Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cleaning Up a Block for Exhibit

The Red Rock Canyon Block Gets a Makeover

After printing, the woodblock for Red Rock Canyon: A Closer Look puzzle print was a bit dirty. They all are, really! That pesky ink gets everywhere.
If I have a plank block that needs to be exhibited or go out to market, I usually just recarve the soiled portions. Then I roll a fresh coat of ink on the relief, and sometimes cover the whole thing with thick polyurethane to "cancel" the block. I carve my signature somewhere visible prior to the polyurethane treatment.

But plywood presents a problem, especially Shina plywood. Carving the soiled inky parts sometimes uncovers an alternate, I mean an additional layer of ply that isn't quite as attractive as the top layer. So when I finish a plywood wood block, I use another method.

Rather than explain, I made a slide show. 
With block and prints now complete, time to start another project!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Finished the Red Rock Canyon puzzle print!

The Real Thing

Coloring a woodcut with watercolors is fun but also stressful. The print takes about 20 minutes to print and an $8 piece of paper and messing up is really not an option. After the first one, though, seems like the stress is gone and I enjoy playing with very dilute watercolors.

The first one requires that every color is mixed to "taste" both in hue and saturation so it takes a little while to get that first one done. After that, I just paint as many as I can until I run out of color. I can usually work on two at a time but this one was too big. Nevertheless, I finished two and hopefully my mixes stay wet until tomorrow under the lid of the palette.

List of Artists

The budding artists participated in my workshop and each received a tiny block. It was later my job to fit all the blocks into the overall composition. A slightly different approach to the puzzle print concept but it worked well. The overall has a real primitive feel, I think, and is reminiscent of some of the petroglyph imagery found around these parts.
Amazing all that you might find when you take a closer look!

From left to right on the little blocks, or from Sun to Pine Cones if you prefer.
Kate Sorom (sun)
Daniel Bo-Bo Clayton (the rock)
Kim Gilman (eagle)
Mark "The Red" Harlan (flower)
Laura Meg Viar (tortoise)
Maria Arango Diener (yucca)
Leslie Dill (yucca)
Mark "The Red" Harlan (petroglyph)
Me, again (globe mallow)
Maria Feinberg (beaver tail cactus bloom)
Graham Wimbrow (hare)
Kala Kales (joshua tree)
Kim Gilman (native corn baby)
Alba Arango (lizard petroglyph)
Me, again (pine cones)

Block is next in line to get cleaned up and sealed.

Here is the finished print and some details.

Red Rock Canyon: A Closer Look
Collaboration puzzle woodcut print

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

"A Closer Look" Printed and Colorized!

Artist At Work

My studio has been busy! These past few days I finished carving the block for the collaboration puzzle woodcut print Red Rock Canyon: A Closer Look.

Finished block, ready to print

Fast forward three days, printed proofs are beauties!

A very small edition, chillin' in the studio
Few printing problems, just like any other puzzle print, the blocks don't all behave the same when inked with a rather large roller. After a little tweaking, some begging and a lot of cursing, eventually it all works out. I basically maxed out the length of my press bed, the prints are 42 inches wide by 20 inches high.
I printed 10 "good ones" and am mulling the thought of printing about 6 more. Depends on how I feel in the next few days. Maybe that's just good enough!

Photoshop Colorizing Tricks

I planned this particular print as a hand-colored print so next step was to import the image into Adobe Photoshop to try out a few "watercolor" schemes. Briefly, I create a couple of layer-copies from the background, then by selecting the paper color and deleting the selection, I have a background layer and two additional layers with just black lines. 
I colorize the middle layer and leave the other copy on "top" to maintain the black line fresh. 

As I brush the transparent color (about 55%) over the lines on the color layer, the black lines of the woodcut get dimmed so the top line layer prevents the drawing from disappearing under the color.
Having the extra layer also allows me to "erase" some of the color (and consequently the black line) without affecting the top black-line layer.
The background remains in the...well, the background! and provides the nice tan paper color.

After trying out about three different color schemes and tweaking the hue and basically playing all day long, I came up with several finalists. My cats and my husband decided on the winning scheme. 
Next few days I break out the real watercolors and take brush to paper...wish me luck!
Red Rock Canyon: A Closer Look - the color grand plan!