Breaking the rules

Sometimes it feels good to break the rules. Printmaking has many of them — perfect alignment, clean edges, no brayer marks. I had tried breaking some rules by working with the dyed silk, and even though this experiment did not work, I couldn’t let my key block image go. So I’ve decided to break some more rules in the search for blended, variegated colors.

My key block from my last experiment. Sadly, I will need to carve a new one.


Is evenness always the goal?

Layer one, with uneven blending and coverage.

My first printmaking instructor stressed the importance of even layers of color. For most linocuts, this is true. But what if my first layers weren’t even? Would it make us think more of sky and water? I used a rainbow roll of creamy warm yellow on the top, and deepened rose on the bottom. Unlike perfect rainbow rolls, the colors don’t blend seamlessly, but are varied.

The beauty of variety

Diagonal rolls with small brayers bring inexact colors to the work.

For the next layer, I used smaller brayers to add diagonal stripes of an orange, red and blue in particular areas of the block. By using transparent base on the edges of the ink, the colors were able to blend from color into no color. Although I rolled the ink in approximately the same place each time, each one was slightly different. Some showed places where the brayer made marks, while others didn’t. My hope is that these transparent layers, plus a few more, will fade into the variegated reflected skies I am looking for.

What rules are you breaking?

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