Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Blue State

After a great deal of research and testing, I was able to concoct an ink that would cover the red yet retain the brightest blue I could create under the conditions.

The greatest issue one has in making a reduction print is coverage from layer to layer. As the ink builds up on the paper, unevenness of the layers becomes a very big issue.

When I first began over a decade ago, I printed with very thick, heavy inks, which gave the prints and almost impasto-like texture. The drawback to heavy inking is that small details and definition can get lost. I have since upgraded the quality of my inks and thin them liberally with burnt plate oil; this has solved the bulk of my issues.

Unfortunately, this has also empoldened me to continue to push the envelope by printing blues over reds, only to be left wondering "WHAT HAPPENED????!!!!"

Thursday, July 25, 2013

I Blue It

HA! That's what I get. yesterday, I was feeling quite confident: The colors were vibrant, the register dead-on. I was once again, in my mind, the Bad Boy of Block Printing. Then I went home to find that I am actually the Boy of BAD Block Printing.

Okay, that's a harsh self criticism, and I have already completed the post-mortem to find what went wrong. And, to my credit, I did stop after I saw the first horrible, horrible print.

That dark color you see in the print, that's actually a beautiful Ultramarine Blue. Do not adjust your monitor. Yes, it is comparable to Portland Black...when printed over something, like, say, scarlet. The reason, of course, is that the ultramarine is as clear as water. What annoys me is a) I've done this exact thing before [some nine years ago] and b) I saw how transparent it was on the plate.

So, I have done some research, and have found a way to get the results. Stay tuned for that in coming days.

I was also surprised that the ink wasn't covering as nice as previous layers. Remember what I said about drying times yesterday? Well, I guess I was right on that.

So, I'm coming away a bit smarter (hope it sticks with me this time). However, as the ink technician and "color expert" for a commercial printing company, I sure do feel like a doofus.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Red Scare

Subtitle this post "Or How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love Potential Disaster." That is the nature of reduction printmaking.

The red is very strong, and I'm a little concerned about the next color, blue, going over it unbufferred. I really don't want to add another layer of white, but I will if I need to.

Some printmakers brush on colors only where they need them, and I have tried that in the past; it does make sense, when you consider that the only place I need the red is on the flag (I think you can see the flag pretty clearly, now). I haven't liked the end result of "spot colors" in my prints in the past, though it's been a while since I've tried, and maybe I'll try it on my next print.

I am particularly happy with my register on this print. By now, I've usually lost a few to a bouncy register. I don't know why things have clicked so well, although I do suspect that the extra-long drying time may help (due to my procrastination!)

I am eager to do some tests to see how I can get the blue down without a white layer, as that will leave me only three colors left.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Dark Side

This latest color will eventually fill out the flowers behind and around the stone. The scene looks pretty jarring with that dark pink, and this is the stage of a print I call the "awkward phase," because it's so hard to imagine it looking like I want it to when the colors are so strong.
But, I've been here before, so I have learned to set aside doubt and press on. This process is called the "reduction method," and has been used throughout printing history. Traditionally, one block gets used for all the colors in a "carve, print, carve, print" manner; in this process, the block is destroyed. If I were to find that, when I put the dark pink on, I didn't like the light pink, or the light pink was too dark, I can't go back and change it, and this usually means I have to start over from scratch. This means that I do a lot of color testing before I begin printing. I will not only create a color chart of colors I will use, but I will also see how they print over one another.

This only reduces the threat of catastrophe, of course; threats loom large over a reduction print from start to finish. The result of a successful print though is a very unique and colorful piece of work.

Update on Etsy Site: You may be wondering why the prints on this blog are not available on at the moment. I do apologize for any inconvenience. However, with moving, resetting the studio, and presently having no home computer, along with the time needed to actually produce the work, I have not really felt able to give the time to monitor the Etsy site and process orders. GOOD NEWS! I am recatalogging the old work, and will have both old and new work available at the end of August. Of course, if you just gotta have something right away, you can call anytime and we'll work out details. (716) 997-3046, or

Friday, July 12, 2013

In The Pink

I'm sure you'd be entertained by what happens in these lapses between states, likely far more than I am. But the important thing is, I always come back.
So, excusing once again today's lousy photography, you can probably make out the flag to the lower right of the headstone. I wasn't sure what I really wanted for the color, but I think this bright pink really does it. It is also the color of black raspberry icecream, and it made me very hungry while printing. The next color is a darker version of the pink above, and I think you'll really get a good idea of what I'm going for in the next two passes.
In addition, I am presently engaged in a few experiments to offer these prints as hand-printed greeting cards, so please stay tuned!