previous lino/bird posts here
After MK had challenged me to do color linoprinting, and I'd finished my 6-linograph bird series (to print cards for my mom for her birthday -- she was very happy with them!) -- I had an idea!
It was a crazy idea. My last color multi-layer lino was 3 colors, and let's be honest -- moderately successful. (Lines a bit too thick, not a lot of finesse, tesselation meh, and so on.)
But it had gotten me started on reading about all these fancy-schmancy registration techniques -- registration, that's fancy art print speak for "how to get your prints all lined up when you're doing multiple layers" -- and all it took me was reading the directions a few times, MacGuyvering materials from cardboard and styrofoam, and boom -- within 30 minutes I'd gotten a very well registered 3-color print.
So what was three colors if not simple - facile -- done?
Time to do six.
Yeah, that's right, I went from zero to peacock. I drew the base image off of Google but stylized it just enough -- we are looking for a realistic looking bird here, but not a REAL one. Just one that is recognizable for what it is while at the same time not very concerned with subtleties of feather anatomy or anything.
Per my notes I started this project end of Sept, so just around 2 weeks ago (feels like longer). The first part of this project was boring AF, as I was just hacking out large pieces of lino into specific, smaller pieces of lino. (The color layers.) I was also being cautious and trying to deliberately leave extra behind when I was cutting each layer to pattern -- like I said in my last post, if you carve too much and make a mistake by leaving out detail which should be in your print, you're SOL. You can't put the carved lino back into the print. But if you leave extra behind -- aka take wider margins, don't go into any detailed outlines or shaping on your first few passes -- then you can do some test prints, make some comparisons, and finesse.
So I carved 5 color layers. And I set up a workshop at the print studio that's two blocks from my house (YES I MOVED TO THE RIGHT NEIGHBORHOOD FOR ME!). That was last week and by then, I was kind of stumped on my peacock. You see, I had 5 color layers but they were all just pieces of bird shape. There was no texture in the carvings, there was no detail, I realized by this point that when I printed them -- if I did with the design as I had conceived -- my prints would just be a glob of different colors making a vague peacock shape on a page. My "sixth" layer was actually planned whiteness -- blank spots -- carved into all the linocarvings so that effectively, between my 5 printed colors and the white showing through, there'd be "six colors" in my high falutin' final design.
There was no detail -- no structure -- no layer that pulled the whole thing together.
test prints as i was finessing the color layers - these all look good. however, they're all limited to only 2-3 of the total FIVE planned layers. i did manage a few test prints of the 5...i had trouble with the colors, finding a way to pull five different colors on a page next to each other without being either muddy, busy, or just kind of brown and yucky.
I leafed through my linobooks and thought. "Did I need another layer? And this one would be...black?" I wondered. "SIX COLOR PRINT LAYERS? That would be truly crazy though....eh....I guess that's right, what's one more when I'm already at 5?"
I took my original design and traced out a "skeleton" black "key image" (as they're calling it in the linocut books) -- my final layer, my "hopefully pull everything all together," my "time to add texture," my "finally! some interesting carving!!" layer.
I had so much fun carving this. This was the first layer where I felt like I was actually making art with this project.
I even used some advice from the linoprinter who'd given me that workshop at the print studio! Bam. Real life learnings, in action!
When I finally finished this, top/detail, final, key layer...
OMG I love it.
And I'm pretty proud of it too! It's interesting artistically for a few reasons. Which I'm sure you don't care that much to list, LOL!
I took one of my test prints (who am i kidding i ultimately did this with all of the good ones i had)
and I printed black on top of it
DAMN doesn't that just pull everything together. DAMN doesn't that just chef's kiss
Now, the final test -- the TRUE test -- I needed to actually print all 6 layers using my improved home/kitchen-printing-registration device. Would this actually work? Had I finessed the carvings enough to avoid some of the muddiness caused by excessive overlapping? Had I figured out some color choices which would, at least, work and present a peacock in relative harmony with itself?
By god. It all actually works. I actually freaking did. :)
I'm so proud and don't have any friends to share this with! I need linoprinting friends...But in the meantime I am glad to update you on my bird saga, Hubski.
Thanks for listening.
I'm so excited and love this print/its ENDLESS POTENTIAL COMBINATIONS so very much!