Thursday, April 27, 2023

Linocut in Progress: Starting a new one...

 As I teased in my previous post, it was time to step away from the confusing linocut that might or might not have been finished and start something new. In part I needed to get some perspective on it, and in part I needed to deal with an impending Big Deal deadline. 

So... new piece of lino, new image, new format. And an often-explored bit of subject matter, hopefully expressed in a new way. 

Three guesses what I'm after, and the first two don't count.

Reduction linocut in progress: Step 1

The photo looks weird and blotchy and kind of pink, but trust me... it's just a light transparent gray.

Step 1 rollup

And from here I was definitely in more comfortable territory. Let's do some light transparent blue!

Step 2 rollup

Oops. Wet ink glare. But you know where we're going. Step 2 printed.

Already I felt better about this image because it has a strong graphic composition, even in this early stage. So why not do some more blue layers? I tweaked the blue slightly for each of the next two stages.. and apparently decided that the rollup looked similar enough not to bother you with it, since I didn't take any photos.

Step 3 printed

Step 4 printed

Whew. It's a good start, and although the deadline drumbeat is still pounding away, the additional pounding in my head has backed off a bit. Time for some sleep, and then we'll see what's happening at the next stage!

Monday, April 24, 2023

Linocut in Progress: The.... end? Sort of?

Okay. At this point I was super aggravated with this linocut and ready to be finished. Plus... truth be told... there was a major exhibition jury deadline approaching and I could hear the beating of the drum. Let's just wrap this up, shall we?

Step... hm... 18? rollup

I decided that I would spot ink one more dark in the birds, and then, hopefully, just one more dark overall and the piece would be finished. There's not a whole lot of material left on this block, so things will need to be resolved soon! 

Step 18 printed

The changes are so subtle here that probably no one will notice them except me. The camera certainly doesn't. For all the 80 zillion pixels (of COURSE that's the actual amount) involved these days, there are some things a digital camera just can't deal with well. Or at least it can't if I am the one doing the photography. 

One more dark.

Step 19 rollup

See what I mean? There isn't much left here to accept ink.

Aaaanddd.... Step 19 printed

Okay! Finished. 

I guess. 


I dunno.

It's a funny thing, attempting to stretch outside one's comfort zone. I tried to do something different, and I did. But is it successful? I'm not sure. I can't tell. It's just... different. Some folks who have seen it like it a lot. Some, like me, are less certain. I suppose that's image-making for you... not everything appeals to everyone. 

Or maybe it's not finished. Maybe I need to push things even further. Get a second block going and overprint some areas and see what happens. That could be interesting.

It could also take time, and right then time was not something I had. Deadline, remember? So I did the only thing I could be sure about in the moment: I put these prints aside and....

Something totally new. Step 1.

I started something completely new, a little bit smaller (12 x 18 inches), and more within the creative comfort zone. At this point I had maybe three weeks to the deadline, and I had already spent two months on a piece that just confused me. Which is part of why I stopped making blog posts! The last thing I needed was more pressure. I'll get back to the other piece later, but right now.... focus! Deadline. Deadline. Deadline.

Friday, April 21, 2023

Linocut in Progress: MORE birdy bits...

It was really nice to be getting the birds resolved in this linocut, but dangit! Already I've made a problem for myself.

The good news is that most of the makers I know agree that making is really just one long series of problem solving. The bad news is... making is just one long series of problem solving.

The problem now? The female's crest, while still brown, tends to be a bit more golden than what I had going on at this stage. 

The good news is there's a solution: Pochoir!

Mini-step... 18?

I've talked about pochoir several times here at Brush and Baren. It's a technique that has been used historically to hand-color printed images, and I know of a printmaker or two who use the process entirely to create their images. It's basically stenciling. In this case I cut a stencil out of acetate and then pounced the color directly onto each print. 

The color seems super bright now, but other browns and grays will go back over it, so it will be fine. I hope.
The print after Mini-step18

And speaking of grays. How about a gray-brown, just to cover all the bases?

Yes, okay. Problem solved. I think that's better, don't you? 

Image status after Mini-step 18. 
The next question is: Now what? 

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Linocut in Progress: No! I have not been kidnapped by aliens!

Neither have I been run over by a truck, nor succumbed to a dread disease, NOR given up on the linocut that was in progress 'way back in February. 

What HAS happened is that I got in a right tangle over it, and with a deadline looming I shifted gears and went to work on something else entirely. And, honestly, I got overwhelmed by many personal and professional things happening simultaneously, so I pulled away from the internets and tried to focus on the tasks at hand. 

I think the best plan will be to return us to the program already in progress before I take you down the side road. Spoiler alert: The "completion" of this current linocut will leave a loose end or two (or three). You'll see what I mean when we get there.

So let's get back to it, shall we?


It's nice to spend some time working in just a small area... rather than over the entire 18 x 18 block, since it takes less time to feel like I'm actually getting somewhere. 

Then again, female mergansers are mostly just brown, which makes them more challenging to represent than their flashy male counterparts. Big, graphic shapes are great for a big, graphic medium. Small and subtle shapes... perhaps not so much.

But for this stage, at least, I dropped a nice medium brown over the birds, a female and two chicks.

And here's the overall look: 

Mini-step 16 printed

Okay... not bad. It's nice to see the chicks starting to resolve. But the brown feels a little too.... orange-y? So it was a transparent gray to the rescue.

Maybe rescue is too strong a word. I didn't think I was in (too much) trouble yet. Let's just call it the next logical step in the development of the image, shall we?

Yes. Let's go with that.

Here's what it looked like after "Mini-step" 17:

Mini-step 17 printed

I still have about a million misgivings about this entire image, but the only thing to do is keep plowing forward. Stay tuned! I promise the next installment is coming soon!

Linocut in Progress: (Lucky 13th) Final Step

 I am off next week to head up the Arts & Birding session at Hog Island Audubon Camp in Maine , so I have been feeling the pressure to w...