Chiaroscuro Linocut 5"X 7"
I’m trying my hand at chiaroscuro (key-are-oh-scu-ro) block printmaking. The word is Italian—chiaro = light, oscuro = dark—and it’s used to describe the dramatic effect of contrasting light and dark areas in artwork. Chiaroscuro woodcuts originated in the 16th Century and were comprised of three or more tones—dark (black), light (white highlights), and middle (one or more subtle colors to suggest shading). "Saving Nails" is my first attempt. It's the cover illustration for my husband Tom's third book of poetry due out this Fall with Moon Pie Press of Westbrook, Maine.
Here's my second chiaroscuro linocut—"Great Horned Owl"—and a breakdown of the process.
Great Horned Owl
Chiaroscuro Linocut 4"X6"
I began with a photograph I took of a great horned owl at Birdsacre, in Ellsworth, Maine. It's a wildlife sanctuary that provides habitats for birds and gives shelter to permanently injured birds unable to survive in the wild.
I used two blocks of linoleum and two colors for my chiascuro owl print.
First I carved the key block, which could stand alone as a black-and-white print.
Tone Block with White Highlights
Then I carved white highlights out of the tone block and printed it in burnt sienna.
Finally I printed the black key block over the burnt sienna print.