Goldilocks’ dragon revisited

Multicolored dragon print

Multicolored dragon print

I studied the failed dragon prints for a few days and decided to see if I could watercolor the light print into acceptability. I went for a modified red background to help him stand out more and colored his scales with a yellow ocher. I am pleased enough with the red pattern behind him that I may use a variation of it in future prints.  I had to overlay the ocher several times to get the depth I wanted, but I think it looks much better now.  He still seemed too washed out so I added my mossy green to his flanks and upper forelegs and his face.  I used a little bit of ink to sharpen around his eyes.  Evaluating him now, I am much happier than I was when I pulled him.

Dragon bookmark set

Dragon bookmark set

Ultimately, I didn’t think I could salvage these darker prints for sale as they were.  One had the red background added to see if that would provide enough help and the other was left all black.  Still not what I wanted.  It had occurred to me that if I cut them up as bookmarks, I could sell them all together as a funky set.  I ended up rather liking the way this idea turned out.  Fortunately, the dimensions of the original linocut made the sizing easy

What do you think of my choices?  Do you like the watercolored print  as it now stands?  I know it’s vastly improved, but is it enough?  And what do you think of the bookmark set idea?  They need to be laminated because I don’t think the printing ink would stand up to use.  I haven’t laminated anything up in quite a while so maybe it’s time to take a bunch of them in.

I have started prep for the next work.  I stretched a piece of watercolor paper yesterday and am going to throw watercolor washes on it today since it has fully dried. Tomorrow I would like to do an abstract architectural in ink over the washes.  And if it doesn’t work out – more bookmarks.

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Say hello to my little friend

The dastardly Mr. Squirrel

The dastardly Mr. Squirrel

OR NOT! I was working on the dragon print from the last post and heard a scratching on my studio window. When I looked up, I saw this dastardly squirrel. He was actually stretching himself up, belly pressed against the glass peering in, but before I could get the camera to take a picture, he had settled down to rest on the sill.  He didn’t move as I neared to take the photo from inside, but allowed me to take two shots before he dropped back down to the patio.

One destroyed truck

One destroyed truck

This is pretty nervy of him, I think, given the species bad reputation around here.  It may be all out war again.  And lest you think I am exaggerating or over-reacting, just take a look at this.  I am not kidding.  This was John’s truck a couple of years ago after the attention of an overzealous red squirrel. Evidently the soy based insulation around the gas line tasted pretty good.  Need I say more on the situation?

Goldilocks’ Dragon

Too dark

Too dark

I spent part of yesterday working on making a replacement dragon print for the one I sold last week and it turned out to be a bit more of a project than I planned.  When I make the prints I color, I use a heavier paper than the straight blacks.  It is a very touchy process to get the amount of ink correct and then have it evenly transfer to the paper.

Too light

Too light

This time it took three tries to get it right.  The first one I did was way too light.  I thought I had enough ink on it, but evidently I didn’t.  For the next one I added more ink and it ended up too dark, filling in way too many of his scales. I think the problem was compounded by pressing too hard with the patten and thus pushing some of the excess ink into the little scale gouges.

Just right

Just right

So maybe third time’s the charm.  I re-inked a little bit less after wiping off his scales and pressed down more softly, finally getting one that was acceptable for adding the watercolor.  I really don’t make these often enough to get the heavier paper right the first time around.  It gets expensive, but what can I do?  After I got this one right, I did another one as a spare and it worked out fine.

The fire walker

The fire walker

And here he is, walking through fire, unconcerned and on his merry way.  As long as I am not pulled out of town again, it will be back to the architecturals this week.

Plant linocut

We got a taste of spring this week with temperatures reaching the lower 80’s briefly.  My daffodils have continued to bloom (and I to pick them) and the red dogwood has finally come out.  I bought a blood red dogwood last year from the big box store and I am pleased to say that it has a multitude of  dark red flowers. I also saw a coyote scoping out three deer in the shallow end of the pond, but by the time I had the telephoto lens switched over on my camera, he was gone.  I am sure the does were more than a match for a lone coyote and he only stopped to make sure no one was weak enough to merit more than a glance.

Still life linocut

Still life linocut

In a week of sporadic studio time because of out of town family travel, I managed to make up another set of linocuts. I recently sold both of my dragon prints out of my etsy store, so I was able to combine replacing those prints with doing something new.  I am happy my dragons found another home.  Those were two of my favorites art pieces.  I had in mind cutting some kind of potted plant this time around.  I was inspired by the jade plant I have in my garden window in the kitchen so I hope this is somewhat suggestive of it.  I didn’t bring it down while cutting the linoleum block, but just tried to create a pleasing positive/negative space with the leaves and the pot.

Colored linocut

Colored linocut

I knew I wanted to color the second one with a light mottled mossy green.  The trick is, how much to do.  I like to start small with the thought that, for these, less is more.  I think leaving some white helps highlight the colored leaves and doesn’t make the whole thing too dark.  I am relatively pleased with the result.  what do you think?

Spring Blush

When I looked out my windows yesterday morning I was greeted by a wonderful sight. Due to the warmer weather and some badly needed rain, over the course of one night, the trees have started to leaf out with a tinge of spring green. Normally we get understory coming out first, followed by the flowering trees and then the rest. Not so this year. The flower buds on the red dogwood in the front yard have barely started to enlarge. Same for the redbud trees.  The little bit of underbrush visible is, of course, the vicious wild rose bush.  Of all things hurt by the cold and drought, you would hope it would be the wild roses.  No such luck.  The rose bushes cause me more pain and hassle than the blackberries and black raspberries combined.

Spring...finally

Spring…finally

It is no longer quiet when I step outside.  The birds have started their spring territorial and mating songs.  The bunnies are invading my flower beds and the evil squirrels have been racing across the yard. The does and the yearlings having been having fun in the shallow part of the pond, leaping around and playing, splashing water all about.  One of the toms took a leisurely and solitary stroll across the yard before heading back into the woods. He didn’t look like he had a care in the world.  No hen troubles yet, I guess. Temperatures have been swinging wildly but at least it has started to feel like spring.  I actually saw a teeny blue butterfly yesterday.

Minor adjustments and small projects

The grand house

The grand house

This has been a week of small projects and minor adjustments to previous works.  I worked on finishing the last big architectural, a smaller one I worked on a month ago, and the little watercolor from last time.  I darkened up the shadows and added some yellow to the vegetation on this one.  The photo doesn’t quite have the greens and brown bricks correct – there aren’t any real white areas – but it is the best my camera can do for now. I like the addition of the yellows in the trees and flowers.  I think it complements the purple flowers quite well.

Little house watercolor

Little house watercolor

I studied the little watercolor from last time and decided to add some greenery to the top and more red flowers.  I think it is more balanced now and is more pleasing to my eye.  Funny how such a simple addition can improve a piece.  I still think bigger might be better when I next use the nib pen.  Just not too large because filling that tip can be a pain.

As a quick project I also made up more of the note cards with the little abstract watercolor flowers.  I sold 4 to a single buyer last week and decided not only to replace those but add a few more.  I had already made up the watercolor bases and inked them up so it took no time at all.  You can check them out easily in my etsy store in the note card section.

Architectural vignette

Little pen and ink

Little pen and ink

I spent several days out of town visiting family last week, so studio time was cut a bit short. I have been thinking of trying an architectural using one of my nib pens and started on this before I left.  Using a piece of leftover board, I made this 3.5″ x 4.5″ mini painting.  I deliberately went small because the need to constantly reload the pen manually makes something larger difficult to do.

While I like it okay, I am thinking that the small size is working against the subtle nib stroke variations that I was going for. I think if I try this again (and I probably will) I may have to go larger.  I used a magenta/purple for the shading, but I think it still needs a splash of color. Where, I haven’t decided yet.  Maybe I’ll add more of the magenta.  Something bold.