Monday, May 18, 2015

Getting the most out of a reduction printing session

During two recent edition printing sessions, I decided to develop other printed images from the blocks worked during my typical reductive process.  With the principles of Notan, I decided when my block's printing surface was about 50% reduced; meaning when the plate is printed in one color, the design would hold 50% white shapes and 50% dark shapes.  It is at this point in time, I began experimenting with different printing techniques to create tangent prints within the development of my final reductive printed edition.

Here are some examples:


Tangent prints:

Background of print i.e. the negative spaces were cut out and a wood grain print glued to back of original print.

The tangent print above is comprised of three individual prints photoshopped together into one image for this final presentation.  

Final image: ONE DOZEN

Tangent prints

with chine colle

mirror image

mirror image with rubbings

A number of multiple images, called tangent prints, can be printed within the process of completing a reduction print edition.  I like the possibilities of creating a set of unique prints within the larger realm of completing an edition.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Do not know what state I'm in?

I live in the state of Massachusetts but I'm talking about what state number my squirrel print is in its present development phase.
So I counted up the number of colors I have mixed and printed ...16! That's sixteen layers of colors to date.

Here's my palette:

One of the times I enjoy most while working in the studio is when I'm mixing inks for my prints. Piles of semi viscous batches of joyfulness. I use a very limited palette of 6 colors to create my print colors: Rubine Red, Benzine Yellow, Reflex Blue. Milori Blue, Thalo Green and Orange (plus white).  That one less color than the rainbow.  Remember the old adage for remembering the rainbow colors and their sequencing when you were a child?  Richard Of York, Grave Battle IVein: red, orange, yellow, green. blue, indigo and violet. On my studio shelf I have all but one color of the rainbow: violet.

With flexible putty knives, I mix and scrape together colors that can cohabitate and dance together on the printed surface. It's laborious thinking about color.  Do I want warm or cool? What value should I assign to a color? How much chroma?  Yes, there's a lot of critical thinking taking place before I start mixing the inks together. For example the violet color used as a second color to denote bark textures in the squirrel print came to me after eating a combination of yogurt and frozen blueberries for lunch. I looked at the bottom of my dish and there was this perfect shade of violet; what a great companion to be paired with the turquoise color I had already printed.

fifth state
So here's a look at the print so far. There might be two more colors necessary to complete the diptych.

Monday, February 16, 2015

and so the snow continues to mound higher

I might be developing cabin fever. Staring out my windows; watching the snow pile up… although at home I have resigned myself to completing ink wash sketches of Harwich Harbor from long ago summer photos.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Sixth state of squirrel dyptych

I'll start off today's post with this image:

The print progress has been S-L-O-W but productive. It is in its sixth state; meaning I have printed six layers of color and it is still evolving towards perfection: (Buddhist tradition?).

I realize when I'm printing the four sets of two, 22X30: this is a lot of real estate to cover using only hand tools for carving, inking and printing. But for the love of completion I'll endure backaches, sore hands, tired feet: (Christian tradition?).

The squirrels are finished, the tree is presently being developed and the oak leaves are unfinished but will be worked on next after the completion of tree.

Here is an image of Virgin and Child by Jean Fouquet. I have always loved this image with the blue and red heavenly beings in the background and the white, translucent flesh of the earthly beings.

Similarities? Why red and blue colors to describe the squirrels's fur? No, they are not wingless celestial beings! They're wingless arboreal beings.

block is ready for fifth state inking
I just thought a color scheme of the three primary colors, red, blue and yellow (oak leaves to be developed in yellow) would add to the squirrelly characteristics of zany and whimsical in the over all print aesthetics.

addition of white poster paint to help in line development.
In a month or two the printed edition should be finished and ready for my signature.

tree development in fifth state printing

Friday, December 19, 2014

Eastern Grey Squirrels, not in my backyard.

How many opinions can one artist find acceptable or unacceptable as people react to my latest print project?
OK I must confess. I'm creating two, large linocuts (2'X3') of those furry, tree hugging, bird feeder raiding creatures called squirrels.

For me (I am a city dweller), these guys are tenaciously cute and to others: tenaciously repugnant.

I take daily walks with my Corgi, Bogart, to Lucy Park located between a canal and St. Anne's Church; a broad public area lined with benches and large oak trees. Just mention the word 'squirrel' to my Corgi and he is all pointy eared and wide-eyed (no bushy tail though).  As the squirrels busy themselves with work and play in this area, I quietly unleash my dog. He proceeds to tear up the turf chasing one or the scurries (a group of squirrels) up oak trees. Come down here! he barks.

Once a squirrel did fall from the tree onto his chest. Both animals were in a state of shock for a few milliseconds. The squirrel reacted first, bolting up the tree. Bogart looked at me and knew he missed his only life time chance to have squirrel stew.

I thought it would be great fun to create a print with squirrels poised in a variety of states looking down on us from an aerial position of superiority.  Now honestly... aren't they cute!

So here's my starting point: a lino diptych of a 'scurry' chased up an oak tree by a Corgi.
second state carving

first state print on second state linoleum
isolated and selective inking

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Upcoming Art Demonstrations and talks

On Thursday evening, September 11, I was invited by the Salem Art Association of New Hampshire to give a painting demonstration to kick off their new art year after a summer hiatus.  I started with a power point presentation, "Out in the Open", which I helped to create for high school art students interested in plein air painting. This presentation can be found at

Here's a appreciative note from the President of SAA:

 Hi Susan,

Sending a quick note of thanks for your demonstration at our art association on Thursday.

Everyone enjoyed your presentation and we were wowed by your demo....  amazing to see a composition put together so well, in so little time.

Also, your open attitude and composition tips were appreciated and very well received by our members.

Thanks again, it was a pleasure to have you and your demonstration at our meeting.

Best regards,

Margaret Moon Hames

On Wednesday evening, October 1 from 7-8:30, I'll be giving a talk and printmaking demo at the Melano Center in Melrose, MA. I've been asked to talk about my linoleum prints and the reductive relief technique.

In Newport, Rhode Island on Sunday November 2 from 1-3:30 fifteen member-artists of the Boston Printmakers (including me) will be giving talks and sharing their prepared special food recipes at the Newport Art Museum.  The Boston Printmakers members show, PALETE TO PLATE will be on view through January 4, 2015.  For more info concerning this BP exhibit as well as how to purchase the related exhibition book and recipes go to:

On a final note, The Concord Art Association, with sponsorship from Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, selected my plein air painting, Egg Rock, for use in CAA 's 2015 calendar. Selected images were juried and had to depict the town of Concord with the theme of "Light and Space".

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Annual Print Show in Newburyport

Eleven years ago I formed a printmakers' group and every year since, there has been an annual print show, "Making an Impression".  The exhibit showcases many different talents of and techniques used by local printmakers while promoting the art of prints to the general art viewing public.

And so another show gets under way next week at the Newburyport Art Association on Water Street coordinated by this year's Chairperson, Kate Higley, a New Hampshire printmaker.

Please join us as we celebrate our creative endeavors with a reception and public viewing.

Here are two new linoleum prints I have created for the show: "Up and Over" and "Keep a Look Out".

Recently, I viewed the beautiful J M W Turner and the Sea exhibition at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem.  The inventive renderings of the raging emotional personalities of the sea by so many accomplished painters gave me pause to reflect on how I went about rendering the agitated sea  in these two prints.

Here's my Turner favorite.
Just before exiting, in the last room,  John Singer Sargent depicts the raging Atlantic Ocean in this painting:
If you could only inquire of my painting friends if any of these images accurately reflects one ominous ferry ride to Monhegan Island. With our feet high up on the metal  railings watching with trepidation the whale like blow hole waters explosively entering through the boat's scuppers while we tried to weld our butts to anything that didn't slide, we pitched to and fro among the ocean's crests and troughs. We were quite relieved to have this ferry ride end and safely deposited on the wharf of Monhegan Island..  The sea can be so exhilarating!