Synthesizing sunlight in the studio

It has been a dark winter. When I lived in Seattle, I craved sunlight so much that I would sit in our tiny Honda CRX during rainy lunchtimes on the off-chance of glimpsing some rays. Our midwestern winter has been mostly grey and overcast. Perhaps that is why I’ve been delving into the joys and trials of yellow.
Elizabeth Busey, In Anticipation of Sweetness. Reduction Linocut,
18 x 18in circle, Edition of 16.

Many plants, including my inspirations of maple and ginkgo leaves, tend toward a yellow sunny color because they contain a substance called carotenoids. This bright yellow is mostly masked during the growing season by green chlorophyll. As autumn approaches, the chlorophylls are not replaced at the same rate, and that beautiful egg-yolk yellow shines through. Even the leaves are attempting to add a bit of brightness as the angle of the sun changes and our days become shorter.

Elizabeth Busey. An Echo of Beginnings.
Reduction Linocut, 27 x 14in, Edition of 16.

The ginkgo print incorporates even more brightness. After an extensive search, I decided on a technique for applying some gold leaf. I used Mona Lisa Extra Thick Liquid Adhesive in a squeeze bottle with a needle-nosed applicator. Special thanks to printmaker Barbara Mason for this applicator suggestion — it allows me to draw on the print and avoid using a brush, which made marks that were too thick and heavy. The layers of ink sealed the paper enough so that the adhesive didn’t fully absorb into the paper — a problem when applying gold leaf to paper.

The only wrinkle I discovered was that the last layers of ink must be completely dry — otherwise the patent gold leaf will stick randomly on the slightly tacky ink.

It was -11 degrees F this morning, but thanks to the cold, we have some sun outside, as well as in.

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