Thursday, June 10, 2021

Feels like summer!!

 We had some very hot weather over the past seven days, with high humidity and temperatures in the 90s. Finally today, it's just perfect! Sunny and much cooler with low humidity! I was able to get out in the garden for a couple hours, doing some weeding and mulching. Our perennial beds are doing very well this year!

I've also been working on a new print. The inspiration comes from a misty October day, when I took some photos of empty Adirondack chairs at Squam Lake in Holderness. I've been experimenting with stencils to block off some areas on the print.

I didn't take a picture of the first layer, which was the blue-gray water and sky, but I used the deckled edge of some heavy watercolor paper to define the sand, water, and sky.

Stencil in place(above)
Inked and ready to print (above)
Printed and drying (above)
I cut out a stencil for the trees and the reflection (above) For this step, I inked the block first and laid the stencil on top before printing. In the image below, you can see the paper being pulled back. and the stencil in place.
This shows the print in its current state.

Next, I'm going to attempt to put a layer of light gray over the trees, water and sky, to create a more misty, foggy effect. If that is successful, I'll begin working on the chairs. It's all a bit experimental, so sometimes I have to figure it out as I go along. 

Thanks for reading! Enjoy the weekend!

Monday, May 3, 2021

Lily Pads Continued

 In my last post I revealed the "lily pad" block print that I had just completed. My obsession with the subject matter led me to try an acrylic painting. I had a set of Golden Open Acrylics that I had purchased to use with a Gelli plate to make monoprints. The Open acrylics have a slower drying time than regular acrylics, so you can play around more, without the frustration of a quickly drying palette. I am not very experienced with acrylics or oils, so I'm just exploring the medium, and having some fun with it.

I sketched out the composition on my canvas in pencil, then painted a complementary colored base coat using pink for the lily pads and orange for the background. After the base coat was dry, I began by painting the blues of the water. I used a combination of Ultramarine and Pthalo Blues mixed with white to create a variety of values in the water. For the lily pads, I played around with yellow, the blues, green, and white. I'm trying not to worry about total realism as I'm focusing on the overall composition, and my own interpretation of the subject. I don't know how successful this painting will be, but I'm enjoying the process.

This is where I am now. I'm adding in some darker areas for the reflections in the water, then I'll work on the flowers and the lily pad details. 

Stay well!

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Lily Pad Print

 Earlier this month I included a drawing of the "lily pad" print that I had started. The block size is 6" x 8" and is a soft-cut type. Since I don't have access to a printing press right now, I've had to use that type of plate for all my recent editions. I really love the easiness of carving, but it takes a bit of elbow grease to get the quality of the prints that I want. I use a baren and a wooden spoon to get the pressure needed. 

The first layer of ink was the green of the lily pads. I cut away the white areas first, as can be seen in the photo below.

In the next step, I carved out all the lily pads.

Then I created a blue blend for the water.

Layer 2-the water

The next step was to carve away the areas of water that I wanted to remain. The last layer is a deep blue to create the illusion of reflections on the water, and to define the shadows.

Final stage of block

The finished print

I matted the print in an 11" x 14" white mat, and it's ready to be posted on my Etsy shop. 

Finally, a little pop of color in the backyard!

Happy Earth Day on the 22nd!


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.