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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To the sketch book I go for the last and more complicated project. There will be more to follow soon.
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.
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 a white pillow. Click on the image to see more.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’ve turned these prints into lovely gifts and more. Just click on the images below to see what is available.
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
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.
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.