December 27, 2009

Masterfull Illustrations

I think many people would agree that of all the gifts they get at Christmas, there's always the one that is the special one: the one that becomes the treasure for that year. In our house, we keep gift giving simple and my special gifts are, usually, books. I love books. I hate shopping but can spend hours and hours browsing in bookstores and I love getting books for Christmas. The promise of undiscovered worlds.

This year, my treasure is a new collection of illustrations by an absolutely incredible artist: Scott McKowen. There's very little information about him available on the web and this might be because it's really difficult to capture the work he does properly in web resolution. He works primarily in scratchboard and his illustrations, mostly theatrical posters and book covers, have the look of engravings and are fantastically rich in detail and nuance. The man is a master of light and shadow and uses them to great effect along with, sometimes, a quirky manipulation of perspective. I can certainly learn a lot about artistic license from this guy.

There is an agency who represents him you can see some of the work there. And there's info on his book, including a glimpse at some sample pages, here.

Finally, here's just a sample of the work:

In my humble opinion though, if you're at all interested in fine illustration, get the book. I've been reading it slowly, it's like letting a piece of good dark chocolate melt in the mouth, and relishing each page. The book is divided into sections, by theatrical posters and book illustrations, with each full-page image (did I say the images are incredible? ) accompanied by a great write-up of how it came to life: what the motivation was, what the artistic process was. I find that kind of stuff absolutely enthralling.

There's also a good explanation of Scott's work with scratchboard as his medium at the end of the book. Scratchboard! Who knew?

December 21, 2009

Where has the Christmas spirit gone?

So here we are, three days away from Christmas.

I've had my Christmas lunch at work (in fact I've had two of them); I've been to two Christmas parties. I've done some shopping in malls all decked out for the season, and, although we generally keep our gift giving frugal and don't go in for all the hype, I have bought some presents and wrapped them.

Our outside lights are up and so is, as of yesterday, the tree.

I've baked,

and set the nativity scene my mother hand-drew and put together 4o years ago, up on the bookshelf as usual:

And, finally, today I sent out some cards that had been sitting around for a couple of weeks and I didn't have the drive to send until now:

They're not the ones I was working on, the strawberries in the snow, because the same thing that happened last year and the year before happened again. After all the work I put into carving the image and printing it, I didn't end up liking it when it was time to make it into cards. So, in a panic, I made up some new ones, from some stamps I'd carved a few years ago for other things. They turned out ok I guess.

Anyway, I've done some Christmassy things so far right? I should be feeling some sort of Christmas buzz right about now right? Yet I'm not. I'm doing all these things, going through the motions, and that's exactly what it is: going through the motions. Yesterday I even listened to CBC radio's Joy to the World broadcast for as much of the day as possible but not even that felt right.

And it seems I'm not the only one to feel this way; quite a few people I've talked to are experiencing the same lack of Christmas spirit. Is it the economy that's to blame? Or is it just that, as we try to make Christmas politically correct and try to strip it of any symbolism offensive to other cultures, we end up stripping away the very heart of it? Do we make it so generic that it becomes bland and meaningless? I have such a hard time with the whole "season's greetings" thing. What does that mean, really? Surely, there's got to be a way for us to acknowledge and respect the spirituality in other non-Christian cultures without having to obliterate the essence of the Christian one at this time of year? Too many questions, no good answers.

Nevermind, maybe it'll all fall into place at the last minute. So, on this night of winter solstice, I wish you all a merry, merry Christmas and I thank you, most sincerely, for dropping in from time to time to read my ramblings. Cheers...

December 06, 2009

The Power of Artistic License

One of the things I have a little trouble with, from time to time, is giving myself the permission to use my artistic license. I know that most artists, even when their subject is a real place or object, adapt it to their own vision in order to improve the composition. They leave out certain aspects of a landscape, like telegraph poles or road signs for example, to make their final image more balanced, more harmonious, etc. Once again though, it comes down to the difference between knowing something and really knowing it.

So even though I know other artists take appropriate liberties with their subject matter, I still feel compelled, whenever my work is based on a real-life image, to try represent that image as completely as possible. And, when I do eliminate some random piece of the original reference, I feel almost like I'm cheating. I've gotta get over that and, print by print, I'm working on it.

Take this Hummingbird Vine print for example. In my original photo, the maroon gutter that runs underneath the vine showed up among the leaves:

The whole time I was planning out this print I also planned to include that bit of gutter in my version. It was that little bit of maroon that I was going to add today. Here's the actual area in my print:

And here it is with the maroon ink added in (I kept some maroon ink from last week just so I could save myself some mixing time today):

You can probably see where this is going. Even though the maroon was meant to tie into the window trim, and is the same colour and all that, when added to the print, it just looked misplaced. It's not detailed enough, it doesn't look like a gutter, so it just didn't seem to make any sense, stuck as it was among the foliage. I didn't like it.

So, artistic license in hand, I went back to mixing colours. I figured that a green, even if it turns out slightly different than the other greens already in the print, will still make more sense than the maroon. It may not be accurate to the original image, but leaving out the maroon will make for greater harmony overall. Amazingly, as if it were meant to be that way, the green I mixed up matches the mid-tone green I already have in the print.

I burnished by hand today, no sense in hauling the press to the kitchen for such a small area, and it's a good thing it was my last colour. The MDF block had become warped to the point where I had to struggle to get my registration right. Here's the final print; not too different from last week's image really.

I loved doing this print, even though I had issues with the MDF. But I'm glad to be done for now, I really need to get my Christmas cards finished off.

November 29, 2009

The papa brayer, mama brayer, and the little wee baby brayer.

Sometimes, my printmaking efforts are like the race between the tortoise and the hare with me as the tortoise. But, today, I was the hare! In a printing leap forward, although I began the day with four colours still to go into the Hummingbird Vine print, I now have only one left. I can't complain about that!

I have, as of last night, carved both blocks down to nearly nothing and there aren't any areas that actually touch each other anymore. When I saw that, I couldn't resist the opportunity to print three of my four remaining colours all in one go. Boy was I glad to have my three little brayers! They all came in very handy today.

The colours in the images below are (left to right on the glass plate): green-black, periwinkle, and maroon.

The colours don't come through accurately in the photos because of the glare; the maroon looks more brown than it is in reality.

Here's the print as of today:

The frustrating thing is that the last piece I need to print is in the maroon I printed with today but it's on my second/other block. If I'd planned it better, the window trim and roof pieces would have ended up on the second block too but, clearly, I messed up with that one. Now, for next week, I have to haul out the press and inks, and all the rest of my printmaking paraphernalia just to print an area no bigger than 2 inches square, in a colour I printed with today already. Grrrrrr.....

It's funny how, even though I left the Czech Republic fourty years ago, old Czech proverbs still haunt me at times when I mess up somehow. Cursing myself over the last few days for the poor planning re: which of my two blocks would have what parts of the image, I could not help thinking: measure twice; cut once! I guess I haven't totally learned that lesson yet.

November 22, 2009

The Tropics of Bloedel Conservatory

First things first, the Hummingbird Vine print got another layer today. Stupidly, while I was cutting the block for this printing, I cut away some areas that I needed to leave in, for shadows underneath the vine. I caught myself doing it before I cleared them all, so it's only a small area I'll need to fix. And I have an idea how to do it, sort of, but theory and reality don't always marry up the way I imagine they will so I'll have to see if the idea actually works.

Here's it is with it's latest colour:

But, before I printed today, on another gray soggy day perfect for escaping to exotic places, the three of us took a trip to a place we all love, the Bloedel Conservatory. It's been in the news lately because the Vancouver Parks Board is considering closing it down. Faced with a 2.something million dollar budget shortfall they're looking at the Conservatory as one of the potential casualties of the cut backs they need to make. It makes me want to cry.

It's an incredible place, one of the city's hidden treasures, and one of those places I'd like to spend a half a day at, sketching, but never do. I keep telling myself that it'll happen one day, when I don't have to work every day anymore, but I might have to face the possibility of that day never coming. Today, as second best, I managed to take some pictures though.

Standing outside,

certainly doesn't prepare you for the amazing world inside the dome:

The walkways wind through among dozens of exotic birds and what must be hundreds of tropical plants co-mingling in fantastic and colourful ways.

There are, of course, the recognizable plants you'd expect to find in a tropical jungle:

There are also plants we've had at home at one time or another:

And then there are plants that are just bizarre:

And the birds (only some - they generally weren't into posing):

I took so many pictures I almost felt foolish and yet, it's hard to capture the true sense of a place like this. You just have to be there, but, you might have to hurry.

November 17, 2009

Strawberries in the Snow

As a bit of contrast from the summer blooms of the Hummingbird Vine print, here's the finished reduction cut (in lino) for my Christmas cards this year. I'll still be mounting it onto card stock to finish it off.

I strayed from traditional Christmas icons and, instead, based the card on a traditional Eastern European/Russian folk tale: The Twelve Months.

The story, in my condensed version, goes like this:

There was once a girl who lived, in a small cottage in the woods, with her stepmother and stepsister. As these things generally go in stories, the stepmother and stepsister were mean and treated the poor girl badly. For example, one day in the heart of winter, the stepsister decided she had to have some strawberries to eat. This was long before the age of supermarkets and Mexican produce; strawberries were definitely not available in winter but the mean women threw the poor girl out into a winter storm to go find strawberries anyway.

Wandering around in the storm, nearly frozen to death, the girl came to a clearing where twelve men sat in a circle around a blazing bonfire. Four of the men were very young, four were slightly older, four were middle aged, and four were quite old. The men were the Twelve Months and, recognizing her kindness and purity of heart, they not only allowed the girl to warm herself by their fire but also, one of them, June, made strawberries bloom in the middle of the snow drift so she could take them home to her tormentors.

There’s more to the story, of course, and the evil mother/daughter duo get what they deserve in the end. Also, I used a little bit of artistic license in choosing it as the inspiration for this year’s Christmas card: the girl is sent for the strawberries in January, not December. But her humility and purity of heart (and the magic it once would have taken to get strawberries in the middle of winter) are fitting to what, in my mind anyway, Christmas should be about.

November 15, 2009

So THIS is what happens to MDF?!

They say that November is the wettest month for us here in BC and they may have a point. Lots of rain these days which, as I've said before, is ok by me. The dog, poor thing, doesn't like it much, even with the water-repellent vest he has for the winter time. But for me, a big pot of soup on the stove and almost all day to print and draw makes for a good Sunday.

Another colour closer to the finish for The Hummingbird Vine today and the block is slowly getting smaller and smaller.

I'm really happy with the way this is evolving so far, watching the colours play off each other as each new one is added.

Still, there is something I haven't liked all that much in doing this print: the MDF. Yes, the romance is fading. Maybe it's because I'm doing so many colours (9 so far) but the block is getting "crumbly" and some of the edges are becoming ragged. It's also harder to get a nice clean cut edge as I'm carving, sharp as they are, my chisels tend to rip little bits of the MDF away instead of slicing. That annoys me.

I'm guessing that's just the nature of MDF. Given that it is a composite material, it is just not meant to be wiped and wiped and wiped all the time and I'm doing a lot of that: both during printing and after, when I clean the block in prep for the next run (something I have to do to be able to see the lines of my drawing). I use a barely damp rag and have tried using a dry one but it hasn't made much difference. The block tends to disintegrate a bit more each week. I tried to get around that by sealing it with a spray varnish early on but the varnish only sealed the surface and, as parts of the block are carved away, new, unsealed, areas are exposed.

Lesson learned, leave the MDF for prints with only very few colours or, preferably, one colour only. For multiple colour reductions I'd better try lino again and see how that holds up.

November 11, 2009

Lest We Forget

Have you seen the flags of Freedom
what color are they now,
Do you think that you believe in yours
more than they in theirs somehow...

Neil Young, Flags of Freedom

November 11th is always bittersweet. On the one hand, it's a day off. On the other, it's a day off in honour of those who died in war, to preserve the freedom we generally take for granted. I feel the weight of that. For years, I didn't really think of the reason behind the holiday and was just glad to have a free day. But as I get older, I become more and more aware of what this day represents. Like I said, I feel the weight.

This morning, same as for the last few years, I took a walk over to the graveyard. R and the dog came with me but we couldn't bring the dog in and R stayed outside the fence. There are quite a few graves of soldiers there and we figured it would be an fitting place to observe our two minutes of silence. A few other people were already there, standing still. Somewhere behind us, maybe from the Regimental buildings by Queens Park, a canon was going off.

I wandered around the graves, reading the names on the markers, sweeping the leaves away from those that were obscured. Behind me, three silver-haired people huddled together around one of the graves. A stooped man and two women in woolen coats. Poppies pinned to lapels. They were holding hands and leaning into each other as if for support. As if they were all sheltering under one umbrella, except it wasn't raining.

What thoughts at heart have you and I
We cannot stop to tell;
But dead or living, drunk or dry,
Soldier, I wish you well.

A.E. Housman

Back at home, pushing away a sense of melancholy, not wanting to waste the day, I printed.

Only a handful of colours left now.

November 08, 2009

Translation Widget Fun

Boy did I have a good laugh this week.

Somewhere in my internet travels I came across the possibility of adding a translation widget to this blog. And, although I never, up until I came across this possibility, thought about adding such a widget, I got curious. What would my blog, translated into Czech, for example, be like? I've got a whole gang of relatives over in the CZ. Surely, their lives are just not complete without knowing what this Canadian cousin of theirs (a cousin they barely know and barely remember) is up to, right? Ok, so probably not. But still, I was intrigued about the thing so installed it. As a test.

I then scrolled through the drop-down menu until I found "Czech", clicked, and...poof...there was the blue chisel in Czech! Magic! Well, sort of.

Is there such a thing as a word collage? Because that's what the translated version of my post was: a bizarre collage of words strung together in a reasonably comprehensible way but sort of...twisted. Mostly Czech words, a spattering of English, and a Twilight Zonish mixture of both, or neither. But the most amusing part was the gender issue.

Czech, like French, or Spanish, or German etc., uses different word endings for verbs according to the gender of the one who's performing the action: the word for a guy doing something is slightly different from the word for the same thing done by a woman. In my translated post, I, the narrator, switched freely from being a man to a woman. It was wild....instant and painless sex-change. Most entertaining. Still, I chose not to keep the widget installed. My past work history as a translator wouldn't let me. Bye bye funny widget. I guess my Czech relatives, poor souls, will just have to suffer along without the chance to read this blog.

Anyway, here's this week's colour in the Hummingbird Vine print.

I'm starting to get just a little bit excited about this print now. A bit of heart flutter when I see it, hanging to dry in the kitchen.

And, BTW, the new Flexcut chisels are everything I imaged they would be. They're good in the hand and great to work with.

November 01, 2009

Rolling back the clocks.

I'm sure I'm not alone but I LOVE the day we turn the clocks back an hour. A whole extra hour in the morning and the day seems like it's so MUCH longer. I got all kinds of things done today and I'm sure it's just because of that precious bonus hour conjured up by the switch to daylight savings time.

First, I added in the next colour for the blooms in the Hummingbird Vine print. Next week I can get back to the house portion again.

Second, I started working on this year's Christmas cards. I know. Crazy. It's only the first day of November, right? Outside the windows, the leaves are, in the words the dramatic Edmund Stone on NPR today, still "attached to their mother trees and showing brilliant colours". Christmas seems a loooong way away.

And yet, I know all too well from past experience how time has a way of vaporizing and a lot of the cards I make go overseas; I need to have them done by the first week of December. Also, I'm doing a reduction cut this time. A very basic one, only three colours (or maybe four) but it takes time for the ink to dry. Getting a head start seems like a good idea.

My original plan was to use Speedball inks. They're not great but they dry fast. I could print all three (or four) stages in one day. Nice idea except when I looked through my supplies, though I was sure I had more, I could only find two colours: white and black and neither one of those is what I need. So, Daniel Smith inks it will have to be.

The next problem is space. How, when I've got another edition hanging up to dry, do I make enough room for fourty cards on top of that? I solved that one by cutting my paper long and doing two prints per sheet, one at each end. Except I couldn't print this way on my press so I had to rig up a sort of a registration jig and I'm printing without the press.

I made a frame out of mat board just big enough for my lino block and positioned it against the right angle square I normally use. I'm not actually using those v-shaped pieces in the corners. It seemed like a good idea initially but my paper is too thin, essentially sketching paper, and it kept sliding around so I went back to using the hole puncher as always.

This is how the paper lays on top of the whole thing, held in place by the hole-puncher. I've already printed the image onto the other side which is why there's holes in the top.

Now, with the 13 prints in the Hummingbird Vine edition hung two per peg and back-to-back and the 36 card prints hung the same way, I have room for everything.

Sometimes, it's the smallest things that can make or break a day: an extra hour in the morning, a good drying rack, sun coming in through the windows...

October 30, 2009

Right in my own backyard: Woodcarver's Heaven!

It's absolutely amazing how things work out sometimes! Take this next story for example.

For years now, pretty much from when I first began carving, I've been wanting to get some Flexcut tools. I read about them on Wetcanvas every now and then and got curious. I love the look and shape of the handle; it's organic and most appealing, esthetically. I love the carbon blades; I know all about carbon steel and its virtues. But, as with all quality tools, they are pricey.

Recently though, I sold a print. And,

a) I always use the money from my print sales for printmaking supplies
b) I was in the market for a wide almost flat scoop chisel (for clearing away large areas of block)

But I couldn't find one locally, not even at Lee Valley Tools where they have all kinds of wonderful and amazing things. I decided to visit the Flexcut website.

They, no surprise, make just the thing I want. So the first thing I did was to look for local dealers. There are several listed, mostly different House of Tools outlets, and, all but one, all on Vancouver Island and therefore an expensive two-hour ferry ride away. The only one listed for the mainland, also a House of Tools, told me they were now KLM Tools and didn't carry Flexcut anymore. Can you say: HUGE disappointment?

Specially because by this point, I'd made up my mind that I HAD to have that chisel. There was no turning back; I'd already seen myself happily carving masterpieces with it. (With such a chisel, how could they not be masterpieces?!) I set about ordering directly from Flexcut.

On their site, the chosen chisel is $16.95 US. I figured the Canadian dollar is pretty high right now so my cost should end up reasonably close. Right! It seems that reasonably close in this case is $40 US when it's all said and done:

$17 for the chisel
$15 for shipping
$7 for brokerage fees

Brokerage Fees! What the hell! I don't pay brokerage when I order from McClain's or Daniel Smith do I? Or maybe I do and it's hidden in the shipping so it's not obvious. In any case, I can't justify spending more on shipping charges than I do on the thing I'm ordering. It doesn't seem right.

So, back to the Flexcut dealers page to consider the Vancouver Island possibilities. Three of them. Only one with a web page; that's the one I chose. I reasoned that, even if they didn't have the chisel I was after, they could maybe order it for me and would at least have some kind of deal in place where brokerage would be covered off as a blanket thing. And, even if they shipped from the Island, maybe the fees wouldn't be so steep. I had it all figured out.

Imagine my surprise though, when I landed on the web page and saw they actually have a location here on the mainland as well, ridiculously close to where we live. They have, in fact, been there about five years and I never knew it. And, not only do these guys stock a great selection of Flexcut tools, they have an incredible array of carving supplies in general. I found exactly what I wanted along with another V-gouge and a honing kit that's gone into the "get wrapped for X-mas" bin.

Amazing! Right under my nose, all along...
I can't wait to take the new girls for a test run. Aren't they beautiful???

October 25, 2009

Developing Eagle-Eye in BC's Wilds

The day of the hunt. Specifically, our annual wild mushroom hunt: the day we crawl through wet rain forest looking for chanterelles. There's a place we re-visit each year where, so far without fail, we always manage to find an adequate bounty. And, despite the odd caterpillar and twigs and brambles in the hair, it's a great way to spend a morning. Surrounded by trees and silence it's easy to imagine what it was like here, hundreds of years ago, when the first trappers and hunters came out exploring.

I read somewhere that what sets Canadians apart from other western nations is the unavoidable awareness of how close we still are to the wilds. Certainly here, in BC, you could set off on a hike through a provincial park and, heading north, end up in absolute and dense wilderness. An hour's drive out of the city you can turn your back on civilization and, standing at the doorstep to Alaska, be faced with the possibility of never seeing another human being ever again. It's hard not to feel a sense of awe, standing in the middle of such a forest then. And it's hard not to feel a bit humbled by it.

Anyway, back to our little adventure. Here's R and the dog, setting out. I took the camera and planned to look not only for chanterelles but also for interesting scenery for future prints.

When it comes to wild mushrooms, it's always the non-edible ones that are easy to spot. True to the rule, tree fungi everywhere...

And Rusellas...

Unfortunately, or probably fortunately, finding the edibles takes way more work. They hide: camouflaged under fallen leaves, buried under scaffolds of twigs, nesting in mounds of moss.

This, by the way, isn't a photo from today. I'm cheating and using an old picture I have on file because the camera died after I took my the first three pictures. Batteries! Bummer!

Still, as always, we found what we came for: I'm guessing close to 2 lbs (?), nicely washed and waiting to be turned into crostini for dinner tonight and who knows what else after that:

But I guess I must have chanterelles on the brain; the block I printed from today looks like it could be a patch of them in the forest:

Here's what it looks like when printed:

Inching my way forward.

October 18, 2009

Rainy days

One misty moisty morning,
When cloudy was the weather,
I chanced to meet an old man,
Clothed all in leather.
He began to compliment
And I began to grin.
How do you do? And how do you do?
And how do you do again?

It's been years since N and I would sit, cuddled on the couch, and read Mother Goose rhymes together. But, even after 18 years, on days when the clouds roll in and the mists fall, that rhyme still jumps into my head. And I love the misty moisty days of early autumn in BC. It's not really cold yet, summer just barely fading away and the real serious rains haven't begun so no one is sick of them yet, and it's great to stay indoors and print, or read, or listen to music.

Yesterday, warm and dry while the rain played songs on the window panes, I made a new bed spread; today I got caught up on some mending that's been hanging over my head for months. I also added in the fourth colour to my print:

So far so good. Moving along well.

October 12, 2009

Giving Thanks (again)?

And here we are, another Thanksgiving weekend. At least up here in the "true north, strong and free" it's another Thanksgiving weekend and it's incredible to think it's already been a whole year since the last one. Wasn't it just last week we were all sitting down together?

This year, lots to give thanks for. All the usual stuff of course: family, health, simple abundance etc. But along with all that, there's a couple of things I, personally, am adding to the list.

First, a milestone: My Texada Sunset was accepted into a juried show at the Maple Ridge Art Gallery. It'll be part of a themed show with quite a few local artists participating (various mediums) but hey, I'm glad to be included.

I met the curator on Friday when I delivered the print and she seemed pretty sincere in her praise of it so that, of course, felt even better, specially since the whole "show and tell" thing is still something I need to get acclimatized to. That, and growing some balls for when I talk about my work to people like gallery curators, for example.
My first urge still is to want to run for the nearest corner. Strange really, considering I'm hardly someone who comes across as shy and retiring in most other situations.

Second, I sold another print, at work, and I feel really good about the sale. Good to know there are some people I work with who like my prints enough to want to take them home and make them part of their space.

Third, I printed the third colour in the Hummingbird Vine print today. I couldn't stand the suspense of not knowing how my two blocks would marry up, so I decided to do the background colour for the blossoms instead of carrying on with the blue as I originally planned:

BIG sigh of relief, so far no issues. The few areas that are darker will be a different colour so the darker shade is ok.

And that's about the deal for this weekend. Where did it go?

October 04, 2009

The Cost of Being Frugal

Here's the result of today's efforts. (I'm not posting any images of the gray hair I gained as a result though):

I have a real issue with wasting stuff. I'd probably make it the eleventh commandment if I had the option: Thou shalt not waste!

Because I hate wasting stuff, like perfectly good ink, for example, I had some blue ink left over (from who knows when) in one of the little tublets I use for mixing, sealed in cling wrap and waiting for the day I might need it. That day was today. Clearly, the ink's been sitting for quite some time because I had to stir it really well to get it to proper consistency, but I managed. All was good. I discarded a couple of rubbery clumps and figured I was good to go.

Except that I needed light blue for today and my saved ink was several shades darker. No matter, I thought, forever the optimist. Surely, those rubbery clumps I'd taken out already left just the right amount of ink for me to add some white and some transparent medium to and I'd have the right shade, right? Ha!

More than an hour later (mixing ink, adding more white and transparent medium, cleaning my glass inking plate and brayer and block, pulling a proof, and doing it all again and again) I was a quarter tube of white ink poorer, wracked with guilt over how much ink I wasted, but finally close to the colour I was after. Do I ever have a hard time judging how light a colour will turn out to be! I so often seem to end up with a darker shade than I want. Lesson learned today: light to dark and NOT the other way around.

Anyway, I printed from block 2 today; the white areas in the image will, if the patron saint of printmakers is on my side for this one, be filled in by areas of block 1.

Here's block 2:

Last Sunday, I used block 1 to print the sky. I've started clearing some unwanted areas but only inked up and printed from one part of the block.

I saved the ink from today, to use next week....