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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On Illustration Notes, By Liz Garton Scanlon

Wow! No wonder I love her books!

Liz wrote this post for Eastern Pennsylvania’s SCBWI blog.

On Illustration Notes, By Liz Garton Scanlon.

It is about a subject close to my heart. As a writer as well as an illustrator, I hope I see this issue from both points of view. Every summer I teach picture book writing at Hollins University. My students are mostly “just” writers, and I feel their anxiety about trusting an illustrator with their words.

Will an illustrator understand what they see as they write?

Will the illustrator do the proper research and be accurate enough?

Will the illustrator make it into  HER/HIS book and leave the author behind?

These are all real worries and I am sympathetic, but listen to what Liz says:

“For me, one of the best parts of being an author is receiving the artwork for one of my books. And that thrill isn’t because it looks exactly like what I dreamed it would look like, but because it looks like something beyond my wildest dreams.”

I am honored to have illustrated a new book with Liz, In the Canyon, due out in August 2015.

I can report that we had a real give and take over the text and illustrations that resulted in what I think is the best book possible.

Here is a sneak peek at my favorite page16-17

Teaching…and trying to learn

I have seven, very talented writers in my class at Hollins this summer.

I am trying to teach them everything I know about conceiving, writing, revising, and revising, and tightening, and twisting, and revising yet again.

THEY are getting better every day.

As I have been teaching, I’ve also been taking an online course from Lilla Rogers: Making Art That Sells.

And, Oh, what a humbling and difficult road this has been. I realized immediately that my photoshop skills were dismal and needed a huge boost. My habit of trying out a new style for every new book really made decisions on which way to go on each assignment difficult.

And I realized I am not good at following directions at all!

Can the teacher learn?

I sure hope so.

The 1st assignment was to design bolt fabric using mushrooms and casserole dishes. Naturally, I did not follow directions very well and found the instructions for making a design that could repeat using Illustrator WAY too hard to learn.

So I painted mushrooms-which I have always been fascinated by…

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and casseroles, which are less appealing…

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and somehow  chickens demanded in.

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This part reminded me of the good old days making fabric icons for Joe Boxer. I worked for them back when Nick and Denise still ran the place in San Francisco. My nickname was “The Queen of Cute.”

When I finally succeeded in putting together a jpeg file of the correct size and scale I was wrung out!

But I  had LEARNED! I was getting the idea of layers and I think there is some humor.

Let’s see what next week brings…

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