Preview: Free Art Friday — Lexington, KY Edition

Attention Lexingtonians! The Errant Easel bloggers will be participating in Free Art Friday tomorrow, Friday July 13 right here in Lexington, KY. Along with other creators in town, we will post copies of our works (for free!) Friday morning in various locations.

Important notes:

These are original works that we want people to take home and enjoy or gift to those who would.

We will post the location of our work here on the Easel and at Facebook HQ for the event.

Check the Facebook page for the location of other free works submitted for your consideration.

If you have works you would like to send out into the world, join the FB group and spread the word.

If you take art, let us hear what you think on Facebook, Twitter, or here on the Easel.

Staci’s work will appear in the UK/South Limestone area, Dez will share her work at the Richmond Road Starbucks, and I will canvas the Woodland, Euclid and Rose Street areas. Hope you get some free art tomorrow!

Hello Linoleum….We Meet Again!

New haircut, new beginnings, same me

Hello one and all!  It has been, if you look back through my posts, Ca-RAAAAA-zy to say the least.  I’ve moved out of the apartment I’ve shared with my (former) significant other for almost 5 years which, let me tell you, was a bit harder than I had an anticipated.  Still, it was the move that had to be made.  Neither of us were very happy and we all know two unhappy people trying to be happy so the other will be happy = no one happy or I would accept one happy the other not.  That’s not a way to live and, saying that, I want to wish Doug much happiness and love.  It’s been pretty amicable with me only having a few – a few – minor breakdowns.

ANYHOO…. More

Challenge Accepted! June Edition Part 1

So we’ve made it to Day 19 of our June Challenge.  Time to tip our hands on at least part of our challenge work so far.

Our very own bees

For my lino print, I started with a simple sketch of a honeybee with random honey comb. I have an arguably (not so) strange attraction to honeybees. At least four generations of my dad’s family have kept hives of domesticated bees, successfully introduced wild swarms into built apiaries, and collected jars of honey and comb.  I’ve spent many summer evenings in lawn chairs situated just behind and off to the side of hives watching the straggler workers return home, their rear legs heavy with pollen deposits, as the hive slowly settled down into a composite fuzz of a social collective.  As long as we brought their sugar water early enough in the morning and sat quietly at night, they didn’t mind the audience. Our honey tasted of sourwood and clover and the comb was candy. We don’t collect as much honey these days, in spite of mite strips and other remedies, but I would gladly give beekeeping a shot again once I had my own land. In the meantime, I’ll make prints.

Outlined with SharpieI started from a simple sketch and transferred it as best I could, under the advisement of the patient and noble Professor Staci, to the linoleum square by poking holes in the main lines of the sketch and then tracing the sketch with a Sharpie marker in such a manner that the ink bled through the pinholes to lightly stipulate the image on the lino. I have always enjoyed the entomological/anatomical look as a science fantasy throwback to pulp era. Could I pin bugs? Not sure. But I like their lines, segments, and symmetry. I always remind myself, though, that “Organisms vary.” So my bee giving the viewer the stink eye is just an expression of the variance in heritable traits that allow for Darwinian natural selection. Right? Right.

Free-handed Honeycomb!As always, my personal hang up is making the first mark. Or in this case, the first cut with the lino tool. But after I chilled and channeled a bit of the Huber Farms Starlight White provided by the generous and wise Professor Dez, I got to carving. And, wow, I didn’t realize how physically rewarding this project would be. Once I got into a rhythm, I figured this could be an extremely effective destressor. I randomly threw in some honeycomb that kind of reminded me of organic chemical rings.

Artist's ProofThe most exciting and tangibly rewarding part of the night was no doubt the printing process. It was neat to roll the ink, coat the print and then use additional physical force to transfer the image. Despite the fact that it was midnight on a work night, I couldn’t keep the smile off my face. I really liked how my print turned out and the process my friends taught me to get there.

I enjoyed this printing technique so much that I hope to develop it into a skill. As a preview of the June Challenge Part 2, I plan to continue my Honeybee series, with a print of an empty lawn chair situated to the side and behind an apiary. This print will involve lots more carving so that the lines of the picture are black and the background light. I have an initial sketch but need to work on the composition/perspective type things that I have no clue about. Luckily, my husband lent me his copy of How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, which I am thrilled to check out and touched that he offered. I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

The Errant Easel Attends the Woodland Art Fair 2011

It was a beautiful weekend for an Errant Easel outing, and we walked with our significant others and a few good friends to the park-turned-fairgrounds to explore the bustling and sprawling artists’ booths. I always genuinely enjoy going to this event. My spirit is never dampened by the crowds, the overzealous sun beating down, or even the humidity.

If you are not familiar with the Woodland Art Fair, there are 200 artists skilled in printmaking, photography, painting, drawing, papercutting, jewelry making, metalwork, sculpture, ceramics, leatherwork, knitting, weaving, quilting, woodwork, and even haberdashery (and that’s just the booths I remember seeing). Not only were the categories of art diverse and extensive, but there were also a variety of methods and materials of choice within each category. Take printmaking, for example. There were woodblock prints, etchings, silk screen, and computer generated prints in the very least.

I see something of myself in these prints

Girls with Bugs Collection

In addition to the the official Woodland Arts Fair, the rest of the Chevy Chase area takes advantage of the opportunity and transforms into additional street fair. These booths are as exciting to me as the official fair. My favorite booth, ran by Cricket Press, is found across the street at the Woodland Christian Church. Cricket Press creates and prints silkscreen posters to advertise music groups and community events. Personally, I am most partial to the original art prints they sell. Last year for my birthday, Brad custom matted and combined four of their prints into a frame to create what we affectionately call the “girls with bugs” set. This collection includes two girls with fireflies (The Collection and Lightening Bugs), a girl with cicadas (The Cicadas) and a girl with bees (The Bees). The cicada girl is my favorite owing to the far away look evidenced by the tilted chin but concealed by aviator goggles. The hum of cicadas seemed as loud as biplanes in the woods of my childhood. Each summer, my dad and I would collect vacated cicada shells to make locust bug stew, a recipe calling for different leaves, grasses, and flowers to be stirred with a broken broom handle in a five gallon dry wall bucket of pond water. I can still remember the smell after the requisite hours spent stewing in the sunlight.

Where the woods meet the sea

Girls with Creatures Collection

This year, I followed up with a “girls with creatures” collection comprised of The Foxes, The Rabbits, Girl in the Sea, and The Woodlands-Squirrels. Hey, I like what I like and what I like is being a girl with an interest in bugs and animals. There were quite a few other awesome art print options, but I couldn’t resist freckled girl with the octopus beehive hairdo. I also really enjoyed the personality of the foxes, rabbits and squirrels in the other prints. I like the use of blues and yellows throughout both groups of prints which (somewhat irrationally) reminds me of the bookshelves I have stuffed with vintage Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books.

If I had returned to the booth a second time, I, no doubt, would have also acquired the art print poster of the kids exploring the woods with a flash light entitled Haunted Woods. It has a really neat pulpy, adventure party feel to it that I really identify with. If you have a spot on your wall for any of these prints or you want to get me the best birthday present ever you should check out their website and Etsy shop. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

Episode IV: Return of the Final Print

Linoleum block - at the end

This is it – the end of the road for my first reduction print in a couple of years.  I finally have my characters that will be used in future prints and I am flush with success.  I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing the progress and that you like the final product.

For a recap, let me remind you what I’ve been doing: a REDUCTION PRINT.  A reduction print is where each color is added, lightest to darkest, starting with the area that is to be white being removed first.  After each color, the area that is to remain that color (ex: what you want to keep red) is cut away.  When you have finished cutting away all the color sections, you will be left with a black and white outline.  So, while you’ll end up with some color prints, once you’ve finished it can only be printed in one color.  Any additional color, from here on out, will have to be hand colored after printing.

Now, before getting too ahead of myself, there were some issues with the print.  While I tested the prints to make sure the ink was dry on them, sometimes the ink layers would come through.  This really doesn’t bother me since the scene has the figures watching fireworks and for it to look like some color is reflecting on them is okay.  My alignment (making sure the prints are placed the same way for each color) was a little off on a few of the prints, but overall I was pretty excited that I didn’t fudge it up!  I also got a little crazy and decided to see that maybe a lighter color could be added after the darker colors.  It can’t.

Gold on darker colors...doesn't work

Other than that, I feel that I have a success on my hands.  I really enjoy the characters that I have to work with and look forwards to making a series of prints with them.  I plan on making a few runs of prints with the remaining outline in a variety of colors.  Now it’s all about deciding what to have T-Bot and B-Bot doing next.

T-Bot and B-Bot, just enjoying the show

Episode III: Adding Color to the Print

Let’s do a brief recap of what’s been going on with my linoleum print.  For those of you interested, the supplies I’m using have come from Dick Blick Art Supplies.  These supplies include the block print paper, linoleum cutter, brayer (roller that applies the ink), and barren (used to press the paper onto the block).

1) A concept was developed

2) The concept was drawn on piece of linoleum in pencil, then retraced with Sharpee

3) Using a linoleum cutter, the areas that were to remain white were cut away

L-R: plexiglass plate for ink, brayer, yellow ink, lino block, baren

Now I’m adding color, which isn’t really difficult (once you practice), but just takes time.  Keep in mind you need a glass or plexiglass plate to mix the ink on and spread with the brayer.  You will know that the ink is just right when it makes a tacky sound when the brayer is rolled over it.  Ink can be applied, and I suggest it is applied, in multiple directions.  This allows for even application.

Because I’m doing a reduction print, after each color is added, the matrix is reduced.  In other words, I cut away from the linoleum every section that I want to stay a certain color.  As I did with the initial cutting, I really try to cut in the direction that I want the viewer’s eye to move should some “noise” appear on the print.  When all the colors are added, I will have the outline of the shapes available and will be able to make prints, but the color will have to be added by hand.

Color has to be added from lightest color to darkest color – which really makes sense, because a lighter color won’t cover a darker color.  It’s similar to painting in a lot of ways.

Registration becomes an issue now as well.  When I talk about registration, I just mean lining up the print with the block so the colors aren’t off.  The registration being off slightly doesn’t really bother me too much, but you don’t want the lines to be so off from one another that its hard to look at the image.

Some tips to keep in mind while printing:  you want to apply the ink as EVENLY as possible.  If there is too much ink on the block, it’ll soak through the paper.  Not enough ink, the under color will show though.  You also want to watch for pieces that get on the brayer or the lino block.  Those little pieces will cause spots to show up on the paper.

Not enough ink

Be careful with your alignment for the registration.  I like to mark on the board where the paper and board are placed.  This helps me keep everything in line.

I have added yellow and pink (or lightish red), and plan on adding two more colors (blue and green) before the black outline.  I’m hoping this will provide contrast within the piece.

Now, I’m just waiting for the block to dry so I can cut away the other firework and add the next color.  Hopefully I’ll be finished by the end of Tuesday.  I’m really excited to get my characters finished and on their first work.

With Red added

Yellow color first

Plate after color

Episode II: Linoleum Printmaking – After the idea

Pencil Drawing on Linoleum

Earlier this week, I began work on my first linoleum print in nearly a year. Having the idea and the materials is just the first part, now the drawing, carving and inking begins.

I’ve decided to do a reduction print. This means that I’ll cut out only part of the matrix (linoleum), print the lightest color, then cut out what I want to stay that color. I’ll repeat this process until all I have is the black outline. The upside to this process is that I’ll be making a limited edition run on the color prints. The downside is that I’ll be making a limited edition run on the color prints. Once I’ve cut away the various colors, I will only be able to print the image with one type of ink.

First, the drawing has to be put on the linoleum. That is done in pencil so that mistakes can be erased. After the pencil drawing is completed, I then use a Sharpie to go over the lines, and make which parts will be left solid at the end of the printmaking process. I have found that a Sharpie will allow the lines to be visible to make the reduction print easier to complete since I’ll be able to see the lines that I want to keep for the final product. To show a value change with this medium, I have to use hatching, cross-hatching, and stippling. These techniques also provide a variety of lines to make the artwork more interesting.

Drawing post Sharpie treatment

Once I’ve gotten all of my line work completed, I can now begin cutting away all the parts I want to remain white. I try to cut the linoleum in the directions I want to viewers eye to move. This is in case some “noise” occurs. “Noise” is when ink gets on the ridges left after cutting and appear on the paper. This isn’t something you always want to get rid of because it gives a nice effect, but you want the “noise” lines to serve the same purpose as the lines you’ve decided to keep – variety and direction(s) for the viewer to follow across the artwork.

Cut Linoleum, ready for first color

I can now ink the matrix with the lightest color I will be using. I could always hand color the image, of course, but that has a different look than printed ink. It’s not a bad look, and if you are afraid of how your registration will line up (making sure each time you print, everything prints in the correct space) I do recommend hand coloring. This can be done with ink, as if you are painting, acrylic paint, and even color pencils. You just have to be careful because the paper you’ll be printing on is usually really absorbent, so think applications of color will soak though. Below are some pictures of the process so far.

Tomorrow, I’ll ink the first few colors on – but that depends entirely on how fast the ink dries. Hope you are enjoying the process, I know I am!

Now, I’m off to karate class and then the Captain America midnight show.

Detail of first cuts

Outline cuts before using large gouges

V and U gouges used to cut large areas of linoleum

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