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

Where Ideas Come From

A Year Ago This Month

I enjoy the challenge of exploring other mediums. Back in February of 2013 I decided to try acrylic paints. I’d never used them before and needed to read up on their properties and techniques used for them. My past experience with anything close was with oils. Oils was a lovely way to understand how layer worked. I loved the buttery feeling of them and how their colors blended effortlessly. However, I didn’t enjoy the clean up and the length it took for the paint to dry.

Where Ideas Come From – The First Attempt

Where Ideas Come From was just one of many creative ideas that came to me in a dream. The circle patterns, lines and even the colors were fully formed. My job was to see if I could replicate what I saw that night while sleeping. I’m pretty pleased with the outcome.

What It All Means

The rust, red, green and blue mottled background is the stuff ideas are made from. The free floating balls of mixed greens, blues, whites and reds are the forming of thoughts in my dreams. Strands of corresponding colors connect the thought balls signifying my thoughts running together.Abstract painting
You can purchase prints, cards or cell phone cases in my Artist Gallery.

Fruit In The Window

Fruit in the window was inspired by watercolor paintings. In particular a book I had read entitled Paint Watercolors That Dance With Light by Elizabeth Kincaid. This book takes the reader from showing the reader how to view scenes in blocks of color and shapes to painting what they see using various painting techniques.

Inspiration Revealed

My photograph, Fruit in the Window, captures the same qualities of light as Elizabeth’s watercolor paintings. In this photo you can see various fruits sitting on a wide wooden window kitchen counter. You’ll find the bananas cradled in their black net of the fruit hammock. Granny smith apples, plums, peaches, melons and even two avocados can be seen together.

The light source is the window behind the food. The filtered sunlight can be seen streaming through thick green rhododendron leaves muted and distorted like in an impressionism painting. On the window sill itself is a bright blue vase holding white paper flowers.

Fruit In The Window

A photograph of fruit on a window sill.
The image glows with the summer’s afternoon sun. I wish I could paint as well as I see, this is why I read art instruction books. Hopefully I can apply what I read to good use.
To purchase prints and cards visit my Artist’s Gallery.

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.

The Black Crow A Personal Challenge

The Hurdle

This next printmaking project, Black Crow has taken me quite some time to fathom. I’ve often been confused by the reduction method of printmaking. For quite some time I couldn’t wrap my head around the process. How could one cut away sections of a block without jeopardizing the image as a whole? What portions of the design should you cut first? I know I’m not a dense person, however it was driving me mad for some time before I had an “aha” moment.

The Reduction Process

For those unaware of what the reduction method of printmaking is I’ll try and explain this to you. Starting with a linoleum or wood block you draw out your design on the block. At that point you have to know what colors you’d like to have on each element of the design. For the Black Crow I had decided to have white clouds, therefor the only color needed was the background of blue for the sky. As you see in the photo below I cut out the clouds which would remain white after adding blue ink to create the print.The first of a block reduction for Black Crow
The second layer was the design of the crow. I then cut away all the block until I had only the crow to print in black. The trick is to line up the block directly over the first printing. This is easily achieved by marking the block on the paper to re-aline for the next ink print.The second reduction cut for the Black Crow

Black Crow A Personal Challenge

Thinking about this process I’ve learned that for the most part, starting with the lighter color of the design first may be wise. Having more than three colors could become problematic. Adding additional color would certainly darken the background colors already laid down making it difficult to add a lighter portion of the design.

I’m already thinking of the next project where I’ll attempt three colors. My head my explode by the time I’m finished. I’ll share with you the outcome of my folly.Print of reduction cut of the Black Crow

A Study In Values

A Study in Values is my latest acrylic abstract painting. Back to the basics using the color wheel and working on gradient values of blue and orange. A white line slices the canvas horizontally. On the top of the canvas a vibrant orange washes down towards the middle gradually becoming lighter in tone. From the bottom a bold ultramarine blue marches up to the middle slowly becoming more subdued before meeting the white line in the middle.

In the orange field above sits a ball with the opposite blue gradient seen below. The same scene is respectively painted below. The painting’s bold simple design catches the eye and lends itself to conversations.

Click on the image to view a larger version of Study in Values.

an acrylic painting using values of color

Picasso’s Dachshund

The continuing fascination with Picasso and his animals all started last month. If you are a regular reader of this blog you’ll remember Picasso’s Cat. After showing Picasso’s Cat to the artist friend who started this whole adventure he pulled up another challenge for me. Who knew Picasso had a dog? I guess I was just unaware of the love Pablo Picasso had for his animals.

Picasso’s Dachshund

painting of a dachshund
The dachshund has a funny shape and certainly lends itself to be parodied. My intention to make him blocks of many colors never came to fruition. I guess I’m not that brave though I think I need to take more risks and just do the unconventional. Instead of cubism I think this painting is more primitive than anything else. As a friend pointed out I seem to be leaning towards the “chunky” style.

Picasso’s Real Dachshund

Photograph of Picasso holding a dachshund
I think this dog needs a name. His name will be Maurice. As always if you are interesting prints and cards can be purchased from my Artist Gallery.
Photography Prints

Black and White Carousel

This black and white carousel shows more of my Holga camera’s charm. Hauntingly beautiful this photograph captures a piece of amusement park history. In this image you can see the intricate designed roof with its faux gilded scrolling. The center column of the merry-go-round has this classic mirrors shaped in ovals with round light bulbs encircling each one. Around fly the wild horses and in this case and eagle designed car. Someone is seen sitting on a horse and shows you don’t have to be a child to enjoy the dizzying ride around in a circle.
photograph of an amusement park carousel

Black and White Carousel History

The carousel dates back to the 1950’s was manufactured by The Allen Herschell Company founded in North Tonawanda, New York. Between the years 1915 to 1970 The Allen Herschell Company became the most prolific maker of carousels. Their specialty was to manufacture portable machines for traveling carnivals. The horses on this particular carousel were made of metal.
Sold in various print formats, cards and cell phone cases. You’ll find my entire selection of photographs in my Holga Gallery.

Lefton China Tea Cup

A Lefton china tea cup is delicate, beautiful and today’s topic. Some days I am inspired by ideas that pop into my head. One such idea was photographing delicate porcelain tea cups. The inspiration came while browsing in my local second hand store for new books to read. I enjoy supporting this particular thrift shop because the proceeds goes towards cancer research. Like all second hand stores there is a large variety of trinkets and treasures to be found there. It’s nick knack section includes a wide selection of glass and porcelain cups, bowls, figurines and more. The tea cups caught my attention that day.

I purchased several tea cups from the thrift store that day. The first task was born out of curiosity. I looked up their marks and learned a bit about their histories and the companies that made them. I discovered this particular teacup was made by the Lefton China Company. Here is my very brief history for budding collectors reading here.

Lefton China Tea Cup

a photograph of a Lefton china tea cup
The Lefton China Company started in Chicago, Illinois by a Hungarian porcelain and china collector by the name of George Zoltan Lefton. In 1941 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor many American’s turned their hostilities on Japanese American citizens. In Chicago there was rioting and looting taking place. Lefton came to protect his Japanese American friend Nunome’s porcelain’s business by boarding up windows to protect his livelihood. After the war, in return Numome helped Lefton establish a business connection with China producing goods from Occupied Japan.

By 1946 the first pieces of china marked with the Made in Occupied Japan mark hit the United States. From 1946 to 1952 much of the china was manufactured by the Miyawo Company. Lefton china was produced in Japan to the mid 1970′s. Through out the 1980′s and on the Lefton China Company left Japan and utilized china manufacturing companies in Malaysia and Taiwan. In 2001 the family sold the company and is still produced today.
banner for purple floral tea cup products