Making Print Blocks Lessons 1-3

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

Hello fellow Art Travelers!

Oh it has been a long time since we last spoke…I have had the sad notebook computer repair tale going on for far too long.  The repair quote was two weeks, I gave it 6 before my trip, and now I’m home and it is 13 weeks later without the repair done!  Hence, three posts in one today!  I hope nothing on the blog melts from all these photos.

Just in case you are wondering…yes, my beautiful and perfect grandson, Danny the third, is now almost 5 months old.  Ok, one photo for the Grandma over here and then onto printing blocks:

This is Jessica and the baby taken on Maui and for all you photographers out there, an exercise in closing down curtains in mid-day, bouncing the light off a reflector (white pillowcase at the condo) into the mirror to get the lovely catchlights in Mom’s eyes.

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blogOk, one more:  This is a black and white conversion I did for a class exercise

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

And on to the topic at hand:  Making Printing Blocks

I love to print with fabric paints, thickened dyes, or acrylics on various papers and fabrics.  I also enjoy making rubbings on top of the print blocks, then flooding with ink, watercolor, or pencil for an entirely different look.  Tangie has a wonderful batch of print blocks for sale that I adore, and use often.  These lessons will give you some ideas on how to design and make your own.  In the future, I will give you all some of my favorite block cuttings tips and tricks, and also explore the various art media I like to print with.  So for now…on to some design considerations!

I tend to explore themes, using art and design, then on to stitch or some of type of mixed media interpretation.  For example, here is a 2 page spread of collaged photographs on star and cross motifs:

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog I will often make collages of my own or found photographic images when exploring a theme, or trying out a color scheme, then I will doodle, draw, trace, or otherwise check out shapes I am attracted to.

Here’s an example of one of my sketchbooks:

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

 

Once I identify a shape, I will trace or photocopy the motif, and add black marker to darken if necessary.

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

 

 

I will also use the enlarge/reduce function on the copier to explore scale:Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

 

Now the fun really starts!  I sometimes can identify a smaller component of the shape that tickles my design eye right off, other times I will fold and cut or divide and cut and just see what I can get.  I will also occasionally use a small open frame to isolate shapes within the “mother” shape.

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

Once I find a shape I like, I will play around with various patterns:  linear, half-drop, etc., and make new shapes with the one component, all with photocopies.

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blogArt Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blogArt Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blogArt Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

I will also go back to my sketchbook drawings for further pattern ideas:Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

 

Here are a few pages of acrylic paint and thickened dye prints using the blocks I made from the designs above:

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blogArt Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blogArt Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

Below is an image of one of my big sketchbooks showing some of the tracing and photocopies attached to the pages with the original inspirational photograph…it might be a long time before I ever make a stencil or print block, but all the design work is done and safe in the sketchbook.

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

I will often trace in pencil and then start removing lines to simplify the design for a print block:

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

Some drawings before I cut the block, mostly to know what to remove vs. leave, the positive printing raised surface vs. the negative space.

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

And here are some images of the above blocks in action.

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blogArt Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

I will often take an animal or reptile or other living creature that is highly patterned or textured and extract line patterns in my sketchbook as a design exercise for stencils and print blocks.  Here are some examples of snake skin and peacocks:

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blogArt Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blogArt Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blogArt Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

 

Once I cut the block, I will make a black on white paper print for my block inventory…it is easier for me to visualize if I see it printed on paper, rather than in the reverse on the block.

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

that was a pretty messy example!

Here are a couple of images using the blocks into molding paste, tar gel, or other raised gel medium over a painted and printed surface:

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blogArt Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

 

Finally, in my design sketchbook, I do keep a record of bits of printing, along with the fabrics, paints, papers, or whatever I used.  Here is an image of one of my City and Guilds documentation spreads with these blocks:

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

Until next time, I hope you find some time to make some art!

take care,

Rain

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