Last year I got into the spirit of Valentine’s Day and created art every day, for 14 days, within that theme. I posted my creations on Instagram. It was a great learning experience, as I learned to dig deeper into a theme – once the obvious ideas were out of the way. I really fell in love with Instagram and it’s power to motivate me.
My display of last year’s “Valentine’s Day” work:
Currently I’m working on a 100 day project. I’m painting the beach. So this year’s Valentine’s Day art looks like this:
Learn more about my beach heart here.
I made the critical error of not reversing the type on my last linocut. At the same time as I penciled “Love” incorrectly, I also penciled “I love you” on another block. As I sat down to correct this second block, I realized that holding the block up to a mirror would be a good way to check that the print will read correctly.
Holding the corrected block up to the mirror:
After passing the mirror test, I carved this little block. Here is the print:
I need to take more care when I draw the letters. I thought I could easily carve them, and make them look more square, but they came out raggedy. So, I decided to cut the top piece off and create a pattern using just the heart. (First image in the post.) Even though the heart was also raggedy, I like how the pattern came out. The roughness gives it character.
I was off to a great start with linocut. I was so happy with the results of my owl and the acorn. But the last two have been much less successful. I think I need to plan and sketch more carefully and (like anything worth doing) I need to practice with the tools. Also, as a beginner, working on small blocks isn’t helping me. I need to work larger.
Ironically the first thing I wrote in my last linocut post was “Mirror image. The design prints the reverse of what it is on the block. I keep forgetting this!” and I still forgot! And this time it was text – so you can’t ignore the mistake. Sometimes when I make a mistake this bad I learn my lesson. Let’s hope!
On a happier note…I’ve decided to challenge myself to post, on Instagram, my Valentine’s Day artwork and photos, every day from February 1st through the 14th. So please join me on Instagram (mycreativeresolution) to see what I’m working on! Let me know you found me originally on WordPress. I promise not to include anything you need to hold up to the mirror! 🙂
As I worked on my second linocut, I realized that with block printing it’s a totally different way of thinking, than painting or drawing. It’s also exciting (and hard) that you don’t really know what you are going to get, until you do that first print.
Here’s what I was thinking about as I carved my second linocut:
- Mirror image. The design prints the reverse of what it is on the block. I keep forgetting this!
- Positive and negative. Parts of the design are either printed or not. There is no in between. I sometimes forget which is which, and what I’m supposed to carve! I had to write myself a note (“Carve the blue”). The tricky part is when objects in your design meet. You have to work out what prints and what doesn’t, so the design makes sense.
- Plan. It’s better to plan exactly what gets carved away and what prints before carving.
- Blade sizes. Wispy little lines don’t exactly translate to carving blades. You almost have to plan the design in terms of what is “carvable.”
- How deep to carve? I’m still figuring this out. In my first linocut, I didn’t go deep enough, but there was a nice surprising texture throughout.
- Paint colors. I tried using a blend, but when I rolled the brayer a couple of times it mixed it into a muddy army brown. Printing more than one color is more interesting, but I think you have to print each color separately.
- Colored paper. An easy way to introduce another color. It’s fun seeing a print on different papers.
- Press paper on lino or lino on paper? That is the question. I saw a couple of videos that put the paper on top of the lino block and burnished. Then I got a recommendation to press the lino onto the paper.* Like stamping. This time I tried both, and I found that peeling the paper off the lino is easier than picking up the lino block without smudging. Maybe it depends on the size of the lino block?
- Workspace. As I learn the block printing process, I’m learning how to organize my workspace – what is working and what isn’t. Spreading the paint on a piece of taped down palette paper is working great – and it’s easy to clean up!
*I appreciate any advice on block printing. Your expertise and experience is welcome! Thank you to bluechickenninja for recommending pressing the lino down onto the paper, in my last post: My First Linocut!
Finally I sat down and carved my first linocut. It’s amazing – when you make a date with yourself and commit, you follow through. I had been putting it off, sketching ideas for the design, until I realized the design didn’t really matter – it was about trying out the tools and learning the process.
I sketched an idea I had in pencil, directly onto the “Speedyball Speedy-Cut Easy” block. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to attach the carving blade to the handle, but I got it. I was surprised at how easy it was to carve. I carved around the trees first. For the owl I used a thinner blade to add texture (to show the feathers). I messed up with the beak when I momentarily spaced on what I was supposed to carve off – the negative space. But again, this is a learning process.
I used the back of the block, because I wanted two colors. I transferred the eye shapes over to the back with tracing paper – although they mostly fell within the moon. These fine details didn’t really print in the end. And I did it wrong – it should have been the mirror image of the eyes and moon. Imagine my surprise when the moon ended up on the left instead of the right. There were other mistakes: I should have wiped the carving before printing. I didn’t carve deep enough, but this led to a happy accident because I liked the texture it added and the yellow through the print. I can’t wait to do another one!
Here are my steps:
So far I’ve been working on several of my 2015 goals and it’s only the first week of January! Here’s what I’ve hit so far.
Lettering and Doodling – Every couple of days I pull out my sketch book and doodle and practice my lettering. I’m finding that I can create more whimsical, simpler illustrations if I’m not looking at the object. If I’m looking at an object, I feel compelled to make it realistic looking.
Patterns – While I was doodling the other day, I realized that some of these doodles could be made into a pattern. This pushed me to continue with a theme – cosmetics. So my pattern plan is to continue doodling and at a later date, I’ll look through my sketchbook to find things to use.
Linocut – I’m totally intimidated by all those tools! But, I haven’t forgotten about my number one goal! Right now I’m sketching out some ideas and I promise (oh no, why did I just write that?) that in the next few weeks you’ll see my first linocut. I’m planning on trying it on dark paper, which would encompass goal #4 too!
Video – I made my first videos. I wanted to share one with you, but I need to first figure out how to make the videos compatible with WordPress. Even though I compressed my videos, they weren’t in a format that I could upload to WordPress and I’m not ready to open a youtube account. Don’t worry, you aren’t missing much – it was a shaky video where I’m painting some branches!
Here is my complete list of 2015 goals in case you missed that post.
Things I want to try in 2015:
- Online workshops.
- Painting on dark paper.
- Digital Brushes.
- Watercolor Parties.
I hope you are off to a good start too! 🙂
I can’t wait for 2015! (my creative resolution.2) There are so many things I am excited to try! The above image is the Christmas present I bought myself (see item #1).
Things I want to try in 2015:
- Linocut. It seems like a lot of work but the results are awesome! I am inspired by Andrea Lauren who I follow on Instagram (@inkprintrepeat). Check out her nutcracker – amazing!
- Lettering (“modern calligraphy”). I’d like to continue practicing my lettering. I follow @illustrationbyj on Instagram. She recommended Tombow markers which are awesome!
- Online workshops. There is so many resources online and I’d like to take advantage of them. I’m thinking about this workshop on modern calligraphy.
- Painting on dark paper. I love this look and I want to try it – check out my pinterest board to see!
- Doodling, especially flowers and wreaths. I’m so inspired by @kristinnohe on Instagram. She fills her journals with beautiful doodles.
- Video! I love seeing the progression of a project, which is why I often show my steps. I’d love to show you this in video form.
- Patterns. I’ve wanted to try this for awhile. I am inspired by glizadesign.com.
- Maps. I’d love to create a whimsical map. I love Linzie Hunter’s style.
- Digital Brushes. I am a Graphic Designer and don’t often like to mix my art with my computer work, but maybe it’s time?! There is so much cool stuff you can do.
- Watercolor Parties. Friends, watercolor, a glass of wine – what could be more fun?!
What new thing are you excited to try this year?