Friday, June 12, 2015

Tea Time

I was killing some time at lunch and found this deep in the blog archives. Call it throwback Thursday, Friday edition. It was actually an attempt at a valentines day card, and it came out pretty good, I think. Then I took a four year hiatus. The hiatuses kill me.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Newty Picture

Here's the second to last color. I'm going through with finishing it, now just as an exercise because I want to see how the colors and the other aspects of the print look. Except for the main subject, I really like the print. I'm happy with the colors, and how they look. Accepting the limitations of the book press has helped me with proper inking, and also with anticipating areas where the coverage might be an issue, which has allowed me to plan out my colors. For example, you'll notice that I have chosen in many cases to put light colors on top of dark colors, which as we've seen in past prints is not always a good idea. But here, it's to the benefit, especially on the mushrooms. The last color is black.

Monday, June 8, 2015


A busy weekend in the studio. The next color down was a dark green, which defined our subject. The following color is a nice earthy brown. I tried to get a third color last night, but was only able to cut the block. It was a great deal of precision cutting, and I was pretty tired after that.

Friday, June 5, 2015


My very favorite thing about reduction printmaking, even ahead of near-perfect register, is the slow reveal. Yes, of course, I know what the final image is supposed to look out -- I work from a completed drawing. And even if I make changes as I go along, I still have a good idea about what it should look like.

But there's something about watching something happen. Maybe it's like watching a favorite movie you've watched before -- you know what's going to happen, but watching it develop is the joy. Maybe it's also like we used to stand around and watch our mom's shake a Polaroid until the image appeared (betcha some of you got a fine earworm now -- Hey, Ya!

So, with the third color down, I think it's pretty clear what we're going for, although there's going to be a lot more going on over the course of the next five colors.

The mystery animal will be much clearer after the next color goes down. I was very happy with my color choices on this one. Unfortunately, because of how I have my jig set, I'm getting crimping in the corners. However, I have designed jig modifications that should eliminate the issue.

Thursday, June 4, 2015


This new print, which I first attempted last fall, is coming along nicely thanks to the education I got over the weekend regarding the limitations of my press. Here are the first two states, a pink and an orange.

The first color is the pink, and it illustrates very well the amount of work that goes into a reduction print. In reduction printing, you print a color and then carve away areas that you want to show as that color in the final print.

 For example, the pink is in four very small spots (in the picture at right, you can see them at the bottom center, under the white cut lines), but I needed to print the entire page pink. Then, after cutting the areas I want to stay pink, I printed the orange. These photos may not be strong enough to show where the pink does show. I could have printed the orange first, then printed the small pink areas somewhere down the road. However, I needed the pink to be as vibrant as I could make it, so I chose to print that first. Even so, the orange itself is only a small are of the print. However, the bulk of the print will be browns and tans, maybe a dark green if I'm feeling frisky. I couldn't print those first and expect the orange to be bright.

Friday Night's All Right For Artin'

This Friday night, you may want to jaunt into the city to attend the opening of Dorothy Markert's show at the Western New York Artist's Group gallery at One Linwood Avenue in Buffalo Friday, June 5, 2015 at 7:30 pm.

I wrote about Dorothy on this blog last summer as part of my salute to artistic heroes and mentors ( She is highly regarded in the Western New York printmaking community and, as a Roycroft Master Artisan (emeritus), she commands quite a level of respect in the Arts & Crafts community nationally, if not globally.

See you there!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Press-ure Pointers

I have been printmaking for over 13 years now, and one of the things I love about it is that I always learn something. Every time I hit the studio, it's education.

Being self taught is freeing, but you are also hampered by your own unknowns. If you go down Path A, you will go directly to the wellspring of all knowledge. But if you don't know Path A is there, you can get lost in the woods pretty easily.

Of course, if you take Path A, you also miss all of the crazy stuff in the woods. So there it is.

Anyway, I belong to an online group of amazing artists known as Baren Forum. They've been to the font of knowledge and are kind enough to run cups back to us morons still crawling around in the weeds. As part of this group, I am encouraged to participate in the print exchanges, where up to 30 members exchange prints. I did participate, as you saw a few posts back. And it was such a great experience. But as I was going through the work of others, I was struck by how nice an opaque some of the prints looked. Some looked like screen prints, the ink was so dense and even, regardless of the paper used.

And that led me to some serious trouble shooting in the studio last night, and some serious internet investigation. And it all came down to one thing, the thing that makes everything in the universe work: pressure.

I use an antique cast iron book press, which I have just discovered offers a raction of the pressure that an etching press does. In fact, though I turn and crank that wheel as hard as I can, it gives less pressure than using a wooden spoon, which is how I used to make my prints back in the beginning.

Here is an example of spoon vs. press.

On the right is the coverage I get from a lightly-inked block. On the left is what the ink transfer is like using a wooden spoon to burnish the back.

Well, issues with my hands prevent me from going back to the spoon, and I'm not giving up printmaking. So, I have found that by inking the block a little more, and just making peace with the effect of less pressure on the block, I can get back to some solid work. We'll see, won't we?!