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.


  1. 'some things, like my work process, will remain absolutely the same'
    so just winging it? ;)

  2. Bonne année !
    Continuez à nous ravir avec vos si belles impressions