Sunday, March 10, 2019

Linocut in Progress: More chocolate, STAT!

Ya know, I never used to really care all that much for chocolate. Sure, I like a chocolate chip cookie once in a while, but ginger cookies are better. Ditto ice cream: vanilla (better: ginger) over chocolate every time.

But in my advancing years my relationship with chocolate has become a bit more... um... needy. In the beginning I told myself that dark chocolate was good for me, because... you know, antioxidants. These days, however, chocolate has become the go-to vice when things aren't going quite right in the studio.

And this week I ran out of chocolate.

Part of the rising studio stress level has to do with the fact that I am leaving in three days for Florida, not for vacation, mind you, but to film what I hope will be a solid and complete linocut course. I would REALLY prefer to have this current piece finished before I go, but it's not being particularly cooperative.

For a while (a short while) it seemed as though things were going to move along smartly. After all, the next color pass was going to be quick and easy. (Hint: Don't let the words "quick" and "easy" enter your mind. Ever. They will only disappoint you.)

I wanted to get the brown undertone on the wings and backs of my cadre of chipping sparrows, so I cut some newsprint masks and jumped on in. Except that getting the brown right turned out to be a bigger challenge than I expected. Thank goodness I already had five (count 'em, five) reject prints moved to the front of the queue as testers. In the end I had to roll my eyes at myself, because visually this color looks remarkably like the warmed-up backsides of the fence posts. Could have saved myself a step somewhere along the line. But I didn't. Good thing I had some chocolate.

But okay. It's done, and once I sorted out the color the printing did go quickly.

Reduction linocut in progress, Step 11

It was nice to see the birds starting to look like birds instead of blobs, but then it was time to start beefing up the contrast with some darker values. I mixed up a darker transparent gray and immediately tried to print the next color pass. After all, there's only a little wet ink on the backs of the birds... it should be okay, right?

Wrong again! That little bit of wet ink rejected the next color pass and made a mess, so nothing to do but clean up and wait. Where's my chocolate?

Thankfully it only took a day for everything to dry enough to carry on. I decided I needed to enliven the fence posts, so I rolled a transparent gray-to-blue blend, top to bottom.

Reduction linocut in progress, Step 12

Okay. Contrast looking good. Color variety okay. In some light that pale green disturbs me, but nothing to be done about it now. (Sometimes it appears grayed-down, as I wanted it, but in some kinds of light it seems alarming.) 

So what now? It seems like it's getting close, but there are still some subtle details to do in the birds, and some more differentiation between the foreground fenceposts and the background. And a little more dark in the upper background. There are some places where I'd like to change the color temperature again, but I am afraid that might be asking too much at this point. Can I do everything I want to do with just one more transparent gray pass? I don't think so. But I might be able to do the gray pass and then some spot inking. Or maybe the other way around. Or maybe I should try to do more with the fence posts. Or maybe... 

(sigh) No clear end in sight, and I'm all out of chocolate. But, oh! Look! There's a box of brownie mix on the shelf....


  1. looking forward to the finished print. Meanwhile enjoy the Florida sun. And, they have plenty of chocolate down there, if needed. Kalika

    1. Florida chocolate! Why didn't I think of that? ;-) I just finally ran to the store... and you can bet I had dark chocolate in my shopping bag!

  2. I thought you had started printing with chocolate lol ;)