Not quite your usual Valentine's Day subject I suppose - birds of prey... However as it's chucking it down with rain outside I might as well blog! I'd been wanting to turn my sketchbook drawing of my Sea Eagle into a linocut print ever since I finished it. I completed the drawing when the sea was calm enough to allow me to draw on our trip to Norway back in October where we were fortunate to see many of these exquisite birds.
It's my most complex, in terms of detail, linocut to date, and I have thoroughly enjoyed making it. There was a lot more texture to create on the linocut, having to look at the marks I was making as their own form of shading as I wanted to create it as a monoprint. It has involved spending a lot of time 'looking' and staring at the block and the initial test prints!
I started off by blowing up my sketch to fit the size of the Japanese Vinyl I wanted to use - this is also my largest linocut to date! Then I transferred the image in stages using several pieces of tracing paper. I couldn't do it all in one go as otherwise I'd have been rubbing the image off while carving. This was a new experience too - I'd carve some and then transfer over a bit more of the image.
I didn't do my first print until I'd done most of the carving - there were some areas - towards the top of the beak - where I was really unsure of how to carve them to create the correct detail and depth to the print. Once I'd done this first print however it really helped with knowing what to do.
Thanks to instagram (that should be a link!) and putting my work in progress pictures on there, I can see that I started the print on the 22nd January - so it's not taken me as long as I thought it had done in my head! I've been quite good at making sure I work during the times when Dave is out at Dog's Trust, although I have to make sure I've got the dogs nice and tired first so they don't get under my feet if I'm downstairs, or making a kerfuffle if I'm trying to work upstairs!!
The print block itself is about A3 in size, so I also needed some much bigger paper for printing on - I turned to my trusty linocut bible: Linocut by the marvelous Nick Morley - as well as a couple of other online blogs to see what papers people recommended. I decided on trying Zerkall paper, which I ordered from Jackson's Art Supplies.... it is beautiful! I ordered two different types of 120gsm paper - each sheet was 76 x 53 cm - the smooth and the rough, however I'm not quite sure which way round they are! The smooth (I think!) has a 'wave' running through it which creates an interesting texture with the print, whereas the rough is more of an even finish on the paper, and it prints up beautifully! I will definitely be getting some more of it for larger prints. I decided to stick to the 'rough' paper for my print run.
I have decided to limit the print run to 5 prints - it takes a good while to get these printed, about an hour in total to print each individual print, so I have printed three out of the five so far, as well as having my Artist's Proof printed - so still two to go! The black background took a lot of work to get it how I wanted it to be on each print. One was (metaphorically) binned as I got an unacceptable blob on the corner! I did finish printing it though, so I might tinker with it as an experiment in the future. I also tried an 'alternative' background as a separate proof print, but it may not ever see the public light of day - it uses colour (!)..... although it is something to experiment with in the future I think. I am really pleased with it the finished print and like the texture created from the printing method in the background of the prints too - they're not a completely uniform matt black and you can see some of the spoon marks, which really makes each print individual - and I am looking forward to getting one framed soon! Dave took a video of me printing too - I'll have to see if there is a way of uploading it. I am looking particularly good in my vintage printing pinny (it was my Great Aunt's) and slippers!!
In other news, I'm now all signed up for Warwickshire Open Studios in June and also for Art In The Park in Leamington Spa on the 4th and 5th August. There's details about both events on my 'About' page on here. I've also tweaked the pictures on my front page of the website too.
Plus - this weekend is the final weekend of 'The Art of Design' at Slate Art Gallery in Leamington Spa. (More details on my front page). I've had some lovely feedback from people about it, so if you've not got over yet it's running until the 22nd February 11am-5pm, Tuesday to Saturday.
Picture time! I'm going for the gallery approach again....
Here we go...
The ramblings of a linocut printmaker.... and other artistic adventures!