Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Reduction Process "How-its-Done": Dragonfly Print

One of the most asked questions I receive from folks is "How is this done?" The reduction woodcut process allows the printmaker to print as many colors as he/she wishes, yet only uses one block to print all the colors from. Quickly described, the reduction process sounds like a confused, intimidating mess of random carving and printing. Yet it is easily understood, and the results can be like nothing else.

This print is from a photo I took last spring of a dragon fly just hatched from it's nymphal stage, sunning itself on a rock, slowly turning into an adult. It's a striking animal - it has the body and legs of a nymph and the wings and head of an adult:

(Printed on Masa paper with Faust Aqualine ink)

After transferring the image to the block, I printed the light yellow first. I choose this as my background color; my lightest color. All the other color layers will be printed over this.

I then carved out EVERYTHING I wanted left light yellow.

I then went and printed the whole block light blue. By the time I hit black, my registration is going to be off just a little bit, but that's OK - the light blue (hopefully) will give a sense of transparency to the wings and a sense of life to the print as it peeks out here and there (that's the plan, anyway...)

I then carved out EVERYTHING I wanted left light blue.

The bug had these plum colored tail "plates", along with purplish highlights on it's body. Since I want only blue highlights in the wings, I used a narrow breyer to ink up the body.

I then repeated the carve/print/carve/print process until I printed my last color: black.
The finished print:

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