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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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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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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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!