Saturday, September 26, 2020

Linocut in Progress: Duck duck duck!

When we last left our hero she had just finished a lino and purchased a car. There were a few loose ends... like titles for both the vehicle and the print edition. The automotive title is coming eventually (ongoing pandemic = slower processing time), but the lino got its new name ("Low T'Eiders") and will soon be posted on my website

So of course it's time to get something new underway. I had a piece in a long, skinny (3:1) format sketched out before I started the eiders, but decided maybe the world wasn't quite ready for yet another linocut of harlequin ducks. 

And then I decided that although the world might not be ready... well... who's doing the work, eh? Me, that's who. And I am always ready for more harley ducks. So that's what we're doing. Look away if you must.

Reduction linocut in progress, Step 1

This time I thought it would be fun to push the color a bit, a decision which might end up looking great and might end up looking like a disaster zone. But, hey. I run the risk of a very public crash and burn every time I start documenting a new piece... so why not? I started out with a transparent green.

Reduction linocut in progress, Step 1 printed.

Yep, that's green. Could be fun, could be a nightmare. Let's move on. 

Color pass #2 was a bit more predictable... a transparent blue.

Reduction linocut in progress, Step 2 rollup

The printing of this color was straight up and basic... just roll it and go. Because the blue was so transparent it created a sort of... well... a blue-green, of course. 

Step2 printed


For the third color pass I decided it was time to make things a bit more interesting by creating a blended roll. I rolled out a transparent light blue and a deeper transparent blue-violet.

Reduction linocut in progress: Step 3 rollup

Alrighty, then, that seems like a good start. 

Step 3 printed (embiggenable with a click)

Those first three steps moved along fairly quickly, but now things have to slow down a little bit. These birds have bright white markings on their heads and sides, but I want them to appear in a sort of dramatic cross-light, so many of those white markings are in shadow. For this reason I didn't carve all the white shapes away in the first step, but now I need to address them before they become too dark in value. They will be a blue-violet color, which they more or less are right now, but I want them to be slightly different from the blues of the water. 

The best way to do this will be to cut a mask and do some spot inking, so that's where we're headed next.  

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Linocut in Progress: Finishing the eiders

Alrighty, then! In the space of 48 hours both my quest for a new car and my quest to finish the eider linocut were resolved. More or less. There remains the obligatory shuffling of papers for the car and the equally obligatory shuffling to find a title for the image, but at least things have moved on to a new stage.

Step 10... AKA the expected-to-be-final-but-then-alas-not-quite-final step. I mixed a bit of sepia into all my scraps of greenish and ochre-ish brown ink and rolled the resulting deep brown across the entire block. 

Reduction linocut in progress: Step 10 rollup

The result was good, but not exactly right...

Step 10 printed

...which meant there was one more pass to go. I'm sorry to admit I didn't take a photo of the last ink rollup, but here's the carved block after I had finished printing.

Final carving stage


The birds' heads and backs have been mostly carved away, as well as swathes of rock weed in areas that are shadowed, but not completely so. It seems like there's a lot of material still left on the block after 11 stages, but believe me, a lot has been carved away. It's just been in tiny bits at a time.

The final color was the previous brown with a good amount of Prussian blue mixed in to give it a coolness that seemed appropriate for the deeper shadows.

And... heeeeeeeere's the final image. (This is a scan rather than a photograph, so the colors are closer to correct. The photos always seem to be a bit lurid.)

As-yet-untitled reduction linocut, 12" x 12"


All that remains is to find a title for it. Female eiders camouflaged out in the open are a common sight here in Maine. The birds are similar in color to the rock weed that is exposed at low tide... its slippery fronds making it treacherous for human beings and other predators to traverse the rocky shore. Lingering at Low Tide? Perhaps. 

I've already got another large-ish lino in the long, skinny format drawn up, but it might be time for me to tackle some smaller images. I am undecided. What I DO know is next on the horizon is finally pulling together my online Learn Linocut course! I've promised my producer than I'll have the written portion...well... written... in the next couple of weeks, and final feedback on the video portion. The goal is to have everything ready before the holidays... so if you know someone who wants to learn the process I should have at least some of your holiday shopping solved for you! 

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Linocut in Progress: Slowly

Of all the headaches associated with this, the weirdest year ever, the one that has been depriving me of the most sleep (lately) is the ongoing quest for a new (to me) car. My current ride is 23 years old... going on 24. While it was never a practical vehicle for me in terms of cargo space (it's a sedan... not convenient for hauling around art), it has been completely reliable. The engine still wants to go, but after 200,000 miles everything else is wearing out. 

I started looking for a replacement in February, but then of course everything shut down for a couple of months. When I started looking again in May I found few vehicles available and prices elevated (as they have become with just about everything). I can't tell you how many hours of my life have been lost to car hunting and research... online... driving around. There have been a couple of vehicles that looked promising but in the end were disappointing... with entire days lost to driving back and forth. 

The search has reached critical stage... and it's occupying most of my brain cells... so it's been really hard to find momentum in the studio. But I did get another color pass down this week, and I think there's just one... maybe two... more to go.

Reduction linocut in progress, Step 9 ink roll up


Everything about this piece has seemed strange. The color palette, the time it's taking, my distracted attention. After the last color pass I really started to worry that the whole thing was going to fall apart, so my goal for this step was to try to create a bit more cohesion. I mixed up two rather odd inks... a greeny-brown and a reddish-brown. The red-brown was used somewhat loosely across the birds, and the rest of the block was inked with the green-brown. Both colors were very transparent, so they reacted with all the colors printed below them.

Reduction linocut in progress: Step 9 printed

Oooookay..... That feels better. Hard to say if I will be able to resolve it all in one more color pass, but that's the goal! 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Project Postcard in the time of pandemic...

'Way back in March, when everything started to go pear-shaped, many organizations with big annual events on the horizon were obliged to peer into the murky future and make decisions about the rest of the year. Each change or cancellation was painful, but one of the toughest ones for me was the weekend shenanigans events at the Woodson Art Museum's annual Birds in Art exhibition. 

Birds in Art is one of the most prestigious wildlife art exhibitions in the world, and I have been lucky enough to have my work selected again this year. The exhibition is always a beautiful celebration of all things avian, and the gathering of artists from around the globe for the September opening is a highlight of every year.

This year the exhibition will open to the public on schedule (with precautions in place, of course) on September 12. But there will be no "Artrageous Weekend" festivities... no gathering of the tribe. (Insert sad face emoji of your choice here.)

But some activities will still go on, albeit in a different format. Each year Birds in Art artists donate 4 x 6-inch art "postcards," which are mounted on the walls of a secret room. Anyone who wants to play pays $50 for a chance to go in to the room for 1 minute and select a piece that appeals to them. Signatures are all on the back, so there's no way to know for certain if a piece is by a particular favorite artist. 

Funds raised through Project Postcard are used to buy work from the exhibition for the museum's permanent collection, so it's win-win-win! Buyers get a little artwork gem, several artists get their work purchased, and the museum gets new work for their collection. Full disclosure, I myself have had work purchased for the Woodson Museum's collection through Project Postcard, so I am always happy to contribute. This year the museum is having to forego the "secret room" aspect, but the clever staff have worked out a "contactless" system. Hooray! 

Here are my two submissions for this year; distorted, of course, to keep them at least a semi-secret for a few more days until they're winging their way to new homes. 

Linocut in Progress: Wrapping up the loon

Alrighty, then! Let's wrap up this loon linocut so it can swim off to new horizons. We've finished with blues, although because I a...