Sunday, June 2, 2019

Linocut in Progress: Ducking Out

Okay... after the previous stage of the current linocut in progress we were left with a rather large question: What to do about the fact that the shadowed whites of the birds were not visually shadowed enough?

At this point the potential solutions were:

1) Scrap the entire thing. This is almost never the correct answer. Reduction printing is exacting and a bit unforgiving, but who's in charge here, really? Well, okay... the art is charge... but who is the managing editor? Me. And I will find a fix.

2) Cut a second block that only includes the "white" shapes. This is a perfectly plausible solution, but it would take a lot of time. I'd have to cut and prep a new piece of lino the same size as the first, then redraw the shapes and carve the block, and THEN print. I could avoid some of the carving by cutting a mask, but either way... that's a lot of time to invest when I'm on a deadline.

3) A third solution is to employ pochoir, which is "pouncing" or "stenciling" color directly on to the prints. I've used this a few times... but never this extensively. Pouncing color will take a lot of time, too, although not as much as solution 2.

It took an entire day with a small stencil brush to color all the prints, but it probably would have taken two days to work out a second block, so win-win!

reduction linocut in progress, Step 7

As a reminder, here's where we were at the end of Step 6:

reduction linocut, Step 6

You should be able to flip back and forth between these two images by clicking on them...

It was the right decision, and I was satisfied with the color, but I wanted one last subtle dark in the birds. Some of the white shapes on the harlequin duck have dark bands around them, and I wanted to suggest that without resorting to solid black. I spent a day doing the final cutting on the block.. making some marks that would appear as subtle feather texture as well as add the dark bands. I knew this would hardly show in the finished prints, but I just wanted to know it was there.

Wait! Did I just finish that in 8 steps?

Okay then! Finished! And, surprise of surprises, I finished in fewer than ten color passes! When was the last time THAT happened?

As expected, this piece is turning out to be a complete pain in the neck to photograph... all that blue and high contrast. But here's a pretty fair version that's a little bit bigger, so if you click on it you should get a better idea of the finished piece.

Whew. The prints need a few more days to dry before they can be framed, but I have plenty of other framing to do before I'm ready for this one. I leave to deliver my show at the Museum of American Bird Art in just over a week... nothing like having everything come down to the wire.

As for what's next... Expect a studio pause while I finish show prep and installation. And then? I've got a hankerin' for some smaller pieces... stay tuned.


  1. 8 steps, big shock to see such a low number ;)

    looks great :D

    1. Yes, I should have warned you to sit down before you read this! ;-)


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