Friday, February 15, 2019

Linocut in Progress: No, really!

Despite still feeling sub-par I have been anxious to get going on the next linocut. These quiet(er) February days won't last long, and I want to take advantage of being able to prioritize studio time.

Even before the (still untitled!) previous piece was finished, I was working up this new one. It's based on something I used to see regularly on my morning walk back in Colorado, but includes a bird species seen both here in Maine and there. It seemed a good opportunity to work out the still-developing blend of my lives in both places.

Of course at the first stage there's not a whole lot to see:

Step 1: It's a solid gray, trust me.

And in this photo there's even less to see because it's lousy. On my screen it looks blue around the edges and pink in the middle. No no no. It's gray. Plain, solid gray. With a few tiny white chips out of it that you can barely see. Honest.

This new piece is slightly smaller than the previous (12 x 12 inches as opposed to 12 x 18) and I'm starting with fewer prints (20 sheets as opposed to 24), and it's amazing how much faster it all seems to go. Of course this piece isn't going to have all that ridiculous detail of trees that the last one did, either.

Second color pass was a transparent ochre-to-gray blend.

Step 2: This color is MUCH better.

Apparently my phone camera liked the combo better, because it did a much better job of catching the color. I put the ochre across the top because there are some warmer details in the birds that need to go in now to stay light enough. I'm pretty certain the next color pass will take us back to gray.

It's nice that there's a good suggestion of what's happening already. In part that is because of some Sharpie pen bleed from block to paper across the top. This sometimes happens, despite my efforts to prevent it, but I am not concerned since it will all be covered by other color.

For those unfamiliar: My image is outlined on the lino block in black Sharpie pen, a permanent marker that holds up on the block through repeated inking and cleaning. Before I start printing I lightly sand the block and give it a good cleaning to cut back on the boldness of the Sharpie. For reasons I don't quite understand, it sometimes starts releasing on to the prints... not at the first color pass, but the second. A little is okay... a lot could be problematic. Usually I rotate the worst offenders to the front of the print queue, as those prints often become color testers and not part of the final edition anyway.

So! After four days cooped up in the house with this rotten cold (or whatever it is) I do finally need to go run a few errands in town. I'm off to do that now, and then it's back home to stoke up the fire and get in the studio for color pass three. Hooray!


  1. the Sharpies are probably a reaction to the chemicals in the ink, can't remember off the top of my head whats exactly in Sharpies, but it could be to do with any retarder or other chemical you use in your inks *shrug*

    1. *shrugs back* Yes. It seems weird to me that it doesn't do it on the FIRST color pass. Why would it be more of a problem after it had already been inked and cleaned? It's a mystery.

  2. Thank you! That info about the Sharpies is just what I've been wanting to ask! I figured with your expertise and beautiful work you'd have the very best solution. I do reduction prints using India ink for the drawing. I let it dry overnight (or longer), scrub it off - and I still get some bleed onto the prints. Like you, not always on the first pass. I guess there's no perfect solution. Thanks so much for sharing, both this info and all your progress pics. I love your blog.

    1. Well, glad to be of semi-help! And it's interesting to know that India ink does the same thing, since I was thinking about trying it instead.
      And thanks for taking the time comment... I appreciate it!