Tired.

Maybe it’s the heat, but I’ve been asleep for most of today [EDIT:  make that, “yesterday”]; although I did go a mile on the exercise bike, it was at about a constant 5-6 MPH, as versus 6-8, which is more my norm.  And I did remember to work on core muscles, then did a little yoga to equalize the tension (my lower back is much stronger than my abdomen — from carrying school books — so I’m mostly working my abs at this point), then did as many push-ups as I could, before my core muscles started to tire and get unbalanced.

I’m starting to think that trying to shift my bedtime earlier has really messed up the sleep pattern I had been holding to.  So now I have an excess number of hours spent asleep, as versus staying up late — and I still have a hard time waking in the morning.  This means that although my immunity may be high, I’m spending most of the time of my “vacation” in bed.  And after I get up, I’m still groggy.

But then, the temperature has been in the 90-100º F region (in the 30 C range, that is) for the last three days…meaning that it is uncomfortable to be awake around, say, 2 PM; and more comfortable to be up around 2 AM.  (If you can handle being up with the earwigs and spiders, that is.)

I did get to go to the art store, but unfortunately my time there was limited, and so I bought a number of things I hadn’t intended to.  One of them was “permanent” masking fluid — essentially a liquid wax — that can be applied to watercolor paintings to repel subsequent layers of color.  This is…interesting.  I had intended to get a liquid latex — that is, removable — frisket, but I’ve been wary around liquid latex for a very long time (the fumes can cause latex sensitization, meaning a new allergy to rubber).  Liquid wax, though…that’s interesting.

It sounds like the working process might be (loosely) similar to the reductive carving technique for relief printing…but maybe I’ve got that backwards?  I’m not sure — not too experienced in linocut printing, yet!  The thing that I am fairly confident in is that it’s relatively very safe.  And if I can work with certain aspects of my painting being permanently “clear”, it might be a way for me to work with masking fluid without worrying about my health.

I’m also, now, wondering about the possibilities of reduction carving for floral images, utilizing those tiny 2″x 2″ blocks I bought a surplus of?  I’m not terribly attached to my initial design anymore:  it’s very…straight-on.  It works as a mandala, but I don’t want to limit myself to mandalas.  Not that mandalas are bad, but I really need to work on asymmetrical composition.

The tricky part about this is…which images to use as designs, whether to draw from life, from photos, or from imagination.  It’s fairly apparent to me that plants:  particularly flowers and fruit, and other things I might find at the market (and in gardens), are things that draw my attention.  I just don’t want to fall into a cliché.

(Interesting idea:  are insects [like bees] attracted to the centers of mandalas?  And that’s why gnats keep trying to fly right into my eyeball?)

I’ve just spent the better part of an hour looking over my photo archives in search of images that still spoke to me.  What I’m seeing is actually the fact that most of the content which I’ve found…interesting, has to do with bright and graduated — that is, intricate and complicated — color.  And that, along with problems of translucency, reflection, and light.  Ideal for watercolors.

However, if I were looking for something to just practice linocuts with, I have a number of photos of insect specimens which might work well, particularly the moths and butterflies.  I could be trying to jump ahead of myself in terms of my skill level, though.  Maybe I should just try for a better carving of my initial flower and try to do what I had initially planned to — print these in colors over my suminagashi prints, then cut them apart and give them out as bookmarks.  I think, but am not sure, that the Canson Wet Media paper was the one which printed most efficaciously for that use.

The question does arise, though, as to whether to back these with something nice (like patterned scrapbooking paper), so it won’t just be white paper.  And that begs the question of which glue will dry and cure completely, and not leave sticky marks in books (I don’t think it will smear the front of the bookmark).  I have an idea of what to use, though.

Then there was the falling-gingko-leaf idea for a number of prints which I could work…but I’m not sure, entirely, what to put in the background, here.  I could use acrylic inks or more suminagashi, attempting this time to create greens and earth tones, with black — I’d just have to mix up the ink ahead of time.  I’ve also found laminating material at a nearby office supply store…but don’t know if I’ll need it, or indeed, whether to charge to recoup my costs (at least, if someone wants a bulk order of these after I give out the free ones).  Then, there’s the fact that lamination itself could cause fading…

I kind of wonder what the point of this is.  Did I have footing that I lost?  Do I really want to be doing art more than writing, right now, and that’s why it’s been more difficult to stay on task for the last couple of days?

Ah, I don’t know — maybe just going to the art store made me feel sad, or something.  I don’t have an infinite amount of money to be spending on this stuff — which, I suppose, is the same drawback that beadweaving had, except that fine art can pull more of an income stream (relatively).  And I’m thinking that I may have to move on from my current job, relatively soon.

It might be that I’m sleeping a lot more, so I see the lost hours reflected in lost time to do anything — and I don’t want to do my homework.  And I don’t want to go to work because of interpersonal conflicts.  Library Science seems apparently to draw heavily off of Social Science, which is something I was interested in before I found out that I would have to interact with people.  It’s kind of like Sociology all over again.

I’m just not sure which classes to take if I do, indeed, want to be a Web Designer or Web Developer, with the side benefit of being able to work in a Virtual Library space.

Actually:  I just now looked it up, and the pathway I’m on crosses over heavily with the path which would prepare one to be a Web Designer.  At least I’m OK with that.  I know that Web Design is heavily about understanding users so we can make navigating our pages as easy as possible for them…still a human-centered and ultimately a service job, but it isn’t one where I have to constantly deal with people I don’t know (whom I don’t want to know, but who want to know me).

It could be that I’m dealing with a touch of depression after a job-description rewording at work.  Like I said, I could go in for more hours, and it would help the money aspect of this, but I really don’t want to — and it’s mostly because of one person in particular who is creeping on me.  And that, in turn, is producing a lot of dysphoria for me (I don’t identify as a woman, but this *** is obviously seeing me as a “girl,” which is worse, because he obviously thinks I’m young and stupid).

Anyway, maybe I should go do something productive so I can stop fantasizing about what there is of my tendency to rage around this issue…

I really don’t want to be female, right about now; and being female and gender-variant is worse, because it’s OBVIOUS when people are messing with you because of your appearance…

Yeah…a bit scattered…

I was looking around for information on techniques for filling palettes, and found a number of interesting statements.

  1. Apparently, Viridian (true Viridian, that is) doesn’t re-hydrate well, and I should avoid putting it into a well so that I don’t waste it.
  2. I will want to roughen up the inner surfaces of my palette with either baking soda or a scrubby sponge, before filling the wells.
  3. I’ve heard that M. Graham watercolors (like my Hansa Yellow) never completely dry and may move when held vertically because of it — but that information is disputed online.  Just in case, I will want to fill that well in stages in order to see how well it is setting.

I’ve also been looking around at information on fountain pens and Bullet Journals — the latter of which may enable me to keep track of school assignments and my presently-nonexistent Japanese study (which I keep forgetting about, due to the fact that my books are all neatly and unobtrusively stowed on my bookshelf).  I do have a dotted grid notebook suitable as a Bullet Journal, but it is stowed along with the Japanese-learning materials.

I also read not to use linocutting tools (I assume they meant Speedball knives with interchangeable blades) for woodblock prints, as the blades would dull.  I do have some tools to sharpen my old knives (aluminum oxide waterstone in coarse and fine grit, ultra-fine grit wet/dry sandpaper), but I don’t have the stones right now to hone the insides of my gouges (which would save me from having to buy new gouges).  I’ll stick with linocutting for now, though.  I’m pretty sure the Japanese carving store near me should have the stones available, or I can find them online.

I did look through one book on printmaking techniques, which reminded me of what I had been doing before I derailed myself into watercolors.  (Today I went through everything that I had checked out from the library, and made a pile of things that can go back.  Financial liability is not a good thing.)

Also, I realized that the entire set of my newer watercolor paint samples had been made out of the same sheet of paper; meaning that what didn’t settle roughly on the rough paper (as in the last entry) either must be inherently very smooth, or have contained less water/paint in laydown.  As a further note on that entry, I can now see texture in certain paints and not in others.

I’m also amazed at how many people are using Mijello palettes (or palettes that look like them), though that may be neither here nor there.

And I found out that D didn’t really lose my master tracing/final design for the flower linocut; I just never actually cut it off of the tracing paper (the only reason I know this is that I expected to see a missing square on the sheet, and did not).

In addition, I completed the major reading for this week on Monday, having started on it Sunday night.  My reading speed in English really is getting faster, or the book I was reading was very good at being clear (probably a bit of both).

So tomorrow, what can I do?

  • Go to dentist for cleaning and ask about the craze lines on front teeth
  • Return library books
  • Clean office
  • Clean bedroom
  • Prep loose trays in Mijello 33-well palette with baking soda scrub
  • Take a look at Beginning Japanese by Kluemper et. al and/or Elementary Japanese by Hasegawa.
  • Review kana.
    • Hiragana first
    • Katakana second
  • Shower, please

In the future,

  • Learn more about Bullet journaling system
  • Practice mixing greens, with awareness (and record!) of what color was used where (I think I experimented with Cerulean and Prussian Blue last time, but can’t be sure of the yellows) * — I may want to do this BEFORE filling the palette, — * as I’m not sure how many greens I can actually get out of this, without Viridian.  But I suppose I do have Aureolin, Hansa Yellow, Hansa Yellow Deep, and two different Yellow Ochres (I believe this is natural vs. synthetic), so it’s worth a good shot.
    • Practice mixing with watercolors in either scales or grids
      • Fill palette with watercolors
  • Transfer flower pattern onto new linoleum block
    • Practice with new X-Acto blades on linoleum sheets
    • Carve new linoleum block
    • Draw prints (in different colors!)
  • Draw gingko leaf design and puzzle out how to best work with that in a print (mixed warm [yellow, orange, brown] inks, white space for veins of leaf?)
  • Draw more than one ginkgo rendition, so as to create a falling-leaf image on bookmarks?
  • Straighten hair, trim off obvious damage

And I’ve got to remember I have both an eye appointment and an ultrasound coming up.

I should probably get going.  Sorry for the word count on these things…it’s even hard for me to go back and read this stuff, honestly.  Maybe I never grew to question the, “longer is better,” stuff I learned in high school…on the Web, at least, “briefer is better (so long as it delivers the required information),” may be more true!

Preparing for the City, tomorrow

Alright.  So from research tonight and last night, I have a good idea of what I’m going for in Japantown, tomorrow.

IF I get Yasutomo Sketch paper (big “if;” Yasutomo is the only readily available Japanese brand of…many things, including washi ([ideally] handmade paper) outside of Japantown or Japanese specialty stores), my first choice will be the Hosho kind — not Hanshi, which is sold unbound and, over the wind, I heard it is too light for suminagashi.  If the Hanshi is there, though — I will have to think about passing it up.  It would likely be useful, at the least, in transferring patterns from a key block to templates for other blocks — but I don’t know if it will work in linoleum block printing.  I know it will work in woodblock.

The thing is, mokuhanga (Japanese woodblock printing) is a relative investment…not so bad after having gotten materials for linocuts (particularly the knives, and inks), but still.  There are different tools, and it looks like things have to be managed from the ground up where it comes to things like applying sizing (nikawa:  animal glue + myoban: alum) to paper.  Or where it comes to mixing colors with rice starch paste (nori) in order for colors to print properly.  Or where it comes to maintaining a baren with camellia seed oil (tsubaki).  All these terms are given in that mokuhanga book I mentioned by April Vollmer.

There is an entire complete process to this which seems to be a different working method than I was prepared for, given the surface similarities of process between linocuts and mokuhanga.  (I am thinking that I wasn’t prepared for mokuhanga having such a deeply different cultural heritage from linoleum block printing…apologies for having to say that.)  In light of that…I’m going to try and focus on suminagashi paired with linoleum block printing, for now.  Until I gain more experience.  🙂  I’ll have less time, starting next week (school is about to start up again), so I should prepare for that.

I’ve decided against getting a stub-nib fountain pen (2mm), as…I already have some (dip pen) nibs which will work.  The issue is largely that I haven’t gained skill in using them, yet, and I was never really taught how to use them.  I think the last time I tried, I was very young (and impatient), and had only newly gotten the hint to burn off the anti-rust coating before trying to use the nibs to carry ink.  Otherwise, the nib will not be very useful.  (To my credit, though, I did use a nib until it snapped…don’t know if I get experience points for that or klutz points for that…)  😉  At this point, we do have a “Third Hand” tool which can hold my nibs while I singe them…a lack of this is the reason I stopped (I bent the jaws of a pair of pliers unintentionally by indirectly heating them while holding the nib).

But I do have some steel nibs approaching 2mm wide.  If I find any more broad ones like this tomorrow (I’m not counting “steel brush”…which is fairly intimidating to me), I may pick them up, but other than that, I’m not dropping $30 on a portable and more finicky version of a tool which is more versatile when worked manually.  I can’t see myself carrying around a calligraphy pen just for kicks, and I can do more with a dip pen (read:  opaque inks, quicker color changes, less expensive errors) than I can with a fountain pen.

But yes, I am thinking of calligraphy, again.  The “printing” thing seems to be sweeping me around into a more book-arts sort of deal.  Which is good with me, as long as it’s fun — it’s just that it wasn’t expected!

I still haven’t worked on my painting, either.  But then, I’ve been doing other things.  🙂  Watercolor would be my nearest media which I would think to be compatible with book arts.  It’s just so freakin’ hard…Negative space, yo.  Negative space.  But maybe the prints will help with that.

Okay:  the other thing to get is bocha:  roasted twig/stem tea (I like the name:  bo is the name of a man’s staff in aikido).  I can’t imagine us going home without manju, either (the kind I’m thinking of is daifuku mochi; M will only eat kuri manju, however).  Daifuku is some sort of very soft rice thing (I’m not sure if it’s pounded rice, or rice starch dough) around sweet beans (an); kuri manju is a baked wheat bun around the outside of sweetened smooth lima beans.  (I realize that may sound gross to people, which I wouldn’t understand, except for the fact that I once ate reconstituted dry lima beans, as contrasted with the frozen baby kind.  I feel you.)

Otherwise…I can see myself being tempted by the dotted papers and the Kuretake Gansai Tambi paints.  But realistically, not only do I not need these (the latter) at all…but the Koi ones look better, where it comes to smoothness.  I think this means I need to break out the watercolors I do have!  Probably the only reason these look even…tempting is that I haven’t recalled, or accessed, what I’ve got stored…which are very likely of higher quality, and almost certainly more expensive.

(Well, that, and travel pans of red are often junk, in my experience:  both Koi and Kuretake Gansai Tambi look better in this department than Cotman or Prang, which are the cheap travel [pan] colors I have.  It’s probably in relation to red being more culturally meaningful in Japan than here [it’s a color young girls and young unmarried women are expected to wear…or at least that’s what my grandmother related to me].)

As for the dotted papers…maybe.  Inks?  Maybe, but I’d more likely wait.  I don’t know how much bottled ink they have there, anyway.  Dotted papers are also available from the Japanese dollar store, now that I’m thinking about it.  I’ve just seen how they can be used, and want to play.  (is that so much to ask?)  😉

The other thing…that I’m kind of dreading, is seeing another worthwhile book on mokuhanga and/or relief printing, at the bookstore.  But I’ll deal with that when I come to it…

Return to suminagashi

I’ve just gotten through my first suminagashi (Japanese ink marbling) attempt since…the time I first learned the technique, years ago.  It’s pretty simple, and fairly fast:  my biggest problem was not having the space to let as many prints dry as possible.  Because of this — and because I entirely forgot about my Stonehenge cotton rag hand-printing paper when in the process of prepping my papers (during which I got to play around with a mat cutter, paper, and a cutting mat [hahaha sharp things]) — I somehow avoided printing any of the Stonehenge!  Gah!  It wasn’t even on my mind!

The good part of this is that I was able to mess up on papers not nearly as precious.  As it was my first time in years doing this form of marbling, there were the inevitable prints which didn’t turn out as I liked — about five of them.  It wasn’t so bad, though:  there are at least nine prints which came out of the set which are pleasant enough to behold.  I had been planning on trying to do the “crocus” prints on top of them, though I hadn’t planned on using Wet Media and Drawing papers for that!

Beh.  (“But, ehhh.”)  Anyway.  I’m dealing with Sumifactant, Boku-Undo inks, and really cheap brushes, along with a disposable tray of the type used to cook turkeys, copy paper for interleaving, and some of my most-hated textbooks as weights.  😛  I know the Boku-Undo are non-toxic; the Sumifactant, I’m not sure about, but what I heard from Colophon Book Arts (here is their “Oriental” page) was encouraging.  Of course, though, I got the stuff…years ago.  The page says it lasts indefinitely when tightly capped.

I don’t know why it hit me tonight that, “hey!  I can do this!”  What I do know is that the sun is down and as such I won’t be able to take any appreciable photos of the prints under artificial lighting.  (Not only is the lighting in the area such that I’ll cast shadows on anything on the table [the prints are still wet], but it will cause a yellow-orange cast over everything…which is annoying to try and work out through Photoshop for every image, while still keeping colors accurate.  I’ll try to get some photos in the morning.)

I didn’t mention that when everything got pulled off of the table (long, likely irrelevant story), D didn’t notice one of my small pattern tracings (2″x 2″) for the crocus block, and so it is now…gone.  Basically.  As in it fluttered away into the ether.  I’m not too thrilled about this, but it’s easy enough to do again — it’s just that I feel like I’ll never be able to do it again in exactly the same way (but is that a goal…?).  I kind of wish I had scanned it.

The other day, I was also able to get some reading done in Japanese Woodblock Print Workshop by April Vollmer, and now have a relatively clearer idea of how to register (align) multicolor prints.  I don’t think I’ve read all the way through the section of how to carve the block and pull prints, but what I have read makes more sense when read straight through than when looked at piecemeal and out of order.  (The illustrations tend to encourage the latter approach, with me.)

I do think that it would be okay, though, to do a second crocus block without worrying about print registration (but I will want to mark which direction is “up”).  I can worry about registration when working on the gingko leaf, which is the project after this.  For one thing, working with registration implies making a key block (a block with areas of color outlined), then carving the key block, then producing multiple prints (one for each color block) on translucent paper, then pasting those prints reversed on each subsequent block (I’m thinking UHU Stic would be good for this, as it washes off with water even after it’s dry), then possibly oiling the paper, then carving through the paper and removing what’s left with water.

I kind of wish that I knew how to register prints in linoleum block printing, though:  I’m not totally positive that the technique will transfer over from mokuhanga (Japanese woodblock printing) to linocuts, particularly because I’m working with opaque inks.  What I’ve seen recommended for mokuhanga are opaque watercolors (gouache) — Holbein at that (I have these already) — but they’re applied so diluted that I don’t think the opacity is a big thing.  At least, when compared to Speedball Printing Ink, the latter is a good deal more opaque (or so I would think after having used the black ink and having felt the texture it leaves on top of the paper).  It might be, though, that I’m supposed to be printing on soaked paper, not dry paper:  something I can test, since I didn’t use any of my Stonehenge!  (And, I just realized, I do have a vat to soak these in:  the same vat I used to marble the papers, tonight.)

Which reminds me that I wanted to get back on top of learning Japanese language (nihongo).  I had just been wondering if there were guides to, or commentary on, comparisons of the different media in Japanese (I’m not sure how much material exists on this in English).  Then I realized that I’d have to be able to read kanji for that, most likely.

Well.  Motivation!

Ah ha ha.  I should be getting to sleep…

Okay. Can’t sleep.

I’ve been busy thinking up things to make linocuts out of, and don’t know how coherent I’ll be — sorry!  🙂

I did find my old stash of X-Acto blades and blade holders!  So I know I don’t need any #11 or #2 blades, and I won’t need an extra handle.  There are three types of blades I’ve decided on — the #10 (general, curved) and #12 (detail, curved) for the #1 handle, and the #28 (concave) for the #2 handle.  What I will need help with are biomorphic forms (flowers, leaves, feathers), so I’m hoping that the curved blades will assist, here.  I think that if I sharpened my initial tools, they should work; but as it is, the only knife or gouge I have that is still reliably sharp is my big U-gouge.  And that’s because I didn’t use it in high school.  (I don’t know how to sharpen gouges.)

I still haven’t (“still”? it’s been what, a day?) gone back to my original design — though I did get the idea of printing multiple layers of color, today.  If I can find a strip of wood that is exactly the height of my linoleum blocks, it would help with registering the prints — that is, lining them up exactly so that I don’t miss and get a weirdly printed copy.  I’m not betting on this, though.   I do have strips of cardboard that I’ve saved from old drawing pads, which I can cut to size and then tape the print to (while lining up the bottom edge with the block) — I think this should help, but I haven’t tried it yet.

The thing that I still can’t justify buying is a baren.  This is largely because they’re expensive, and largely, it’s just a flat surface.  The one Japanese brand I’ve found is Yasutomo, and…let’s just say it didn’t feel like anything…special?  On the other hand, it was $10 less than the Speedball one.  The latter, though, will stand up to Western printmaking papers and doesn’t require oiling, to the best of my knowledge.  The Stonehenge paper I’m using is very…tough.  I think it’s a cotton rag paper, but it’s really thick and kind of hard.

I’ll probably end up getting the Speedball one; it just kind of hurts a little.  😉  But you buy it like, what, once, and then you don’t have to do it again?

Earlier tonight I was thinking of stocking up on those little tiny 2″x 2″ linoleum blocks; now I’m wondering if it’s overkill.  I have the receipt next to me and can see that they cost $0.69 each.  So I guess that would be, what…about $3.50 if I got 5 of them?  I had been thinking of doing a color rendition, but at the present moment I can’t remember what that version would look like.

It may not be overkill, though, if it will save me a trip.  Speaking of which, I did just check — and I’m not sure the little store carries the blades I want.  This will then require locating other sources.  I should call ahead.  I think I have the phone numbers of all my regular art supply stores in a case…aha; found them.

The other irritant I’m facing is how many inks to get.  I know I should not go all out and invest in too many at once; on the other hand, this art store is not a convenient place to get to.

Ah, hell.  I’ll get a magenta, a blue, yellow, and brown, plus extender (which may be more interesting than diluting colors with white).  I have three prints that have come to mind…and this should give me the widest possible color range (even though I have wanted to buy violet and orange).  The first print to try or retry is the flower thing that looks like a crocus.  Then — I want to try a gingko leaf (3 blocks required), and the idea of a hummingbird has also come to mind…though I should be able to print that with these colors, I now realize!

I’ll just get the three tiny blocks instead of more…the gingko thing and the crocus thing should keep me busy for a while.  After that I can practice some more and work on my key block for the hummingbird thing…some time will have elapsed, by then.

It looks like the printing inks are cheaper at the big store, but not by much.  The baren is not, and I don’t see how the linoleum blocks could be.  Maybe I’ll hit the big box store, get the X-Acto blades and ink, and then hit the small store for the baren and linoleum blocks…and look at their selection of gouges.  There are two Speedball kits which contain gouges…I’m thinking of using a very small gouge for the leaf, but am not sure if it will even help, as the veining has to be in reverse in order to print (unless I make the veins lighter than the leaf).  The benefit of a gouge here is that it removes material in one swipe, but that’s really suited to later projects (feathers) than either of these two.

And then…do I want to get an X-Acto gouge set instead?  I’m pretty sure they exist.

Anyway…I’m now getting tired, and I have a plan now.  See you in the morning!  I mean after the sun is up!

(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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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…!)

Wrapping up the end of the semester

As much as I dislike having to get into this at all, I do have a few more things due this semester.  I’m posting this here to remind myself of what I have to do, along with updating this blog somewhat, even if it isn’t art-related (I hate not being able to see progress, and having the same blog entry at the top of the page for days, doesn’t help).

I know that I have been making progress and doing things, but not being able to easily see what I’ve produced can get me into a relative funk.  What’s silly is that what I’ve been doing is likely more important than maintaining my blog.  :/

I did get back to the Career Counselor whom I had opened communication with.  This was a form of homework in itself, but what is nice about it is that all I had to do was ask, and I got help; and this is something that matters, so…not a bad deal?

And, as I mentioned before, I did turn in a paper (30% of my grade, unless I’m mistaken) and another 15-point assignment on Sunday.  I didn’t want to have to work on it, but it didn’t really matter, because I had to do it (or to at least try to do it) and that actually made it easier for me to push through it — and concentrate.

By the end of this Sunday, I will have to read about 15 pages in my textbook and answer a Discussion question.  This should be relatively easy, though I shouldn’t forget that I will want to view the lectures after having done the reading, and probably before answering the discussion topic.

On top of that, I have to give a 5-10 minute presentation on my paper topic, which probably won’t be too much of a big deal.  What I need to make sure to do is get my slide presentation put together, and the speech (or rather, the speech points) organized and practiced, before setting up.  The voice recorder on my computer should help.

Both those things, I’ll have to do before Monday.  Unless I’m mistaken, the quiz I’ve been working on should be due Monday.  After that is accomplished, the only other thing I will have due is a literature review, and I’ll have a full week after that to get 10-12 things read, reviewed, and turned in.  My family member’s funeral will be this week — I’m not betting on that going down smoothly, nor am I betting on being recovered by the Monday following.  Ideally, I’ll be done with everything and able to turn in my Lit Review on Friday, at the latest.  That’s two or more articles to read, per day.  Easy.

I know which chapter I’ll be investigating for that project, as well.  I’ve just got to find the articles — citations for a number of them, I have already.  I just need to actually locate them, which sounds like something brainless to do when I get tired of my other work.

And, right:  I will also need to back up my files to my portfolio — something I haven’t done because of not wanting to look up my syllabi (which is stupid; they’re in the covers of their respective folders).

This means that Sunday — the 21st — and forward, I should be able either to work on art, or take that long-awaited celebratory trip to the art store and pick up what I’ve been wanting to, for the past month or so.  And — or — I can try and sharpen my chisels on my aluminum-oxide waterstone…which I’ve never done before.  But I do have the waterstone, water, and chisels.  Nothing to lose, really.  (I have a sizeable burr on the edge of one of my woodcutting chisels, from high-school days when I was wedging out hardened plaster with the edge of the knife and ended up bending the steel’s cutting edge.  The burr may be too big for me to save the knife [will I ruin my waterstone?], but I should take a look at it, anyway.)

I should also…not count out going to an actual chisel shop.  I’ll know which one I’m referring to, when I see this post.

The positive thing is that I only have 5 hours of salaried work in between now and the time my quiz, discussion post, and presentation are due.  I know it seems big, like “AAAGH I’ve got to go in to work,” but it’s really not a lot of time, in the scheme of things.  (It’s barely over half a day.)  Especially not when you can stay up until 2 and 4 AM working on things.

I’ve also been offered more hours at the job, but considering that I’m not even particularly clear on when Summer Session starts, I’m not throwing myself into that, right now.  (Just checked:  I’ll have two weeks between the end of Finals and the start of Summer Session, which I’m assuming will be a 15-hour commitment, per week, on top of my now 11-hour commitment at my regular job.  That [26 hours] does leave a lot of free time, though.  Maybe I could take on four hours additional…)

The thing I do wish I had done more of?  I wish I had played around with the cataloging tools, more — particularly where it comes to RDA (Resource Description and Access, used in building bibliographic records).  I wasn’t betting on not being able to access them after the semester ended — there are tools available, but the one I just checked was institution-only, meaning that individuals can’t subscribe to use the databases.

I also had a fun time nerding out over art supplies with a couple of people, the other day.  🙂  That was nice, especially as I understand the perspective of one person in particular…

And I’m seeing that I have now stayed up over an hour into tomorrow…so I think I’ll sign off and get ready for bed; though because I haven’t taken any medication, I may still be up for another two hours.  It will be a good time to get some reading done, if I can’t sleep.