Friday, January 22, 2021

Winter Shore, Wells, Maine Block Print

 In my last post, I started demonstrating the process of making a reduction block print of a winter beach scene. I've been working pretty steadily on this print, and I'll take you through from start to finish. 

This was the beginning stage of the whole process. The image was transferred from the tracing paper drawing onto the Soft-Kut block, and outlined with a Sharpie marker. 

I prepared for the printing of the ink layers by creating a cardboard template that the block would rest in securely. I attached metal "pins" to the template for accurate registration. I cut Rives Light paper into the size I needed, and taped plastic tabs onto each sheet. I also numbered the sheets at this point. This will be an edition of 15 prints.

I decided to do a blue blend layer first that would only be inked in the sky area.

I used Akua Intaglio ink (works great on relief prints as well as intaglio etchings)

This is the first layer hanging up to dry.

A light gray layer is printed over the whole block. I ended up printing an even lighter gray blend over the first one, as I wanted more depth in the clouds, and more variety in the gray values in the clouds.

Some definition in the clouds is beginning to appear. If you look closely you can see different gray values.

The next layer is brown for the rock layers in the foreground.

I cut away some brown areas in the rocks before the next layer.

The next layer is a greenish gray for the water and the sand.

Next is a medium gray for the rocks. 

I used masking tape to keep the ink only on the sky, in the next layer, for another gray area of the clouds. I inked the block with the tape in place, then pealed it away to print on the paper.

The image below is after one more darker gray layer in the clouds and the rocks.

At this stage I am only going to need to add a dark gray for the rocks, and a darker green/gray for the horizon area. 

The finished print!

Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of the process of reduction block printing.

Monday, January 11, 2021

New Print for New year

 I'm working on a new print to start the new year. One of my favorite places to go is the coast of Maine. Several of my friends and I have been trying to do a weekly "field trip" that includes hiking on various trails, for fun and exercise. The trails in the Wells Preserve are a favorite destination, and on one trip, as we viewed from a staircase, the ocean was very rough, and at high tide. There was a nice contrast between the rocks, surf, and sky.

I traced the photo onto a piece of tracing paper, and then transferred the image onto an 8" x 10" Soft-Kut
block. As I don't have access to a printing press right now, I find the Soft-Kut block works best for hand printing.  I also use a Sharpie marker to keep my design clear on the block, as I will need to print and cut multiple layers, and I don't want the design totally fade away.
At this stage, I am cutting out the areas that I want to remain white in the final print. The water makes a complex pattern, and I am trying to capture the essence of the surf.

I will record the stages of this print, so the process of reduction block printing will be clear, and hopefully successful!

Stay well!!


Sunday, December 27, 2020

Merry Christmas and the end of 2020!

 As we approach the end of 2020, I hope that we are truly seeing the light at the end of the tunnel in this  unprecedented year. We're still slogging through the pandemic, but feeling some optimism with the release of the vaccines. I am personally looking forward to being able to visit my mother, in person, in her nursing home. We had a couple outdoor, distanced visits, before the virus closed the door on physically present meeting-ups in September. Fortunately, the residents and staff will be getting their first shots in the next couple of weeks. That's definitely is something to be thankful for in 2021!

One of the pleasant activities that we are enjoying at my house, is watching and feeding the birds. The regulars are here (blue jays, cardinals, gold finches, juncoes, titmice, mourning doves, english sparrows, house finches, downy and hairy woodpeckers, red-breasted woodpeckers, Carolina wrens, nuthatches, starlings, and crows). The bluebirds we had earlier have returned, and we had a visit from a small flock of pine grosbeaks, which are uncommon to us.

Bluebirds love dried mealworms!

We had a heavy snowfall one week ago, but heavy rain and mild temperatures on Christmas day melted most of it. Fortunately, I had a chance to do a little snowshoeing on the coast of Maine before that.

The Bridle Path in Wells, Maine

Buoy tree in Wells, Maine

Lobster trap tree in Cape Porpoise, Maine

The harbor in Wells, Maine

I finished up a new print last week of a cheery red cardinal. Some I made into cards, and others I printed on Rives Light paper. I'll be posting those in my Etsy shop in 8" x 10" white mats.

The finished prints of the chickadee, junco, and titmouse are also in my shop.

Now that Christmas is over, it's time to get back into my studio, and start working on something new.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy New Year!

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Little Bird Prints

 I've been working on some new projects in my studio this month. Currently, I am printing a series of three popular birds that are frequent visitors to the yard and feeders. I chose a black-capped chickadee, a tufted titmouse, and a slate-colored junco as my subjects. They have similar colors, and are about the same size in real life. I started with the chickadee print, then realized I should have worked on them all simultaneously, so the the color layers would be better matched. For the other two I'm doing it that way.

Above are the three plates lined up together.

These are the chickadee prints. I still have one more darker layer to add to this print.

Junco stage 1
Junco stage 2

Titmouse stage 2

I'm ready to add the red to the berries next. I'll use a small roller, and try to keep the ink only on the berries, as the red is hard to cover up if I inked the whole plate.

The foliage has been beautiful this Fall, and has lasted longer than usual, I think. The intense reds have faded away but the oranges and golds have been stunning! I can't resist taking pictures when I've been out walking around town.

With all the restrictions around Covid19, It is such a pleasure to get out and enjoy nature! 

Best wishes!


Wednesday, September 30, 2020

A Little Traveling, and the End of September

 I'm back from a five day trip to New Jersey with a few friends. We had to postpone our travels earlier in the year due to Covid, so masks and hand sanitizer in hand, we gave ourselves the go-ahead to venture out into the world again. We brought all our own food and drink, and had the most delicious meals in our lovely rental home! Rented bikes for quick access to local scenic areas, and social distanced on the beach. Lots of laughs as always, and an added appreciation of our over 40 year friendship.

Cape May lighthouse in the distance

A flock of mostly Black Skimmers mixed in with a few terns and gulls

       A Snowy Egret framed by foliage

Peaceful harbor

And the iconic lifesaving rowboat 

Now that I'm back home again, it's time to organize the studio, order new supplies and materials, and get working on the prints and other projects, I have on my agenda.

The final layer of ink is on the reduction block print, "Goffstown Brook." I carved out more of the background trees, and deepened the color value of the closer areas, for a little more sense of depth. The image is 8" x 10" and should be posted in my Etsy shop soon.

Can't believe it is going to be October 1st tomorrow! Time flies!

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

September Notes

 August sped by in a blur of hot, sunny days this year! With the pandemic still a concern, we stayed closer to home than usual, so the yard and garden got  a lot of tending.  I still haven't learned my lesson about growing tomatoes. For all the work, I never get much of a crop! The cherry tomatoes are my best producers, while the other ones kind of wilt away, and get rotten spots. We have a fabulous farmstand up the road, so in the future I should just buy what I need from them! Happily, I have better success with sunflowers and hydrangea.

In my new retired life, I'm enjoying the flexibility of setting my own schedule! So many projects to work on, and so many things to organize. I finished sanding and painting a couple old bureaus in an effort to revamp the guest room. 

My studio is a small space, and I am trying not to let art supplies, frames, and tools migrate into the rest of the house! Artists are notorious collectors of interesting, inspirational, and useful materials. I love old memorabilia and family history artifacts too. Fortunately my genealogy stuff fits into file cabinets, and is easier to keep in order.

            Doesn't everyone need pictures of their ancestors posing for the camera!

Here's to a new month of new adventures! Get out and enjoy the sunshine before the days get shorter!

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Mid-summer Life

Despite a very warm July, I'm still trying to get some work done in my studio. Thank goodness for cooling fans! I love my view of the backyard as I work, and it's a quiet space, as my husband is still working from home. My cat Wiley, enjoys hanging out with me, even though she steals my swivel chair whenever I stand up.

I've been trying to finish up a few block prints that need to be completed before I move on to something else. I had some issues with the ink I used on the "boats" print. I used a combination of Akua and Daniel Smith inks, and it doesn't want to 100% dry. There is still some "stickiness" in areas, so I have to keep them hanging individually until that disappears.

For this print, I've used colored pencils to add a tint of color in areas. I figured I'd experiment as it needs something more for definition.

The "Winter Blues" design of bluebirds at my feeder, has also been challenging in terms of finding the right colors, and the way the various layers interact with each other. Warm and cool color tones can be tricky when placed on top of each other, as it can dull the intensity of the individual colors.

The newest print that I'm finishing is "Goffstown Brook". I started drawing out the design back in March, and didn't have much time while still doing remote learning to work on it. It's pretty much completed now, but I'm still contemplating adding one more layer to darken up the last layer.

In spite of the pandemic, I've had some enjoyable outings in local areas. I had a fun day at Sunapee State Park while trying out my new inflatable paddle board. While it's supposed to be a stand up board, I spent most of my time on my knees!

Hope everyone is staying well, and finding ways to enjoy the summer!