Carving Away Paradise

Beloved, my latest series of reduction linocuts, looks at places that are in danger because of global warming. Ephemeral Sanctuary looks at the delicate islands that ring the southern United States and the Caribbean, such as The Bahamas, St. Lucia, Barbados, Bermuda and many others. My husband and I spent our honeymoon on Bermuda. These pink sand beaches and shallow aqua waters hold a special place in the hearts of many throughout the world.

Aqua waters flow through pink sandy islands, in danger because of sea level rise & global warming.
Elizabeth Busey, Ephemeral Sanctuary. Reduction Linocut, 10 x 33in, Edition of 13. $375 unframed.

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Another printmaker comes to town!

One of my New Year’s resolutions for my blog is to highlight artists that I enjoy — especially printmakers. February provides me with the opportunity to introduce you to James Hubbard, who will have an exhibit at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center in February in Bloomington Indiana. For those of you in Bloomington, you can meet James on Friday, February 7th from 5pm until 8pm.

James Hubbard, Mountain Contours Through Pines. Linoleum Print, 12 x 18in, 2013.

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And the clouds revealed…

Elizabeth Busey. Hope Despite the Evidence.
Linoleum Reduction Print, 17 x 25in, 2013.

In the last post I related the saga of my ruining a block and having to start over. This print is the final result of a new block, new paper and many more hours of carving. On the previous block I carved away those crucial corn stalks that extend over the water. Without them, I don’t think your brain would have been able to make sense of things.

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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.

 

“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.

The miracle of the mask

 I am often asked “what is a reduction print?” A reduction print is where one block is used for the print (instead of carving a block for each color.) After each layer of ink is printed, some more of the block is carved away. I like this method because it is easier for me to register the work and it creates complex and surprising colors. Plus my work is large enough that carving a block for each color would definitely give me carpal tunnel.
Elizabeth Busey, Coming of the Zephyr. Linoleum Reduction Print, 15 x 24in, 2012.

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