Let me start this post by stating, for the record, that if I decide to do another linocut with a preponderance of subtle grays any time soon, you all have my permission to suggest (in the kindest, yet most firm way) that I might be helped by professional psychiatric evaluation.
The two color passes I am about to share with you are both gray, and I think there are at least two more gray passes to go. The changes are so subtle you might wonder what the point is... and you would not be wrong to do so. I'm not entirely convinced I know what the point is, either. But onward we go.
Step 4, you may or may not recall, was a strange purple shape, spot inked and masked on the block. Let's put it here again as a reminder, shall we?
I think it's going to be important to have that image close by for comparison when I show you Step 5, because, as I mentioned, it's gray and it's subtle.
|Step 5 printed|
See what I mean? If you look carefully you will see some changes in texture creating a bit of light-to-dark gradation from top to bottom of the image. This could be done with a blended ink roll, but our little avian hero is standing in an expanse of sand and I thought it could be nice to suggest that environment. The trouble with that decision is that I have been doing a lot of time-consuming chipping out of tiny bits of lino for not a lot of visual reward. But I'm going to stay with it a while longer... because now that I've started down this road I just have to see where it goes.
(Keep this attitude in mind, anyone invited to "come take a walk" with me. You might want to be sure you have snacks and water and emergency flares in your daypack.)
Anyway... you might also notice some subtle changes in the shadowed face and belly of what is now more clearly a shorebird and not the demented chicken suggested by the shape of the newsprint mask cut for Step 4.
On to Step 6! Which is... drumroll, please.... gray! How exciting.
|Searching for the right gray|
As I prepared to print Step 6 I had a boatload of angst to deal with. In the "real world,"–in natural, non-contrasty light– the gray back and head of this bird lean toward something a bit warmer than what I'd used so far. The cooler grays are okay in the shadows and the brightest areas, but I needed to nudge the overall color temperature just a bit. That was Problem 1.
Problem 2 was (and will be for a few more color passes) the question of the sand. It's already become a little darker than what I ultimately I want (I think), so should I cut a mask to isolate the next color in the bird, or should I let the new color print over the foreground? For more cohesive color over the entire image I absolutely wanted to include this new gray in the foreground, but the darker value had me concerned.
In the end I decided to print a lighter gray than originally intended (hence the need for a least two more gray passes after this), print it in the lower 2/3 of the image, AND probably print white over the foreground in a later pass.
Does your brain hurt yet? Mine does.
After all that nail-biting, here's where the image stands now.
By golly, this is feeling pretty okay now. The purple-y shadow shape, which seemed so obnoxious when printed, is now reading much better. There's a nice sense of light developing in the bird, and the foreground remains subtle.
It's probably time to turn my attention to those background shapes now. There is a part of me that really wants to hurry up and finish the bird, but the value and temperature of the remaining grays is going to be strongly influenced by whatever I do with the background, so I'm going to have to rein in that impulse and focus elsewhere for now.
In the meantime... any guesses about the identity of our subject yet?