Free Art Friday — Lexington, KY

Free Art Friday -- Lexington, KY

This linoleum print is my contribution to Free Art Friday. You can find my work on Woodland Avenue, Euclid, and Rose Street. If you take my print, I hope you or someone you know enjoy it! Please let me know via Facebook, Twitter, or here on the Easel!


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 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

Linoleum Printmaking – From the Beginning


For my next project, I had every intention of working on a painting. I’ve been working on a lot of paintings lately, and it just seemed right to continue on this same course of action. Still, since working on this blog, I’ve had so many ideas and so many things I’ve wanted to do that it just seems right to go back to what I enjoy doing most: printmaking!

Printmaking incorporates the things I like about drawing and painting: line work and color theory. I freely admit, my line work can always use work and my color theory (use of color in an artwork) is sometimes screwy, but I love it! Every time I draw or add color to a work, I learn something new that I can share with others (mainly my students).

While a lot of artists use wood, copper plates, or stone for their prints, I prefer linoleum. It’s affordable, water-soluble inks can work with it, and it can be used in a classroom. Those were the criteria I used when I first chose this medium (what the artwork is created with/from) as a Master’s student at Morehead State University. I was first introduced to printmaking though at the University of Kentucky where I took a woodcut class taught by Derrick Riley (great instructor, fantastic artist!). The same skills are used in both, but I found the linoleum to be easier to work with and just more fun over all.

For this next project, I wanted to go through step by step in my process for those of you interested in creating your own prints. I will be using golden linoleum which is a little easier to carve than battleship linoleum – typically used in a classroom because its cheaper, a Speedball lino cutter, and water-soluble inks. Before any of the tools can be used though, I have to decide on a subject. I will be using the characters shown above from my earlier painting sketches (seen in previous blogs) and I’ve set them watching fireworks. I still haven’t decided whether or not to do this as a reduction print, but I’ll decide by the next time I post.

Linoleum (prior to re-sizing) and Speedball cutter w/ gouges