Saturday, January 31, 2009

Oceans of Art - Days 3 & 4

The weather was absolutely spectacular on the morning of our third day in Bamfield. I spent the first part of the morning working on more sketches in the Whale Lab:

Then our group headed out on one of the Marine Station's research vessels to do a little sight-seeing, and to do a bottom drag. We used a small basket that was pulled along the bottom for a short distance, then pulled up and washed the contents into a viewing tray. The Station uses the same, disturbed location for their drags, and it seems to be constantly re-colonizing, because there is amazing variety of critters each time they come out.

The weather turned decidedly less congenial: the wind picked up, the sun went into hiding, and we even got a few flakes of snow. The group braved the elements to have a wee wander along Pachena Bay, sketching and photographing, and a bonfire and schmooze with some local Bamfield artists.

There was time for a little more sketching before dinner:

Then off to an evening of entertainment! Many of the artists collected in the fireplace lounge and Mark Hobson brought out his guitar, and we all had a wonderful time singing and laughing, and sampling some beautiful blackberry wine. We also had a final lab where we all trouped over to the Rix Centre to look at plankton under the microscope. We all found that absolutely fascinating, and many stayed longer than we were meant to.

Our final night was just delightful, and we were all reluctant to depart on our final day. We woke up to a dusting of snow, and we trudged through the slush to breakfast, then back again to load up our gear for transfer to the docks. Some took the time waiting for the return of the MV Frances Barkley with art, some with networking, and some of us with just being lazy. We loaded up onto the ship when she arrived, and had a lovely, friendship-filled trip back to Port Alberni.

We all await with great anticipation the Oceans of Art exhibition to be held at the Nanaimo Art Gallery, 150 Commercial Street, from June 11 - 29, 2009, opening reception on Thursday, June 11 (time to be announced, but likely in the evening). Work will be for sale during that exhibition, and proceeds will go towards the Public Education Program at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Oceans of Art - Day 2

After a hearty breakfast, we all piled into, in 12-body groups, two of the station's skiffs to make our way over to West Bamfield. Bamfield is split by Bamfield Inlet: some of the community is on the east bank, some on the west bank. On the other side of the peninsula on which West Bamfield sits lies the open Pacific Ocean. We trudged across the peninsula to arrive at Brady's Beach, a spectacular and well-known sandy beach with rocky sea stacks, perfect for landscape artists! And, at the right time of day, it is perfect for tide pool puddlers. Unfortunately, we arrived late on the incoming tide, so no fantastic tide pools to puddle in. But there were plenty of neat things to sketch and photograph that had washed up on the beach, not to mention the stacks themselves.

We spent the morning on the beach, walking, sketching, snapping shots, and just watching the surf roll in. The hike back was interesting: it's quite hilly crossing the peninsula, and the first hill from the beach is huge! Some of us took the scenic route, and walked the beautiful boardwalk along the shoreline of West Bamfield. Even met some of the residents:

In the afternoon, we split up into our respective groups, and went on different excursions. Our group took a boat up Grappler Inlet. The sun decided to bless us with its presence and made the lighting spectacular for our trip. The water was crystal clear, and we could see way down to the bottom, strewn with pink stars and huge clam shells. At the head of the Inlet was a freshwater lens that had frozen, so we did a little ice breaking (kind of entertaining). And we got to witness nature at work: a couple of raccoons picking up nibblies from the exposed foreshore, rafts of ducks, a cormorant drying off on a piling after a dive, and the ultimate wildlife experience of a bald eagle catching a juvenile gull, then taking it to a rock to pluck and devour while we watched.

A little time was left before dinner for a visit to the Whale Lab, and I took the opportunity to work on some sketches.

Hermit crabs - 2009 Oceans of Art
Heart crab shell - 2009 Oceans of Art
After dinner, we were treated to "Life at the Edge of the Sea", a documentary filmed on location in Bamfield and off the coast by the BBC. It's a great film, I've seen it before, but I was so tired from the day's events that I just had to crash. Off to bed to rest up for another jam-packed day.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Oceans of Art - Day 1

I just returned from Bamfield where I attended the Oceans of Art event (a bit more about that shortly) with a number of other Federation of Canadian Artists members. It was a fantastic weekend of action-packed days where we experienced the marine environment of the far West Coast in all its glory.

View Larger Map
Our trip began at Port Alberni early in the morning when we met at the Lady Rose Marine Services docks to board the MV Frances Barkley. Just over 30 artists and some non-painting partners lugged bags and boxes of art equipment and camera gear on board, then got settled in for the 3 hour trip out to Bamfield.

We spent our time getting to know each other, reconnecting with friends, and putting faces to names that many of us recognized, whose art we'd seen in one show or another. We also met some of the locals, who rely on boats to get around. We stopped for freight and passenger delivery at Kildonan, a tiny community just at the mouth of Alberni Inlet, as it opens out into Barkley Sound. Eventually we made our way into Bamfield Inlet, and pulled up at the Marine Station's dock.

Our first trip of many up the hill from the docks to the station buildings took us to our rather luxurious dormitory accommodation at Buchanan Lodge. We had a group meeting and then a tour of the facilities: many labs, a library, the Whale Lab with tanks and touch pool full of amazing living organisms, the unique scallop-shaped architecture of the Rix Centre (with lecture and conference halls, as well as laboratory facilities, and a beautiful cold-water aquarium full of wonderful fish and invertebrates).

We wandered around, taking photos, sketching, and getting a feel for the facilities, then met again for dinner. The food at Bamfield is plentiful, great tasting, and well received.

To wrap up the day, we were treated to a painting demonstration by naturalist and coastal artist, Mark Hobson. He started with a slide show of his work, and where he works: his floating studio just outside of Tofino. Mark strives to capture the feel and experience of a diver underwater amongst the kelp forests and their inhabitants. He is a master of the play of light passing through kelp fronds, filtering down from the surface, reflecting off the backs and sides of his subjects as they swim through the image.

'Tiger Rockfish' - Mark Hobson -
Tiger Rockfish - Mark Hobson

Now, more about Oceans of Art. In return for our fantastic weekend of wonder and inspiration, each artist will be donating at least one piece of art worth a minimum amount for an exhibition to be held from June 11 - 29, 2009 at the Nanaimo Art Gallery. The proceeds from the sale of the artwork go towards sponsoring the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre's Public Education Program:
Our National Award-Winning Public Education Program provides multi-day immersion field trips for school, college and adult learners. While our focus is on marine and coastal sciences, we encourage custom programs that make use of the incredible environments and people of Vancouver Island's West Coast. As part of our commitment to community we are involved in stewardship and conservation projects as well as facilitating innovative and extremely successful volunteer work experiences for young scientists.

So the funds go to support the program, and to help schools to afford to attend the program, as there's not much help coming from government.


I ran across a blog on typography fairly recently. I think it happened to correspond roughly with the screening of Helvetica on KCTS a few weeks ago. Now, I know absolutely nothing about typography, but I'm learning a bit reading I Love Typography.

Enlighten yourself and enrich your knowledge. Plus, just get a gander at some luscious type, and maybe get some inspiration.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

WIP - Large Block Print

This image has been burning a hole in my brain for about a decade (maybe a wee bit longer).

My step-mom took my friend & me to the west coast of Vancouver Island to spend a lovely day puddling around on the beach and in the tidepools near Port Renfrew. A perfect way to spend time, I always think (but then, being amongst marine biologists all my life has kind of made it difficult to think otherwise).

I had originally started a pen and ink sketch years ago, but abandoned it as not being able to hold my interest. Then I was reminded of the image again when I saw Sherrie York's recent post on her blog for her beautiful reduction linocut "High Tide Detritus":

So I thought to myself, "OF COURSE!" a linocut would be a brilliant way to deal with that image. Well, ok, not linocut, because I'm working in MDF lately, so a block print to be more precise. While I love Sherrie's handling of the colours and her reduction, I wanted to make the image even more abstract, so I've decided that for this one, it'll be all about black & white.

I took a little time procrastinating because I didn't have the photo here (such a pain being between two residences where almost all my art crap is with my studio/press, and I'm not there right now!), so I asked Mom to find, scan & email it to me. That took a little doing on her part; did I mention I am between two residences? That means boxes of crap in both places, neither particularly well organized. Well, standing "O" for Mom, she fished out the photo, digitized it in good pixel resolution, and sent it my way.

The next stage was deciding whether to draw onto a piece of paper then transfer that onto the block, draw onto a piece of paper adhered to the block and carve through, or draw on the block directly. The last won out; the MDF is very smooth and delightfully simple to draw directly onto, and it erases very well. I figured there would be just too much margin for goofing up the image if I tried transferring it in any fashion, so direct drawing it was. I feel that I get a bit closer to my pencil via my carving that way, kind of like the way lithography is more autographic: it's the direct result of the drawing tool, rather than being one step removed. Well, this is still the one step removed with the carving tool making the actual print markings, but at least it's a little closer with the drawn image rather than a transferred image.

So I waited a little bit longer until Dave was able to go pick up the MDF from storage (I have a lifetime supply thanks to an auction-savvy relative who obtained a number of large sheets for a construction project that is no longer going forward).

Then I had to decide on a final dimension. I had picked up a 100 pack of kitakata from Daniel Smith last spring, and I thought that would make a lovely support for this image. So not really "white" so much as a natural buff colour. Anyway, Dave very generously not only retrieved the heavy sheets of MDF, he also chopped them up to dimension on the table saw. This block is 16"x20".

I fiddled with the image on GIMP, cropped it to my liking to make the composition a little more intriguing (I hope), then printed it to a scalable dimension. My final image size is 14"x18", so I overlaid the printout with a grid of 1/2" squares, then I drew out a grid using 1" squares on my block.

The setup was finally finished: now onto drawing!

Well, that in itself took the better part of two weekends and a few days after work (when I wasn't too mentally exhausted to do so). One square at a time. That actually made the process much easier, and caused the image to become even more abstracted in my mind, even though it's a fairly good literal representation of the original (GIMPed) image. Here's a slide show of the development of the image:

Here are snapshots of the development of the image:

originally uploaded by Amie Roman (burnishings on Flickr)
You can see it progressing across the block. In actual fact, I worked on it upside down so that I was going from left-to-right, and so I wouldn't smudge it. OK, and probably to add yet another level of abstraction so that my brain just drew shapes in each little 1" square and didn't panic about the huge project overall.

And the final one that I'm working on now to carve:

originally uploaded by Amie Roman (burnishings on Flickr)You can go to my Flickr account to view larger versions of all of the stages of the drawing.

I have actually started carving, but it's going to take a very long time. There's a ridiculous amount of detail, and I decided that for much of it, it'll take the teeny tiny carving bit on my Dremel. It seems to be working really well so far. Now it has to make the migration over to the studio; I'm thinking of spraying Krylon fixative on the block to keep the graphite from smudging, as I'll be sanding the block prior to inking it anyway. I'll also wrap it up in craft paper and maybe in a garbage bag (for moisture protection), too. And it'll probably get stuck into my large portfolio case, just for good measure. After that many hours of drawing, I would really like to keep it in good shape to work from!

Sunday, January 18, 2009


One of my prints was selected for a Treasury (collection of items) on Etsy:

(The link above won't last past Monday, January 19)

Thanks to surlygrrls for the inclusion!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Lessedra Update

For anyone out there who is curious about Lessedra, an annual international miniature print exhibition, I have some answers.

When I first heard about Lessedra, I thought I'd do some investigation. I found that a number of printmakers that I know of and whose work I respect had entered in the past, so I thought that it might be a good opportunity. One of the reasons I had some concern was the method of payment for non-US international participants is with Western Union, and that is typically a red flag over the internet. After discovering how many artists had participated, and done so over multiple years, I figured that for the US$50 (at the time) how much of a scam could that be? Really, there aren't that many printmakers in the world :) You'd have to work awfully hard for a pretty small return, so I decided to enter (Yes, I'm skeptical by nature, but especially after being touched by scammers a few times - see my scam roll on the right side-bar).

When I was accepted for the 2007 exhibition, I was extremely excited: this is an international exhibition and I got in!! Late in 2007, my prints were returned and I received the fantastic catalogue for the exhibition. As I looked through the catalogue, I was astonished at the number of printmakers represented, and I started to become somewhat skeptical about the actualities of the exhibit. I felt that even though there were jurors, if there were that many successful participants, how could there really be any "selection"; did everyone who applied get in? Not that there's really a problem with that, but if that were the case, then the jurors' efforts would be more towards selecting winners, and being accepted would be less of a prestigious occasion.

I stand corrected.

Lessedra is a gallery in Sofia, Bulgaria. Their annual World Art Print Mini Print exhibition showcases contemporary printmakers from around the world. While the event started in 1991, it really began to take off after 2002, when Georgi Kolev, current owner and director of the gallery, started to work on the event to make it the huge success that it is today. By 2006, over 500 artists from more than 60 countries were represented in the event.

I had complained about the fee for entry, and still, I do think it's a bit expensive for my purposes. That said, the fee goes towards:

  • a spectacular catalogue (really, if you've never entered, and you're considering it, the catalogue of incredible work alone is worth it)
  • posting of successful artists' CVs on the Lessedra website (the list is maintained for the year until the next exhibition)
  • return postage for successful prints that remain unsold during the exhibition
  • administrative costs (including promotion, coordination of jurors, administration of prints and entries, etc.)
Unaccepted works are returned and the fee is refunded to any unsuccessful applicants. Lessedra does not take a commission on any sales of the prints from the exhibition. Again, that alone is a pretty good deal; most competitions/exhibitions that I know of take at least 25% commission on any sales, and often closer to 40%.

And, if you're work is of prize-winning calibre, the prizes are pretty darned good (even the special prize is equivalent to the entry fee):
First Prize (USD 500 = purchase of 3 works in edition of 2) and an invitation for a solo exhibition of the artist during the next annual exhibition.
Second Prize (USD 200 = purchase of 3 works),
Third Prize (USD 100 = purchase of 2 works).
5 Special Prizes, each one equal to USD 80 (purchase of 1 work) - a cheque covering the entry fee for participation in the next print annual.
Prize For Young Emerging Artist - USD 300 (in materials for print works) and an invitation for a solo exhibition of the artist during the next annual exhibition.
The Jury has the right to grant more than one Second and Third prizes and also more than one Prize for Young Artist.

And I can attest to the fact that the catalogue itself is a potentially valuable asset to the participants: I sold a piece from the exhibit as a result of that catalogue to a purchaser in France. That sale actually managed to mostly cover the cost of my entry in 2007. So really, I shouldn't complain about the cost, but the chance of a sale from an exhibition is always iffy, so you can't bank on it when you're calculating your expenditures for the year. And I'm particularly adept at whinging about money.

I wish to thank Georgi Kolev for taking the time to contact me and to explain the success of the Lessedra exhibition, and the value of the event to international printmakers. I hope that other printmakers who are interested in participating will have a better understanding of this event when they're considering entering. If I've got enough cash rolling around spare by the time the entry nears, I'll definitely submit again.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Maria Arango - Prolific Printmaker Extraordinaire

'Moon Shadow' - from Maria Arango 1000 WoodcutsThanks to Maria for the link to her image "Moon Shadow".

I think that I found Maria Arango's work originally through a link on Wet Canvas to her 1000 Woodcuts page. I first "met" Maria online when I belonged to the Baren forum discussion group; I don't think she and I have ever exchanged words, but she was (and likely still is!) an incredible coordinator for the Baren printmaking exchanges.

Maria is a talented and incredibly prolific printmaking artist whose main focus is woodblock printing. She set herself a goal almost ten years ago to create 1000 woodcut prints. She's got over 250 posted on her page, and is still working away. You can even subscribe to her updates.

Maria keeps busy with not only printmaking for herself, but also with attending art festivals, teaching workshops, and of course, getting involved in complex, time consuming projects! One of her recent masterpieces of coordination was the Baren Cairn project (I have linked to the beginning of the project diary; scroll all the way down to the first post and read upwards to get the chronological story). Each of I believe 76 participants received a carefully and uniquely cut jigsaw piece from a huge sheet of plywood, and were instructed to be creative and contribute an image with the theme of "Cairn" on their minds. The resulting print was 64.5"x29.5" in dimension (if I got the calculation right!!); check out the participant key showing who did which block.

Not only does the final Cairn edition represent work by many talented contemporary printmaking artists, but it illustrates how printmakers are such keen and enthusiastic collaborators, willing to co-ordinate with other artists to come up with something that is so much greater than just the sum of its parts*.

Final Baren CairnThanks for the inspiration in productivity and creativity, Maria! I always look forward to what you come up with next!

* A similar project that I'd linked to about a year ago was the Periodic Table of Elements project, coordinated by Jennifer Schmitt

Friday, January 9, 2009

Wet Canvas! Printmaking Holiday Exchange 2008

Well, I finally managed to get my collective together and have put together the slide show for the Wet Canvas! Printmaking holiday exchange.

Thanks to everyone who participated! It was a fantastic (as usual!) exchange.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Printsy Blog

'Pink Skies in the Morning' etching à la poupée, by Mariann Johansen-Ellis, on Flickr

OK, I just had to share this interview: Mariann Johansen-Ellis is a delightful and talented printmaker who works in Spain and Singapore, in etching and linocut. She does these whimsical, imaginative prints using the method of à la poupée to colour her intricate etchings, and, an artist after my own heart, she also does incredibly detailed reduction linocuts.

Please read her interview on the Printsy blog here.

Also, here are a couple of exceptionally instructive videos that Mariann has uploaded to YouTube; have a watch:

On Reduction Linocut

(I want her roller!! That would make roll up so much less tedious!!!)

On Etching

Mariann says that she enjoys teaching (I understand how she feels!), and you can tell from her videos that she's very methodical about her process. I suspect she'd make a great teacher.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Computer Stuff

Yesterday, I spent searching the internet for calls for printmaking exhibitions, and updated that thread on Wet Canvas.

Today, I worked for hours updating some of my Squidoo lenses on printmaking. The two I spent the most time on were:

Printmaking Resources - listing suppliers of general printmaking stuff, art papers, inks (for all different printmaking techniques, including litho, etching, relief, etc.), press manufacturers, printmaking equipment (e.g. brayers, levigators) and printing materials (e.g. Resingrave, solarplate)


Printmaking Workshops - an international listing of print studios, print arts groups, printmaking workshops, print ateliers and galleries specializing in print arts, as well as letterpress printmakers and some online printmaking references.

I also updated my Printmaking Artists lens, but didn't spend as much time on that.

These Squidoo lenses were originally created as a centralized resource for myself, but I've been finding them really useful to refer to for other people when they ask about suppliers or printmaking groups around the globe on the Wet Canvas printmaking forum.

Speaking of the forum, we just started up a new monthly challenge for 2009. Check that out here; it's just added, so you'll have to keep looking in to see how the progress is going over the month from all the members who participate.

I am back at editing the Printsy blog, too; check that out on Monday after I've posted the next interview. I'm too tired to do it tonight; there's actually a fair amount of work involved to post the interview, with getting the images set up properly (including the titles and correcting the hyperlinks). Sometimes I have to do a little editing on the interview itself, too, but usually not too much. It's fun, though, because I get to be the first one to read the interviews!

Tomorrow, I'm hoping to get my Etsy shop reopened after letting it lapse (by accident!) back in October - I didn't even notice it until December, which lets you know how successfully it was doing. That's what happens when you're not adding new work, Etsy stores kind of slide off the radar. This year, I'll start off slow, and try to consistently add stuff on a regular basis, rather than uploading everything at once (I understand that's a pretty common newbie mistake). I'll have to spend a little time on the Etsy forum to read up on successful business practices there.

I also need to work on my art inventory again. Being inactive and not creating anything for the last few months has meant that my bookkeeping has slid down hill, and I need to catch up on some recording. I am hoping to eventually develop a database for all my prints (it's only in spreadsheet format right now, and I need a little more depth to it than a spreadsheet can provide); that will take some more thinking time, though, before I get any further, so I'll have to devote at least another day later to that.

Oh, yeah, then I have to do work this week to make some money to pay for all these leisure time activities!

On a non-computer note, I am supposed to be doing a printmaking without a press demo tomorrow night for the South Delta Arists' Guild, but we are smack in the middle of another snow storm, and it's a real drive from here to there. I'll see what the roads are like tomorrow, but I probably will have to postpone to another meeting, unfortunately. What a bummer, because I left the studio behind specifically to get to it this week. Well, we'll see.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Vantage Point

Dave & I went to Saltspring Island last summer, and wandered around for a day. Dave took me to a private warf on Fulford Harbour, from which you can look at some of the best marine life right off the dock. We had a great time looking there, then went for a bit of a hoof around Ruckle Provincial Park. Dave stood at the edge of one of the bluffs at Ruckle, looking out over the seascape, and I had to take a photo. The photo has been sitting in the back of my mind since then, and I picked up my sketchbook and rendered it in graphite (I'll have to edit this post later and add the sketch; I've not got my computer hooked up to the scanner, and I don't have a digital version of the photo).

I decided that I wanted to do the image in black and white only. This print was done with MDF and the Dremel; carving the fine lines was a bit of a trick. I had to use my v-gouge to define them a little better at the end, but overall, the Dremel worked beautifully. I'm planning on entering this and "Being Shod" in the Federation of Canadian Artists' Human Figure exhibition. As the deadline for submission is the end of January, and I won't be here in my studio until after the deadline, I stayed up late last night getting the first part carved, then finished it off this morning and printed this afternoon. I found that it was really a challenge to print this; it's just one colour (a mix of phthalo blue and Mars black), so building up the ink layer was a little trickier than with a reduction. And I kept smudging things, or the block would slip as I lay it down; all sorts of irritating little things. I finally managed an edition of 10, so that's great. The extras will be given as gifts to various family members, I reckon.

One of the things that I'm really excited about is that I've been doing more drawing and sketching. Up until now, I've been relying a lot directly on photographs; most of my prints are traced from my photos. I don't really like drawing human figures, yet I actually managed to do the sketch and capture the proportions and look really well. I suppose that might not surprise everyone, but it sure surprised me!

Koi - experimenting with inks

I received some sample ink colours (yellow ochre, Cadmium primrose yellow, Cadmium red medium light, and I think one more, but I can't recall what it is now!) from Faust in their AquaLine series of water soluble inks (see here and here for my ink trials where I included Faust inks). I was in conversation with Peter Faust about wanting some other colours, and he again very generously sent me some samples to play with. I believe I received the inks in spring. I didn't get around to trying this until the summer. I was kind intending on blogging about this as soon as it was finished, but when I'd done my "last" layer, I didn't think it was finished, so I put it away until this week. When I pulled it out and had a look at it again, I decided that it was as finished as it was going to get, that I was happy enough with it to edition, and that I might try again but using the MDF in future. Again, this was printed with the black linoleum, which, I now understand, stretched under the pressure of the press (this was the first edition I did on the big press, I believe).

The purpose of this print was twofold: to experiment with my lovely new sample inks, and to try to create a print using very translucent colours. I really wanted the colours of all the layers to come through. Well, I succeeded, and hoped that the final colour would be more opaque, but it wasn't. As a result, the sloppy, er, selective inking that I'd done with the rather opaque cad red showed through more than I wanted.

OK, so here's the WIP:

The first layer is far too pale to see well in the photo, but it was enough to let some of the paper show through. It was a very subtle layer of mostly transparent medium with a touch of pigment, I believe the cad primrose.

The second layer is selectively inked to just add some darker primrose to the body:

The third layer is primrose with a touch of cad red, again just selectively inked on the head:

The fourth layer is now starting to show the volume of the image, the shading of the under-parts, and defining the fins. This is a very translucent layer with a hint each of ultramarine and raw umber:

A slightly darker fifth layer, continuing with the previous idea, with a little more ultramarine in the mix:

The sixth layer is primarily transparent medium, with some cad red:

I thought the red would be covered by the final layer, you can still see some of the rough brayering in the background. I sort of fixed it by brayering a bit more red all around the background, which made it less blue than I'd hoped, but here's the final layer (I think mostly ultramarine and raw umber but also some transparent medium:

As I said, the print worked well enough for an edition, albeit small (only five). I really like the way the translucent layers work. I'd like to try again, but a little more careful application of the brayer next time, or perhaps two blocks (which likely is what I should have done in the first place!). I shall be shipping one of these to Faust to thank them for their samples.

Being Shod - lessons in printmaking

The original photo for this print was taken by my grandfather. Mom has a number of wonderful old photos taken by her dad, as well as her mum's dad, and I'm hoping to translate some of them into prints. This photo was of a horse being shod in a logging camp. The background was pretty over-exposed, so I wasn't really able to get much good detail. So I didn't know what to do when I first started off; you'll see the background in the sketch is pretty vague.

Lesson #1 - decide on a background before you start carving. Because I hadn't decided on a background, I figured the first colour would make up the background by itself:

As a result, I changed my mind about the values in the drawing as I was working on the second layer. Then I decided on the background: I'd make it into the interior of a barn.

Lesson #2 - don't change your mind about values in the middle of carving.

As a result of changing the mind about the values, you'll see that the lightest value falling in front of the back leg of the horse is really high contrast, and not a great value choice. Also, by changing my mind about the background in mid-carving mode, I've got a "halo" around the subject matter, which really is a beginner relief printer's mistake. The background should define the foreground, and vice versa, without having to outline everything.

Lesson #3: Sometimes you can fake it to fix mistakes. I took a little bit of the first colour and dabbed with my fingertip over the light part that bothered me. Then printed the third and final layer on top:

The end result is much improved; you can't tell that I made the fix, and it makes the image read so much better. Once again, I am happy with this print; I seem to be on a roll this week! Good thing, because I'm going to be away from the studio (and press!) for the better part of January. I was trying to cram in as much as I could manage this week.

Once again, this print was carved in MDF with a Dremel, printed using Daniel Smith w/s relief inks on cream Rising Stonehenge paper. I think the dimensions are about 9"x7", and I managed a final edition of 6.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Pig finished

I spent the last few days finishing off the pig print, and it's finally done today. The more I work with the MDF and the Dremel tool, the happier I am with them.

This print was done with the Daniel Smith water soluble relief inks. I am very happy with their performance, too. I don't think that those inks were slipping during my Xocoatl print, but I am now positive that it was the black linoleum stretching instead. It's printed onto cream Rising Stonehenge paper; the colours of the photos are a little off. So if you look at the paper as being cream, that'll give you an idea of what the print should look like; these photos are a little too cool/blue.

The second colour was a pink made by mixing some permanent red and a little yellow ochre into the pink I'd used in the first layer.

The fourth layer is about 50/50 ink/medium mix, with mostly yellow ochre and a very little amount of burnt umber. I wanted the pink to come through more than if I'd just used yellow ochre straight out of the tube.

The final layer is a dark brown made up of quite a mix: there's a wee bit of phthalo blue, some yellow ochre, burnt umber, and a bit of mars black.

I'm very pleased with this print. I feel that I really captured the pigginess of the sow. I really like the colours that I used, too.