Sunday, March 28, 2010

Valley of Fire II - Key ready for transfer

Working on the second image from the Valley of Fire series. This one will highlight the ruggedness of the rock formations and the contrast with the valley floor. This place is really amazing, if you ever visit the Las Vegas area, it is just a short drive away and worth every mile.

In any case, here is the key block in progress with my arsenal. All my knives now hang on magnetic holders. For a long time I struggled with boxes and cases and canvas rolls...this arrangement allows me to readily see all the knives and grab just the right one. Putting them away is a matter of placing it near the magnet and letting it "grab" it back. Efficiency is one of my life obsessions.

Next a detail of the progress...

And the final key block, ready for printing on hanshita paper and transfer to the color blocks. At this point, I have a vague idea that I will need five more blocks, but I always print at least two more than I think I will need just in case. That's tomorrow's task.
Also, I might point out that usually have creative interpretations of the reference photos. I often take the photos to remind me of the place, then I let my memory take over. I guess I feel this way I can be more creative without worrying too much of what the place "really" looks like.
The close-up glasses hanging on that clamp are a, eye-opener! I started using them about five years ago (sigh...or should I say, sight!) and they really make close up work less tiring and more accurate. When I really want to work on details I have a magnifying lamp with a light, but use it mostly for engravings and very small works.
Next, the color blocks, I better start thinking...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Moving right along to Valley of Fire II

Got my wood from McClain's today ( and paper and other goodies from the Baren Mall ( which motivated me to start my next print. I want to continue experimenting with smaller prints in moku-hanga.

Over the years I've toyed with the idea of transferring photos properly doctored in Photoshop to start my woodcuts, but I find that most of my "image making" happens when I cut, not when I sketch.
Here are my original reference photos  on the right of the block, some doctored photos at the top, and a pencil sketch on the block.
I generally let that "gel" for a few minutes to hours and then proceed with a permanent marker, strengthening the lines and forever committing the design to the wood. The character of the magic marker (Sharpie) also makes me simplify the design a little so as to leave some designing leeway for my trusty chisels.

Often I play with the reality of the reference photos, I liked the wild brush in the front plane, but later decided against it since I wanted a clear view from the "V" of the canyon edge into the valley below. Here is the design, ready for walnut ink and oil and sharp knives.

Carving tomorrow!

What do you know! How'd dat get on my work-bench? (I think I have a "printing gadgets" addiction...could someone please recommend a good eBay-sniping support group?)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Valley of Fire I a new moku-hanga adventure

Here are all the stages of my newest woodblock adventure. The Valley of Fire State Park (Nevada, USA) is an amazing little place, close by with views to savor endlessly, colors beyond imagination, a variety of desert to delight all, and the background music of perfect silence.

After printing all the basic colors, I reprinted the umber to strenghthen the foreground details and also reprinted the lower portion of the key block in a rustier purple.

These are on proof paper:








The Mysterious Case of Disappearing Ultramarine

I've reported on the Barenforum the baffling disappearance of ultramarine Akua pigment on Kihada paper. Believe it or not, the blue sky and lake was "there" one day and gone the next, but ONLY  on this type of paper. The rest of the run on New Hosho paper was fine.

Someone suggested (thank you) that it might be too much water mixed in with the pigment. I didn't use much dilution to begin with because Akua colors are already pigment dispersions. But just to humor myself, I tried re-printing all 60 blue skies and lake prints on the paper in question. All went well, in fact the blue was too strong for my plans but I figured it was bound to fade a little and would match the rest of the edition after drying.

Next day, ultramarine disappeared, but this time left me with 23 good prints, nicely faded blue, and 37 prints mysteriously refuse to "take" my renewed effort. With this kind of ratio, I figure if I print the blue daily, eventually, they will ALL stick. Or else I will develop amazing triceps. In any case, I sure wish I knew what the dickens is going on because the results of my experiment yield nothing. This is not only the same paper, some take and some don't, but they are random pieces of the same sheet of paper, that is, I tore one very large sheet of paper to make little pieces for this print.

But see for yourself. First shot is the Kihada, second is the New Hosho. Sky blue gone, red faded, purple faded.

One more for kicks, this is the latest shot of the two papers, after one day of reprinting the entire Kihada set. Top is New Hosho, bottom is Kihada. Beats the heck out of me! And why only a portion of the run faded out? I printed everything in one sitting, same pigment, same rice paste...