Monday, August 27, 2018

Linocut in Progress: A mask and muddle

Whew! I don't know about you, but hot weather just makes me move like I'm under water. I started this edition with 26 prints (I've already trashed one), but it seems like it takes forever to print each color pass. This morning I got through three NOVA programs on PBS before I finished printing, and that didn't include clean up.

But I'm ahead of myself.

Things continue to be a bit weird in the color department. If you've been following along you know that the first color pass was a transparent peachy color and the second was a transparent lavender. Which of course gave me a rosier peach. But I needed to start dragging this whole image back into the realm of blues, soooooooo... the third color pass was a transparent blue.

Reduction linocut in progress: Step 3

Which is why everything now looks a bit gray. In good light with good photography you might be able to tell that it is blueish-gray... but in this case you'll just have to take my word for it.

And now the trouble. I seriously need the next color pass to look blue... AND I need it to be a rather pale blue, no darker than the current overall value of the image. What the heck am I gonna do?

Had I taken the time early on to cut a fussy mask and confined the peachy color to small areas, getting a light blue would be easy. But I traded the tedium of cutting masks for the anxiety of balancing opaque and transparent inks. I'm not sure that I did myself a favor either way.

ANYWAY. I got out the white. And my leftover bits of transparent blue from the previous color pass. And a little more blue ink. And just because I didn't have a large enough pile of ink, I got out some more transparent base, too.

The good news/bad news about using white is that it's opaque. Using it will help reduce the influence of the previous color passes on the new one. But it's also... opaque. (Have I mentioned that?) It's not as luminous as a transparent ink, so it's going to influence the quality of every single color that comes after it.


I decided to take a weird sort of middle-ground. I mixed leftover scraps of the previous transparent blue with a blob of white. This made a nice pale blue that was more opaque than not. It was also unpleasantly... chalky.

So I added more transparent base. This might seem counter-productive, since my purpose here is to put down a color that looks blue, but my hope was to reduce that icky flat quality of the white ink.

I also decided to keep the color entirely out of the body of the bird. (What? You didn't know there was going to be a bird? Clearly you have not been paying attention. Water + bird = typical Sherrie linocut.) This meant cutting a mask, but a much simpler one than I faced 'way back at the beginning. Here it is in place on the inked block:

And, boy. That block looks kinda opaque, doesn't it? (Did I mention that white ink is opaque?)

Fingers crossed, breath held, assorted printmaking gods invoked.... and....

Reduction linocut in progress: Step 4

It worked! The blue is perhaps not quite as pale as I might have liked (although it's lighter than it appears in the photo), but it is definitely blue and I can work with it. In fact I think the next layer is going to be back to another transparent blue, but this time I'll let it interact with the bird.

Naturally we've got two days of hot and humid ahead of us, so I don't expect to print before Thursday. But I'll get the carving done and maybe start playing around with another idea while these prints get to the correct stage of dryness.

Any guesses about bird species yet? North American birders worth their waterfowling salt ought to be able to figure it out. The cool thing? It's a bird found in both Maine and Colorado in the winter. (Although when they do turn up in Colorado, everyone gets their birding knickers in a twist.)


  1. I've missed your print updates. Glad you are back in the saddle. xoxo

    1. Thanks, Wendy. I've missed writing them... because without them it means I haven't been working! It's still a little bumpy here, but little by little.....