Friday, October 11, 2019

Linocut in Progress: A fix and a re-think

Three cheers for my fabulous neighbor, who saw my grumpy face when he stopped by to bring my mail and promptly dropped everything to help me try to fix my press bed. Again.

Since the bubble was right in the middle of the bed and the rest of the adhesive we applied last year seemed to be holding (for now), it would have been a complete pain in the neck to try to pull up the laminate without breaking it.

We opted instead to pull the entire bed out from between the rollers and flip it over. We had only fixed the "top" side last year, and I knew that the original 20-year-old adhesive had also failed on the bottom.  Flipping the bed and dealing with the easier-to-peel-up side saved us a lot of time, elbow grease, and anxiety.

Laminate lifted up to clean the bed and prepare it for new adhesive.

It took the entire afternoon, and the wretched contact cement surely killed a few of our brain cells, but we got 'er done. The next morning I got back to work... which involved a little blue-to-gray blend on the lower third of the block, to get the horizon between sky and water sorted out.

Linocut in Progress, Step 4.5

Finally it was time to get away from the blues. I mixed a sort of olive-y, ochre-y, semi-transparent color and... voila!

Reduction linocut in progress: Step 5.

Except, hmmmm. There's a problem. The sky bugs me. To be honest, it has bugged me from the beginning, but now that there is a color printed that contrasts with the blues, it REALLY bugs me. I'm not satisfied with the shapes of the clouds. I tried to make them billowy, but they just look clunky. Argh. What to do?

Yesterday I considered bagging the entire thing and starting over... something I haven't done in ages. But it has also occurred to me that I might be able to do something interesting with a second block overlapping some transparent shapes in the sky. It's worth a try, anyway! I'll let the prints dry for a day or two and then sacrifice a couple in the name of experimentation.

In the meantime there are plenty of other things to do. In fact the list is overwhelmingly long... so maybe I'll just go take a nap instead!

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Linocut in Progress: Well, SOME progress... and a set-back

With just one more workshop on the horizon before year's end, I have really been looking forward to some concentrated time in the studio.

So it was with much excitement that I set out to put the next color pass on the linocut that's been languishing for a couple of weeks. I mixed up another transparent blue, checked the press pressure, stacked the dry prints and got started.

And had problems. My matboard registration jig didn't seem to want to lay flat on the press bed, and I was having some minor registration issues. I kept fussing with it all, and then, with a sinking feeling, realized what the problem might be. I pulled the stack of padding paper and jig off the press, and sure enough, there in the middle of the bed, was a bubble.

You might recall that about a year and a half ago, when I finally found a place to live in Maine and got my studio set up, I discovered my press bed had become delaminated while in storage. After much anxiety, and a few false starts, my neighbor and I were able to pull up the laminate and re-adhere it to the bed and I was back to work.

Things have been moving along well since then, but the busy summer workshop and exhibition schedule kept me away from the press most of the summer. I did have a couple little black-and-white projects, but they didn't require precise registration and if there were problems with the bed at that time I didn't notice them.

I notice them now. It's hard to miss a big bubble smack in the middle of the bed.

Luckily the piece I'm working on right now is small enough that I can continue to use a portion of the bed that isn't warped, so I should be able to finish it. The pressure settings might need a little tweaking, but I did finish pulling this color today. I've got a message in to the manufacturer again, and I'll be making a call to my neighbor this afternoon.

In the least we're this far:

Linocut in progress, Step 4

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Upcoming Reduction Linocut Workshop at the Farnsworth Art Museum

"Treasured Path," reduction linocut © Sherrie York

We woke to some soft frost this morning on the midcoast, so there's no denying the autumn anymore! 

I've got one more workshop on the schedule before the snow flies and the deep dark season arrives. Actually, it's the weekend WHEN the deep, dark season arrives, since the time will change overnight November 2.

So, quick! Join me for a two-day reduction linocut class at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine. 9:30-4:30, November 2 and 3. Once you've had experience with a couple of new skills, your winter will fly on by in a whirl of printmaking! Well, it could

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Linocut in Progress: (After too long away)

Hooray! Summer is officially over!

Yeah, I'm weird that way. Summer is not my favorite season.

There are a lot of reasons not to like summer, most of which are a bit whiney... but the greatest reason is that summer tends not to allow for much studio time. And studio time is kind of imperative if one intends to produce new work.

I've got one more week of workshop ahead of me, but in the past few days I did manage to squeeze out a couple of hours to start a small reduction linocut. This one is just 9" x 6"– sort of like going back to training wheels after one has been off of a bicycle for too long. Maybe.

Linocut in progress, Step 1

But here we go! First color pass was a flat, light, transparent gray. Nothing fancy.

Linocut in progress, Step 2

Of course I can never keep things simple for long... Step 2 employed both a blue-to-light blue blended roll AND a little selective wiping out of the block to keep the bird shapes clear. I'm not really settled about what I'm going to do with them yet... so I can avoid having to make decisions by not inking them at all.

Yesterday afternoon I gave a short, informal demo at the Stable Gallery in Damariscotta, Maine...but in the morning I managed to complete the third color pass... another blue-to-lighter blue blended roll.

Linocut in progress, Step 3

I'm still on the fence about how to handle the birds, but since they're so tiny I can continue to keep them clear of ink and make that decision after other parts of the image get a little more resolved.

Progress will slow down a little bit this week, since I'll be leading a Field Sketching course at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland every day, but now that my tools are warmed up again and my brayers are rolling a more regular studio routine can't be far behind.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Birds in Art 2019!

One of the highlights of any year (but especially of those years in which I have a piece in the show) is the annual Birds in Art exhibition at the Woodson Art Museum in Wisconsin. Birds in Art is the museum's flagship juried show, highlighting work by some of the world's best wildlife artists.

Of the approximately 130 artists with work in this year's exhibition, 73 attended the opening. Some travelled from as far away as Australia, Japan, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

The opening weekend is always a stellar event, and a fun opportunity to visit with friends, colleagues, and the amazingly supportive and enthusiastic citizens of Wausau and its surrounding communities. In addition, colored-pencil artist Alan Woollett of England was named this year's Master Wildlife Artist. Birds in Art includes a mini show-within-the-show of fifteen of Alan's pieces, and Saturday visitors were treated to his presentation under the big tent in the museum's sculpture garden.

At the Saturday morning public opening. Find the linocut on the wall in this picture!

Funny thing about trying to shoot a panorama when people are moving around.
One tends to get some funny camera effects. Anyway... there are actually TWO
linocuts on the opposite wall... mine in the corner and Sue Medaris's by the door.

A better look at that corner, except missing Sue Medaris's piece.
To my left, Chris Maynard, to the right Paul Rhymer.

Patron dinner... only half of us in this room!

Alan Woollett's Saturday morning talk.

An added bonus for me (and hopefully for exhibition visitors) is a short video put together about the process for my piece, Four on the Fence, which is included in the show. The video can be seen on the Woodson Art Museum's YouTube channel, or on the museum's app. Or right here:

Birds in Art continues at the Woodson Art Museum until December 1, so don't miss it!

Friday, August 30, 2019

The September Shows: Linocuts everywhere!

I've enjoyed a little respite from the crazy pace of the summer, catching up with some of the myriad tasks that were neglected when my schedule hit Mach 10.

Some of what was happening in all the summer craziness was the framing and shipping of work for three major exhibitions, all happening in September. Which is almost now!

"Four on the Fence," reduction linocut © Sherrie York

The Woodson Art Museum's flagship exhibition is one of the highlights of the wildlife art year. Birds in Art 2019 includes the work of 114 international artists, and will honor British colored pencil artist Alan Woollett as this year's Master Wildlife Artist. Show opens to the public on Saturday, September 7 and will continue through December 1.


It's my great honor to have been invited to participate in the Susan K. Black Foundation's exhibition "In the Audubon Tradition," opening at the Cincinnati Museum Center on September 12 and continuing through January 5, 2020. The show includes work by 80 of the top artists in the wildlife art field...  whew!

(This list embiggenable with a click)


The Society of Animal Artist's 59th "Art and the Animal" exhibition opens this year at the Briscoe Western Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas on September 20. Show continues through January 5, 2020. Selections from the show (including my piece, Chasing Daylight) will go on national tour following the event's close at the Briscoe.

"Chasing Daylight," reduction linocut © Sherrie York


Also, don't forget it's your last chance to see "Under Pressure: Birds in the Printed Landscape" at the Museum of American Bird Art in Canton, Massachusetts. Show closes September 15, so don't delay!

"Dinner Party," reduction linocut © Sherrie York

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Wow? What just happened?

My submissions for this year's Project Postcard event at the Woodson Art Museum.

It's a cloudy and cool-ish day here in midcoast Maine, with a few rain showers moving through. Sure, we're still having days of heat and humidity, but yesterday when I drove to town I noticed two large maple trees with a distinctly orange tinge to their outermost leaves.

Summer is winding down.

While I know some people try to avoid thoughts of summer's end, this year I feel inclined to embrace it. I gave myself a rather ridiculous schedule these last three months and by golly I'm tired.

There's still plenty to do... and I'm even starting to put things into place in my 2020 schedule already... but the pace seems more reasonable. I should probably emphasize the word seems, since I know looks can be deceiving.

But I've managed to squeak out some hours in the studio the last couple of weeks. Both projects were "secrets," however, so I don't have much to show at the moment. The photo here is a distorted view of my linocut submissions for this year's Project Postcard event at the opening of Birds in Art at the Woodson Art Museum.

Birds in Art artists donate small (4x6 inch) artworks which are installed in a secret location. Patrons pay $50 for the opportunity to spend one minute (!!) in the company of the many lovely (and anonymous) pieces and to choose one to take home. The museum uses the Project Postcard funds to purchase works from the exhibition for its permanent collection... a win-win-win for museum, artists, and collectors.

In addition to small print projects I have finally managed to ship the last of my works to major fall exhibitions, so whew! I can check that off the to-do list, also.

So what's next? Oooooh! A big, not-so-secret project! I've been asked to be the poster artist for the 2020 World Migratory Bird Day events! It's an exciting opportunity, although a little bit daunting due to the short production timeline. But I had my first design conference with the organizer yesterday, and I'll be jumping in to some rough sketches the rest of this week.

And of course I've got linos on my mind... I'd like to get some smaller works going before the end of the year... although right now my brain seems stuck in ideas that demand a larger scale. Hopefully my creativity will start cooperating in more practical ways soon.

So stay with me as I switch gears and head back into the studio season. Make sure your wood pile is well-stacked and your tea supplies ready to go before the cold arrives! We've got some linos to make...

Monday, July 22, 2019

The Summer Sessions....

After a solid month of workshop facilitation I finally see light at the end of the one-thing-after-another tunnel. I've got two more short workshops coming up in the next week, but then, whew! I'll have some time back at home and in the studio, catching up with framing and shipping and getting ready to start some new linos.

The past few weeks have been great, though... a lot of time outside in the field! Right on the heels of my exhibition opening at the Museum of American Bird Art I had a grand group of field sketchers at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland.

Farnsworth Field Sketchers in a friend's garden.

We enjoyed a busy week visiting the beach, the farmers market, and the garden of a friend who lives just a couple of blocks from the museum. We also spent a little time indoors working on drawing and watercolor skills.

Watercolor skill-building at the Farnsworth Art Museum

A few days after that class finished I was off to my annual gig at Hog Island Audubon Camp. "Back in the old days" when I lived in Colorado, coming to camp involved a couple days of travel on either end. Now I live 20 minutes from the camp's mainland dock! I'm still not sure if that's good or bad.

The Arts & Birding team: me, Jean Mackay, Derrick Jackson, Drew Fulton

My first week on the island was for the Arts & Birding session, which I co-facilitate with the fabulous Jean Mackay. If you don't know Jean's work, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

The photography section of our week is led by filmmaker Drew Fulton (he who made the short film about my work in the previous post) and photographer/journalist Derrick Z. Jackson.

Evening salon at Hog Island

One of the highlights of the Arts & Birding week is the evening salon. Every night, just before dinner, anyone who wants to share puts out sketchbooks or laptops with slideshows running, and lively conversation ensues. It's a lovely way to come together and see what everyone has been up to during the day.

My second week on Hog Island was for the high-energy Educators' Week. About 50 educators serving the spectrum of learners from PreK to college, schools to nature centers, came together to share ideas and experiences for outdoor education.

Sketching in the gardens at Hog Island

Of course I always make sure there are opportunities for field sketching at camp! We also make journals, and this year I even managed to squeeze a quick printmaking session onto the already-packed schedule.

And in an amusing twist, a few of the new printmakers decide their prints could translate well as temporary tattoos...

I came home this weekend, did the laundry, paid some bills, answered some email, and now I'm ready to pack a bag again! I'm headed back down to Massachusetts for another quick little workshop at the Museum of American Bird Art, and I'm looking forward to catching up with folks in the Boston area. Then it's back to Maine for a printmaking class at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens... at which point it will already be August! Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

New video about my work!

Whew! What a great opening weekend for Under Pressure: Birds in the Printed Landscape at the Museum of American Bird Art. I was delighted and touched by the turnout and support for me and my work. Thanks to everyone who came to the museum, asked questions, and shared their delight and curiosity with me. I appreciate all of you.

Now that the show is up, I would like to share the short video made by filmmaker Drew Fulton that accompanies the exhibition. Drew did a great job, and I appreciate all he did to create this great overview of my linocut process and inspiration.

So what's next? This week I'll be catching up with sending some work to a few galleries, plus preparing for next week's 5-morning field sketching workshop with the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland. I think there might be a spot or two left, so if you'd like to join us next week for adventures in sketching outdoors along the Maine coast, pop on over to the Farnsworth website and register!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

"Under Pressure" is underway!


It was a busy but lovely day today here at the Museum of American Bird Art in Canton, Massachusetts. This morning started with a gallery talk and luncheon for museum patrons, a quick little printing demo, and then the afternoon public opening of my exhibition, Under Pressure: Birds in the Printed Landscape.

Talking prints with museum patrons

The show looks so lovely in this beautiful venue. It's the first opportunity I've had to mount 50 pieces of my work in one place, which was exciting and a bit unnerving.

Upstairs in the mezzanine my inner educator got to have fun creating an area all about the reduction printing process.

All about reduction prints!

The table case on the left has tools and lino and registration jigs... the panel just to the right of the table has photos of me at work in the studio and a description of each step of the process. Across the center are four prints from which I pulled one sheet at each stage... so viewers can see the print develop. And on the TV at right, a short film produced by Drew Fulton, which I will post here shortly.

The show is now up through September 15. MABA is open Tuesday through Sunday, 1-5pm, so if you're in the Boston area, do stop on in. (Bonus: Museum admission is free to MassAudubon members.) The museum sits on 120 wooded acres, with walking trails and plenty of wildlife to enjoy, too!

I expect you'll read more about this show later, but for now I want to extend my deepest gratitude to the MABA staff, who have been so supportive of me and my work, and who pulled out all the stops to make the exhibition look fabulous. Thank you all!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Under Pressure: Birds in the Printed Landscape at the Museum of American Bird Art

"Dinner Party," reduction linocut, 24 x 24, © Sherrie York

In less than a week I'll be loading up almost 50 framed linocuts and heading south to the Boston area, where I will install a solo exhibition at the Museum of American Bird Art in Canton.

The show, which opens June 15, will include work from across my printmaking career, including some early pieces made in the 1990s! (Practically ancient. Certainly vintage.) The brand-new harlequin duck piece, "Fourteen at Two Lights," was dry enough to frame yesterday, so this will be its first public debut! (As well as the first view of "Spring Calling," the new red-winged blackbird piece.)

Please join me Saturday, June 15, from 1:00-5:00, for the opening celebration. Show continues through mid-September.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Linocut in Progress: Ducking Out

Okay... after the previous stage of the current linocut in progress we were left with a rather large question: What to do about the fact that the shadowed whites of the birds were not visually shadowed enough?

At this point the potential solutions were:

1) Scrap the entire thing. This is almost never the correct answer. Reduction printing is exacting and a bit unforgiving, but who's in charge here, really? Well, okay... the art is charge... but who is the managing editor? Me. And I will find a fix.

2) Cut a second block that only includes the "white" shapes. This is a perfectly plausible solution, but it would take a lot of time. I'd have to cut and prep a new piece of lino the same size as the first, then redraw the shapes and carve the block, and THEN print. I could avoid some of the carving by cutting a mask, but either way... that's a lot of time to invest when I'm on a deadline.

3) A third solution is to employ pochoir, which is "pouncing" or "stenciling" color directly on to the prints. I've used this a few times... but never this extensively. Pouncing color will take a lot of time, too, although not as much as solution 2.

It took an entire day with a small stencil brush to color all the prints, but it probably would have taken two days to work out a second block, so win-win!

reduction linocut in progress, Step 7

As a reminder, here's where we were at the end of Step 6:

reduction linocut, Step 6

You should be able to flip back and forth between these two images by clicking on them...

It was the right decision, and I was satisfied with the color, but I wanted one last subtle dark in the birds. Some of the white shapes on the harlequin duck have dark bands around them, and I wanted to suggest that without resorting to solid black. I spent a day doing the final cutting on the block.. making some marks that would appear as subtle feather texture as well as add the dark bands. I knew this would hardly show in the finished prints, but I just wanted to know it was there.

Wait! Did I just finish that in 8 steps?

Okay then! Finished! And, surprise of surprises, I finished in fewer than ten color passes! When was the last time THAT happened?

As expected, this piece is turning out to be a complete pain in the neck to photograph... all that blue and high contrast. But here's a pretty fair version that's a little bit bigger, so if you click on it you should get a better idea of the finished piece.

Whew. The prints need a few more days to dry before they can be framed, but I have plenty of other framing to do before I'm ready for this one. I leave to deliver my show at the Museum of American Bird Art in just over a week... nothing like having everything come down to the wire.

As for what's next... Expect a studio pause while I finish show prep and installation. And then? I've got a hankerin' for some smaller pieces... stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Linocut in Progress: It's the little things

Time is ticking away, but so is progress on harlequin duck linocut-in-progress. In fact, after a marathon weekend of printing the finished piece is hanging on the drying rack in my studio. It's no fun to just barge on through to the end in a single blog post (well, maybe it is for you, but remember...  dragging out the drama of a lino is sometimes the best fun I have all week)... so here's a look at the next... um... three steps.

Reduction linocut in progress, Step 4

The male harlequin duck (aka most of the ducks in this image) is largely a rich blue color, with a rusty cap and sides and crazy black and white markings. Ultimately I'm aiming for a strong effect of back light for these birds... so details of color will hardly be visible... but across the tops of their crowns there are some tiny, bright rust areas.  I didn't want the influence of the rust color across the entire block, so I cut a mask, did some spot inking, and printed this sort of rusty ochre color. Unfortunately I neglected to take a photo of the mask, so you'll just have to imagine it.

OR... you can extrapolate from this mask, which was used on the next step:

But I've gotten a little bit ahead of myself here. After the rust bits it was clear that I also needed to warm up and lighten a few areas of bird backs, as well as the faces of the three female birds in the foreground. I mixed a very pale tan from a semi-transparent sepia and opaque white inks. Like this.

It was unnecessary and undesirable to have all this opacity interfering across the entire block, hence the mask of the previous photo.

And the result. (This photo slightly embiggenable if you click on it.)

Reduction linocut in progress, Step 5

The next step would add a ton of drama, so I was anxious to jump on in. Unfortunately anything mixed with white takes a bit longer to dry, so I had to cool my heels and spend an entire day catching up with other work. SOOOO hard sometimes!

In fact I did try to print prematurely... got a mess of wet rejection on my testers (as I figured I would)  and cost myself an extra clean-up session without the satisfaction of actually getting anything done. But at least I had my color mixed and ready to go for the next day.

Step 6 color rolled up.

In this photo the color looks black, but it's really a lovely deep blue-green. Transparent, as always. It was rolled up over the entire block... my assumption (and hope) being that the rust-colored areas that hadn't been carved out of the block after Step 4 would be darkened but stay warm.

It's hard to tell from the photo, but it worked.  It was all so close to being finished at this point, except for one rather major problem.

Reduction linocut in progress, Step 6 printed

The shadowed whites are not shadowed enough.

This is a problem because their current color was the very first one printed and those shapes were carved out of the block long ago. This is one of the things I find most challenging about reduction printing. Each color and value printed is visually influenced by subsequent colors printed around and over it. The blue-violet printed in Step 1 seemed like it would be dark enough, but by the time I got this dark printed it was clear that that first color had been too, too pale.

What to do? Bwah ha hah ha! Wait! You will have to wait to find out the solution, because creative cliffhangers are sometimes the most fun I have all week.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Linocut in Progress: Feeling Ducky

Ah, deadlines! It seems like spring is full of them. Some of the furor is about mundane things. Since I moved in to my home and studio here in Maine last May this is the time of year for car registration and inspection, insurance renewals, and for making sure I've got someone lined up to bring me some wood for next winter's heating.

It's also the season for a number of major museum exhibition deadlines, and for the opening of new seasonal shows at galleries. 

But this year I've got a REALLY big deadline looming. In less than three weeks I'll be delivering work for a major solo exhibition at the Museum of American Bird Art in Canton, Massachusetts. At the moment it looks like I'll have 45-50 linocuts on exhibit, representing my printmaking career from some of my earliest experiments... right through to brand new work created this year. 

In fact I've got one more piece in process to debut at this show. Harlequin ducks! I was so excited to realize that I now live in a place where I can see "harley ducks" in the winter, because their colorful, graphic plumage seems to have evolved with printmakers in mind. 

Of course for my first harley duck piece I'm not going to celebrate the color of these handsome birds! (What?) Instead I've been getting really excited about the idea of a group of birds backlit in water so bright it's almost white. 

Which meant the first step of this piece involved a lot of cutting away of a lot of lino. Luckily, I was having some challenges with the recently-finished blackbird piece, so I could work on the harley carving whenever the blackbird wasn't cooperating.

I also started printing while the blackbird was still in progress, which was a little bit of a space management challenge, since the duck piece is fairly large: 12 x 24 inches. But hey, I'm all about sorting out complications... since I'm so good at creating them.

The first color was a transparent blue-violet that would ultimately only be kept in the shadowed white markings of the birds. 

Reduction linocut in progress: Step 1

Pretty fun, eh? I was happy with the arrangement of the birds (good thing, since it can't be changed now), and satisfied that I got pretty consistent ink coverage over this long, thin print. This is the first time I've tried to print something longer than 18" on my press, but it all seemed to go smoothly.

Step 2 color rolled up and ready to print.

I didn't want the water to be that sort of lavender color.. something more blue and perhaps even a bit "seafoam" would be nice against what will ultimately be very dark bird shapes. Over the lavender it would look more blue than green, but I hoped the color temperature would be okay.

Reduction linocut in progress: Step 2

Okay! So far so good. I like that color for the water... but I do need a few areas to be a bit darker without changing the color temperature. Time for a nice transparent gray.

Step 3, transparent gray rollup

Reduction linocut in progress, Step 3 printed.

Alrighty, then. Things are looking rather... alarming... at this stage, but we must keep in mind that this teal-y color is only going to remain in the water, not the birds, and it will (hopefully) appear less... like 1980s wall paper when the next colors go down. (The images of the print so far can be viewed slightly larger with a click...)

The next two stages will be a bit fussy... with some rather extensive mask-cutting. Stay tuned.