Sunday, March 24, 2024

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 deadlines, yes... but another equally inflexible deadline that I will tell you about at the end of this post! 

So here we are at what I am calling Step 7, although if you count all the tiny inking stages that happened between Steps 3 and 4 we could also say it's Step 10. Your call.

I decided that even with, and perhaps because of, the blended rolls, the image was looking a bit like it had three distinct lines of background, middle ground, and foreground. Not that that is bad, necessarily, but I wanted to break it up a bit. 

Step 7 rollup

My solution was to create another ochre-y to greeny-gray-y (my color names are so descriptive!) blended roll, but this time I rolled it up on an angle. Corner-to-corner instead of side-to-side. 

Step 7 printed

Yes. Better, I think. One more big roll of color and then the details of the bird and I'm finished, I think! This time I only put blended color in the top third, and the rest of the block was a solid roll. 

Step 8 rollup

Step 8 printed

Okay! I like how this step broke up the larger shapes at the top and bottom of the image, but did so subtly. The whole scene is very busy with lots of movement, so a few places for the viewer to rest their eyes are essential. But to leave the larger shapes flat color was jarring. I felt good about this compromise.

There was a temptation here to squeeze in one more subtle layer in the water, but I resisted the urge and went for the final color on the bird. 

Step 9 rollup

It looks like I rolled up black here, but it really isn't. It's more of that dark licorice green, but it reads as black in the final image. 

And here it is! 

"In the Shallows"
Reduction linocut, edition of 20
© Sherrie York

Whew! I needed to finish this piece because I wanted to submit it to an exhibition jury that is coming up in April. 

April, you say? March isn't over yet... what's the rush? 

Well, there's always drying and photography time to consider, but I have also been acutely aware of this:

Yep. That is my bag with my passport in it. Something exciting begins in the next 48 hours... another inflexible deadline. Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Linocut in Progress: The Second Act

Alrighty, then! 

When last we spent time in the studio, things were off to a good start. This piece has sort of evolved like a trilogy: The first steps set the tone and set our adventurer on their way. In the second act things got... messy.

I mean, the printing went okay, as you'll see. But keeping up with the documentation didn't. Oops. There were a few little fussy steps that happened with no witnesses but me...

Linocut in progress: Steps 3.1, 3.2, 3.2 and 4.... printed in secret, apparently

These missing steps were mostly about the bird's head, and were done with spot inking and masks, as with the very first step. 

Step 3.1 was the soft green on the back of the bird's head.

Step 3.2 was the bright yellow of the beak.

Step 3.3 was the shadow on the side of the head and neck

And then there was Step 4, which I think was another blended roll of blues, but apparently I took no photo of the rollup. Probably because I was just so happy to be done with the little tedious bits and wanted to charge on ahead to something more satisfying.

But we did get back on track with documentation for Step 5:

Step 5 rollup

Look at those blues, will ya? On the block they look rather alarmingly bright, but printed they feel...



Kind of bright. (Although this is a pretty awful photo. There has been a lot of photography on rainy days lately.)

Step 5 printed

So, okay.  Things here look bright, but there IS a method to my madness. Mostly. A lot of this blue is going to be covered by some very different hues, and I wanted to be certain the blues that remained would be able to hold their own. You'll see what I mean with Step 6:

Step 6 rollup

Yeah, WHAT? What is this all about? 

Well.... the bird is swimming in shallow water near the shore, which is why it's so choppy. I wanted to add some depth to the image, plus suggest the rocks that can be seen (sort of) below the surface of the water. Visually they look like dark greeny-browny shapes... rather nebulous, but they are creating the pattern of the water as much as being a part of it. I don't think I can literally represent the rocks without adding a significant number of intermediate steps to the process, but I want to suggest them.

My hope was that the ochre color across the top would create some yummy greens, and that the greeny-browny color in the lower 2/3 of the image would interact in interesting ways to create some more blues and greens in the foreground.

Step 6 printed

And surprise! It worked! (I bet you thought I was out of my mind. No problem. I did, too.)

It's coming together nicely now and I am fairly certain it can be finished in maybe 3 more color passes. But you know how that goes!

And now, as a bit of an aside:

Those of you who followed along with my recent problems of chromatic shifting of inks mixed with a lot of transparent base might be wondering what I'm up to here, because it certainly seems like there is  transparency going on in this piece! 

There is, although not nearly in the proportions I used to use. In this last step the ochre was rather more opaque than usual, which you can see because the resulting color after printing is still very warm and yellowish. The dark color was created with a mix of sepia ink and... wait for it... Payne's gray ink. Payne's gray is not a color I ever used when I was doing more painting, but both this color and the sepia are "semi-transparent" right out of the tube. I still wanted the color a little more transparent, so to be safe I pulled out my last half-used tube of Daniel Smith transparent extender, which is resin-based rather than linseed oil-based. I didn't use a lot of it, but it helped. 

Wait? Did I say Daniel Smith ink? 

Yes. Yes I did. I still have a small stash that I have been hoarding in the what? ten-plus years? since Daniel Smith abandoned their huge printmaking customer base and stopped manufacturing ink. Am I still bitter about that? Yes. Yes I am. Don't get me started.

I still haven't found a long term solution to the transparency issue... I might try again with the Graphic Chemical 1911 base that I used for the last... I dunno... 15 years? (I never like the DS transparent base... it was too sticky. But somehow ten years of sitting around has made it a bit better to work with.) I had trouble with a couple of batches of the GC 1911 arriving here discolored and already hardening in the can, which is what forced my shift to Cranfield in the first place. Until I have another solution, I'm learning to work in a new way, with a much smaller percentage of base, or none at all. 

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Linocut in Progress: Color in a gray season

 Mud season came early to the midcoast this year. So. Much. Rain.

Seemed like a great time to get started on a piece with a little more color in it. I had big plans, but they started in a quite humble way.

This piece has a fair amount of white in it... mostly little bitty shapes, so there was a bit of carving to do before I rolled up the first color. And even then, I didn't get much satisfaction immediately, because my first color pass was just some spot inking of a pale yellow color. This represents some super-small areas of warm reflection in an otherwise very cool-toned image to come. 

Linocut in progress: Step 1 rollup

To keep the color contained I cut a newsprint mask...

Step 1 mask

And printed...

Step 1 printed

Hard to photograph, since the color was so pale... and the image is at an angle to avoid wet ink reflections, but you get the idea.

The good news is that there was only a small amount of carving to do to hold these shapes before I could get going with a more satisfying color pass. 

I rolled up a cheery, blended seafoam-to-pale-blue. I rolled it on the block in one direction, and then turned the block around so I could roll in the other direction and make the gradation go from green to blue to green.

Step 2 rollup and mask

And oh! I made a little newsprint mask to keep a chunk of the main subject from building up too much color too soon.

Step 2 printed

For bird geeks and sea duck fans the subject is likely already apparent. But we'll keep up the suspense for everyone else, eh?

Step 3! This time just a straight-up light blue with enough transparency to it to be affected by the purdy tones laid down in Step 2.

Step 3 rollup

Step 3 printed

Off to a really satisfying start! I feel good about the movement already, and the cheery color palette. I know, however, that things are going to change dramatically as the piece goes on, so it's best not to get too attached yet. Stay tuned!

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...