Reduction Printing Day 5 with Lisa Studier

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Today I finished the fourth color on each print. They are coming along, but are not as successful as I had hoped. I usually feel this way at some point in the process–the nice thing about reduction prints is that with each color printing, the look of the print changes completely. Who knows, after I print the fifth color tomorrow I may decide I love the prints.

Printshop in snowstorm

Printshop in snowstorm

I woke up to a big snowstorm this morning, about 10 inches of snow! All this week, the temperature has been around freezing. We don’t have a thermometer (or heat!) in the printshop, but it’s probably been in the 30’s inside all this week. This is not ideal for printing. The ink has been very stiff, especially certain colors like red and blue that tend to be stiff to begin with. So it is harder to work with and needs to be thinned out which can be a delicate balance to not add too much thinner.

The cold is also affecting the drying time of the prints. Printing over and over on top of previous color layers is best done when the previous layers are dry. They don’t have to be bone dry, but it’s best to at least let the prints dry overnight before printing the next color. In this cold weather, my prints are not drying at all and now that I have several layers built up I had to print today on very tacky prints. This can cause all kinds of problems, especially with registration.

So let’s review where I am with the Black-tailed Japanese Bantam. Here are the four stages so far, with colors printed in this order: yellow, green, gray, red.

Fourth color

Fourth color

Third color

Third color

Second color

Second color

Print with first color done

Print with first color done

reduction printing day 4 with Lisa Studier

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Today I’m going to talk about registration. But first, let me recommend this excellent YouTube video featuring Santa Cruz woodcut artist Bridget Henry. It shows her making a reduction print from start to finish, and does a great job of explaining and showing the process.

So you might be wondering how I line up the block in the exact same spot each time I print. This is called registration, and if it is off by even a fraction of an inch, the underlying colors  will be messed up and printed over.

Block on paper ready to print--no ink visible around edges

Block on paper ready to print–no ink visible around edges

In this photo, the block is on the paper in the correct spot, covering the colors already printed. No ink is visible around the edges of the block, so this means it is registered correctly and ready to print.

There are various registration methods. If you watch the video I recommended, you’ll see that artist using a wooden frame that she sets the block in so it is held in exactly the same spot each time. The paper is then attached to one end of the frame on pins so it falls over the block in exactly the right spot.

Third color

Third color

I have to confess that I don’t use any of these methods. I learned reduction printing when I took a class about 12 years ago with Ben Rinehart. Ben is an amazing artist who makes, among other things, fantastic reduction prints. He taught me to do the registration using a method he calls “plop and drop.” Quite simply, it means I line up the block on the paper by eye. I know that sounds crazy, but with practice your hand/eye coordination improves and it becomes easy. It does require focus and concentration, and it helps to do everything in exactly the same order and rhythm each time. I like the simplicity of it.

Third color

Third color

Today I printed the third color on all three prints. I used the same color for all of them because it was cold in the printshop and I didn’t want to clean off the roller and ink slab multiple times. I mixed up a purplish-gray, and now the images are really starting to take shape. I hope to do six colors, so I’m halfway done!

Third color

Third color

Reduction printing day 3 with Lisa Studier

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Today I’m going to talk about color and ink. I use oil-based lithographic ink, but block printing ink works well, too. I like litho ink because it has a really nice, smooth texture. Etching ink is too coarse, so don’t use that.

Cans of litho ink

Cans of litho ink

Oil-based ink has a beautiful lustrous quality to it that I feel gives the image a lot of depth. However, it does require cleanup with a solvent such as mineral spirits. I’ve never tried water-based ink, and in fact I’m not sure it would work out with reduction printing on woodblocks. The block has to be cleaned after each color printing, and I don’t think repeated cleanings with water would be good for a woodblock. Water-based ink would probably be fine with a linoleum block.

As far as color, it is best to build up the layers from light to dark. The ink is not totally opaque, so underlying layers will impact the tone of colors printed on top of them. If you want a really bright yellow but you’ve already printed dark blue, you’re out of luck.

Horned Lizard II reduction woodcut

Horned Lizard II reduction woodcut

In this Horned Lizard print that I made at Stonetrigger in 2013, I printed the light yellow layers first, then orange, red, brown, and finally the darkest purple/black. I did a total of six colors–you may not be able to see them all unless you’re looking closely at the print. I often print layers of color that are very close in tone, for example first a bright yellow and then a slightly darker yellow. It’s subtle, but it helps to build up depth in the image, almost like shading with a pencil.

When I start a print, I have a general idea of what colors I’m going to use, but it’s very, very general. Once I start printing and actually see how a color looks with what I’ve already printed, I often completely change course and make very different decisions than what I was thinking when I started. My biggest piece of advice for reduction printing is don’t try to plan it all out in advance. Trying to match an exact plan will drive you crazy, and you really can’t know how the colors will look together until they’re on the paper. Being willing to adjust as the image develops will make you much happier throughout the process.

Hamburg chicken, second color

Hamburg chicken, second color

This is the third print I’m working on this week, a Silver-spangled Hamburg chicken. The first color was blue, second color a brownish gray. I hope to add four more colors, but at this point in the process I have no idea what they will be, except that they will get progressively darker. Stay tuned!

Reduction Printing Day 2 with Lisa Studier

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Today was sunny and a bit warmer, and it was an excellent printing day. I printed the second color on three separate prints, which means I cranked a block through the press 21 times. With reduction prints, you have to print the entire edition all at once. Here is the Black-tailed Japanese Bantam with the second color printed. As you can see, I cut away the parts I wanted to keep yellow, and then printed the second color, green.

Second color

Second color

At this point, there is no going back to the previous state. If I decide now that I wish I had kept another spot yellow, it is too late. Also, I cannot make any more. I printed 7 of these, if I don’t mess any up along the way my edition size will be 7, but it can’t be more. Now that I’ve done two rounds of cutting, I can’t go back to the earlier state. This is why reduction printing is sometimes known as “suicide printing.”

I am working on two other chicken prints as well, here are photos of the first and second colors for the Blue Andalusian chicken.

First color

First color

Second color

Second color

You can see that the first step was cutting away the parts I wanted to keep white. Then I printed the first color, blue, over the entire block. Next I cleaned off the block and then cut away the parts I wanted to keep blue. And finally I printed the second color, a grey-ish brown. Now you can see the original white lines plus the blue lines. I love watching the image gradually emerge as each color is printed.

In tomorrow’s post, I will talk more about color and the registration process.

Reduction Printing Day 1 with Lisa Studier

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Hello everyone! I’m super-excited to be in New Mexico. The printshop is cold, the ink is stiff, but I’m powering through and hopefully will be able to complete 3-4 prints during the time that I’m here.

So reduction printing is a relief technique that can be done with either wood or linoleum blocks. The idea is to create a multi-color image using only one block by cutting away more of the block in-between each color printing. It can be hard to conceptualize at first, but I’ll go through it step by step this week.

Currently I’m working on a series of portraits of different varieties of chickens. The one I’ll be using as an example today is a Black-tailed Japanese Bantam. My first step was to look up images of the chicken online, and draw an outline on the wood block. Sometimes I draw, sometimes I use transfer paper to trace an image. Either way, once I have the design I want, I go over it in Sharpie marker so it won’t be washed away when I clean the ink off the block later.

After the image is on the block, the first step is to think about what part(s) of the image you want to keep the color of the paper. You don’t have to do this step, you could just print a solid block of color, but I want to leave some white in this image so my first step will be cutting away anything I want to keep white.

Wood block with first cutting stage done

Wood block with first cutting stage done

You can see here that I’ve cut away a bit of the chicken’s body and some of the edges of the tail feathers.

My first color is going to be yellow. In this case, I used Graphic Chemical’s Golden Yellow straight out of the can. I almost always mix my own colors, but I really like this yellow so didn’t mix in anything else.

Here is a photo of the ink rolled out on the glass slab.

Ink slab

Ink slab

I roll out the ink with the brayer, and roll a smooth, even coat onto the surface of the wood block. The ink does not go down into the cut lines, so those portions I’ve cut away will remain the color of the paper throughout the entire printing cycle. Once a part of the block is cut, nothing will ever print over that spot.

Wood block with first color rolled on

Wood block with first color rolled on

I already had paper torn and ready. For this print I’m using Thai Mulberry paper that is kind of an off-white, natural color. So my paper is ready, my block is inked up, and I’m ready to print!

Well, almost. First I had to shake out all the spiders that were inside the rolled-up press blankets. I guess this is one of the dangers of a rural printshop!

spiders!

spiders!

There were many more that scurried away as I was grabbing my camera

Anyway, I got the press set up and ready to go. The first step of printing is very easy, just center the block onto the paper, inked-side down, then flip it over so the paper is on top of the block, cover with newsprint and the blankets, and run through the press.

Here is the completed stage 1 of the print. You can see that all the parts where I cut away the block remained the color of the paper, and all the rest is yellow. Tonight I will think about two things: what parts of the image do I want to keep yellow, and what will be my next color. Tune in tomorrow!

Print with first color done

Print with first color done

Lisa Studier Reduction Woodcut Extravaganza!

Prints, Small Print Store
Lisa Studier carving

Lisa Studier carving

Look who is at Stonetrigger Press! Lisa Studier, artist and cohort at Stonetrigger is here from NYC for 10 days to make some of her kick-ass multi-color reduction woodcuts.

After promising her warm weather and a reprieve from the punishing New York cold, she arrived just in time for a nice snow storm and some chilly winds. But that did not stop her from digging in and beginning her reduction woodcut chicken series. Not sure what a reduction print is? Well don’t worry. Lisa will be taking over the blog posts each day this week and showing you her printing progressions.

Lisa Studier's chicken print carving

Lisa Studier’s chicken print carving

Step 1 after putting the drawing on the 12″ x 16″ Shina Plywood from McClains Printmaking Supply, Lisa spent the day carving.

Step 2: will be printing the first color, which she plans to do later today. I am sure she will share that with you.

The cool thing about reduction prints is that you only need one piece of wood or linoleum. The tough thing about it, is that each color needs to be registered perfectly. But I will stop here and let Lisa take over for the next 7 days.

Check out this gorgeous Horned Lizard Woodcut she made here on her last visit. Three of her prints are available on Etsy and once her chickens are done, they will be available but extremely limited, only 3 of each, so watch closely if you want one.

Lisa Studier, Horned Lizard Diptych .

Lisa Studier, Horned Lizard Diptych .

Bearded Dragons, Linocut of the Day- Watercolor of the Day

30 prints 30 days, Drawing, Prints, Small Print Store
Original one of a kind watercolor, linocut, collage drawing

Original one of a kind watercolor, linocut, collage drawing

If variety is the spice of life, today is a spicy day. I have bearded dragon linocuts with red chine colle, bearded dragons linocuts with brown chine colle, bearded dragon in a watercolor desert fantasy landscape drawing. I have it all and they are each available on Etsy.

Framed beared dragon  linoccut version 2, red chine colle

Framed bearded  dragon linocut version 2, red chine colle

Watercolor Drawing is over a full 10″ x 6″
Linocut Image size is 6″ x 4″
Linocut paper size: 10″ x 8″
Paper: Rives BFK 100% cotton French mould made paper

framed bearded dragon  linocut version 1, brown chine colle

framed bearded dragon linocut version 1, brown chine colle

Tomorrow I am being treated to a post birthday (October 20) celebration by relaxing at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs. So there will not be any posts on Thursday, because I will be sitting in a 108 degree outdoor hot spring.

Detail of watercolor drawing on Bearded Dragon

Detail of watercolor drawing on Bearded Dragon

My Favorite Print Ever! “Narwhal” Print of the Day Project #40

30 prints 30 days, Prints, Small Print Store
Narwhal, 10" x 8" linocut available on Stonetrigger Press Etsy.

Narwhal, 10″ x 8″ linocut available on Stonetrigger Press Etsy $20.

It is a whale? Is it a unicorn? Did a unicorn mate with a whale?  It is a narwhal, over 80,000 of them live in arctic waters. The males boasts a long tusk, which is actually a tooth, they sometimes have two tusks. The tusks have over 10 million nerve cells and can be 10 feet long. These are clearly sensitive creatures!

This is print number 40! It is hard to believe, 40 prints since January 1, and it is only February 17! This, is my favorite of all the prints. It is a reduction linocut. The first layer is printed with a rainbow roll of color, then part of the block get cut away and the narwhal appears. It is then printed a second time in the press, same sheet of paper. In fact I like this print so much, I am going to being a small artist book with a story about the narwhal. Are there any writers out there who may want to collaborate?

Narwhal linocut

Narwhal linocut

Check out my Facebook page to see 9 steps of the printing process. It is pretty cool and a bit elaborate.

Each print is hand printed by the artist, me, Hilary Lorenz in my studio, StoneTrigger Press in New Mexico. Every Monday through Friday I carve and print in an edition of 10 a new linocut and post it here for $20. It is my Print of the Day Project and available on Etsy.

Narwhal linocut block

Narwhal linocut block

Buddy, The Cockatiel, Linocut #39, Print of the Day

30 prints 30 days, Prints, Small Print Store
Detail - Cockatiel Linocut

Detail – Cockatiel Linocut

This is a detail of Buddy of Cockatiel. “Buddy” according to the The Bird Channel is the 3rd most popular name for a Cockatiel after, “Sunny” and “Sunshine.” I thought this one looked more like a “Buddy.”

Buddy, Linocut 10" x 8"

Buddy, Linocut 10″ x 8″

Buddy looks awesome in this frame, his feather color gradually moves from orangey yellow to light yellow, to yellow grey and down to grey. The image is a little over 6.3″ x 4″ wide on 10″ x 8″  Rives BFK paper.

This linoleum block was super fun to carve. In fact I carved three blocks on Sunday, getting a head start to the week. It is going to be a really spectacular print week.

Look at these sweet “Buddy” prints all lined up and drying in the studio. They will be ready to find homes tomorrow. Ten are available on Etsy, as a print of the day project and still only $20.

Cockatiel Linocut, drying on table

Cockatiel Linocut, drying on table

Oh, Possum!, print #39, Linocut of the Day

30 prints 30 days, Prints, Small Print Store

framed_linocut_possum
I know it is spelled “Opossum”, but if we were in, say, Australia, it would be “possum” so I took liberties with it’s name. It is also a slightly different animal. I like  saying “Oh, Possum!”. I have a funny, or creepy, depending on how you look at it possum story. It is another kid story.

Growing in Michigan there was a line of trees between our house and the neighbors, pine trees about 10 deep. We used to hide out in the trees. One day I found a grey, dead, hairless, possum. I went home and got a brown paper bag and two sandwich bags. I put the sandwich bags on my hands, I picked up the possum by the tail and put it in the paper bag. I brought it home and my first thought I would dump it on the kitchen floor for my mom to find. I placed the dead grey possum on the kitchen floor and even as a pre-teen, I realizes that was kind of creepy, so I put it right outside the door on our step. I then called to my mom to find it, laughing my ass off when she saw it.

opossum

Possum, 10″ x 8″

I can’t remember her reaction but I can remember that it was not as strong as I had wished and I regretted not leaving it on the kitchen floor.

hilary_lorenz_linocut_possum

It was not until after this stunt that I learned about, “playing possum,” and how there was potential of the possum not being dead when I had picked it up. Since I had never seen one “play possum” I doubt that playing possum looks like a dead possum, but I laugh at the fantasy that it was alive and that when I put it on the kitchen floor it would have run around the house. Now that would be funny!

Possums are up on Etsy, sorry the pictures are not as clean as they should be. My camera finally died so I used my cell phone camera. Looks like it is time to go shopping.

Have a great weekend and Happy Valentines Day. I’ll be back on Monday with lots of great prints!