Making my ‘Rufus in the Tall Grass’ print, with the help of three experts.

I’ve been admiring the work of printmakers since I was a small girl and this summer’s project emulates three people whose work has influenced me. I’ve been collecting samples of the work of Andrea Lauren lately. She does small, two color prints using two separate blocks.

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Andrea uses two separate blocks and prints one over the other.

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You could cut a block into more pieces as well and ink each piece separately. That’s what Woody Jackson did early in his career when he started cutting up zinc etching plates, inking each piece, and putting them back together like puzzles before printing.

I’ve loved Mary Azarian’s work since I was a teenager. Her hand-colored woodcuts of Vermont scenes and her illustrated books influenced my illustration work enormously.

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I am teaching at Hollins University again this summer-this time I designed a course called Printmaking for Illustration. To make a sample for my students I used all three of my printmaking idols as inspiration.

My new puppy Rufus has a foxy look similar to Andrea’s print, so I chose one of the dozens of reference photos I have and started designing my own two color linocut.

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I decided to use one block and cut it apart into two pieces-Woody Jackson style-right around Rufus. That made getting perfect registration a breeze.

 

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I start by coating the “inside” cut-out of Rufus in black ink with a rubber brayer.

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Then I mixed a yellow and a dark green and used them both to ink the grasses on the “outside” block. Sometimes the two colors mixed on the brayer, but I didn’t care-I wanted each print to be one of a kind.

I placed both parts of the inked up block into a custom cut cardboard jig, or frame, to hold them steady, then laid my paper on top.

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To make a print I’m merely rubbing the back of the paper firmly with an ordinary wooden spoon. I keep it fairly parallel to the paper so that it presses evenly and doesn’t rip this delicate sheet.

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I made a small edition of 20 prints using 2 colors of oil based ink.

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When these are dry I’ll hand color each one with watercolors, making them truly one of a kind, just like Mary Azarian does.

Three printmakers-four counting me-all different but with so much in common!

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Sheep

The noble profile, the slitted eyes, the curls, the baaaaa, the level gaze…

I love drawing sheep.

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This gal caught my eye this summer. When  I went looking for a subject for my cottage postcards I was drawn to her curious face. As in the past, I begin by taping off a grid of small postcards on watercolor paper.

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I make a quick sketch in pencil in each window and then use an assembly line approach to add colors.

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Each layer adds detail and the sheep emerges.

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The final touches are gold and silver ink…

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and glitter!

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Each card is the same but different, a one-of-a-kind love token for the friend who receives a “cottage card.”

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The Bunny Runs Away to Hollins

Margaret Wise Brown is one of Hollins University‘s most well known graduates-especially in the children’s book world.

Most famous for Goodnight Moon, her 1942 book The Runaway Bunny, about  an adventurous baby bunny and her devoted mama, inspired the first pair of characters to mysteriously appear on campus–right outside the library.

These were all conceived and executed using corrugated, plastic board and acrylic paints by a Fairy Godmother, assisted by her trio of fairy assistants.

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Lyndsey and Topher Keppol cutting and priming the Mama Bunny

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The fairy godmother painting the Mama Bunny with acrylics

As the summer went past, more and more appeared, until at almost every turn you could find another classic or contemporary children’s book character, casually hanging around, sometimes literally!

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Lucy, a Wild Thing and Max

After Mama and Baby Bunny,  we made some more classics: Ferdinand the Bull,  Pooh, Piglet and EeyoreThe Very Hungry Caterpillar,  Wilbur and Charlotte, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and Mister Toad

 

Then we added some characters dreamed up by Hollins professors and guest speakers:

Minna from The Rag Coat, and Skippyjon Jones.

And finally, a whole ‘girl gang’ of our favorite independent females: Tinker Bell,

MadelinePippi Longstocking, OliviaEloise, Miss Rumphius , and Frances the badger.

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Who will appear next summer?

Suggestions are welcome!

If you enjoyed this post, please  follow me here: Ashley Wolff Art on Facebook, my webpage , my Etsy shop, or Instagram. You can follow the blog by hitting the “follow blog” button at the top of the sidebar. 

 

Painting Perry

I love dogs.

I have cared for dogs, drawn dogs, painted my own dogs and painted other people’s beloved dogs, alive and dead.

At this point in my life I am without a dog companion, so it was with extra joy that I accepted a commission to paint Perry’s portrait.

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Perry

I like having loads of photos to work from when I do a portrait, so I spent some snowy afternoon time with Perry, trying to get shots of her shape and markings, but she was often squinting against the glare, so her dad also supplied this soulful shot of her open eyes.

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To keep the focus on Perry I minimized the background to the snowy field and treeline.

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I like to paint in the background 1st. For this snowy scene I used resist to preserve whites in the hedgerow, then added very loose greens and dark blues in diluted gouache over that.

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In the foreground shadows, which were very crisp and blue, I tossed on some salt to create the texture of snow.

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Then I painted Perry in on top. She is 13, but her face has such a joyful, open expression. She spent a lot of her time that afternoon with her snout buried in the snow, sniffing heavens knows what.

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If you enjoyed this post, please  follow me here: Ashley Wolff Art on Facebook, my webpage , my Etsy shop, or Instagram. You can follow the blog by hitting the “follow blog” button at the top of the sidebar. 

 

 

Painting Fergie’s Portrait


Fergie is a Goldendoodle.

If there is a cuter new “doodle” breed, I can’t imagine it.

She is the fortunate 1st ‘child’ of my beloved cousin, who dotes on her every wiggle and bark.

Now that she has come of age,  I was commissioned to paint her official portrait.

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Fergie and her family visited while the leaves were still falling in October.

After exploring the woods thoroughly, she chose this scene for her backdrop.

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And I caught her sitting still, however briefly, in the driveway.

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To begin this portrait I painted the background landscape before adding the main figure. I am working in gouache and trying to stay loose. A lot gets covered up by the figure, but it still seems to make the whole more cohesive.

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To add the figure of Fergie I did a careful pencil drawing and used simple graphite transfer to position her in the scene.

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Once Fergie was in place I added lots of shadowing to push the landscape behind her and leaves in the foreground to anchor her on the ground.

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I paid the most attention to her face, trying to capture the sweetness and life-not to mention her glorious curls!

 

 

Sleep

It’s late November here in Vermont ~ the time of year for hibernation.

Who hibernates? Bats, Bears,skunks, bees, snakes, and groundhogs to name a few.

Since moving from a mild California climate to the stricter seasonal progression of northern New England, I’ve become much more sympathetic to the concept of hibernation!

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On the last day of Baby Bear Counts One, Mama and Baby Bear are ready to curl up and sleep the winter away.

Showing the process of sleeping is relatively easy, but showing dreaming was a challenge in Only The Cat Saw.  When I was a child I often dreamed of being near the ocean or swimming when I really needed to get up to urinate!

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Holly Taylor modeled as the sleeping Amy, way back in 1984

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Amy, dreaming in Only The Cat Saw. Acrylic on paper

Of course, we sleep all year long, and humans enjoy it as much as animals. Mostly sleep happens when it is too dark to draw, but sometimes a nap overtakes us, and when it does I seize that moment of daylight stillness to draw.

Since the late 70s I’ve drawn people and creatures I love while they were sleeping.

Here is a selection.

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watercolor sketch of my sister Peregrine, asleep on the couch after wisdom tooth removal..

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watercolor sketch of my sister Peregrine.

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this drawing of Rowan reminds me of Amy’s pose. Colored pencil on brown paper

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Brennan, asleep. Colored pencil on brown paper

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Rowan, asleep. Colored pencil on brown paper.

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Sabin, asleep. Marker on brown paper.

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Tula napping. Watercolor on brown paper

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Nutkin, sleeping. Acrylic on paper.

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Wildridge kitten, sleeping. Gouache on brown paper.

Dia de los Muertos

A year ago I lost my beloved Tula to lymphoma-@*&%$#@Cancer!

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Tula

I was hit by the triple whammy of mourning, autumn and the dreaded “Falling Back!”

It was dark, rainy and cold.

So what does an artist do to raise her spirits?

Paint skeletons!

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My 1st painting was done in acrylic on an old board with appliqued, dried, ferns.

I painted several memorial images of Tula, and other dogs and cats.

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The ghost of Seabiscuit

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Northern Pike

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The solstice sheep

This year my Dia de los Muertos altar will be packed with color and light to honor my beloved dead.