Tag Archives: layers

This is only a test

There are many interesting phenomena in nature, and we are treated to images of them everyday. Internet-shared imagery zooms in and out showing us the incredible complexity of our natural world, and I am often inspired. The problem comes when I want to translate that inspiration into a linocut. Sometimes a fascinating idea becomes unsuccessful in the studio.

Many of my ideas involve intricate carving and numerous layers of ink, so I like to do a test when I’m thinking about a new series of work. I used the idea of a sea fan for a demonstration at my recent Open Studios, and decided to further pursue this topic. To get a good idea of what things will look like, I had to use a block larger than the card-sized one used for the demo. Patterns need a bit of space to develop.

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Little prints and a little fame

In my last blog I wrote about prints I was fighting with — prints that were intended for the Los Angeles Printmaking Society’s Give and Take Exchange. Here are the two resulting prints:

Elizabeth Busey. Kaleidoscopic Meristem.  Linoleum Reduction
Print, 7 x 9in, 2014.
Elizabeth Busey, Prismatic Tatting. Linoleum
Reduction Print, 7 x 9in, 2014.

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Now if only spring would really come

Elizabeth Busey. Prints on the Land. Linoleum Reduction Print, 25 x 40in, 2013.

My first large-scale print is finished. In Prints on the Land, I wanted to capture that overwhelming experience of late spring in the Midwest – warm, moist, earth-scented, and yes, green.

When I first finished this print, I hung it in my studio to take a look. My studio is small, so I could only stand about four feet away from the print. I was pretty unsure about what I had created. Last weekend I exhibited one print at my church as part of the culmination of my grant. When I could stand back farther, I suddenly saw what I had intended. Larger work just needs more room to breathe. Whew!
For the grant, I am placing prints at several places where the public can experience the work, read about the project, and yes, even touch the print (gasp!) Framing these larger works is more expensive, and I didn’t want to have any site say no because of concerns over liability. So people can touch the print, read about the press expansion, touch a sample of carved linoleum, and see “in progress” pictures. I rarely put in-progress pictures in my blog because setting up the lights and camera is a lengthy process. For this grant, I set up some of the lights and used a smaller camera. So the colors aren’t exactly precise, but you will get the idea.
Yellow/orange blend roll.
Light green
Blue layer using a stencil protect the hillside.
A layer of magenta changes everything.

 

Now we can see more of the rows.
Another blue area.

 

Another layer of bright blue completes the print. Now if only spring would really arrive in the Midwest.

 

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“Ogres are like reduction prints…they have layers!”

In a memorable scene from the movie Shrek, Shrek is trying to describe ogres to his traveling companion, Donkey. “Ogres are like onions…they have layers!” he exclaims.  They are complicated, nuanced…  Layers are also the secret behind printmaking. As I detailed in my last post, most of my prints have eight to ten layers of transparent ink to create an image that “pops” out from the paper.

Elizabeth Busey,  Breath Intertwined.
Linoleum Reduction Print, 25 x 17in, 2012.

My latest print, Breath Intertwined, has many layers, and different parts of the print have different layers. By making use of some cardboard masks, I was able to use thalo blues in the lower green part of the print. The purple-red leaf section received several layers of outrageously electric purple to achieve the dusky red-purple of the finished leaf.

Last night I explained to my art group friends that even though different parts of the prints had different layers, it was necessary for them to share some layers as well. In the case of the two leaves, they share several layers, yielding the bold chartreuse color of their veins. This shared color palette helps the image feel connected and harmonious.

This explanation made me question why plants like my featured Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis L.) can have green leaves, or purplish red ones. According to Sven Svenson, an Oregon State horticulturist, all leaves have three types of pigments. Leaves that appear green have higher levels of chlorophyll, which absorbs red and blue light, so we see them as green. By contrast, some leaves have a higher level of anthocyanin, which absorbs blue, blue-green and green light, so we see them as having red to purple pigment. (A third pigment, carotinoid, is responsible for yellow to yellow-orange leaves.)

Can you see the chlorophyll? It is all about the layers.

Even leaves that block the green light from our eyes have the chlorophyll necessary for photosynthesis. I imagine that they have the layers of green in them, but we just can’t see them.  We just have to have faith (or confidence) that it is there.

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Muddling in the middle

The new Tu-Way Drier is working so well that I have two new prints in process. Each has about six layers of ink. I start out my prints with a tracing paper guide that has the most important lines. Then it is up to me to develop the patterns and colors. So I’m in the middle… Here are some quick snaps of the latest work.

Print about ice in process.

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