Saturday, March 31, 2012

Illustration Friday: Return

Here's a print in honor of the return of spring rainstorms. So far we just have tons of sun. (I'm not complaining!) And tomorrow there's talk of snow. We'll see...

I had to paint this print three times before I was happy with it. That's one of the things I like about painting linocuts. I just make a bunch of prints and keep trying. It's not a singular painting that has to be perfect the first time. It's been a good way for me to experiment with watercolor over the last few years.

Happy spring to everyone!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Printed Umbrella

I finally got to print today! I'll paint this little 4 x 6 inch print tomorrow, but here's the black and white version for now. This is the block that I used as a demo in my last post. Here's how it looks carved.

I tried something new today for this print. It was almost two years ago that I first tried Gamblin Relief Ink and loved it. It is a little thinner than ink I've used before, it prints details beautifully, and it has really strong color. I'm actually only halfway through my jar of ink two years later and it's getting thick, tacky, and frustrating to work with. So I ordered a tube of Gamblin Tack Reducer. A glob of that mixed in with the ink on my palette turned it back into nice, loose ink- yay!!

Friday, March 23, 2012

How I Make A Linoleum Block

I'm getting ready to start a new smallish print and I realized that I haven't shown how I make a linoleum block before. It's really easy if you have the right tools. I almost always use masonite for the block because it's strong, thin, and doesn't warp (very much). That's the brown hardboard stuff that has a waffle pattern on the back. I cut it to size with a circular saw. Then I usually sand the masontie quickly with rough sandpaper. That roughens up the surface and makes it more likely that the glue will grip it well.

I buy the Battleship Gray linoleum in large sheets or a roll. You can get it lots of different places- Dick Blick, McClain's Printmaking Supplies, and Graphic Chemical & Ink are places where I've bought it before. You can also buy linoleum already mounted on a block. I like it unmounted so I can cut it into any shape I want. And there are different kinds of linoleum that are made in different colors- they vary in softness and other qualities. I like the battleship Gray because it holds fine details well.

Then I cut the linoleum with an X-Acto knife and a ruler. It's tough stuff so you have to score it many times before it will cut all the way through. I like to use clear grid rulers that I learned about from my mom who is a quilter. And to protect your table, you can do the cutting on a self-healing mat. The ruler and the mat are so handy for cutting just about anything- I can't imagine life without them!

When I have the masonite block and the linoleum ready, I put a lot of wood glue on the back of the linoleum.

Then I smear the glue around with my finger. It's really difficult and frustrating when you are carving and the linoleum isn't glued down everywhere so it's best to be thorough. Then I put the two pieces together and leave the block under heavy weight overnight or for 6 hours or so. Ta da!

Here's the drawing for my next print. My illustration group Between the End Pages picks a theme to illustrate for each month and I haven't been able to do the last couple months. So I'm trying to get a jump on the theme for April- Rainstorm. I'm looking forward to doing a small straightforward print that I can start and finish in a reasonable amount of time!

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Rainstorm Sock

Today I colored a sock. I had way more important stuff to do but it was fun to play hooky and color. Sock it to Me has regular contests to design fun socks. Check it out- here's the info. Let me know if you do one too!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Illustration Show in June

Sorry I haven't been here much this month. I was scrambling to get my picture book dummy done and off in time for the SCBWI Don Freeman grant. And I did! The lady at the post office said my envelope would probably arrive on March 12th. So I paid the little bit extra to be able to confirm delivery but I didn't send it guaranteed mail. Today is the deadline and my envelope hasn't been delivered yet! OH NO! I was so depressed this morning. Perhaps it really has been delivered already and the USPS website isn't current. But that seems unlikely.

In more upbeat news, I'm getting ready for a show at my local bookstore Off the Beaten Path. I've decided to title the show Short Stories and display my original linocut children's illustrations. Some of my prints have text in them. Others don't but they were created for a certain story. And there are some pieces that don't already have a story, but they look like they should. So I've decided to make large title cards and include on the card a tiny short story for each piece. I think it will be a fun show for a bookstore!

Here's one of my new stories. What do you think?

On the other side of the sky where clouds blossom lived a little girl named Rose. Rose watered her garden every morning until the summer sun was in full bloom.

In the fall Rose harvested wishes on stars under the light of a crescent moonflower. She kept the wishes safe all winter until it was time to plant them in the spring. With careful tending, the wishes grew into new stars on the other side of the sky. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Illustration Friday: Intention

It was my intention to get this linocut done for my picture book dummy as soon as possible. And it's done!

It's this family's intention to walk home after their picnic on the beach. I promise they don't have to walk over the mountains- town is just around the corner. :)

Saturday, March 3, 2012


I was working away on the next block for my picture book dummy when my husband came it to say hi. We were talking as he looked from my tracing paper drawing to the carving. That's when I realized OOPPS! I had carved away the area in the sky where the text was supposed to go! I meant to take my time and make sure the text was placed in exactly the right spot. But I forgot and since no pencil lines were in that corner, I just carved all the linoleum away. So I had to patch in a new piece. Here's what it looked like-

I carved away the linoleum in a rectangle all the way down to the masonite backing. Then I glued in a new piece and left it under a weight for several hours.

Then I measured carefully like I meant to originally and got the text in the right place.

I think it turned out just fine! I feel like a bit of a dork, but we all make mistakes and this one was a pretty easy fix. :)