art and nervousness/nerves/nerve

Today (or at this specific moment, yesterday) the trips to the art stores happened, within the span of about an hour.  This was fun, though now the hard work comes:  actually using the supplies.  Which is what everyone wants me to do, and which is likely why I met with no resistance when getting to the places, today:  I actually did use some of my supplies.

Although I had planned to spend around $60-$70, I ended up spending a bit more.  I knew it might come to that.  Although the big-box art supply store had more types of X-Acto blades, they had only two of the three types I wanted.  They also did not have 2″x 2″ linoleum blocks, and their prices on block printing ink were higher than at the smaller art store for identical inks.

I’ve found a hesitance to work on the actual execution of these projects:  they are beautiful in my concept, and having the supplies and the time, I have no excuse not to work.  I think that I have a fear that my execution will not fulfill my concept, however; that I’ll end up ruining a project or messing up.  Though this is kind of ridiculous, as I consistently surprise myself where it comes to ease with my media and the skill I have which is hidden until demonstrated.  It’s also ridiculous when the materials are inexpensive.  Maybe I would have been better off just getting one or two more inks.  Maybe.

On the other hand, the randomness of color printing, when using mixed inks, is an obvious upshot of working with prints.

Then there is the fear that I’ll really really like it.

And end up collecting plates of glass to roll out my inks…

…but why is that scary?  Because then I’ll be doing something fulfilling?

I need to go over my receipts and see what I did get which I didn’t plan on getting.

I should also work on my “crocus” before the urge becomes too stale.  I can already see myself forgetting how to work the image in drawing.  But then there are new elements to this, now:  one of which is that I have new knives and gouges that I should practice with before cutting a final image; the other of which is that I want to experiment with image registration, though multi-color prints may realistically be very advanced from my current position.

What I did do today, as well, though:  I made a toolbox with all of my knives, gouges, blade holders, adhesives, brayers, and black pens (fineliners, brush pens, Sharpies).  Do you think that maybe I should just concentrate on two-tone prints, for now (positive and negative space, as versus color)?  I can see where maybe I should…

And maybe I should put my weird-nib Pitt pens in that kit, too.  I don’t have to be concerned about water resistance, here, as I won’t be painting over them (Pitt black pens have a tendency to leave a grey haze when water is washed over them — a reason they aren’t more central to my work — but they have some special felt nibs that behave in interesting ways.  As I’m just after the design, shapes, and lines…there isn’t any drawback to using them).

But yeah, I pretty much had to pick up the violet ink today because my little flower print does remind me of a crocus.  Maybe what I can do is work suminagashi or wet-into-wet watercolor on the paper first, then make multiple little prints on them with the newer crocus linocut?

Wow, I just realized that if my Boku-Undo inks and Sumifactant are still worth anything, I should be able to make pale pink/blue/violet marbling (the inks are very weak) and then print multiple crocuses on top of that in violet, via block printing.  And I can even add translucency to it, because I got an extender for the ink.  And…I also have a blue and magenta, so I could print multiple colors mixed together on one stamp, instead of a straight violet.  Then I can cut the prints apart and give them to people.  🙂  No kento registration required, though if I really wanted to, I could put in a border…

And yes, I did just think of Artists’ Trading Cards…am I getting a “thing,” now?  Are flowers in water-soluble media now my “thing”?

I should find my palette knife so I can mix the ink…I think it used to be in a pot with the brushes and pens at my old craft area, but that was before we rearranged.  I know where it might be, though:  I can look for it after we’re facing the Sun again.  😉

I forgot to mention that I moved the majority of my “dusty” media (hard pastels, pastel pencils, charcoal, charcoal pencils, White Charcoal, white Rembrandt soft pastel), graphite crayons and pencils, and their accoutrements (erasers, blending stumps, chamois, X-Acto knife [#11 blade] for pencil sharpening), plus some earth-tone watercolor and colored pencils, into an old ArtBin which is stacked under my Printing kit (which is in the toolbox I used for my art supplies when I was taking art classes).

I should take photos of this.  I can see myself not recalling where I put the stuff…if I maintain visual records, though…at least that will be something I can reference without having to catalog everything…

Okay, self:  tomorrow is a new day.  Do not fear it.

(almost the) First linocut done since high school!

I am trying not to title this post “Bahaha,” though I’m sure you’ll be able to sense my excitement!

I was able to take a trip out to the little art store I wished to go to.  Amazingly — I got out of there with a bunch of linocut supplies for under $25.  It probably has to do with the fact that I got a bunch of little tiny linoleum blocks — the one I’ll show here is one of the smallest, at 2″x2″ — and the fact that they were having a sale on the hard pastels I bought — which were the most expensive thing, at under $5 for a set of 12.

Last night after getting home from that trip, I honestly felt like going to bed, but I interrupted myself.  I didn’t want to go and get the art supplies and then never use them, so I started looking through my cheap little notebook at my designs.  I realized fairly quickly that the way I had been sketching was suited to linework, but that printing would probably require a different approach, utilizing blocks of color or tone.  With that in mind, I started sketching — in pencil, albeit in 8B pencil.

My initial design is at the top of this photo.  Below are iterative versions of it, on tracing paper (center), translucent marker paper (left), and Saral (carbon) paper.

I actually surprised myself with my initial design, as I’d somehow managed to draw a diamond shape which had a little less than 60º as the angle of the inner corner, making 6 petals totaling 360º.

This is the actual first transfer of that image to (translucent) marker paper, on the right:


I used marker paper because I felt it would hold up better under fineliner (I used a 0.1 mm pen, here), and I intended to fill in areas with black to see what the design would look like in high contrast.  As I was doing this, I remembered some examples in a Dover book on the principle of Notan (balance between positive and negative space), and was curious about what would happen if I introduced shapes pushing from the negative space into the positive space — this is why the petals are notched.  I also realized in this iteration that I needed to pay attention to the center of the star, because if the petals didn’t have a coherent center, it could throw the design off.

I also realized that I didn’t have to echo the almond shape throughout each petal, and wondered what it would look like if I added a recurve to the outer edge of each white area.  So I traced over this shape with the tracing paper (first image, below center), using this idea — and trying to fix the center of the design.  I did this first in 2H pencil. Then on the tracing paper, I went over the lines with fineliner again (so I could see them) and traced over that on the marker paper (first image, below left).  At this point I could color things in without losing any precious underdrawing, so I did.  I had intended to divide the outer rim of each petal into two and let the white space part the outer edge, so that the petals were implied but not fully stated — but when I filled the space in, this detail was not visible.  I also joined the positive space on the outside of the petals to save myself a headache.

Once I was happy with the design, I traced over — I think the tracing paper copy — over carbon paper (Saral paper) with a 2H pencil, on top of my 2″x2″ linoleum block.  On the first image, lower right, you can see what this did to the Saral paper:  it’s translucent where I transferred the carbon onto the linoleum.


I did not take a photo of my block before carving, but I was very happy with the line transfer.  What I was less happy with were the performances of the carving tools I mentioned before, which are from my high school sculpture and relief-printing days.  Because they didn’t perform all that well, I ended up using an X-Acto craft knife with a #2 blade to do most of the image cutting.  The area around the image was cleared out with a large shallow gouge, however.

One thing I did find to my surprise was that the little subtlety of the curvature of the white area was not immediately apparent in cutting.  I also found that small circular cutouts are difficult to do in linoleum, and that I would have been better off doing something like I did in the outer petal ring and just cut out an almond, without trying for a circle.  When I did try for circles, I ended up cutting out more positive space than I intended to.  This will change in the next iteration of this project:  almonds all the way!  😉

After the cutting was done, I started looking around for my acrylic plate and the hard rubber brayer.  I couldn’t easily find that plate, though — I know where one used to be, but since we’ve cleaned up, I’m no longer sure where it is.  But apparently…we had extra picture frames, and I was able to take one apart and use the glass that would have protected the picture, to roll out my printing ink with the brayer!

This is water-based Speedball printing ink, which came in a small tube.  I’m really thankful that I didn’t have to buy a 1 lb jar to get any ink at all — at first, all I could find were the jars, but then I found the little packs of ink hanging up in the same area.  I picked up a black, then later realized at home that I probably should have gotten white or a color in addition to the black, so I could experiment with duochrome.  But — next time.


One of the nice things about this ink is that it cleans up very easily with water; on top of that, it seems to be nontoxic.  It also has good tack, meaning that when I put the paper on top of it (I used Stonehenge, which is designed for hand printing), the paper did not move, even as I burnished the back with the back of a spoon to transfer the image from the carving to the paper.

There were barens at the store to accomplish the same thing, but I felt they were overpriced for something that is basically just a flat surface.  Of course, if I’d used a baren, it would be less likely that I would get those surrounding marks on my print (see above) which resulted from both tipping the inked brayer as I rolled it (it’s a tiny print, okay) 😉 and pushing the paper down into the background with the spoon during the burnishing process.

In high school, I think we accomplished the pressing by rolling a clean brayer over the back of the paper.  And, of course, if I used something like a small press, I wouldn’t have to worry about the stray marks at all…although one of the reasons for starting out with block printing is that you don’t need a press.

And, well, now — I have a good bit more insight than I did before on how to do this, and want to retry the carving process.  I have one more little 2″x2″ block of the same type, and found an old opened (throwaway) linoleum block today (it feels like an eraser).  Seriously, though, these things aren’t expensive, something I had to remind myself of before I started carving!  I think the block I carved today cost $0.66 or something like that.

It is pretty cool to see your work result in something, though!  And that’s not a bad try for being (almost) the first time I’ve worked with this technique in 17 years…(and yes, the BAHAHA moment when it works is great…!)

Anticipation: one more thing to go…then, 2 weeks of (relative) freedom.

I wasn’t able to bring myself to do one of my readings earlier today, or tonight; what I was able to do, was get a lot more readings lined up so that I possibly do not have to do the one I printed out, the other day.  I’m looking at 10-12 papers to read, at about 12 pages each.  It’s not hard; it just requires focus and commitment.

I have been wanting to get these out of the way as soon as possible.  Because of that, I didn’t maintain a social commitment tonight, opting instead to stay home — where I had the possibility of working on my last assignment.  Unfortunately, reruns of Futurama are more entertaining than my readings!


Anyhow, I’ll try and get as much done tomorrow and the day after, as I can; even though I know that may only be six articles, total.  But basically, what I have to do is scan and/or read the articles and provide a 100-200 word commentary on each.  I’m going to try and get this done before Saturday, though I’m not sure how realistic a goal that is, at this point.  (It probably depends on what I choose to read and how deeply I choose to read it — scanning first is probably the best idea I’ve had.  Other than, that is, reading the introduction and conclusion of the paper, and first and last sentences of every paragraph, prior to scanning.  I may not have a clear idea of what these things are about, because I gathered them so quickly.)

I should probably also put the files on a flash drive and transfer them to my secondary computer so that I won’t have to worry about not having anything to read, if I get stuck somewhere after the funeral on Saturday — my little tablet lasts about 4-6 hours on a charge.  And I can take with me, the notebook I intended to use for Cataloging and then mostly didn’t — it will work for notations on the readings, which should help summarize them later.  It will probably be simpler than trying to compose notes in a word-processing program.

As for artwork…I drew a border for my relative’s funeral program.  It was nice to be able to do something with my hands, again, though it wasn’t under the best circumstances.  Right now, though, I’m anticipating that program being thrown out by near relatives (different from nuclear family) because of others’ desire for control.  What is positive is that I formed the page I worked on in Photoshop (I did what I thought I had to do and composed the front page as one flattened image, and so the cover is not editable unless it’s totally scrapped, or someone knows how to work with digital images, besides myself.  (Not betting on it.)

My grades are looking relatively good, considering.  I’m looking at a C+ in Cataloging (I PASSED!!!) and A’s or A-‘s in my other two classes.

Also…on Monday or later, I’m hoping to take a trip to the smaller art supply store near me (at least), to pick up some materials for linoleum block printing…which may make working through the grief, worth it.  I found my carving tools, and I was mistaken:  there are no burrs on my knives.  At least, not on the straight ones, or the large oval gouge.  This is good!  I will be able to see if I need to sharpen them, once I start cutting.

(Some of my spiral patterns, or the mon I designed, would make a good first project.)

One thing I’m unsure of, though, is how to make a method of image registration, so that I’m lining things up on my paper the way I want to — a relative necessity in duochrome (two-color) printing or above.  I’m not sure how to do this, yet, though April Vollmer’s Japanese Woodblock Print Workshop seems to briefly go over how this is/was done in Japanese woodblock printing.  I suppose I can see if I can adapt that to linocuts…though Japanese-style printing uses different basic materials than Western-style printing.  Still, though:  I only have four more days to get through in which I’ll have to deal with this last semester…I can make it.

Two weeks after that, my User Experience class starts up.  I took it in part because I wanted to do all the reading (as bizarre as that sounds).

I can also try and do some reading in library books, the two printmaking books I have, or my future textbooks, if I’m at a loss as to what to do.

And ah — right!  I wanted to get back on with learning Japanese language!  That should be fun!

Lest I forget, as well:  I need to back up my files to my Portfolio.  And maybe get a cloud storage account, or something.  I have what I can download, downloaded, and backed up; I need to work online for this other part, though — and I will not have a long time to do so.

I’ve been offered more hours, but really I’m not sure I want to take them — especially because I’m uncertain as to how much of a time commitment UX will be…and it’s rare to get two weeks off with minimal work.

Anyhow, I should likely get going.

I also want to get bocha, but I am not certain where that desire is coming from…I already have another kukicha; two others, in fact.  It’s just that drinking a twig infusion sounds rather earthy, I guess…

Maybe I can make a trip to the tea store in my two weeks off of school…