Monday, February 27, 2017

Linocut in Progress: Looking ducky (AKA: Splashing to the finish)

So finally we get to the ducks. Because the colors of the birds do not appear anywhere else in the image, the next few steps involved a ridiculous and annoying amount of masking.

With the body tone established in Step 9, it was time to put in the beaks. I used pochoir, a stencil technique, to put these tiny bits into place by hand.

Linocut in Progress, Step 10: Tiny beaks via pochoir
Embiggenable with a click, as are most images in this post

Back to spot inking and masking now. I next rolled up a transparent brown for the background drakes and the female. The foreground male got another hit of gray.

Spot inking, two browns and a gray.

All this un-inked area of the block can wreak havoc with the previously-printed colors, especially if those colors are slightly tacky. A newsprint mask protects the prints and keeps the new color(s) confined to their respective areas.

Mask on the block, on the press

This mask has already been used once or twice, so you can see a little of the offset from the prints. In a case like this, where there's only a little new color applied to tiny areas, a mask can be reused. Typically I manage 3-5 passes out of a mask before the offset on the print side and the fresh ink on the block side get too built up. There are plenty of cases, though, where I have to use a new mask for every impression.

Step 11 printed

More spot inking, more masking for Steps 12 and 13, one of which I apparently neglected to photograph. There are a couple more browns and a green now:

Step 12... or maybe 13

After a couple of days of that fussy stuff it was finally time to hit the whole thing with what I thought was to be the last color. This was a transparent warm gray...

Step 14. Finished?

I finished working at a very late hour, so it was hard to really judge where things were. The next morning I decided it needed just a little more oomph to manage the drama I was looking for. I rolled the entire block with one more transparent gray, this one with a green tinge.

NOW it's finished. I think. Embiggenable with a click! 

Alrighty, then! As usual, I've had a heckuva time getting a photo that managed the blues correctly.

It's still not quite right because the bright blue diagonals read as far too bright and the dark is too dark, but if I dry to tone down the bright blue then all the rest of the color washes out. (sigh) I need someone with better photography and/or P-shop skills to help me figure it out.

Here's a little detail of the foreground mallard: (Still incorrect color.)

It also needs a title! Holly B. used the phrase "Mallard Armada," which is a fun description. My inspiration for the image was a group of mallards at a small lake not far from my home. If one stands still next to the water for too long, the mallards assume handouts are in the offing and they make a beeline (duckline) towards shore. This particular morning the sun hadn't quite made it over the ridge yet... so the reflected sky is pale and the contrast sharp.

"Did Someone Say Breakfast?" "Handout Armada"? "Like Cows to the Barn"? I don't know... I'll have to think about it for a while.


  1. breathtaking this one Sherrie! Many thanks for clarifying about the masks.

    1. You're welcome, Jane. Thanks for cheering me on!

  2. love seeing how your create.... what beautiful pieces!

  3. Thanks for showing how you build up the image, it must have a bit hair raising in some spots wondering if the next pass was a little too much, but I guess after a little bit of experiance, or goofs, you get to figure it out. Thanks again, it's great to see how an image is created and what can be achieved with a little bit of planning and patience.

    1. Yes, Drew.... it's always a tightrope act and after the first couple of passes I'm always biting my nails until the finish. Planning? It would probably help, but I'm a very seat-of-the-pants sort of printmaker!

  4. An heroic effort. And it is just beautiful. Water movement and multicolored ducks. You are a reductive master. (Or the most feminine version of that.) :)

    1. Reductive mistress? Um, probably not. ;-) But thanks for the vote of confidence! I wish you could see this in its actual size (18 x 18")... tiny web pictures don't really cut it.

  5. Wow! Just wow! So many details to look at - all exquisite. I wish I could see it in the real.

    1. Hi Lisa! Yep, in the real always better... but I'm glad that we at least have the interwebs to give us a glimpse at each other's work!