Tuesday, May 24, 2022

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 am working with transparent color, everything will continue to stay in that blue range. For Step 6, though, I'm rolling out a nice gray.

Reduction linocut in progress: Step 6 rollup

Looking good! I quite like how well the bird seems to be settled down into the water. Loons and cormorants are both heavy-bodied birds, and their low posture in the water is really characteristic. (Cormorants sit so low that sometimes all you can see is their head and neck, like a mini Loch Ness monster.)

Step 6 printed

Now we have the tiny (not-quite-1/4-inch-diameter) area of the loon's surprising red eye to contend with. In this case it's fairly shadowed, so doesn't have to be bright, but it does need to be there. This calls for some pochoir! I cut a little stencil from a piece of acetate, and "pounced" this color directly on to the prints. 

The really exciting thing about this print has been how fast it's been drying. I guess that's usually true for something that's only six color passes in to the process, but it has seemed to go along faster than usual. Smaller image, warmer days, less ink because so much of the block is already carved away... all these things contribute. But it was so nice to be able to just pop in and pounce this little red shape without having to wait long.

Step 7 pochoir stencil

It looks a bit alarming here as just a big, flat red spot, but I'm counting on subsequent layers in the bird to tone that down. Let's move on!

Hardly worth calling a step, but here's Step 7 printed

Oops. And then I got distracted and didn't take a photo of the Step 8 rollup. Although I think it was the same as Step 6 or perhaps a wee bit darker. I almost always save leftover ink at any print stage, and if the next color pass is in a similar or related hue, I will use the previous ink to start the mix for the next. Kind of like continuing to add vegetables every day to stretch a pot of soup. Or maybe like sourdough starter. You get the idea. 

There's very little surface left on the block now. Here's Step 8... 

Step 8 printed

Really, really close now, which means... hey! I might actually finish this in fewer than ten color passes! When was the last time THAT happened? It's certainly been a while. 

Step 9 rollup

The Step 9 rollup was almost-but-not-quite black, maintaining a good bit of transparency. As you can see on the block, the only places this color will be printed are the bird and its reflection. 

"Lone Loon" reduction linocut, 6" x 12", edition of 16

And there it is! An entire reduction print of 9 colors in about a week! Whew. It was really nice to spend some concentrated time in the studio, especially since I am now moving at high speed to prepare for the busy summer season. I've been framing, labeling, transporting, hanging work... all the glamorous bits of the artist's life. (It's all about "stuff into the car, stuff out of the car.")

I've got a bit of excitement on the not-too-distant horizon... an opportunity to get away with a sketchbook and my thoughts for a couple of weeks. More about this as it comes closer!

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Linocut in Progress: Onward with the loon

Continuing with the little loon linocut... it's a festival of blues. Not really a blues festival, though. That's a whole other thing. (sigh) Remember concerts?

But I digress. 

The strange phenomenon of how relative colors change the overall look seems to be even more dramatic when trying to photograph an image with a lot of blue in it. Digital cameras just freak out for some reason. At this point I had started to add a slight greenish tone to my blue inks, but in the photo of the completed Step 3, you really can't tell.

Reduction linocut in progress, Step 3 printed

For the next step I decided that I wanted to create the impression of an overall lighter shape zig-zagging through the waves. I removed a good amount of material from the block in this area and then printed another blue. So of course, weirdly, when Step 4 was printed the effect of the previous greenish tone in Step 3 became more apparent. 

Step 4 printed

Yeah, really. Why do I even try to take photos at each stage? It's all so visually confusing.

Let's add something a little more green again and see what happens, shall we?

Step 5 rollup

And hey, while we're at it, let's do a little video of the reveal at Step 5, just for fun.

It might not look like anything's happening, but look in the darkest shapes and you can see that they've been broken up a bit more. Lower right corner is a good spot to compare with the previous photo. 

Step 5 printed

Part of me wanted to just jump in with the final dark at this stage and call it finished, but you know me. I have to complicate things a bit more first. It's kind of a rule!

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Linocut in Progress: Something for Print Day in May!

Print Day in May has come and gone for another year. PDiM is an annual, international event founded by printmaker Robynn Smith. It's a day that unites thousands of printmakers around the world, as we work wherever we are–studios, print shops, kitchens, and picnic tables– and share our processes with audiences live and virtual.

I wanted to be finishing a piece on the actual day, which this year was May 7. (PDiM always takes place on the first Saturday in May.) I got a bit of a late start, and for a while I wasn't certain I would get there in time, but whew! I did. I worked small and... dare I say it?...with a "simple" image. 

So here we go! 

First color... let's go!

If you follow me on any other social media channels you know that this piece features a common loon, so no reason to be cagey about the block in the early stages. The format this time is just 6" x 12", and it was amazing how quickly I could proceed at that size. 

(Note to self.)

So, as is often the case, the first step was a pale blue. In the interest of full disclosure, however, I will confess that I printed this first step twice, because I was having all sorts of weird problems with streaky ink coverage. I ended up stopping and completely re-adjusting the press, which wasn't the entire problem, but it did help.

Reduction linocut in progress: Step 1 printed

So, yep. Bird in water. Who is surprised? No one. Absolutely no one. 

And it's water on a sunny day, so it's blue, blue and more blue!

Step 2 printed

I could jump on in and show you the next blue step. And the next. But what's the fun in that? Better to have a little suspense, even if it's faked. (Because I said so, that's why.)

Instead, I'll show you a little peek at my studio with the new prints underway. You'll recognize a few things on the back wall, I think. All have been documented here on Brush and Baren at some time. I'm getting ready to install some shows in the next couple of weeks, so I've got framed work stashed everywhere. I do rather like this group all together, though. It's going to be lonely when I send them all off to hopefully find adoptive homes!

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Art at the Grill / Damariscotta, Maine


Things are starting to ramp up for the summer season in Maine, starting with an exhibition at the Damariscotta River Grill. Rather than the usual art opening, DRG is offering a special Prix Fixe Dinner on May 19, with a portion of the proceeds funding a scholarship for a local student who will pursue an education in the arts. 

Reservations are required, contact the Damariscotta River Grill (207) 563-2992. (A click on the image above will embiggen it for better readability. Honest.)

Linocut in Progress: The Third Act

Time to wrap up this linocut ! And we are wrapping at warp speed (see what I did there?)... because there are deadlines. Exhibition deadline...