Teaching Linoleum Block Printing in Vermont

This winter Middlebury Studio School invited me to teach a linoleum block printing class.

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One block, carved and cut apart into 4 pieces. The artist separated the pieces, inked each piece in a different color, reassembled them, and printed them as one piece.

I chose Blick Readycut blocks for our projects because it is easy to carve. I wanted to the students to try making a multiple color print, like the one above, using just one block cut into pieces in order to prevent registration problems.

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I prepared for the class by doing another two color print of one of my favorite subjects: Dogs.

Even though I planned this to be a two color print,  I carved it all as one piece. It is much easier to cut it apart later.  Carving the words became very tricky- probably because my design didn’t leave them enough room.

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I often trim off any excess block beyond the design if I don’t want to bother carving it all out.

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Once the block was completely carved I used an exacto knife to cut it apart into two pieces.

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After my students created a design, reversed it and transferred it to their blocks, they began carving away any part of the block that they DIDN’T want to show in their print.

Once the block is carved and cut apart, each piece is inked using a brayer. The paper is laid gently on top of the inked block and the back of the paper is rubbed with a hard smooth object-such as a spoon or baren.

Finally comes the Ah Ha moment when the paper is pulled and the finished print revealed.

In the end my dog print was only a partial success. The carved quote part was a mess so I discarded it and added some hand lettering instead. Hand adorned giclee prints available here.

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For our last meeting I brought in large, cotton tea towels that could be printed using the blocks carved during the class. There were no rules but this was one beautiful and orderly result.

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Calavera Pumpkins

It is still early October, but I am already all about The Day of the Dead.

That’s because I’m having an art show for a series of paintings I did after my beloved Tula died of Lymphoma 2 years ago.

Her death, so close to Halloween and the “falling back’ of the clocks, the increasing cold and the darkness of winter made me feel a little panicky. I countered that with art therapy and it all flowed from one painting on a big, old wooden panel.

This year the sun is still out so I invited my  artist neighbor Warren over to play with me.

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I had an idea to make decorations for my show by making white pumpkins into containers for hot colored mums.

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We hollowed them out and carved them a bit as usual, and then used Liquitex acrylic paint markers and sharpies to decorate them to look like Mexican Calaveras.

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Warren claims his looks like me but I saw no likeness, but when we popped in the mums I changed my mind.

Skulls with flowery headdresses!!

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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.

My Life with Dogs-Part 1:Deep Background

I have always loved dogs.

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one.

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When my sister was born, our family got our first German Shepherd. His name was Lumpy.

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A few years later we found a puppy on the street in Sarasota, Florida while visiting my grandmother. This picture ran in the newspaper to try to find the owner. No one claimed her so we kept her and named her Hushpuppy.

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She was a good sport.

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There is nothing like a bed full of dogs.

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My grandmother eventually adopted Hushpuppy back and Lumpy died. We got another German Shepherd named Thumper.

And then, in 1977, I got MY first dog. She was the last pup in a litter born on a dairy farm in East Middlebury, VT. Her mother Patsy was an expert cow herder.

I named her Pumpkin.

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The 1st summer I had her I drove all the way to California with my boyfriend. Thumper and Pumpkin came along. We all got to swim in the Pacific.

The story of what happened to Pumpkin is too long for one post. Stay tuned for Part 2.

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Pumpkin time

My first dog was a free puppy from a dairy farm.

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She was the last pup in the litter.

I picked her up, cuddled her and immediately called her Pumpkin.

Pumpkin was an affectionate name in my family, a term of endearment like Sweetie or Honey.  I took her home and we became an inseparable pair.

One of the first adventures we had together was driving from Vermont to California and back in a small Ford pick-up with my boyfriend, and our old, family dog, a German Shepherd named Thumper.pumpkin&ThumperPumpkin came to every class at art school, she was my model and muse and, when I got my first job after college. She came to work with me. When I started dating the reporter, she gave him the seal of approval.

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Her name didn’t fit a black and white border collie, but she ALWAYS looked good with the real gourds!pumpkinstackHalloweenMask

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It is hard, this time of year, not to see her in the Pumpkin Patch.