Friday, April 9, 2021

Happy Spring!

The month of April has been a tease of the warmer weather that we are looking forward to, after a long Covid winter. The garden perennials are showing themselves, and the birds are singing their spring songs. I've been raking out the flower beds, and picking up the zillion pinecones (just seems like it) that have been falling everywhere! After raking them up, I look up to the top of the pines, and see that there are still a whole bunch waiting for the next windy day.

We had a nice Easter holiday with the extended family. The weather cooperated, and the annual egg hunt commenced with all the kids having a great time. The "kids" include cousins in their teens and twenties, and two little offspring, who get some advantages, but it's still a competitive group! 

Here is one of my Easter card designs for 2021:

I'm working on several ideas for new block prints. The one below is a 6" x 8" image of lily pads in a pond.

I've got the template set up, as well as the pins and tabs that keep the registration through out the layering process. Step one will include carving away the areas I want to remain white. In this design, only the flowers will be white, so there is not a lot of carving to do before beginning the printing of the first color.

Stay well, and check in again to follow the progress of this reduction block print.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Mt. Desert Island Print Finished

 I hope you have enjoyed my basic tutorials showing the steps involved in the creation of a reduction block print. In my last post, I was working on a landscape of a favorite view on Mt. Desert Island, in the small town of Manset, Maine.

To finish this print, I added more contrast in the values of both the foreground plants, and the background trees. I think that creates more definition and depth. There is a limit to how many layers of Akua inks can be built up on the paper (Rives Light), and I think adding any more would not benefit the image.

Manset, Mt. Desert Island, Maine

The weather has still been on the blustery side, lots of windy days, and cold temperatures. The other day, a couple of my friends and I took a short hike at the Urban Forestry Center in Portsmouth, NH. It's funny to see how quickly the snow has disappeared near the seacoast, and we found we had to put crampons on our boots, as certain areas were very icy. In spite of the cold, we bundled up, and enjoyed the blue sky, and views of the wetlands and woods. Since last April, despite the pandemic, we have tried to find places to hike and explore, once a week or so. Getting out and enjoying nature has really been an emotional boost during the past year!

Partially frozen pond at the Urban Forestry Center

Looking forward to forecasted warmer weather next week. March came in like a lion, I hope it goes out like a lamb!

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Mt Desert Island Reduction Block Print

I am currently working on a new block print based on a piece of land, that my husband always said he wanted to own. We visited Mt. Desert Island many times, from the year we lived outside of Bangor Maine, to camping trips with our daughters, and later again on our own. This spot is located in Manset, a town near Southwest Harbor. The view of the fields, trees, ocean, and mountains seemed like the perfect spot to settle. It was a fantasy, but one that could be imagined with pleasant yearning.

This is the block in its original state, before I printed the sky layer. I find that I am printing different colors separately, rather than covering the whole plate with ink. It allows for the colors to remain purer, with less overlapping of tones.

Three areas of color at this stage.

Multiple Layers

The block and the print ready for the brown in the foreground, and the greens in the background.

I'll post the final image as soon as I'm done.

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!