Sunday, July 29, 2012

Linoleum Block Print

Red Lily
4" X 4" Linoleum Block Print
One block, four colors

I’m in a block printing workshop in an airy, old barn, facing a set of double doors wide open to a grassy garden outside. It’s mid-summer in Maine and I am perfectly happy. I have my own work space and everything I need – a linoleum block, carving tools, an inking plate, spatulas for smearing ink onto the plate, all the colors I could want, soft rubber brayers to take the ink from the plate to the block, Japanese rice paper –  wonderfully transparent, incredibly strong – a wooden kitchen spoon to rub the ink from the block onto the paper, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 

There are four of us in the workshop. 

We are guided by Holly Berry, a Maine printmaker who does fabulous work. Check out her website
We are using the reduction technique to make multi-color prints – a mysterious and miraculous method that I haven’t been able to manage on my own. Holly is revealing her secrets. Using one linoleum block, we carve out one color at a time, print, carve out another color, print, and so on, until our printmaking is done. I will print four colors – yellow, red, green, and black. 

I am creating a flower from our garden -- a red lily

As I carve and print, I build up an easy rhythm – carve the block, ink the stone, roll the brayer , ink the block, press the paper, check for color, ink some more.

I lay my inked sheets on the barn floor alongside a wall where no one will step on them. I am so absorbed I forget to eat my sandwich. Lightheaded, wobbly kneed, I am completely content taking one step at a time, building up layers of color. 

First five white stripes on a field of yellow. 

Then deep red petals surrounding yellow pistels, stamens, and one bud.

 Then a blue-green background to the fluting of red petals.

 Finally the key block, the black outline that defines my flower. 

Until I have an edition of ten prints of a red day lily from our garden. 
Reluctantly, I stop printing and start cleaning up my mess. 
This program keeps inserting text background colors indiscriminately. I've made it red to match my actual background -- sort of, but I wish I knew how to get rid of it altogether. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Bailey, Harley, and Baxter

Bailey and Baxter
8" X 10" colored pen and ink

Here's how this trio's "mom," Betsy, describes her babies: 

Harley is 9-year-old terrier mix – “my smiling boy. Baxter is a 7-year-old red Dachshund – “my sensitive, serious boy.” And Bailey is 4-year-old black-and-tan Dachshund – “a little Tom boy. She loves playing with the boys and is the alpha female.”

And here's how Betsy describes her PenPets portrait:
Hey Leslie,
I received the picture today. When I turned it over I just started to cry. You captured my little ones to a T. The picture is gorgeous. You are truly a very talented artist who has an eye for capturing not only the physical aspect of your subject but their souls as well. Thank you so much. I will treasure this always.
You are right in that I cannot wait to give to my husband. I bought a beautiful black frame to put it in. It will be on the wall this evening. 
Here's how Betsy's friend reacted:
O, Betsy! It gives me goosebumps!You can see their personalities so vividly. It's exactly them!

Bailey and Baxter


Sunday, July 8, 2012


West Highland White Terrier
5" X 7" pen-and-ink

Hi Leslie!

Finny has landed . . . And he's perfect! Dad was over the moon. Thanks so much for your sweet note and speedy job!

Washington D.C.