Monday, March 23, 2020

Linocut in Progress: Changing my mind

It's been several weeks since we've had any snow here on the coast of Maine... so it was a bit of a surprise to check the weather forecast this morning and see a prediction of 3-7 inches of white stuff tonight. I filled up the bird feeders and brought in more wood for the stove... and spent the morning in the studio.

There weren't many areas of the linocut in progress that were going to retain the transparent gray I printed in Step 2. So few, in fact, that I had considered cutting masks and spot inking instead of running gray over the entire block, but the shapes I needed were going to be so tiny that cutting a mask would be ridiculously difficult and probably not very effective. I knew that printing a gray over the entire block would affect all the colors that would follow... but how bad could it be, really?


After I printed the gray I decided on a straightforward light blue across the entire block for Step 3. I put a little white ink in my mix, on the theory that it would cut down on the influence of the previous gray. 

Reduction linocut, Step 3 printed

It did, but after the prints sat overnight I was concerned that the blue still felt too gray. Much hemming and hawing ensued. 

I had initially considered a blended roll, with the blue changing from top to bottom. This can be really effective for suggesting a sense of depth in the image, but in this case a major element of the composition is very complex horizontal lines of reflection. If I leave the color flat, it could really emphasize the abstract nature of those lines. What to do?

I decided to try to beef up the blue along the bottom half of the image. I knew that I didn't want this more intense color to influence the light-struck backs of the adult birds, so I cut some more masks. When I used masks on Step 1 my goal was to keep the ink contained to a small area. This time my goal was to keep ink out of a small area.

The first idea, masks included

I printed this on probably 6 of my 20 sheets before I started second-guessing myself. I just wasn't convinced it was the right approach.

So I tried a print with a flat blue over the entire block.

Yep, I think that's going to be better. (sigh)

Changing my mind

So... I crossed my fingers that I had mixed enough ink and carried on printing the flat blue for Step 4. Then I went back and ran blue along the top of first six prints that had only been printed on along the bottom. They're not great, but I think they'll be okay once the other colors go on top.

Here's where the print stands now. It's quite clear how gray that first blue pass was when you see it in the areas that were masked off for this stage.

Step 4 printed. It's not a gradation, just an artifact of overhead light.

It's still impossible to really get a sense of where this image is going, but I think all that will change at the next step. There is a LOT of carving to do before that can happen, though... so go wash your hands and find some enjoyable way to occupy your time, and I'll check back in a few days.


  1. well i've missed a lot lol
    looking good and i agree it was a bit too grey before you added blue and aww little killer geese :p

    1. Killer geese? There's a story to be told there, I think. :-)

    2. lol they never killed anyone i know, injured friends (who probably deserved it)but Canadian geese have big attitudes and will chance and flap at anyone who looks at them funny lol (most geese will lol)