Showing how you do what you do

I sometimes envy painters. They can demonstrate their magic in real time. Full disclosure: I did watch Bob Ross painting his landscape scenes when I was home with babies. He was so calming and effortless in his movements as he drew craggy peaks out of black gessoed panels.
I have the same challenge on Friday, October 2nd. I am the visiting artist at First Friday Evening Science of Art at the WonderLab Museum of Science Health & Technology here in Bloomington. The entire evening will be printmaking — including letterpress and real leaf printing. And me.
Carving with my trusty Foredom drill makes short work of a small block.
For me, demonstrating on-site is tough. Watching someone carve linoleum can be a dull as dirt. I certainly can’t drag my press with me. We had a wonderful time printing two-layered linocuts at my Open Studios tour in June, so I decided to do a variation of this for the WonderLab event.

Because it is a science museum, I tried to think about how my work might tie-in, and immediately thought of spirals in nature. I selected an image of a succulent that I had taken at the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s fabulous greenhouse. But it was just green, green, green. I used my trusty Foredom drill with engraving bit to carve away what might stay white.


A juicy blend roll of magenta to raspberry is the first ink layer.

How to solve the monochromatic problem of the succulent? I immediately thought of bromeliads with their dramatic pinks and greens. That would work! For some movement, I created a blend roll of magenta to raspberry and printed the block onto thin Masa paper. Spoons will be our method of printing, and this paper will work better than my usual Rives BFK. I made a mini-version of my pins and tabs jig and printed 60!

Sixty first layers printed and waiting for parents and kids to finish the linocut at WonderLab.
Now the task was to carve the next layer and mix the ink for the event. I knew I wanted to test the color beforehand…
More lino carved away. Will the image work?
Every color I chose looked worse than the first. The pinks were just too strong for any greens I mixed. Even mixing colors with heaps of titanium white didn’t work. They just made everything look dull. After printing on six of my precious first layers, with the glass table completely covered with ink and every ink knife and brayer dirty, reason finally stepped in.
No happy colors here. I will have to wait for inspiration (or the event) to spur me into action.

I calmly scooped up the ink piles to save for another time and cleaned the glass, knives and brayers. Like a petulant child who has had a tantrum and her exhausted parent, this print and I needed some time apart. I think the block needs to altered somewhat, and clearly a different color is needed. The image is no longer a bromeliad. Thankfully the plant world is filled with spirals.

Check back next week when I reveal what I ended up creating, plus pictures of the WonderLab event.

4 Replies to “Showing how you do what you do”

  1. Thank you for 'fessing up' to your failures, we all have them and it can be very depressing at times. It's good to know we're not alone!

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