Monday, August 1, 2011


I've just finished the linoleum block reduction print of a Blackburnian Warbler seen at Magee Marsh in Ohio in May, 2011. This print has been an ordeal, using 8 or maybe 9 or maybe even 10 colors. But in terms of color it's pretty much what I wanted.

In terms of registration well maybe not. Without a sophisticated registration system, and perhaps even with one, a print with 8 to 10 colors might not have the best registration. Still it's probably better than your average newspaper! The difference is that I don't care all that much.

I don't want total chaos but I do like the happy accidents and forced inexactitude that many colors creates. This could easily sound like an after the fact rationalization. But it's not. I just don't like finely done art, at least not from my own hand. I can admire it in the work of others. But for myself I start shaking when I verge to close to exactness. It's just not my character.

When I was a child I read something that said Native American artists(Indians in the lingo of the time) often left a mistake in their crafts because something that was perfect was a challenge to the gods or something like that. I'm sure I'm misremembering it. But it stuck with me. Who knows whether it had any influence on my aesthetics. I doubt it. But it is funny how I think about it as I verge away from anything that is too finely done.

I'm not sure how many readers are familiar with reduction linoleum block prints. What it means is that as you print one color you carve it away from the block after printing. By the time you're done there's almost nothing left to the block. The photo above shows what's left in the final inking. I'm getting fancy here and using two colors, the final green and a new orange for the throat. The smudges on the block are where the inking brayer tilted and got ink where I didn't want it. So I rubbed that area off before printing.

The final edition of this is 12, with 4 artist's proofs. They are nearly the same as the final edition. Because of the complex registration each print is really almost unique. The paper is 9x11 inches and the image itself is 6x8. I've used Gamblin oil-based ink and hand pulled each print on Rives Heavyweight paper. Eventually one or two will go up for sale on my Etsy site.

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