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.
I have been up against a self-imposed deadline. During February, I am the featured artist at the Bloomington Bagel Company. Besides the fabulous bagels, the venue has a large white, well-lit wall, and my people (folks who like or buy my art) eat there. So I wanted to get several leaf prints finished.
Everyseed bagels are my sustenance of choice.
But be safe — don’t eat in your studio.
Elizabeth Busey, Yielding Gracefully. Reduction Linocut, 17 x 25″
During my exploration of the sassafras leaf, I was operating under the assumption that the colors I see in the fall were always in the leaf, but became more apparent in autumn. For the yellows and oranges we see, this is basically true. But not for the red. The red that I found so challenging and unfamiliar is in fact produced by the leaves as a sort of battle against the inevitable arrival of winter.
I don’t know how Thomas Edison did it. Popular lore claims that he discovered 1000 ways to not create a light bulb before he achieved illumination. I’ve been experimenting with encaustic printmaking this fall, and while I have learned a great deal…let’s just say that I have not achieved my light bulb.
I received some nice news this week that one of my favorite prints, Breath Intertwined (a close-up view of two red bud leaves)was accepted as part of the 2015 Delta National Small Prints Exhibition. This print went to Boston last fall, and is currently at the 57th Mid-States Art Exhibition in Evansville, IN. I thoroughly enjoyed creating this print, and this encouraged me to do another up-close leaf print.
My prints are all reductions, meaning that I use only one block and layer colors, one on top of the other. I create colors this way that I would never have mixed by eye. But one of the problems with reduction printmaking is that it is very difficult to get contrasting colors on the same print, especially colors in the same tonal range. Enter the stencil…
I originally learned about stencils from Karen Kunc, a printmaker who also teaches at the University of Nebraska. She uses stencils cut from brown kraft paper, and strengthened with masking tape. Holding the stencil over one area of a print, she adds color to specific areas. Her reduction prints are filled with vibrant colors.
A large leaf on lino.
My subject was a close-up of a leaf of Ragged Jack Kale. The scalloped blue-green leaves are punctuated by pink and purple veining. I knew that with one block it would be very difficult to do each of these colors justice.