More color for the still life print

More color

More color

As I said last time, I wanted to add more watercolor to the still life linocut.  I did like the starker black and red, but it felt like it still needed something.  I made two of the heavier paper prints and decided to throw caution to the winds on one.  Originally I thought to just add some mossy green behind the plant, but then I decided to use yellow ocher as a base first.  I’m glad I did.  It seems much warmer to me.  Now I’m not so sure about the original print.  I also wonder if I shouldn’t put a bit more shading on the teapot now.  What do you think?

I don’t really consider myself a graphic artist so in some ways the linocuts are really hard for me.  At least the way I do them, they seem more graphic than traditionally fine art.  I wish I could do more delicate work like some beautiful prints that I have seen, but that’s not where I am right now.  Mostly I am working with positive/negative space on these which has always been a focus in my ink work.

I have always wished I had had more graphic art training.  For many years, graphic art was not looked on as “real art” because it was usually work for hire, but when you think about it, the Old Masters were commercial artists too.  If they were lucky, they worked for rich patrons and often created specific pieces for them.  I don’t know when the idea that art had to be suffered for to have value came in, but it has done a great disservice to many wonderful and creative people.  Worked hard for, yes, but a necessarily ruinous life, no.

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?

Corn stalk mish mash

I managed to make it over to the other craft store this week and, as I had hoped, it did have the green and yellow printing ink I wanted. Unfortunately, after that, things didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked.

Corn stalk linocut

Corn stalk linocut

The day after the longer trip to the other store I set up to use the new inks. I wanted to use a streaky blend of the two to create a textured effect.  But when I went to squeeze out the yellow, it dribbled out a thin liquid along with the pasty ink. Not good.  I was unable to work out a smooth consistency with it.  I thought adding the green ink would help but it didn’t really.  By the time I got it to the consistency I needed, the colors were blended far more than I wanted. I also had too much ink.  I made a reasonable print, but it didn’t have the striated effect that I was going for.  You can see the center is a little bit lighter green than the edges, but I was going for a more dramatic variation.  I was glad to see that the little nicks I put into the ears came through.  I also think I will take more off of the sky area to differentiate it from the grassy ground.

I returned to the store and exchanged my tube for the only other one they had.  I did check this one first to make sure as best I could that it was okay.  I haven’t tried it out yet, but plan to this week.

I made him a goldfish

Black and white fish

Black and white fish

I finished up the fish linocut on Thursday and I think he turned out pretty well. I decided not to cut into the upper fin because I didn’t want it to get lost in the background.  I like the flow in his tail and lower fins but I didn’t want the upper fin to compete so I just left it.  After pulling the print, I still think so.  The positive/negative space seems good to me.  When I considered what color to paint him, it just seemed obvious to make him a fancy goldfish.  I used my yellow ocher to do it because I thought it would provide a rich contrast to the black.

Gold goldfish

Gold goldfish

What do you think of doing one with the golden body and aqua water? The idea of just the water colored doesn’t appeal to me.  Just thinkin’.

And I’m pretty excited because this week I have put a few things into a new brick and mortar shop in Indianapolis. She has a lovely selection of handcrafted items, art, and soaps.  Check out Lilly’s Soap Kitchen on Virginia Avenue if you are in the area.  And of course these are listed in my etsy shop.

 

Chinese dragon linocut

Well, first a blizzard and now flooding rains. The pond rose 2-3 feet overnight and the road briefly flooded over.  We can get out now, but it is sometimes chancy when we get several inches in a short period of time.  Fortunately, the creek goes down as fast as it goes up so it doesn’t last long.  I am so grateful it was not snow again, considering that we just got rid of the last of it on Friday.

Chinese dragon

Chinese dragon

I have been tweaking the latest entryway the past few days and didn’t want to start another one at the same time.  I’ve thinking about trying a Chinese dragon linocut.  A few months ago I bought a clip art book of Asian art.  I thought I could adapt some of the illustrations into simpler linocuts.  There were some nice floral ones but I especially liked the dragons. This one is a variation of one of them.  I made the basic cuts fairly quickly, but then was stumped on how to add the body scales.  I let it sit overnight to ponder the question.  When I looked at it the next day, I knew that I couldn’t try to make individual cuts with a straight edge to delineate them.  I haven’t quite figured out the inking process yet and I knew that all I would accomplish would be to over fill them with the brayer.  I finally decided to use the scalloped blade and just scoop out a patchwork of scales.  I think it turned out well.

With the red

With the red

I thought a partial red background would accent him nicely, so I pulled a print on the heavier paper and this morning, after letting it dry overnight, I used the watercolors to put some on.  I didn’t want to color the whole background, so I spent half an hour doing the lower portion.  I think it looks like the right amount of color, but what do you think.  Should I have colored it all red?

Dragonfly linocut

Dragonfly print

Dragonfly print

I let the block sit for a day and then made my final decisions on further cutting. I knew that I wanted to put in the veining on the wings to add texture, but the real choice was whether or not to add more on the reeds and the body.  In the end I didn’t want to lose the definition of the wings with too much overlapping texture in the background so I left them alone except for  bit on the body segments.

I did have fun with the addition of the watercolors.  I made two prints to color, knowing I was going to use my new turquoise paint on one of them.  I wanted to evoke a sense of water in the background rather than more vegetation.  I thought this blue would do the trick and not be overly dark.

Blue Dragonfly

Blue Dragonfly

I actually had to paint it twice because the first time was a bit too pale.  I have a tendency not to use blue a great deal and I misjudged the depth of color I wanted.  I did one in the mossy green, too, and if you want to see it, head over to my shop to the prints section.

Dragonflies in black and white

dragonfly_4680I was away for about 5 days last week so there wasn’t much work done in the studio. While I was gone, I had the idea to do a dragonfly linocut.  I spent yesterday afternoon laying it out and then transferring it to the block.  I let it sit a few hours to decide what I wanted to do in the background and then did the basic cut out.  I am in the midst of deciding on the details, especially in the wings.

I think one of the reasons the linocuts are appealing to me now is the positive/negative space that it deals with.  Same as with the pen and ink, I have to balance to two.  I can’t do it in fine lines like I do with the ink, so I have to do it with texture.  Even if I add a bit of watercolor I still have to like the play of the ink and paper.

On the surprising side, the watercolor eraser I bought from Cheap Joe’s worked on the daisy painting.  I was able to lift enough of the yellow “mistake” to put it up for sale.  I am sure it took a little bit of the paper surface off, but I was very careful and it looks fine.

I will move back to the architecturals after I finish this linocut.  I have picked out a Nashville photo and will work on a little smaller scale for the next few.

Bamboo and birds – the newest linocuts

bird_c_4663I worked rather diligently on the new linoleum blocks once I had them. In addition to the bamboo linoleum block I showed last time, I also wanted to make a companion print to the first shore bird. I decided to hold off the printing until I had both done so I could add the watercolors at the same time.When both were done, I pulled several prints of each.  I left one black and have colored the second one with the same mossy green I used before.

I wish I had looked at the first bird more closely before I cut out the second though.  I forgot that I left a small border around it and to really make a matched set, I should have put it on the second one.  Oh well, it’s not a huge deal.  I just wish I had taken a little time to look instead of diving right in.  The problem is I don’t like to look a previous work too much when doing something new.  It tends to stifle me.  I can get bound up in trying to reproduce an effect instead of letting a piece develop its own uniqueness.

bamboo_bw_4660I rather like the way the bamboo print turned out.  I was a little afraid of it since I based it on two sketches I made last week and I could feel myself focusing on them rather than the block cut at hand.  When I got to the color, I debated on how much to add.  I started in the lower middle, intending to work my way up and out as the spirit moved me.  Then I  just decided to put it over the whole area.  I though it would better evoke a forest of bamboo.  I have another print already made so if I decide to try a partial color I can easily do it.  However, looking at it a day later, the total green has grown on me.

bamboo_c_4670And wouldn’t you know it, when I went to get out my printing paper – there was the missing block. I had put it “safely” with the paper, out of the way in my flat file.  As I said, it was only safe from me.

Bamboo linocut

Bamboo linoleum block

Hooray!  My linoleum blocks came in the mail today.  I have been eager to cut out the bamboo idea that I had last week when I couldn’t find my last one.  I penciled it out based it on a little sketch I had done, and then adjusted it as I cut.  Sorry about the flash sheen, though.  I got a late start this afternoon and was not able to photograph it outside.  I tried four different ways and the flash just bounced off of every one.  If you click on it, however, the enlargement is a bit better.  I upped the contrast some, so it actually looks a lot like the print will.

I think I will once again make both a straight black ink print and then add some watercolor to a few.  I really like the mossy green that I used before, so I probably use it and maybe something else.  It is so hard to decide before I see an actual print.  That will be tomorrow’s task.

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