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Avoiding linocut regret … true confessions

The past week has been all about clouds and heat. My visit to the Des Moines Arts Festival was positive, but as always it was punctuated by lots of heat and threatening clouds. Luckily clouds are inspiring to me. Here are some that lit our way as we drove east back to Indiana…

skies over iowa

Traveling at over 70 mph meant that my Iphone could only capture this scene in a diffused impressionistic manner. I think it works for the image.

Back at home, I have been working hard on the plans for my large linocut inspired by another cloud scene. I worked to complete the drawing I had started before I left for Iowa — inspired in part by the lines and curves of a Georgia O’Keefe painting. One of the benefits to doing a full-sized study is you can see what your linocut might look like, and watch for mistakes.

I’m sometimes willing to start just from a pencil outline, and allow the design to develop as the printing progresses. I’m not willing to do this in the case of this large linocut. Perhaps it is the size of this linocut, along with the corresponding risks including the cost of the block (about $60), the paper (about $120), and my time that are giving me pause. I hung my completed tracing paper study on my hallway wall one evening, and the next morning had the terrible feeling that it was not right. Back to the drawing table…

graphite stick

My creation tool for large studies is a 9B graphite stick. The flat back end is useful for laying in tones without creating lines.

After another entire day of work, I came up with another version which I think works better. I spent lots of time looking at the values needed to make this a good composition, as well as what patterns I wanted to highlight in the work. When the two are hung together, I felt the bottom study was much more successful.

do over skies

A tale of two studies. I think the lower one works better for my purposes.

I’m still deciding about the horizon line. In the actual photograph, the horizon is made up of deciduous trees. But perhaps a more Iowa-like horizon would provide a better complement to the curvaceous clouds.  Now it is time to decide on the colors scheme for the clouds…

Even though I lost a few days of work with my do-over, I’m happy to realize my large mistakes on tracing paper — rather than after a month of carving and printing.

Where do you try to catch your mistakes? Any stories of linocut regret?

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