Thursday, April 30, 2009

California, here they come!

My contribution to Baren Forum Print Exchange #40 is officially out the door. Thanks to overnight express shipping it will arrive on time tomorrow afternoon. If I had time to spare there are certainly things I would have changed but all in all I am satisfied with it. Getting it done on time was a HUGE priority for me - much more important to me than getting it absolutely perfect - and so in this regard I am very pleased with myself.

Now I need a shower and some sleep. Maybe not in that order.
Not only was it unduly difficult pasting down the tissue paper drawing of my black plate, it was hard to carve. This may be the last time I do this with a reduction print. Little stray corners of paper kept getting in the way and snagged my blade, made the cut difficult to see, etc. I need some input as to why this was so difficult for me. Here's the block (tissue paper and all) with the black plate almost entirely carved and on the right is the black block fully carved and ready to go.

I had a hard time carving this second block. Not only was the tissue paper a mess but the wood itself was hard to work with. I am using maple which is a very hardwood but for some reason it splintered easily and behaved more like a softwood when I was carving the second pass (black plate.) I don't know what that was all about. I don't think the wood splintered as easily the first time around. I don't know if it was a result of the gum arabic used to paste the second drawing, the ink & oil used the print the first phase, or my imagination. Who knows. Survey says.....

....needs a little touching up before pulling the official edition. Dang that splintering wood! I had to carve the block down fairly deep and bust out the rifflers to smooth over the snags.
Finally it was ready to go though.
Audrey was very patient, allowing me to work out in the honeycomb all day (she wasn't in school today, poor baby)
and Noah as always had fun watching it come together.

Well, now what do I do with all my free time?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

1 down, 1 to go

This is the first time I've ever drawn and pasted a subsequent phase of a reduction block and it was met with limited success. After drawing on one of yesterday's prints with a black sharpie, I copied the black areas onto a piece of tissue paper. Mine is always wrinkled and folded from being used in giftbags & boxes but it seems to work just the same. Then I coated the wood block with gum arabic and tried to paste my tissue paper on the block. Big mess. I had a really hard time getting the image to line up.

I think some of this is because the paper stretches during printing, it's (the paper) wet when I pull the prints, and a few other factors which cause the printed image to differ somewhat in size from the carved image. I knew going in to it that it would be impossible to get an exact match.

Still, it was harder than I had thought. I think there was something else going on that made it very difficult for me. Who knows, maybe just 'user error' - there could be a reason why I've never done it before: maybe no one recommends doing it. Later tonight I'll post my issues on baren forum to get their feedback on what went wrong.

Not all wrong, though as there is now a piece of paper containing the black areas of the image pasted onto my block. I'm not sure how it will all look when I carve it much less what's going to happen when I try printing but I guess we'll see soon!

Monday, April 27, 2009

no time like now

It was a rainy walk out to the honeycomb this morning but a good, productive day. After mixing the ink I ran one print

Hmmm....too dark. I removed half the ink and mixed in a big scoop of base extener to lighten it up a bit. And voila! Perhaps a little more blue than I wanted but I'm running out of time to be picky so here it is:

Now I'll carve a bit more tonight and print the black plate tomorrow evening. I've got my fingers crossed that everything goes as planned since I'm running right up against my deadline. Thank god for overnight postal service!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Black & White

After spending several days trying to make my drawing a successful one color print, I am throwing in the towel. A sign, as some of my college profs would say, of my lack of artistic ability. At this point, my practical side is kicking in and telling me to get on with it. So....I am doing a two color, one block reduction print with a black plate on top of a grey plate.

Interesting that I have such a hard time with black & white but feel more comfortable with grey scale. Again, I have teachers who would be chomping at the bit for a piece of this one....Here's the grey plate color sep. Ive traced it on tissue paper and will be gluing the tissue to my maple block tomorrow. More on all that later....

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Exchange 40

After chaning my mind and scrapping my original print I am officially behind the 8-ball for my Exchange 40 submission. I'll bust it out as best I can though. I've decided to do a print of the Buffalo River at the Ponca low water crossing bridge in Arkansas. A few weeks ago I traveled there with family and friends to scatter the ashes of my Uncle. It was a profound trip for me in several aspects and I really want to memorialize the event. Of course I am fast approaching deadline and have drawn something which, if I had all the time in the world, would make a great 5 color print. I've knocked my drawing down to a black and white image and now will begin looking at how few plates I can get away with. I'm hoping to make this just a two plate image and think that might be realistic but won't know until I noodle it further. Here's the drawing. More later.

Easter Round 1

Saturday brought the first of our Easter celebrations. The Swiss Avenue Historic District had their egg hunt Saturday morning. The kids got way more candy than they needed and spent the rest of the day trying to sneak another handfull out of their baskets. It was fun for everyone; Brian and I always enjoy getting to visit with the neighbors - we live in such a great neighborhood. For as reluctant as I was to move to Dallas I think we found the most relaxed, down to earth corner of the city.
Now we're gearing up for the Old East Dallas egg hunt....

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Ox Arrive!

Whew! I finally got these ox postcards done. After being cursed with mysterious electrical problems, swarms of carpenter ants, and a three year old girl they are printed and drying. More about the girl: Audrey got in to the honeycomb and decided to roll out my ink aft er I had spent all night printing the blue plate and then preparing the black ink. Normally the kids are very well behaved in the honeycomb and know to stick to their art corner but curiosity got the better of little Audrey. Between scrubbing the ink off Audrey - half of which had to be done under cold water as the hot water ran out - and the scolding I don't think she'll forget to leave my stuff alone any time soon. I've got a lock on the door now just in case. I don't like having to lock the door though - I want them to have free access to art supplies - we just don't have enough space around here for them to have a space that is separate from mine.

This is actually a working proof and as such has some imperfections but it is close enough to the completed prints. The final cards are still drying - will scan one in when dry.

I didn't photograph the process and now regret it. Here is a bad, water stained print of the blue-grey plate. This is a 2 color reduction print. It was my first experience with a hardwood block. I used a maple block and found it a joy to work with. The hard wood is harder to literally carve but easier in so many other ways. Since it doesn't splinter as easily the impression is much cleaner and fine lines retain their integrity. I carved and printed a the blue-grey layer which was actually everything you see in the image that is blue-grey as well as black.

After printing the blue-grey plate I carved away the areas of the block that are blue, leaving everything that is now black. After a day a half of cleaning up the mess left in the wake of hurricane Audrey I then printed the black block. Here is the final block with the blue carved away, leaving the black layer.
I love doing reduction prints. They are so much fun - just wham bam thank you ma'am. No going back, no reworking, reprinting. It forces me to do what I should be doing anyway - just carving and printing and stop trying so hard to make it perfect. On baren forum recently someone posted an interesting study which I will try to paraphrase:
In a college ceramics course the class was divided in to two groups. One group was told they were going to be graded solely on quantity - at the end of the course all their pieces would be weighed and the one with the heaviest amount of work got an A. The other group was graded by quality - their pieces were reviewed in the traditional manner, by class and instructor critique. At the end of the course the students who were graded by quantity actually had the better work. The act of just doing, doing, doing is so crucial to the learning process! The 'quantity' students were able to practice and refine technique without having to give consideration to the results. I need to remember this and just work.
The registration is so much easier too - I used "pins" for this print. Really just nails in this case but they work just the same. Next time around I need to have a registrationn pin on the side and on the top instead of just two on top. These prints were long and the registration got difficult toward the bottom of the print.
Now on to the next print.....