July 29, 2007

Hybiscus - Frustration

Last weekend and today I printed the next two colours for this print. At this point, the oil paints and block printing medium combo are a disappointment and annoyance. Until last Sunday, I was really happy with the way the print was coming along. I loved the different, lighter, look of the oil inks and the speed with which they dried in the warm weather. I couldn't wait to print the darker colours.

Friday was a flex day and I took the opportunity to print. Here's the result and all was still good; yeah, some of the orange is peeking through but I figured the dark colours would hide it. Dreamer!

Last Sunday: R gone all day to a workshop, N gone all day with the BF and me with CBC radio 2 for company. I hauled the press back to the kitchen for another run. A dark day. First, the weather was the worst of the summer: black clouds and incessant rain. Gloomy November weather. Second, I couldn't get the right colour mixed. I wanted a rich forest green but it just wasn't happening. Having to mix in specific amounts of printmaking medium to get the right "tack" for rolling out made it worse. A long half hour later I ended up with something semi-passable and began printing. The coverage was shit. The orange layer was showing through everywhere, the blue wasn't contrasting as strongly as I'd hoped it would against the green and, for some bizarre reason, the registration was 1/8" off on one side of the plate even though the registration frame I'd set up seemingly hadn't moved. Still, I compensated for the 1/8" difference, finished the run and decided that I'd have to reprint the green again. This is the green as it turned out after the first printing.

Now here I am today. I'd saved the ink from last week; I figured life would be easy since I wouldn't have to mix colours again. Yeah right. As well-wrapped as it was, something in the ink -- the printmaking medium? -- had congealed. It was a mixture of, mainly, gel-like blobs with only a little bit of usable substance. That meant going back to mixing colours and another half hour gone with dreadful results. I finally managed to mix a shade of green that was similar to the previous one. But, aaaarghhhh, it still didn't take the way it should; it's still not as rich as it should be. And, maddeningly, the registration was mucked up again -- is the L-square I'd taped to the press bed slipping? I tried to move it but it's still stuck firm. I can't figure it out but the results are enough to make me want to scream. At this point, I don't know how many prints my edition will be finally but the number is dwindling.

I have at least two more colours planned but don't want to use the oil paints/printmaking medium again. And I can't switch to the DS water-soluble at this point since they wouldn't be compatible. So, DS oils on order. Man, the money just flies out the window. I guess this is what I work for? It's Catch-22, really. My job leaves me little time to devote to my art work, yet allows me to buy the tools I need to be able to pursue it. But everything is such a huge learning curve. I look at the woodblock prints of Gustave Bauman: his hues are brilliant and vibrant. How the hell did he get his colours to look like that. He must have been using oil inks in his day??? Oh well, no place to go but up from here anyway.

July 15, 2007


Another colour reduction and an experiment again.

This is my original image: a magnificent Hybiscus that bloomed (and then died) in my first "potted garden" in this house.

This time I'm printing with oil-based ink. I'm using Georgian Oil paints mixed with the company's "block printing medium". First, because I want to compare the experience to printing with DS water-based inks and, second, because I've got a whole box of Georgian Oils sitting and going to waste so what the hell.
So far so good, two colours down. The hardest part is mixing up the exact hue I'm after and deciding how much to mix; that's always the hardest part. Today I ended up with way too much ink while last week I barely had enough and thought I might have to cut the edition short. The difference in viscosity between the oils and the DS water-based inks doesn't help. The coverage ends up being different so it's harder to gauge how much to mix. But then that's why it's good to experiment.

These are the first two pulls and I'm not yet sure how many there will end up being. I'm hoping to keep the print fairly simple and a bit loose. The finished print will be 6" x 8" -- still using up the lino I have before I move on to bigger sizes. Only the center of the block has been inked and printed; the space around the flower will be defined as I go on.

July 09, 2007

At last, an end to the trial...

It’s incredible that nearly a month’s sped by since I last showed up here. That’s how life moves past, a month here, a month there, and before you know it we’ve got grey hair, wrinkles, and saggy body parts that no amount of “elipticalling” at the gym will unsag.

I’ve devoted three weeks of this elapsed month to creating a website. It’s really more of a web portfolio and I still don’t really have a good reason why I put it together other than to be able to answer those rare do you have a website questions with a yes. The way I figure, someone who just wants to see a sampling of my work shouldn’t have to read through all my ramblings here and, so, ffffft, there went three weeks.

It took two weeks of what free time I could steal to create the site – hours and hours just handed over to getting random elements to cooperate and stay where I wanted them. It then took another week to get the damn thing published. I couldn’t get it to go live no matter what and my e-mail to Shaw support went unanswered for a week. Frustrated and feeling ready for a fight, I finally phoned Shaw tech support and there, thank God, a helpful soul. Within 10 minutes the site was up and active. Of course, I can’t remember the name of the guy who helped me but my silent thanks and gratitude go to him anyway manyfold. May the heavens smile on him tonight.

Now I can say, yes, I do have a website. Here it is: http://members.shaw.ca/winterland

(Edited in 2010: this address is now old. See right sidebar for the new link)

And now I can also return to carving, mind at rest. I started working on my next print last week and printed the first colour yesterday though no picture yet. That’ll have to wait until next Sunday.