|Snow scene reduction linocut in progress: Step 9|
With the snow shadows finished it was time to tackle the trees and background. I was not at all worried about needing to do this... some opaque white would help change the tone and define the trunks and I'd be off to the races. Or not, as it turned out.
Time out for an ink-related rant. You can skip to the next photo or cover your eyes for a few paragraphs if you'd rather not watch. It ain't pretty.
What's it been now? Two years? Since Daniel Smith, formerly makers of the best (in my experience) relief inks in the US, decided to abandon their original customer base, printmakers, in favor of painters. They didn't even have the courtesy to tell anyone they were going to stop manufacturing ink until they were completely out of some colors. Like white.
I stocked up on what was still available, and since I'm using so much transparent base (manufactured by Graphic Chemical), my pigmented inks have been holding out okay. I did, however have to look for a new white right away. My first try was a Hanco ink, which I did NOT like. Too lacquer-y, and a B@#%^ to clean up. I settled for a Graphic Chemical white, which is more buttery. I don't love it, but it works. It's still hard to clean up.
Of course I forgot that I had used up all my GC white just before I left for the summer. I do, however, have a jar of Gamblin white that I ordered some time ago, just to give it a try. Now is apparently the time to do so.
Argh. The Gamblin relief ink is like soup! It's wayyyyy too loose. "Okay," thought I. "I'll stick a little DS black in it to make a gray. That should help, right?" Nope, still too loose. Somewhere I have a bag of mag carbonate to add tack, but I can't find it. Not enough time to order the GC white... what to do?
In the end I pried open the Hanco white and added a wee bit of it to my now three-manufacturer ink stew. It did firm things up enough that I thought I could give it a go. Might have been a mistake.
Look at that blotchy, uneven coverage! Argh!
After I got my panic under control I decided to "strip" the prints, just in case the problem was a result of too-wet ink from the previous layer.
"Stripping" removes excess ink from prints by running them through the press (or under your hand) and offsetting to a clean sheet of newsprint. Like this:
|Stripping step 1: Uninked block on the press, cover with clean sheet of newsprint.|
|Stripping step 2: Place the print down on the sheet of newsprint, |
run through press as usual.
|Stripping step 3: Gently separate prints and newsprint, excess ink is removed.|
After I stripped all the prints the coverage was a little bit better, but not a lot. I decided to soldier on, mostly because I don't really have much choice at this point. This piece has to be finished. I did a little carving, added some brown to my pale-gray soup and got this:
|Snow scene reduction linocut in progress: Step 10|
Meh. Not great. It's all a little darker than I wanted, but I am using NO transparent base here and these whites are just not cutting it. I'm also getting fill-in on some of my thinner lines. Aggravation level = High.
I'm getting weird texture across the print.. which I have decided isn't horrible for tree trunks, but I wish it were something I knew how to control. One more color now, and hopefully the trunks will be mostly finished.
|Snow scene reduction linocut, Step 11|
This time I did use transparent base in a blue-black. Tonally it's all okay... there are some really dark bits to go in at the end, but overall this is okay. But the quality of the ink is pretty unpleasant. Here's a close-up. The texture is heightened because I held the print at an angle to the light, but you get the idea.
Thursday deadline looms and the printmaker's Murphy has the upper hand. I'm going to let these sit this morning and then probably strip them all this afternoon to get rid of the bumpy ridges. Hopefully I only have two (possibly three) more layers to go.