row. Sorry you'll have to wait a few more days for the outcome, but I couldn't write blog posts and print at the same time. Think of it as time travel. Backwards to go forwards. Or something like that.)


  1. Wow, thanks, Sherrie for keeping the reveal going even tho you are slammed for time. I learn so much from each layer. I don't believe I would ever think of putting a transparent gray over the whole plate as you did. Just wow.

    1. It's a compulsion left over from my watercolor days, I think. Value or hue not quite right? Hit it with a light wash. It's not something that works if you need to go lighter and brighter, but darker and duller... perfect. ;-)

  2. really hoping you get some time to relax soon. creating wonderful stuff, but don't want you burning out on us :)

    1. Thanks, Jen! I'll try to take some time off... in January? ;-)