I seem to be getting into the swing of spending a lot more time doing this art thing, and I am really enjoying it. I'd been thinking about turning my frog drawing into a linocut print for a while, and as it was getting closer to Christmas and I needed to get some Christmas cards done, so of course I leapt at the chance to procrastinate and do something totally different instead!
Starting off #projectfrog was a bit of a headache - the detail on his skin made it an 'interesting' carve, and also deciding which detail to leave in and which to miss out, as there were some aspects and details on the drawing that I was unable to replicate with carving. I am really enjoying being up in my little art room (the tiniest bedroom in the house) although when I have music on and I am beavering away at stuff I have no idea how quick the time is going! It keeps me quiet ;-)
Once I'd got him carved, I had a bit of a ponder about what to do with the background - I tried printing him with a black background and no carving in it, but it looked too dark. So I cut him out and tried him (I don't know why I'm saying he!!) on different backgrounds - in the photo I think you can just see the bittern's beak poking up! I decided I'd probably go for a white background, but also knew that I needed some colour too, so set about carving a second block for printing first with colour, and then overlaying the block with detail.
I'd been doing some reading on the wonderful world of the interweb about mixing colours, and armed with my handy old AA card and a plastic spatula type thing I was pleased with the mix, although it took a while for the colours to blend. My original green was far too vivid, but with the addition of a little black it was much more 'frog like'. I think I've mentioned before what a fabulous thing my big sheet of glass is for rolling out and printing on - I can add ink mixing to the list as well now.... ;-) I decided on a first print run of 12; one I didn't wait to dry and printed the detailed frog plate straight on the top to see how he would look. The overlap of the black background (I'd not carved the background out yet) next to the green looked OK, but printing a large section of black is quite tricky to get uniform with a spoon, so this cemented the need to carve away the lino from the detailed frog so I got a white background. I was really pleased with the way the detail of the frog sat on the green frog background.
The green frogs were left to dry for a couple of days before I then printed the black over the top. It was a definite labour of love, as I kept needing to carve more away of the background as I was printing due to the roller catching bits where I hadn't quite carved enough away. However, in my reading about all things ink, I also found I had been cleaning my inks up all wrong. I use Cranfield Caligo Safe Wash ink, which although oil based uses linseed oil rather than chemically stuff and advertises itself as being able to be washed up with soap and water rather than white spirit (no nasty chemicals, or horrible smells and it's made in the UK too: win, win, win!).... turns out if you squeeze soap onto the inky bits and leave it for a bit then it really does just rise off! Using soap and water together to try and wash it does not. I have never cleaned up so quickly!! It also means I only need to use a little vegetable oil at the end just to get a few stubborn bits off.
#projectfrog has been printed onto A3 paper, with the print towards the bottom of the paper, however to frame him I've cut him down a bit and popped him into an A4 frame, which you can see in the slideshow. It's now time for the merciless plug, as you can now also find #projectfrog in my online shop! Woop! (I've made a 'New Prints' section to be able to add him to for now.
I've enjoyed doing the multi-layer prints, but I think I will return to a reduction linocut for my next printing project.
There's been other things going on too - I have another art fair this Friday at the Herbert Art Gallery again (details on the front page - plug, plug!) and I've turned another one of my inktober drawings into a Christmas card to sell there - two penguins - using some easy carve that I bought to try. This is second time I've used it, it was easier than the first go, but it is just so different to cutting the vinyl or lino that I am used to as it is so much softer. I've also been drawing some 'mini-originals' which I have framed to sell at the fair too. Images coming soon - please get in touch if you have a particular drawing request I could help with...
#projectchristmascard has it's second print run to be completed today (I MUST do this!) and I have another print on the go, both of which will be revealed soon.
OK - time for the slideshow! I also tried doing a little 'reveal video' of my frog print, which I'll see if I can upload - if not, I'll pop it onto instagram or my art facebook page later.
cheers me dears,
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Here we go...
The ramblings of a linocut printmaker.... and other artistic adventures!