Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Tone Depth

 While it may look identical to the last color, this lighter green helps establish depth and texture on the trees and grass. One last color!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Life On Mars

Like my woodcut hero Gustave Baumann, I am drawn the beauty of New Mexico. This print is the first in what I hope will be a series of works featuring vintage campers in all 50 states.

As alluring as the weather worn buildings, craggy rocks and red soil can be, there needs to be a little life in the picture. This dark green sets the base for the brighter green to come.

The ink layers (now at ten) are finally giving me resistance, which I expected, though at this stage the rough coverage is working in favor of the image.

Saturday, August 27, 2016


Here are two of the last five colors. The colors are very important to the finished print.

 This color, a dark rust red, was designed to be the rust on the camper, car and tire wheel, as well as the roof tiles, camper tail lights and part of the tree. If you look back at past prints, you know that I dread printing bold colors in the middle of the process. But these new inks allow me to overprint with ease, even with lighter colors.

Though the soil is red, this red was a little ftoo bold. The scene, which I will get into deeper when I'm done, suggests New Mexico. The soil color there changes with the light throughout the day, so I wanted to keep the suggestion of the read, but to tone it down.
I would have preferred to go a tad lighter, but I needed good contrast with the beige in the camper, wall and fence; I also wanted something more tree-bark-like.

Now, on to some leaves and grass to pick up the color a bit, with a finish of black.

A note about the sign. As reported earlier, this was an improvised add, just a hint of an old painted sign, weathered away. With no significance, I chose the letter "k" because it was structurally interesting, and not necessarily difficult to carve. Although I'm still working on it, the letter got a little bit away from me. I realised today that it is reminiscent of the Sanskrit "om" symbol. This was unintended; yet, this print has surely been meditation for me. Maybe it's a sign!😂

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Long way 'Round

Reduction printing is so simple, yet it is one of the hardest things to explain (second to Pokémon Go!). One thing that is hard to explain to people is the "why." You roll out a full block of color only to have a small area show. What a waste, right?

I disagree. Each layer is a foundation. Each layer can move you to improvisation. See the lettering? I was inspired by seeing the flat expanse of beige I had printed. The tire in the trunk was also a last minute add.

This is color #7, with 5 to go.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Out of Control

The original design for this print called for about seven colors, and in my last attempt, I only made it to five before I had to stop due to the ink issues. This time, because the ink is laying down so well, I keep changing the plan, adding more colors. There's only supposed to be one blue green, and the blue here was actually supposed to be part of the rainbow roll; now it's the first of two blues.

The risk, of course, is going too far, either building up the ink layers to the point that the picture loses detail; worse yet is the deterioration of the plywood, which can crumble and cause pieces that need to stay to the end, start to disappear. But the failure to explore is where art stops and factories begin, and I already spend too much of my life in a factory. So, I will play!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Emerging From The Shadows

With the addition of the darker blue-green, you can now not only see the full form of the little camper, but you also start to see the entire picture start to gel This is when things get exciting for me, as I can now start to see where the picture is going to end up (I also see all of the little mistakes that may have been made along the way, and this is when I try to figure ways to change things around so that the mistakes look deliberate!). On the walls of the building, you also start to see something -- are those letters? This was an improvised decision, not part of the original cartoon, or the first attempted printing. The building had originally been just flat, and I wanted a little more life. It's a gamble, but we'll see how it pays off. At this point I estimate 6 more colors.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Everything On the Line

Still untitled, the print is starting to take form now, with the addition of a pretty retro blue-green, my wife's favorite color. This is my second attempt at this print. The first attempt, which I believe was some time last summer, ended in disaster, due mostly to the ink issues I've documented. No sign of any of those problems this time. The coverage with the Renaissance and Graphic Chemical inks has been outstanding.

I usually like to show previous attempts, but I have had no luck finding an old print or even a photograph. As I recall, I made it to the last or second-to-last color before it went all to hell. You may notice that the rainbow roll looks less prominent, but as the darker colors go down, the sky will regain its vibrancy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

On a (rainbow) Roll

In commercial printing, the blending of two colors in gradation is usually called a "split" or a "split fountain." In block printing it is generally referred to as a "rainbow roll." For landscapes and such, it helps add depth to the picture. It can also be used to give the illusion of dimension. In "Ohio Street," I used a rainbow roll (RR) for the sky. It really works well for sky, and I'm using it again in the current subtitle piece seen here. I used to use RR a lot more when I worked with smaller sized prints. I've been reluctant to employ RR because I have been so occupied with the other printing issues I've had. Now that those appear to be resolved, I'm looking to perfect RR techniques to bring my prints the vibrancy I want.

This print is a redo of a print I attempted a while back, which fell apart due to ink issues.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Out of the Blue

As you know, I was just glad to have finished "Ohio Street" in time to show at the Erie County Fair. I was just happy to have solved the problems that had plagued my printmaking for years. I was so shocked and humbled by the ribbon. So much talent on display, I am certain that a mistake was made. Barring that, I am grateful to the judges and volunteers, and applaud all of my fellow participants. Every year, the arts and crafts competition elevates the fair from your average deep-fried carnival, from sewing arts to photography, fine arts to antiques. Aaaaaaaaand, it'the coldest building on the fairgrounds!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Ask Amy

Me: I think I might be done with the print.
Amy: Really? I thought you had one more color.
Me: Yeah, I was going to. But I don't know how much it will add to it. Why don't you take a look at it and temm me what you think.....Besides, so much of the block is missing now, it would just be a pain to print.
(too long pause)
Amy: Well, you know I'm going to say it needs the last color.
Me (sigh) I know.

That night, I reluctantly went to the studio. Just as I said, it was a long painful experience inking the block.

As she said, it needed it.
Her advice, even when I ask for it, is usually ill-timed, inconvenient, and ill-informed. But it's always right. I mean always. Thank you Sweet Pea!

Monday, August 1, 2016

The River's End

I'm not sure if I'm done yet. I was considering one last color, a very dark purple/black, which would mostly be the trees and the river wall. But I don't know if it will really add much to the print.

I'm very happy with this print, so happy that I've worked out the ink that has plagued my work for so long. Had I known how well this would print, I would have taken a few more risks with detail. But, that's how it goes.

I confess that it's a bit safe for a competitive piece. It doesn't have the color of "Sunflower Farm" (2014) or the light-play of "Sweet Breeze" (2015). But it conveys a mood I often feel around Buffalo's big old industrial buildings.

I'm proud of the piece, mostly because of the registration. For a decade I've used a jig that often caused me problems while printing, and sometimes moved the register n mid print. I've gotten rid of all that in favor of a kento system, which has been a pleasure to work with.  To illustrate how dead-on the register is, look at the doorway of the silo on the bottom left. Inside the doorway is a little lite -- this little spot has held through 7 colors. I usually lose at least a quarter of my prints due to register. This time, I only lost one.

I will post it when it's all dressed up in a frame and ready for the Fair.