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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Not Out of the Woods Yet!


For state number six, I've added a dark gray which will approximate a brushed silver for certain elements such as door and window frames, the wheel cover and perhaps some small trees in the woods. The gray is very close to the beige color, so the photograph doesn't really do it justice. I'm really very happy with how the print is turning out now. The color of the sky is exactly what I wanted, and the reflecting puddles are much more pronounced than they were on the first attempt of this print.
The next color is the retro turquoise which will really make the camper the center of attention, and a deep red is going to pull the background and foreground together and help connect the color in the trees to the color on the ground.
The last to colors I've planned are brown and black, which will finish the print. Estimated completion date is Sunday.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Am I Blue?

Nope, but the sky will be now. It may be difficult to make out other details with the entire block in blue now, but as you can see by the proof on the left, the picture is coming together just fine. Hard to believe there's still five colors yet to go!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Here Comes the Camper!

It's coming along now. You will really start to see the camper when I print the next state, which I believe is blue.

The register on this print has held so tight. Usually I have problems when I get to this many layers, but I'm really happy with how the register has held up.

Reduction printing, which uses the same block for all colors, is known for its excellent register; however, the oils in the ink and the solvents used to clean the block can cause the edges of cut areas to shrink back (solvents also tend to weaken the wood, causing the fibers to begin crumbling; this is why I have always preferred to do thin lines early in the process, unlike this job in which I will be cutting out branches in solvent-brittled wood).

Friday, February 15, 2013

Everything's Better With Buffer!

What? Did it snow?
Well, I warned you that drastic changes were coming to this print. But don't be afraid; it's all by design.

As I mentioned in the last post, the red, while beautiful, was too intense to print the next colors over it. So, after carving out the red areas, I printed a "buffer" layer of white. The change is quite amazing, and if I hadn't been here before, I'd be scared.

But I have the benefit of knowing what colors come next. You're just going to have to trust me!

It may be hard to believe, but the finished print will have a very rich and red forest floor, and a brilliant blue sky. 

I could have opted to forgo the white layer and to just print the next color, beighe, but I was concerned that the red would affect the beige too much. I think, given how pink the white looks, I made the right call.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Fall's Flamin' Foliage

Autumnal Glory: State #3
It might look like the inside of Hell's furnace, but the print so far has been nothing but heaven. The red went down over the orange and yellow beautifully, and you can start to see small details take shape.

Printing is always about balance and give and take, and this print is no exception. By printing the blues and grays first, the print ended up losing a lot of its punch with the other, brighter colors. By printing the bright colors of the foliage first, I am keeping the colors bright and vibrant; however, as I now turn to blues and pastels for the rest of the print, I run into a big conundrum. Any color I print now will be affected by that flaming red.

To minimize this, I will next print a straight white "buffer layer" to neutralize the red. The next color is a beige; if I don't print the white layer, the beige will be pink. And I will cry pink tears.

The register of the colors has thus far been impeccable, and it is vital that the buffer layer be printed with just as much care to keep the colors lining up. I don't like printing buffer layers; it sorta feels like cheating. I don't know why I feel that way, as we do it in professional commercial printing all the time. I get some weird ideas sometimes.

I just worked out the math and, best case scenario is that this print won't be done until next Saturday! So check back often!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Bright Idea

So, as we can see, printing a bright color over a bright color tends to keep the colors, well, bright. I'm really happy with the colors and how the ink is laying down this time.

I'm working from a pencil drawing, and am actually using no photographic references for the colors. Growing up in Western New York, I like to think I know a little something about fall colors.

That said, yellow and orange are pretty easy. The hardest color I've designed for this print may well be the red. Think for a minute: what is an ideal autumnal red color? Is it the deep maroon of big old maple leaves? The bleeding red of sumac? Rust? Fire?

Oh, man, I think I just panicked myself! Stay tuned!

Eight states and I just can't wait.

Friday, February 8, 2013

You Go Back, Jack, Do It Again...

Well, having learned plenty of lessons from the last month, I am coming out swinging. I am completely changing the order of colors, starting with yellow. When I began printmaking 11 years ago, yellow was always the color I started with, until I realized that it was causing trouble with some of the later colors, like grays.

The expected path for this print is yellow, orange, red, beige, gray, blue, turquoise, rust, brown and black. Due to a really stupid mistake involving a razor blade, I lost five sheets right off the bat, so we're down to an edition of 15. Of course, that's always subject to change.

Incidently, the paper is 115 gsm Rives offwhite. I bought it at Hyatt's on Main Street in downtown Buffalo. I like to get it there, because I think it's important to support local businesses. However, if anyone from Hyatt's happens to read this post, STOP PUTTING YOUR GD BARCODE STICKERS SO FAR FROM THE EDGE -- THE ADHESIVE TEARS OFF PART OF THE PAPER. Unfortunately, I've been having a lot of problems with Hyatt's, and I am nowhere near a picky high-maintenance shopper. It may be back to Blick for this Bad Boy of Block.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Failure: Always An Option

Ever get to color number six on your twenty-edition reduction woodcut you've been working on for the last month, only to discover that you screwed up a color, and it's too late to go back?

I have!

Ugh. Pretty demoralizing. But turn that frown upside down. I'm starting over right away.