Friday, October 23, 2015

The New, The Old, The Newly Rejuvenated

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Turkey Vulture and Trumpet Honeysuckle. Completed Two-Block Reduction Woodcut by Ken Januski.

I'm happy to say, and happy for you to see, that I can once again import pictures into this blog. I'm not sure where the problem was but I'm happy to say that it's fixed. And I'm sure anyone who dislikes my digressions into politics, while I waited to be able to post pictures again, is too.

I finally finished the two-block reduction woodcut of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Turkey Vulture and Trumpet Honeysuckle above. A combination of needing to allow ink to dry on earlier prints before adding new colors as well as the difficulty of making the final decisions on where to cut and where to add the black made it a lengthy print. All I can say by way of explanation is to paraphrase Matisse who said that every single part of a picture is important. You change one and the balance of all the others changes as well.  So when you finish a painting you're saying this is the best I can do. No more changes.

I  have to say that, at least at the moment, this is my favorite woodcut or linocut of all that I have done. Each day I look at it in the studio I'm pleased and it seems like it was worth all the work and all of the delay.

Winter Wren in Leaves. Proof of Black over Orange Over Black. Combination Woodblock and Linocut by Ken Januski.

But there is a problem that has been lurking on the horizon with my printmaking. That is the end of manufacturing of the water soluble ink I've been using for a couple of years, Daniel Smith. I'm not sure that other media have such basic problems, like even being able to buy the tools you need. Perhaps they do and I've just never run into them. I know I certainly haven't while painting in oil, acrylic or watercolor.

I began using oil-based inks. I liked the results but didn't like the need for petroleum based solvents, both for health and environmental reasons. So I experimented with water-soluble inks. But the two I tried, Caligo and Akua, just didn't seem to work the way I wanted, at least in m brief experiments. The only other water-soluble ink I know of is Graphic Chemical and I have heard no reviews of it.

So after I finished the print at top I asked on the Facebook page of Friends of Baren if they had any ideas. All three inks had their following. So I thought about trying the old Caligo ink I bought a few years ago.

My old linocut of a winter wren in leaves seemed a perfect candidate. I was happy with the edition when I printed it but I felt the wren disappeared a bit too easily. I also thought that an orange and/or brown could be added and really bring it to life.

So I decided to experiment. I proofed the  original lino using Caligo black ink, as seen below. Then I copied that onto a woodblock of the same size, cut the white areas away, and printed orange on top of the black. The results can be seen at the bottom. I did this just out of curiosity and was pleasantly surprised at the brown that resulted from the orange overprinting the black.

So in the proof at top I've printed black on top once again. I like the results. I've lost that brown but my plans are to eventually cut some of the black lino away so that some of the brown shows through.

If it works as planned this will be a shockingly simple print, the complete opposite of the last one. Of course that is refreshing. And I like them both. There is a place for the simple, the complex and the ambitious. I tend to favor the latter but it's always refreshing to try the former.

Winter Wren in Leaves. Linocut Proof by Ken Januski.

Winter Wren in Leaves. Linocut and Woodcut Proof of Orange over Black by Ken Januski.

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