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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Life with Dogs: Part 9 Lucy

Children and puppies both start out small.

RowanBaby:webChildren grow fairly slowly, year by year, and only reach their full size in a couple of decades.

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Puppies start out small too, but grow SO much faster.

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Here is Rowan at almost 7 years and Lucy at age 12 weeks. 

Puppies are pretty much full grown in a year. This transformation provided the inspiration for my book When Lucy Goes Out Walking.

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Starting in January, the pup in the book grows month by month.

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By March she is leggy and adolescent looking.

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By July, she’s a mostly grown companion on a grassy hill.

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and by rainy November she can carry groceries and trot along through puddles.

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The weather turns cold again and this time Lucy leaves “big dog prints” in first December snows.

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A year passes and here is Rowan at almost 8 years and Lucy at 12 months. What a difference a year made for one small pup!

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Life with Dogs-Part 7: We meet A New Puppy

Our long, dog-less drought finally ended with a puppy.

I knew it was time.

B&R were independent and ready to help care for another creature. I tried to find another Vermont farm dog like Pumpkin, but when that didn’t work, I followed a lead to a breeder in Maine.

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We 1st met Lucy in southern Quebec. Her mother was appearing in a Sheep Dog trial and we drove up to see a tiny, 8 week old pup. Then we waited and waited for a month until she was 12 weeks old.

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I wanted my boys to have the experience of raising a baby; chewed shoes, baseballs, flowerpots and all.

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It’ll be fun to watch as Lucy grows up and become a book character in her own right.

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