Saturday, February 27, 2016

Getting Close

© 2016 Hannah Phelps

This print might be done. It will stay attached to the block for at least a day to make sure.

After it is liberated, another piece of paper will take its place. It is good to print at least two right after carving to make sure the original idea has made it this far.

The "original idea" in this case was supposed to be the brightly colored dead leaves against the brightly colored snow shadows. Pitting vivid oranges against brilliant blues can be as exiting as an MMA fight, don't you think?

This close up view of the background doesn't show you most of the snow shadows, but it does highlight the woodgrain in the block and its relationship to the print. Kinda neat. 

Along with printing this white-line woodcut, I carved and mixed ink for the marsh jigsaw print. Big day for a Saturday. Artists get to make their own hours which often means they work all hours. Time for a break now though. Back to the press on Monday.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Planning the Next One

© 2011 Hannah Phelps

While layer 3 of the Cutts Island scene sets up on the drying rack, there is time to start planning another print. 

This plein air painting of a marsh, also in Maine, will probably be up next. It should be fun to figure out how to get all those "sky holes" in the closer trees. No water, though. This might be a first!


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Cutts Island Marsh Layer 3

© 2016 Hannah Phelps

The colors from the swatch you saw yesterday are now all together on the real print. The grass area, right in the middle of the image, looks greyer when wet than it does after a chance to soak in to the paper. I don't quite know how it will look, but I like the cool hue surrounded by what will be very warm greens, golds and oranges.

Next, the trees need some character and individuality and definition. The grasses will get....something.... won't know until that color calms down and decides what it wants to be when it grows up. The water will end up with some highlights, but maybe not on the next layer. The sky will get some attention too, but not until the very end. 

Two, three more layers? Maybe?


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Testing Testing

© 2016 Hannah Phelps

Here we have a small (maybe 3"x4" max) color study for the marsh scene in progress. The proofing block is plain and each layer is a little offset to make sure all the colors - layered or pure - show through. 

Normally, I test color with "draw downs", or taking a pallet knife with a small bit of ink on it and smearing a thin layer on the same paper I plan to use in the print. No matter how thin these streaks are, they tend to be thicker than the printed layers will be and that means that the relationships in the tests don't always translate to the print.

I have a few little blocks hanging around in my home studio - also the home of the bottlejack press. That makes it easy to print these small proofs. Since it is giving me more useful information than the draw downs, this is now my new testing method.

As a bonus, these images are pretty fun just by themselves. After a few months of new prints, I'll have quite an exciting collection of ink relationships that will continue to teach me. 


Monday, February 22, 2016

Extra Swoosh in the Marsh

© 2016 Hannah Phelps

Add some lemon yellow to violet, greenish to gold and middle blue to light blue and this is what you get.

This print is getting another layer starting tomorrow (icy roads permitting as always in the winter) and we are all excited about that. "We" being me and the prints and the blocks. Maybe the press too. I like to think we are friends.

During layer 2 printing, I set up this photo to show you a little printmaking math:

Layer 1 is on top, a piece of newsprint with just the layer 2 colors is on the bottom left and a print with the combination of the two on the left. Top + Left = Right.

On the agenda for today is making sure this block is carved and the ink for layer 3 is all mixed and ready. Then, work on the white-line of the woods scene and somewhere squeeze in a walk with the dogs. Maybe get some more inspiration from out there in the still snowy woods.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Beach Zoom

© 2016 Hannah Phelps

The beaches are done now. They have to be because the blocks are all carved away. This is a close-up of one of them. They need to dry for a bit and get all editioned (evaluated for quality, signed and numbered).

Now that it is over, I will declare it a GLE - Great Learning Experience. 

This was the first time I had ever run two blocks through an etching press at once. I would do that again, but not right away. As satisfying as it was to get double the prints for the effort, it might be better to consider the needs of one image at a time. 

The situation got a little hairy at the end and some prints are ruined, making the final edition smaller than I had hoped. I am not sure how small yet. 

I took the detail photo when I was feeling very disappointed about that - the ruined prints. Something about this tiny piece of my print is cheering me up. I like the colors together, the texture of the ink, the energy in the carved marks - all things I hope both beach scenes exhibit in the end. Maybe they will, but even if they don't, I did achieve it here, which means that I can do it. 

Each creation has to be a learning experience or what was the point? Of course I'd like saleable prints every time - and there will be some that I can frame and show for sure. That just isn't going to happen all the time and maybe it was unrealistic to think I'd be able to do it the first time I was printing two images at once on a completely new press. 

When I printed Sand Pools, the papa of these prints, I had at least half a dozen editions under my belt on my little homemade bottle jack press. Printing those was a dream and I didn't account for my familiarity of the equipment. 

Lots to think about and apply to the next print, the marsh, already in progress. Onward.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Blanketed Forest Floor

© 2016 Hannah Phelps

There are a few reasons that I did not go to the studio to work on the beach scenes, but none of them are interesting. 

And it doesn't really matter, because this print is here in my home studio with me, so there was plenty to do - blues to mix and purples to ink and paper to flip and rub. Still far from done, but getting there. 

At this second, I really wish any of the four prints I've got going were finished. Wishing usually doesn't achieve as much as enjoying the process of creation, though, so I will stick with that.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Trees for the Leaves

© 2016 Hannah Phelps

White-line woodcuts do take a while to print. This is the progress from yesterday. 

Today, the beach scenes got some more attention at the press. Hopefully, there will be a photo or two to show you tomorrow. 


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

New Tools for a New Phase

© 2016 Hannah Phelps

The block from yesterday's post is all carved, which is quite exciting. Carving white-line blocks isn't terribly hard compared hollowing out large areas for conventional woodcuts, but it does require attention and care.

This 8" x 10" image took a few days to plan, draw, transfer and carve. Late in the afternoon, it was ready to trade in the knife for brushes, watercolor and a wooden spoon.

Now there are some orange leaves dancing across the surface of the block and the otherwise white paper.  It's fun that you can see the embossed outlines of each leaf shape in this photo - it takes a fair amount of pressure with the spoon to get the paint to print onto the paper and that forces some of the paper into the carved lines. 

Today, paint the block, flip the paper down, rub with a spoon, lift the paper, repeat until done. "Done" probably won't happen today, but progess will, so you will have something interesting to see tomorrow.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Homework on a Snow Day

© 2016 Hannah Phelps

When the roads are icy, as they are this morning, there is no need to drive anywhere to get some printmaking done.

This is a white-line woodcut in progress. You might not be able to tell right now, but the design is based on a small winter forest study like the two you've seen posted here recently. 

It's kinda nice to still get "snow days" - just like the ones I used to know. The dogs and I still go out and play in it and enjoy some sort of treat. Hot chocolate anyone? 

More playing with sharp objects these days than in my childhood. All for the best. This gorgeous Damascus steel knife was created just for me by New Hampshire craftsman Zack Jonas of Jonas Blade, in case you can't take your eyes off of it. 

I splurged on the tool last winter just for carving white-line blocks and then for various reasons, I  couldn't make any white-lines for months. No matter, we are working together now. Today, we will hopefully make enough progress to post another picture tomorrow.

Partly because there is an exhibit coming up.... With white-lines and Japanese prints.... And it will be fantastic because of all the other printmakers who are participating....


Monday, February 15, 2016

Winter Leaves II

© 2016 Hannah Phelps

Another colorful little snow painting. There is so much orange and green out there in February if you know where to look for it. I enjoy the search as much as the painting.

This painting is available! Click here to find out more!


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Winter Leaves I

© 2016 Hannah Phelps

Hey, it's winter, so I'm gonna paint snow. And these color combinations are one reason why. The dead leaves that don't fall off when all the others do shine warmly and brightly against the violet shadows cast by trees in the woods. I love it. Add some greens for good measure and there you have it - vibrancy in these otherwise dark and grey weeks. 

This little painting is available and you can get it here.

Friday, February 12, 2016


© 2016 Hannah Phelps

You may have heard that another print is in the works. This time a marsh scene from Cutts Island in Kittery Point, Maine, another magical type place.

A painting from the September 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge is the primary model for the print. The painting itself is a derivative of on-site studies from previous falls. While the little painting is a square, the print will be a rectangle. Mostly because a batch of pre-cut shina plywood arrived on my doorstep and it is all rectangular. 

In the past, I bought large sheets of birch plywood from either Home Depot or a lumber yard and cut it down to size myself. The results were always fine and I was happy with this low cost option. I know that many printmakers prefer shina, but I didn't feel the need to switch until now.

The blocks for the little beaches were splintering quite a bit and that made the carving tricky and led to some tough decisions. It all worked out in the end (well, the near end), but the frustration led me to order the shina. 

I haven't done a lot of carving yet, but so far so good. Not surprisingly, the block went very smoothly through the scroll saw. 

The best part is that there are a bunch of rectangles in the studio all ready to go - 9"x12"s, 8"x10"s and some minis - so I can keep on printing!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Extra Land, Extra Layers

© 2016 Hannah Phelps

Rarely do you see finished prints here, and today we are back to prints-in-progress. This print has a land mass on the horizon on the right and it really shouldn't remain bright blue. And in fact, it didn't

It is now a greyish color:

The plan was for that to be it. Now, maybe not. The painter in me would add a touch of variety back there.  The printmaker sharing that head space will probably heed that instinct. 

If so, it will happen soon - next week barring a big snow storm. 

Either way, printmaking marches on and there is a white-line in progress here at home and a marsh scene in the middle of layer 2 at D.M. Penny Press

Speaking of the printmaking studio, I will be hosting a very informal Open House there on Saturday, March 19th from 10 am- 5 pm. Just me using the press on a day when the parking situation is friendly to visitors - free and ample and close to the building.

I will keep reminding you of this as we go along. The best directions for getting to the building and then finding your way to the right room are on the D.M. Penny Press website

If that day doesn't work for you, we can always make an appointment to meet there - just contact me!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Remembered Beach I

© 2016 Hannah Phelps

This side of the diptych beach scene is, well, done! It took a while to realize it and then to admit it. The ink still needs time to relax, so you can't have one quite yet. When it is ready for that, you'll be the first to know!

The other side of the beach is not done yet. It has a land mass on the horizon that got some ink today. Might it need even more? I am going to think about it.

Coming soon: 
  • a photo of the other half of the diptych with darker blue in the water

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Sea and Distant Land

© 2016 Hannah Phelps

It is hard to tell in this photo, but on the right hand side there is some land on the horizon. That bit alone might get a fifth layer. By which I mean that the horizon land WILL get a fifth layer and the rest of the print probably will not, but I am open to waiting and seeing. 

Not for too long, though. These prints are nearly done, making me feel a little like a hungry shark smelling blood in the water. Not that I really know how that feels, but I am anxious to get these all done and dried and bundled and framed and joined up with Sand Pools and available for all of you.

I used this heightened state of anticipation to start a new print. Much to show you in the coming days.
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