Two Quick EZ Cuts

At some point I ended up with a 4″ by 6″  pink Speedball Speedy-carve block. No doubt I purchased it for my young daughter to play with. I decided to give it a go and here are my results. The first design I decided to try was simple. Never having to cut this material before I wanted to see how it worked with my current carving tools. Using the chunky circular tree design I had in my sketch book I thought this would work well. Because I had a 4″ by 6″ block I thought I would create a square design (cut round) from 4″ by 4″ of the original size.

Round pink stamp designed with tree, leaf and acorn.
Simple circular tree design includes a leaf and acorn too.

This first design worked well. True as advertised the lines can be easily cut as thick or thin as you’d like. The only different is while printing with the block, I found a little ink goes a long way and there is no need to press very hard to print the relief.
The second 2″ by 4″ of the remainder of the block was designed for a water fairy sketch I created. This experiment would use thinner lines to see how the pink rubber block would hold up.

The Water Fairy stand in a lotus flower and is printed in blue ink.
The Water Fairy stand in a lotus flower and is printed in blue ink.

I actually like this water fairy and may try to use a larger block with more detail. But for now I’ve had fun using this pink rubber speedy-carve block.

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Quick Leaf Prints

This quick leaf print too four months to accomplish. Actually, that is how long this huge once green leaf was in the vase in my house. In October someone gave me a bouquet of flowers that included this lovely shaped leaf. The flowers died within a week of being in the vase but this leaf remained. I could not in my heart discard it because I was so impressed with its’ size and the nine bladed leaf’s color of vibrant forest green. Bigger than my hand, it remained on the counter until I found something to print it on.

Large green leaf laying on newspaper.
Large green leaf ready to be inked.

Thinking all the while I wanted to preserve it’s shape, I remembered I had a roll of brown shipping paper. The roll’s 30″ (90 cm) width would be wide enough for the task. Inking the behemoth was harder than making the print. The leaf wished to adhere to the brayer when rolling it out.

Large green leaf covered with black ink.
Big Leaf Inked with Black Ink.

I was able to print the leaf three times before it became an inked mess. The results were as I expected and I really like them. Because of their size this paper may not make suitable wrapping paper. With the tough nature of the shipping paper I may continue making it a larger mixed media experiment. As you know art is never finished, that’s why artist have so much stuff in their studios. Unfinished projects are hard to depart with.

Three black leaf prints on brown paper.
The results of the Quick Leaf Prints project.

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Winter Is Blue

In the North winter is blue. Freshly fallen snow has blue overtones. Once the sky is lit the gradient blue is endless. The blue birds chest remains blue all throughout winter. When you miss the sun you feel very blue.

I’ve been thinking of changes, not because it is January but because of winter. Winter doesn’t always remind us to sleep, to hibernate as bears do. It reminds us that this is the time for action, for preparations to be made going forward. There are things in my life I’d like to change, goals I would like to see met are in motion this January. I hope to be sharing more of these changes soon with you.

It’s quite a process moving forward with new ideas. I’d very much like to hone in on how far I can take my printmaking experience. I’ve decided to explore more creative avenues starting with this medium. Who knows, perhaps I will be morphing into my own style and make something of it.

In the meantime, just remember winter is blue.

White snowflakes printed into intense blue.
Snowflakes cut into a linoleum block with a lovely gradient blue ink design.
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Red and Blue Nordic Mittens

Continuing on my Scandinavian print project here is the latest installment entitled Red and Blue Nordic Mittens. This linoleum print design includes two pairs of mittens. The first pair on the left are red. On the top of the mitten you will see a snowflake pattern that includes four white diamonds with branches splitting them and small white leaves at the tips. The rest of the pattern is thin white lines also making up a diamond stitch.

The second pair of navy blue mittens includes a “v” shaped pattern of white stitches. This design is inspired by a sweater I own purchased in 1974 from L.L. Bean called the Norwegian, Nordic Wool Sweater. The cuff of these mittens have a thick white line stitched into them.

Red and blue Nordic mitten printed with linocut blocks
Two pairs of knitted mittens with Scandinavian design patterns. Click on the image to see posters, prints and cards.

I truly had fun creating these Nordic mittens. Part of the exercise was to find my own personal style with this thing called “art”. If you look through my blog I dabble in many mediums. I enjoy them all though some days I feel like I really have no “presence” or style of my own. With this project I have noticed I do enjoy the more whimsical side of design. This is something I will probably continue to explore.

Visit Lasgalen Arts Redbubble store to find this print on items for the home.

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Two Swedish Yule Goats

The third of my Scandinavian series of linoleum block prints is called Two Swedish Yule Goats. The Yule goat with its Germanic Pagan beginnings has always intrigued me. In Sweden the goats first origins of Pre-Christian lore to when the people worshiped the Norse God Thor. It is said Thor rode a chariot across the sky drawn by two goats named Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr.

The history of the Yule Goat takes various twists and turns with various traditions interwoven in the Swedish culture. Most often you can find woven straw goats adorned with a red ribbon as ornaments, illustrations of St. Nicholas riding a goat or giant erected goat placed in town centers for the Christmas holiday.

Linoleum block print of two Swedish Yule Goats, snowflake and leaves..
Linoleum block print of two Swedish Yule Goats.

Like the other Scandinavian holiday printmaking projects found on this blog, I’ve found wonderful ways to create Christmas products to share. Visit my Lasgalen Arts Christmas category in my Zazzle store.

 

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Red Poinsettia Linoleumcut

As part of my Scandinavian print project as mentioned in White Hearts and Red Stars, this next relief is a simple poinsettia motif. I enjoy carving this eight petaled flower because it made me happy to do so. It has a folk art like quality and maybe a little whimsical too.

Scandinavian designed red poinsettia print.
Scandinavian designed red poinsettia print.

I’m very pleased with this linocut print so I made it available for prints, pillows and more. Below you can see the design on travel mug. There are many more products to choose from including apparel, home decor items and much more in my Lasgalen Arts Redbubble store.

Pattern of red flowers on white background
There are three styles of mugs to choose from with my Red Poinsettia Linoleumcut design.

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White Hearts and Red Stars

Grabbing the carving knives again I have started a new Scandinavian designed print project this month. My intention was to work on this project prior to the Christmas holiday and create my own holiday cards but this did not happen. There seemed to be a shortage of red Speedball printers ink shortage in this country. I traveled to two different local art stores and neither of them had red ink. I checked my favorite online art supplier and they too didn’t have what I needed. Finally a supplier could be found on Amazon for a hefty fee, so a splurged and can now proceed with the project.

The first of my projects were a simple heart and star linocut. For the heart I carved a stitched like boarder around at 3.7 cm square block. I then carved three hearts one inside another leaving the heart in the center as white. Inside the very center of the hearts are red and white circles.

The stars include a red boarder and red star in the center. White circles and white leaves are found in the star along with another more intricate star in the center. This block is also a 3.7 cm square. The results of this project can be seen in the image below.

Scandinavian hearts and stars print project.
White Hearts and Red Stars Print Project.

Now that the holidays are over I’ve decided to utilize these two blocks to create a four squared pattern for prints. I love the folk art styled designs and have also begun two other linoleum blocks with Scandinavian motifs.

For fun I’ve added this Christmas inspired print to various items for the home during the holidays. For example this Christmas tree skirt below looks wonderful with this Scandinavian design. View all the products at the Lasgalen Arts Zazzle store.

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Red Water Lily

The red water lily signifies the beginning of something old. Back in the 1990′s I dabbled with creating mono prints by carving on wood and linoleum blocks, vegetables such as potatoes and anything sturdy enough to withstand a carving tool. In 2011 I was cleaning out some old art supplies when I stumbled upon a few remaining lino cut blocks from the past. Memories of having fun listening to ink sing between glass and brayer came to mind and I started to think about taking up the knife again.

Starting Over

The first project was to be a traditional water lily mono print. I’ve always enjoyed the traditional Japanese wood block prints seen and thought I’d try my hand at it. This simple design was easily achieved and I was quite pleased with the outcome.

Cutting a linoleum block for a water lily

It was fun getting my fingers dirty with ink again and the creative juices I used to have for hands on art was were coming alive with each print I produced. With out a proper printing press I found using a sandstone drink coaster a good tool to do the rubbing.

water lily mono print

Red Water Lily

On this particular piece I took it one step further. I like experimenting and my watercolors just happened to be near by. I decided to transform one of the prints into color. The results were very pleasing to me. The lily became red and popped out of the paper. Not wanting a pastel effect I used very little water with the paints and the colors became as vivid as I wanted them too.The red water lily print
And now for something completely different, you can purchase this print on t-shirts from Lasgalen Arts on Zazzle. Though shown on a tie dyed shirt, there are a hundred or more different styles, sizes and colored t-shirts to choose from.

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Red Barn Another Experiment In Printmaking

Red Barn is another experiment in printmaking. After the first attempt and success at performing the reduction method of printmaking, I decided to see if I could go one step further. The first trial, A Black Crow, utilized two colors with a simple design. The Red Barn would also print in two colors however this attempt would use a more complex design.

Elaborate First Drawing

A lino block with sketch of a barn and tree
I’ve shown below the complexity of the drawing on a lino block. Because red was the first color used in this process I would have to overlay green as the last. It is a tricky process of knowing what lines will be cut first, left for the second round or which parts of the block to be left alone entirely. You can see my thought process and my “cheat sheet” approach to it all.

The First Layer

From the image below you can see the block and the first layer of color. Other than removing parts of the block which I wanted to have red remain, the last tricky part is lining up the block to the first print.

First pass of this block with red

Red Barn Another Experiment in Printmaking

Lastly, the green ink was applied in the final printing. I was fairly pleased with how this experiment unfolded. The green lines left on the red barn look like barn boards. Though there are no lines left on the barn these green barn boards showed up on their own accord. The melting snow shows well on the barn roof and evergreen. The drooping lines of snow look realistic. I would do this process again with confidence.

Completed red barn and green tree in snow

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Inspiration From The Hobbit

The Hobbit

One of my favorite writers is J.R.R. Tolkien. Several years ago I had felt inspiration from The Hobbit. I decided to create a print project using parts of the story for mono prints. Tolkien writes such full stories with in depth characters and a huge back story. An artist (and there are many) could spend their whole career just capturing Middle-earth with paint, ink and wood.

The Story

There is not enough space here to retell the story of The Hobbit. For those who are unaware of the story line here is a link to the Wikipedia page for The Hobbit. These blocks are some of the first mono print works I created back in the day.

Beorn The Skin Changer

For those of you unaware of the character Beorn is a “skin-changer” and by night he turns into a large bear. By day he is a bearded man of large stature. Beor lives on bread and honey and his home is surrounded by conical bee hives made of straw.

A lino block and print of Beorn
The print includes a round bee hive with fat little bees and a flower on the left. On the right side of the print includes Beorn’s face with half of a man and the other half a bear.
A print of a bee hive and Beorn

Dark Forest, White Spirit

Huine Taurë Ninque Sulë is another Hobbit themed piece. The title translates to Dark Forest, White Spirit in the Elven language Quenya. In the story of The Hobbit the 13 dwarves and Bilbo Baggins are forced to travel into Mirkwood Forrest. It is deep and very dark and the company can barely see their way along a path.

During their trek through the enchanted forest they are rushed upon by a white hart. Startled, the company frantically tries to get out of the way and only Thorin is able to shoot an arrow at the hart. They are starved and sadly though the arrow hit its mark, they loose the beast in the dark wood.

The dark wood of Mirkwood is conveyed with a dark tree trunk lined print. Super imposed the ghostly white hart (I had used a second block for the hart) almost blends into the trees.A print of Mirkwood Forrest and the Hart

Barrels Full of Dwarves

Barrels Full of Dwarves was another mono print with inspiration from The Hobbit. Quickly to give an explanation the barrels are full of Dwarves escaping (with the help of Bilbo Baggins and his magic ring) from the Elven King’s domain of Mirkwood. Their escape down the river in empty apple barrels is indeed harrowing for the dwarves. Bilbo can be seen in the water among the barrels.
A print of barrels in a river and Bilbo Baggins

The Dragon and the Thrush

A little back story may be necessary for you to understand the design. The dragon Smaug (pronounced smowg) dwells inside the Lonely Mountain guarding his hoard of treasure. The 13 dwarves and little Bilbo Baggins are attempting to take back the treasure which really belong to Thorin Oakenshield the leader of the company. Bilbo manages to get down into the mountain and with his magic ring to conceal himself he taunts the dragon with conversation. Smaug is no dummy and assumes Bilbo is one of the men from a nearby town located in the middle of a lake called “Laketown”.

Smaug decides he has had enough of talking with Bilbo and attacks Laketown one evening. The villagers are armed with arrows and a great battle ensues. One man, Bard is their Captain. He is steadfast and brave and encourages the men to stand their ground though their town is literally burning down around them.

During the battle an old thrush lands upon Bard’s shoulder and talks to him. Bard is surprised he can understand the bird but listens to his messages.

“Wait! Wait!” it said to him. “The moon is rising. Look for the hollow of the left breast as he flies and turns above you!”

Bard takes his trusted infamous black arrow, the same arrow that belonged to his forefathers, and smote Smaug with great flourish and steam. Of course the story is more exciting if you read the words of the author but you will now understand the design of this block.A print of Smaug and thrush
The story has so much more to it that my print ideas are many. It has been some time since I worked on this series but seeing them together I may find more inspiration from The Hobbit.

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