slightly wonky

Mutant plant woodblock!
June 22, 2011, 9:12 am
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Last night’s woodcut print class was great.  I brought two large woodcuts, and a smaller one.  Annie, the teacher, did a great job by suggesting that I combine the two woodcuts to make a single print.  So, here is the first print, which was from the woodblock shown in the last post:

I liked this one, even though it’s kind of crazy.  The orange splotches are shellac, which wasn’t quite dry yet.  Those won’t appear again.  This was my second block, which I thought ended up rather dull:

I wanted to do something very different than the first.  I did something vaguely architectural, just to get it out of my system.  It seems a bit lifeless to me.  Then, I threw together this tiny one:

I abandoned this one, as I didn’t really have a plan for it.  I paired the first two blocks together, which I think looks kind of interesting:

I might stick with this size of block, and do other combinations like this.  All of these prints are on newsprint, unfortunately.  Maybe next week, I’ll switch to real paper.  Newsprint will crumble in a few years.

So, here is the first of the hybrid, mutant plant prints:

Hilarious, right?  I love it.  I was totally apathetic about the architectural block at first, but now I think it’s so funny to have this crazy plant thing in the mix.  So, this was the improved version:

I love this!  So funny.  I love the craziness invading the staid architectural space.  I think that I may do more of these combinations.  What do you think?  I really like this type of printmaking.  The colors are beautiful…I love the messy, handmade quality of the marks…and the layering is so interesting.  I need to build up an inventory of blocks, so that I can do some more layering.  So many possibilities!

Here’s a scrap of my newsprint, which I thought looked neat as well:

I’m itchy to carve/print more of these.  Luckily, my poison ivy has gone, so THAT itchy has gone away…


Sketchy stuff…
April 13, 2011, 2:17 pm
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It’s a dreary day here…lots of rain.  I am experimenting with some woodcuts with trace monotypes.  I had fun with this…I can see trying it again.  I layered transparent woodcut prints together, then added the sketchy doodles on top.  Here is the first one (sorry it’s so dark…):

I know.  It’s awful.  But, it’s a start!  As you can see, I was also playing around with full bleed prints.  Messy!  Then, I made this triptych:

This has some potential, I think.  I’ll have to mount these onto another paper.  I’d really have to do that anyway, as this is thin, mulberry paper.  Here is the last one…a bit of a mess:

Again, it’s so dark!  Not much light here…I started drawing the scribbly blobs.  I didn’t like them, so I switched over to the boxes.  I like those better.  Next time, I’ll try that type of doodle first.

I always get a bit deflated when I have visions of grandeur, only to be squashed by reality.  I still don’t have the hang of relief printing at home.  Actually, in general, my prints at home are not as good.  There is no comparison when you use a press.  I will hopefully be taking a class on relief printing, so I hope to get my questions on all of this answered.  It doesn’t start for a few weeks, but I’m definitely looking forward to it.

Any helpful suggestions from any relief printers out there?  I think that I needed to seal the woodblocks better, as the impressions were “grainy”, instead of uniform.   grrrr.

Something else
March 29, 2011, 12:34 pm
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I’ve finished up the woodcut print that I started last week.  I’ve printed this woodcut several times…with several different types of ink and paper.  This is on a grey Stonehenge paper with oil based relief inks:

Here is the group on our coffee table:

I’m still not happy with the printing.  I’m going to have to get some feedback on it.  I think that a press would help, but besides that…there must be other things that I can do to get a better print. 

I also did a few abstract screenprints.  I need to redo the actual screen, as it started to leak ink out of the side a little.  I like these, just as a start of something…

I still haven’t found paper that I think is great with this.  I’ll have to ask around.  Any suggestions?

I’ll have to remount that one…

I liked that one a bit.  Last one:

I’d love to have a real setup for screenprinting.  One more thing on the to do list…

If anyone out there does either woodcut prints or screenprints…please give me your recommendations on paper & inks!

It’s an amazing, sunny day out there.  It might even be in the 40s!  We’re starting to see some activity in our “garden”.  I put this in quotes, as it’s a small miracle that anything decides to come up at all.  I don’t have a green thumb, even though I have good intentions and try hard.  Here are what’s popping up today:

March 24, 2011, 12:51 pm
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I’m working again with pronto prints and my previous woodcut.  I’ve been scheming ways to make registration for the CMYK pronto prints work better.  My latest attempt may be good.  I managed to register the yellow and magenta layers.  Here they are:

I’m also experimenting with three types of paper.  The paper on the right is Arches 88, an unsized paper…very absorptive.  This isn’t such a great quality with the way that I’m doing these prints, as the area around the print gets wet from the plate, and this causes the surface of the paper to deform from the moisture.  Hmmm.  The other two papers are better in this regard, but I think that because they are sized and have more of a texture, they don’t take the ink as well.  Here’s a close up:

I also changed the halftone lines per inch, to make it less fine grain.  I have to balance clarity of printing (as pronto plates like distinct black/white), and clarity of image (fewer/larger dots=more abstract/blurry print).  Hmmm!  I think that the cyan layer, which I hope to do this weekend, will be revealing…

I am printing the woodcut on grey paper.  This is a heavy paper, unlike the fine Japanese papers in my previous post.  I have to let the first layer dry before putting on the second layer…I also switched inks again.  I know…I keep changing all of the variables!  I am quickly running out of space for all of these prints.  I need to devise some safe storage system.

There are some sparse snowflakes blowing around outside right now.  I really hope that they don’t amount to anything.  Maybe I should make some prints about snow angst?  The flakes are almost like white gnats bumping around…shoo!  Go away!  I’m tired of my boots/hat/gloves/scarf ensemble!  🙂

Woodcut and pronto plate revisited
March 22, 2011, 3:54 pm
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So, I’ve decided to try again with the woodcut and the pronto plate print.  I have sealed the carved wood block, and it did print much easier.  I also bought some Japanese papers, which are strong yet absorptive.  I tried out some other colors, and also experimented with the layering of the image. 

This one above was on a very nice paper, called sekishu.  Kind of pricey…but light in color and very fine.  I also printed this on another paper, called kitakata, which is slightly thicker and a warm, straw color:

Does it look different?  It would be obvious if you were here!  Here is red color scheme with one color rotated 180 degrees:

Hmmm… and here is the other color scheme:

and rotated:

What do you think?  I’m sort of thinking that the black geometric object should have been a different color for the prints.  I’m not thrilled with how these turned out.  Any suggestions?  I think that the colors turned out a bit icky.

I tried the pronto print again.  Here it is:

I can’t compare it to the first one, as it’s going to be in that local art show.  This is blurry, so I must have misaligned one of the colors by a hair.  SO frustrating.  I think that the ink application went better this time…so perhaps practice makes perfect.

I stopped by the Arlington Center for the Arts to drop off that previous pronto print.  I was lucky to get a sneak preview of the show.  Not big…but nice to see all the work of local artists.  The education director was there, and thought that I should take my Regent prints to the owner to see if he would want to buy one.  Hmm!  Worth a thought.  There is all sorts of protocol on selling art that is being shown somewhere else.  Also, you may not be aware…but galleries take a hefty percentage of the sale.  So, once you factor in the cost of paying the gallery, the frame cost, the materials cost, the labor cost…you can see why art is expensive, and hard to make a good profit from.  I know…having an Etsy account would likely help!

By the way…the art show opens on March 28 in the Gibbs Gallery at the ACA, for you locals to Arlington.  The reception is Thursday, April 7 from 6-9 pm. Come see!  (I will hopefully be there on the later side, as I have a class that night.)

Technical difficulties…
March 15, 2011, 4:57 pm
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Today was a day of mild frustration.  I have finished carving a woodblock to print.  It will have two colors.  I was kind of excited about it.  I couldn’t decide what ink to use.  Unforturnately, I am out of the fine, mulberry paper.  I only have Arches 88, which is thick, but absorbent.  I ended up deciding to try using my oil based relief inks with a lot of transparent medium.  WELL.  It did NOT print well at all!  Here are the hideous prints:

See how blotchy the prints are?  Here is a closeup:

Depressing, isn’t it?  I’m not sure if I needed to sand the wood before printing, just to remove any possible residue on the surface, and to make the surface slightly rougher to accept the ink.  Well, I didn’t do that.  IF ANYONE OUT THERE IS A WOODCUT PRINTER, COULD YOU OFFER ANY SUGGESTIONS?  I have now cleaned the block, and have put on a thin layer of shellac.  I’m not sure if this will help.  This is odd and frustrating, as I never had any problem in the past printing with those inks on wood.  Granted, I typically use a shina plywood, not this solid piece of wood.  Hmmm.

I also did another drypoint to print, hopefully on Thursday evening.  It’s impossible to see, as it’s on plexiglass, but here it is:

The grainy white area is where I’ve added some pumice medium.  I am hoping to get the carborundum effect here.  I am also hoping that this medium doesn’t wash off when I try to print it!  Seriously.  As if it isn’t hard enough creating an image that one is happy with…then one has to contend with technical struggles.  I know.  Most printmakers get help with this in school.  Well…I’m here with no one to ask!  I may try to bring those ugly prints in to one of my classes, to see if the teachers can provide any insights.

Lastly, I am going to try to do a larger relief print.  Who knows how it will turn out…I’ve only sketched on the surface…no carving yet:

On Saturday, I dropped off my two Regent Theater prints to the Arlington Center for the Arts, to submit them for an upcoming show.  I asked the person who took them from me about the open studios in the fall.  She said something to the effect of: “Oh, it would be great for you to participate.  We need more printmakers.  Do you know so-and-so?”  Me?  A printmaker!  REALLY?!!!  I know how silly this is, but it felt very good to be treated like I WAS something that I WISH I was.  A printmaker.  Coincidentally, I discovered that one of my teachers used to be a landscape architect in Paris.  Seriously! 

I also went to a printmaking exhibit at Laconia Gallery in Boston.  The show is titled, ” Guanajuato: Boston Printmakers collaborative workshop in Mexico.”  It was SO amazing.  Beautiful, vibrant colors…tons of relief prints.  All of the artists collaborated on a long, accordian fold book.  They all worked within the pages in such a way that one could tell which artist did which parts, but the whole was still very integrated.  I was also so lucky that one of the artists was there monitoring the gallery.    She was so nice, and answered my multitude of questions.

It might just be Spring here…I don’t want to speak too soon, as it has snowed in April before…but I’m seeing little flowers coming up!  YESSSSS!

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