Thursday, February 27, 2020

Linocut in Progress: Almost there!

Work... or at least the person doing the work, continues to stumble forward with the current reduction linocut in progress.

Step 7 could hardly be called a step... as it only involved the addition of two orangey spots and one tan spot on the birds. That's a male harlequin duck in the lead of the foam, and his female companion moving to intercept him. Female harley ducks are mostly brown, but there are a couple of areas of this particular bird that are hit by sunlight... hence the odd little tan shape. These areas were printed by hand rather than mucking about with the press, and I have my fingers crossed that it will all eventually resolve into something coherent. I might even have my toes crossed, also.


Step 7 detail


And look! "Artistic" photography... I took the photo on an angle to try to avoid the glare of wet ink, but that meant the birds looked like they were tipping up on their tails. Go ahead, make fun of me, but I am that person who has to align her yoga mat and her furniture with the wood or tile on the floor. It was a real wrench to decide whether I wanted the edges of the photo squared up or the birds turned in their appropriate direction for the purposes of this post. I went with the birds, and you will also... if you know what's good for you.

Step 8 rollup

Step 8! Thankfully there's a clear separation between the background and foreground material on the block at this stage, so I could ink each area separately. A transparent browny-gray was rolled in the background, and a gray-green in the foreground.

The working environment. Such as it is.

Clever viewers will note that the print on top in this photo is post-printing of Step 8, while the lower print is still at Step 7. Yes, it's a subtle change, but so, so necessary. Here's where we are now:

Step 8 printed.
Click to embiggen.

It's hard to believe that I still have quite a bit of carving to do when there is so little material left on the block, but I do. HOWEVER... it does look like I might get this one together in just 10 color passes again. I'm on a roll! Of less rolling. Which doesn't make sense now that I think of it, but you know what I mean.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Linocut in Progress: Building Waves

Once again it's a good thing I like blues and greens, because I am spending a lot of time with them right now. At this stage I must start building some contrast, but OOPH. There are so many tiny decisions to be made about what to carve away and what to leave in the foreground area!

The background is going to be very contrasty and dark, and the foreground is overall lighter... but I have to bring bits of the dark into the light (and vice versa) to keep it all cohesive. How much is too much, and do I use carving or ink value... or some combination of both... to accomplish my intention? (The answer is, of course, C... a combination.... because we are talking about me, and if there's a way to make a complicated thinking process even more so, that's where I go. In fact I live there.)

For Step 5 I took out more material than is obvious, since the water is so visually chaotic to begin with. But I think you'll at least notice that the background is getting a bit more activity, as well. I used scraps of leftover blue and green ink from Step 4 to mix another, slightly darker and more color-dense blue-to-green blended roll.

Reduction linocut in progress: Step 5
Click to embiggen. Please.

Step 5 was pretty satisfying. I felt that some more action was developing in the background and the color and value were pretty good. Onward!

Over several hours and a couple of Rogers and Hammerstein musical videos I carved many new details in the background, and removed great swathes of material in the foreground. Here's what the block looked like before I printed Step 6.

Step 6 block carved

And here's the result. It took me a couple of tries to get the value right; my first attempt was entirely too dark and I had a visual mess. But although I did manage to find a good value progression it's not entirely dark enough in the shadowed sides of the background waves, so this means.... one more pass to finish the water.

Reduction linocut, Step 6 printed.
Embiggen it!

Before I can finish the water, though, I need to address the ducks. Yes! Plural. There are two of them. The male out front is pretty obvious, but slightly above and to the left of him is the female. Right now she's just a shadow at the edge of the wave, so she needs to be brought to light... literally! There's also a wee tiny bit of rust color to be added to the male, which I will do by hand, rather than try to ink and print on the press. 

It's all very wet right now, so will need to sit for a couple of days. A brief slowdown is okay with me. I've been feeling like I'm fighting a cold for the past week –the irritating kind that doesn't get either better or worse. To deal with it I've discovered that the only reasonable action is random napping. 

In fact I feel a nap attack coming on right now, so I think ....zzzzzzzzzzzzzz. 

Monday, February 17, 2020

Linocut in Progress: Embracing a theme...

Ah, February! All around me people are commenting on how quiet it is... and my "Are you NUTS?" face is getting such a workout that it might just get stuck this way. Quiet? In my dreams.

No... not even there.

Whatever... let's squeeze in some studio time so we can give those elevated eyebrows a rest, shall we?


As usual, I've gone off a bit half-considered when it comes to how I want this piece to unfold. What attracted me to the idea isn't much visible in the work so far... although maybe a little more so after Step 3. Just a straight up blue over then entire block this time, with plenty of transparency in it.

Reduction linocut in progress, Step 3

We're* headed for what I hope will be big drama. (*That's the Royal "We," in case you're wondering... which includes you, of course.)

The foreground is near the shore... so churning up lots of foam and disorganized chaos. Behind all of this are some more regular and quite dark waves... a sort of yin/yang, light/dark, quiet/chaos theme. At least that's the idea. (And when I think about it, the whole raised-in-disbelief eyebrows vs. scrunched-down-in-a-scowl-trying-to-figure-out-what-gets-carved-out-next eyebrows situation is thematically appropriate*.)

The chief concentration of blues will be in the background, with the foreground sporting more gray-greens. To that end I took some of the leftover greens I mixed for Step 2 and mushed them together. This was followed by a mushing together of some leftover blues and grays, with the addition of a little more blue.

"Mushing together," for those of you who don't know, is a highly skilled and technical process of precise color mixing.


After exercising my mushing skills I rolled out a nice blue--to-green blended roll, and commenced with the printing of Step 4. Oooh. Purdy.

Reduction linocut in progress, Step 4
Embiggenable with a click, so you can actually SEE it.

Remember 'way back at Step 2 when I was a little concerned that my first gray might have been too dark? Yeah, not a problem. Visually it has practically disappeared already.

And speaking of disappearing... most of the foreground material is going to disappear from the block now. There are a few areas that will interact with the darker background colors to come, but not a lot. I think the water will require 2 more color passes, and then there are some details of the birds to sort out. (Birds? What birds? Yes... there are two birds in here.)

So... carry on, everyone... I'm headed back to the studio for some carving.

(*Thematically appropriate eyebrows? Wow. Perhaps I should cut down on the caffeine.)

Monday, February 10, 2020

Linocut in Progress: Here we goooooooooo!

Although I hesitate to write these words "out loud," I think I have finally finished the last tweaks to the World Migratory Bird Day poster and t-shirt designs. Whew. Since the completion of the previous linocut (now titled "A Tern of the Tide") I also took a little time to carve and print a logo for my Learn Linocut online course that is still in development. (More about this later.)

But February is supposed to be my prime studio time, so I need to step away from all these other projects and get some linocutting done! 

It took a while for me to sift through several ideas and settle on a new composition. I'm going for something long and lean this time– 8" x 24." Fingers crossed that it turns out to be as interesting as I imagine it could be....


First stage carved and ready to print.

The subject matter is familiar... some birds and some water... but I'm trying for a different quality of water than I've attempted before, so I'm a little nervous about it. After a fair bit of carving I printed the first color, a transparent gray.

Oh, this long format is going to be hard to see... this image is slightly embiggenable with a click.

For a first color pass this gray seems a bit too dark, but I so often err on the side of too light that I decided to take a deep breath and go with it. Ultimately this image will have some very dark areas, and I'm counting on them to make this contrast seem less extreme.

Printing day for color pass #2 was gray and rainy. One might have hoped such a day would inspire immediate color mixing results when the desired ink color was a greenish-gray, but nope. It took me more than an hour to get the color and value the way I wanted it.
Color, color, who's got the color? Not me, not yet.

I planned to run a blended roll the entire length of the image, and luckily the other color was a straightforward transparent blue. Well, sort of straightforward. It still took me more than the usual amount of time to get the transparency level correct.

Some days you get the ink, and some days the ink gets you.

Finally rolling out some ink!

But I did get there eventually, and printing moved along relatively smoothly.

Reduction linocut in progress: Step 2 printed. Yep, you can embiggen it.

I think it's going okay so far, but it's early days. All this foreground white and gray is hopefully going to provide a good feeling of churning, foamy water close to the shore. That's the goal, anyway. I can't cross my fingers because that will make it impossible to carve the next stage, so you'll have to do the finger-crossing for me. Thanks in advance for your effort. I appreciate it!

Back to the carving table....