Wednesday, December 22, 2010
I have just a couple of tiny tweaks left on this before I print an edition. But since I don't know when I'll have time for that I decided to post this version. It's on the same paper, Rives BFK, that I'll use for the edition. Size is 8x11 inches, with the image itself being just 6x9.
One thing that surprised me in printing on this paper is that it's a lot less absorbent than the Hosho I've been using. So I needed to press down much harder on the baren to get the ink to print. But since I'm so new to this I'm sure I'll continue to learn about both inks and papers.
I said last time that I'd mention some of the thoughts I'd had as I developed this. One was a quote from artist Chris Rose about the importance of the quality of line in a linocut. Line can of course be important in any art work. But there's something about linocuts that can make each line really stand out, both a positive line, e.g. the color of the ink, or a negative one, what's been cut away.
In fact in my last Laughing Gull linocut I used some lines in the water that became a very important part of the overall design. And yet I hadn't even comtemplated their existence when I designed the linocut. I just noticed them and decided to develop them and make them more important.
I did less of that here, but still lines did play a part. That was one choice I had to make. Another was how large a range of values to use, especially as I was really limited to just two: the color of the ink and the color of the paper. Through extensive hatching and cross hatching I was able to get some sense of the gray/brown and orange that are dominant parts of a robin's color scheme along with the obvious black and white. So I spent a lot of time working with hatching here, a method really more natural to etching than to linocut. But still I had to do something to enlarge the value range and so that's what I tried.
In a certain sense the regularity of hatching works against the more lyrical and expressionistic lines that seem to be the strength of linocut and woodcut. But I wanted both so it was another challenge to try to have both without them contradicting one another.
And then there is all that white, of the snow on the ground, of the snow and water in the birdbath, of the striking eyes of robins. As I developed this I tried it to get the white to work with the black and quasi-grays.
As I said earlier, I was really struck by this scene when I first saw it in our backyard about 4 years ago. One of the beauties of art I think is that there are no rules that say you can't go back and redo a particular theme. If Hitchcock can do it why can't I!?