Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Woodcut Class Draws to Conclusion

Well, all good things must come to an end, and that thing tonight was the current woodcut class at BelmarArts. I had three students sign up and pay, but only two have ever come to class, but both are dedicated.  I was a little worried tonight because I heard they were having door issues at the Boatworks, but I heard nothing new and everything worked when I got there tonight, so I guess they resolved it all over the weekend.

Tonight was the 4th and last night, which usually means a lot of printing.  I've never had a class where everyone didn't finish and proof at least one print (some completing more than one), and I didn't want to break that streak.  Last week we pulled a first proof on Linda's first block, an image of her black cat, and she had told me she planned to make a few adjustments to it before this week.  She had also asked about hand coloring prints and mentioned a desire to hand print greeting cards, so in addition to the usual print supplies and tools, I brought in several examples of my past holiday cards and the catalog from the Painted Prints show I saw with Tom Huck on my visit to St Louis a decade or so ago.  Meanwhile, Mary Ellen had acquired a few linoleum tools and found them more effective than those cheap woodcut tools she had been using, made some good progress on her block, even pulling a couple of proofs along the way.  While Linda continued to look at my catalog, I put out my woodcut tools, Mary Ellen asked me to advise her on a few things with her block, and she grabbed a few tools and finished her block.  She was ready to move on so we printed her first.

I had brought in my supply of colored and decorative papers, thinking her mermaid print might benefit from such a thing.  After looking at my supply, she chose a piece of the green lokta paper for her first proof and some Rives Lightweight White for a second.  Below are the two proofs.  My earlier advice had been to cut the tail a bit whiter to help balance the brightness of the mermaid's upper body and the large sun on the horizon; she had taken it a step further by widening the ribbons of white at the bottom, another good change.

I inked the first proof and demonstrated hand printing, then let her do the second proof from start to finish.  Seems like she learned a bit along the way.

Meanwhile, Linda had not worked more on her cat piece we proofed last time, but went out and got more wood, and cut two new blocks.  Plus she brought in a white enameled butcher tray that she once got to be a palette but she didn't need it for that, and some small size art papers.  Since she had watched my printing demonstration earlier, she was confident to do the whole process herself.

Again we printed both of these with the same oil based black relief ink I had prepared for the mermaid prints, though she had told me from the start that she planned to try hand coloring these.  My St Louis catalog reinforced her plan.  The first one printed (above) is a white line design, but I believe pink petals and green leaves are part of the plan. The second one (below) is also a plant with flowers, and color is expected there, too, but I don't know the specific plans.

And with that, our 2.5 hours of tonight's class were done, our four woodcut classes are done.  Will there be more woodcuts in their future?  I don't doubt it.  Linda was already talking about buying inks  and woods and seemed almost giddy with excitement about future projects.  Mary Ellen asked to take home a few bits of colored paper to experiment with in future prints.  Both had questions about registration systems.  Would either consider retaking this Belmar class?  (I was asked by the office to look into it) Depends on timing and availability.  I don't see such a thing happening until late summer, but if BelmarArts is willing to put it on the schedule, and actually promotes it this time, it could happen.


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