Color Woodcut Printmaking: Day 3

Today I finished my first reduction woodcut. I expected to be finished quickly this morning, but getting it right took the majority of my morning. I was adding some darker lines to ground the piece, and it took some experimenting to figure out where they needed to be to make me happy.

Block with final layer of ink applied, ready to print.

The final print looks nothing like I expected when I began the process. But then, it’s been mostly about improvisation. I wouldn’t make all the same choices if I were doing it again (the raspberry color, in particular, feels like a whimsical choice gone awry). And, I’m very pleased with the result.

The final print

This morning Karen introduced the second project and did a brief demonstration. The second project is a two-block reduction print, where the blocks form “postive” and “negative” spaces. That is, what’s carved away on one is left behind on the other. The result is that you get “woodcut edges” along your color spaces, and you have more options for reduction. It also lets you break the rule of reduction printmaking that says the first cuts you make expose the color of the paper. Because you have two blocks in play, those first cuts may actually expose color from the other block. It took me some time to figure out what I wanted to do for this project, and I’m going a little more representational for this one, but not aiming for realism.

Tracing for my second project.

Before the end of the day I transferred the image onto two blocks (along with registration marks), and carved “channels” around the parts of each block that will stay to aid with inking. I also cut two masks to use tomorrow morning for laying down my first passes of color.

Blocks with inking mask.

I’m trying to keep in mind everything I learned about layering color in the last three days so I can move more decisively tomorrow and Sunday. I think finishing this is going to be a stretch, but I’m going to do my best.