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.

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