Friday, January 18, 2019

Linocut in Progress: Sneaking up on it

So much for my belief that things would be quiet in January and I'd be able to get consistent studio time. I've been so wrong about my schedule that I am actually looking forward to the blizzard we're expecting this weekend. PLEASE let me be snowed in so I can get some work done. (But not so snowed in that we lose power, which is a potential problem if the forecasts which include sleet in our future are correct.)

Still, things are moving ahead on the current linocut, if not as quickly or smoothly as I had hoped.

After all the mucking about with masks of the last few color passes, I really wanted a couple of straightforward steps. This is challenging because of course I'd like to keep too much green out of the tree trunks and too much brown out of the tree needles.

But my masks haven't been precise (they never are), and things were starting to look a bit scattered, so I wanted a color pass that would be unifying without destroying the color temperatures. Hmm. What about a nice transparent gray?

Reduction linocut in progress, Step 9

Yes! That will do nicely. Browns are still brown, greens are still green, and it all seems more coherent again.

Now what?

I would really like to resolve some of these trees better.. and soon... but I am on the fence about the background. Will I get a better effect from keeping the darkest darks in the far distance... or should I leave the distance sort of middle-value and the foreground trees darker? Decisions, decisions.

And since I still couldn't decide, I took a risk with the next overall color pass and mixed a lovely gray-green.

Transparent gray-green rollup

Purdy, isn't it? It looks alarming on the block, especially over the tree trunks, but it's very transparent and I crossed my fingers that basic color theory would be my friend. The existing trunk color is a sort of reddish-brown. Transparent green over that should become more brown... shouldn't it?

Reduction linocut in progress, Step 10

Oh, whew! That worked.

So now it's back to the carving table. I think the focus now will be on the trunks... to get some of their texture established. I'm on the fence (again) about what the next color pass should be. I really want to wrap this up soon, so I'm considering one transparent brown pass... or maybe gray? Or maybe blue-gray. Or....

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Linocut in Progress: Begin as you intend to continue

Happy New Year! 

Begin as you intend to continue. I can't remember who first shared that idea with me, but it's always my mantra for the first day of a new year. So how did I spend January 1, 2019? Watching birds, enjoying the sparkling, windswept day and taking a walk along the coast with friends. Taking care of a little administrative work, answering a few emails. Bringing in more wood for the stove and tidying up...

And carving and printing lino, OF COURSE!

But let's back up a day or two first...

I'm at the stage when progress becomes a headscratching exercise, thinking inside out and wrongside 'round more than usual as I try to sort out questions of warm vs cool colors, transparency vs opacity.

I like to keep my inks as transparent as possible for as long as possible. It's a habit left over from my watercolor painting days, and I really enjoy the luminous quality one can achieve when light gets to bounce off paper. But in practice this makes for some headaches. To wit...

I was ready to put down a middle-value green, but didn't want it to exert too much influence in some areas, particularly the larger foreground tree trunks. So I cut a stack of masks that looked like this.

Masking for Step 7

Not the most intricate masks I've ever cut, but having to align four pieces of newsprint for every print pulled just adds time and tedium to the process. But what else are ya gonna do?

Here's Step 7 printed:

Reduction linocut in progress: Step 7 printed, embiggenable with a click

Okay. Not bad. Not orderly and harmonious anymore, but at least moving forward in a good way. But, ugh. What to do from here? Another green? That risks getting too dark too soon, and putting too much green in the background tree trunks. So. Of course I had to cut another set of masks... essentially the opposite of what I cut before.

Step 8 masks

This as actually a modified version of the masks at this stage. There were originally two more, but I decided that was overkill and was so near to the border of ridiculousness that it was only not ridiculous by virtue of... Well, let's face it. It was just plain ridiculous.

So there are five paper shapes instead of seven, and a semi-opaque light brown ink. Yes, I know it looks sort of... puce... but trust me, it's a brownish ink if ever I mixed one.

Step 8 printed

See? Told you so.

So where to go from here? That's a good question. I THINK the next color will be another green, and I THINK I will try to avoid masking, lest the whole thing becomes a visual train wreck. Well, I'll probably mask the birds. But that's all. Except maybe a couple of trunks. But nothing else. Except I do like some of this color in the background...

Yeah. You and I will both just have to wait and see what happens. Beginning 2019 the way I'd like it to continue? Let's just say that some things will change, but some things, like my work process, will remain absolutely the same.