Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I finished up the last block for this Swallow Tail yesterday, but on printing, it looks like I've go to go back into the blue block and do some more smoothing - the two dark lines are caused by two "bumps" running across the block. These in turn are caused when the rough-stock lumber is ran through a planner that has chips in the blade. Usually I sand these all out, but once in awhile I miss one (or two)...

I didn't want to muddy either of the back ground colors for the dragonfly print, so I carved another background block for it to see what orange would look like:

I've inadvertently created a controversy in the household, Deborah likes the blue one better, but Sophia and I like this one.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I finished up the dragonfly/cattail print I started last week.

I printed all the color blocks in succession up until the grey wings (I wanted to print them last, over all the other colors, to give a sense of transparency) and stopped because I wasn't happy with how it was progressing, and slept on it. I printed the wings this morning, and it looked better. I then printed the whole black key block over everything and was extremely disappointed.


I went back to my books on Hiroshige and Hokusai, and really looked at how they did things, concentrating on how they used black, particularly as an outline, or in this sense, how it isn't used.

I thought at first that I'd carve another black block, because I didn't want to wreck the keyblock. but i found that I can ink just the portions of the block that I need to, and with selective burnishing, get pretty much the results I was looking for. I'm going to experiment with the background colors just a bit, maybe add some orange to compliment the greens, but overall, I'm extremely please with this print!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A week of work

I finally got a break in between shows and hot, hot weather to get some studio work done. It's too hot to work in the indoor studio on the 3rd floor of the house, and the outside studio isn't insulated, so it get's pretty warm (and humid!) out there, too. So it was with great relief that I took advantage of the gorgeous weather we've been having to get some work done with the Dickerson out in the shed.

I've been printmaking under the name of Trout Lily Studios for some time now, so I thought it time to print an image of some Trout Lily's. It's hard to get a decent image to work with, because the flowers tend to look straight down. But I got some good ones to work with this spring, and of our less than abundant yellow ones, too boot.

I decided to go with a reduction on these, to go along with the Trillium I did several years ago. It came out "interesting"; I'm fairly happy with it.

I also printed an image that's been swimming around in my head this summer, that of a Bee on a Purple Cone Flower.

This is a multi-block print, done in the Japanese style Moku Hanga. Again, there's things I don't like about it, but I'm finding myself really liking the colors. The nice thing about these types of prints is that I can work with them more until I'm satisfied: add a block, change colors, etc.

Finally, tonight I finished up the key block for another Moku Hanga print, this of a Dragonfly:

I'm really liking this image - very simple, but very elegant. I cut up the rough color blocks, and will be carving them and proofing them this week. Stay tuned!

Friday, July 8, 2011


I opened a new show of my work at Gallery 120 in River Falls last night. We had a great turn out, but I was especially surprised when a couple folks that I haven't seen for several decades walked in.

The first was my printmaking professor from UW River Falls, Mary Barrett.

Without a doubt, Mary was a huge influence on my printmaking career - I learned everything from lino cuts to stone lithos with her, but what really stuck were woodcuts. I was even honored with receiving a press from her last year when she closed her downtown St. Paul studio - I can't thank her enough for what's she's done for me.

Not long after Mary left, a former mentor who I haven't talked to for 20 years, Bill Ammerman, walked in:

Again, Bill is a retired Art professor from UWRF. He taught drawing and watercolor, both classes that I never took, so I in fact never had a class with him. Never the less, he was a wise and steady council that I could always talk to. Again, I was deeply honored when he walked in to see my work.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

New print

As much as I like to do my own thing, especially with artwork, I need to have some guiding principles when it comes to what I do next. One of the main principles, I've come to learn, is "LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS"...

So, after getting asked yet one more time at the Stone Arch Festival if I had any prints of Walleyes, I've taken the hint and started a Walleye Whiteline. As with the trout, the first step is to get the image onto a block of wood:

the next step is to carefully trace all the lines with a V-gouge:

stayed tuned for the next steps...

Shows, shows, shows...

...and more shows.
The summer has been taken up with shows. We had a great time at the Stone Arch Festival last weekend (our first year there) and even received an Award of Excellence at the Edina Art Fair two weekends before:

Coming up, I've got a gallery opening at Gallery 123 in River Falls, Wisconsin on July 7th. We'll be at the 38th Annual Stockholm Art Fair July 16th, booth #23 (same as last year), and at Art at St. Kates on Saturday, July 23rd.

It's hectic, but as I've said before, we're having a terrific time meeting some truly great artists and art aficionados...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Return of the Dead

Day of the Dead figures, that is...
a busy spring schedule this spring kept Deb from working on the next series of Day of the Dead figures, but just in time for The Creative Drive, she got 4 new figures added to the collection:

The Bee Keeper:

The Happy Couple:

and finally, Uncle Sam and Napolean BONEaparte (along with the sole remaining fly fishermen...)

Monday, March 21, 2011

outside at last

I opened up the outside shed this week, finally ran some power from the house through the wire we buried three years ago, and viola - Trout Lily Studios is officially inhabiting it's new (non-winter) digs.

But since it's not to warm out yet, and I need to keep ink sort of liquid (until of course when it's hopefully pressed into it's proper spot on a new print and supposed to be drying...) I need to keep things warm out there.

Nothing better than this mother right here:

Once it's get's going, it takes about ten minutes to make thing nice and roasty toasty.

It's still pretty rustic out there - it's far from rodent proof, so I don't store anything out there, and of course I don't keep anything I don't want to freeze out there, and instead haul stuff back and forth as I need it. But the light is fabulous, and even with the extra bee hives and such stacked about, there's loads of elbow room.

I'm midway through a quick little reduction woodcut of a fly fisherman casting on the Willow River, back when there were three dams. This image was taken in the shadowy half-light right below the upper most dam above Burkqhart. There used to be a ton of brookies that like to hang out were the water seeped around the dam.

Folks ask me if I mix my own colors. Why yes, yes I do mix my own colors. I have four cans of ink - white, black, red, yellow and blue. All my colors are mixed from these.
It's takes time and practice and lots of wasted supplies figuring each manufacturers inks out, and how they will work for you. I'm finally getting a handle on Daniel Smiths colors - I wanted a nice "springy" green to pop through the grays and browns that will eventually dominate this print.

Yellow straight out of the can, printed lightly over the green for the looping flyline:

And if I do say so myself, tonight I mixed the prefect flesh tone (300 prts White, 1 prt Yellow, 1 prt red, .05 prts blue...):

there's a fisherman emerging from the print - can you see him?

Friday, March 18, 2011

2011 Calendar Off and Running

I finished up the carving today of the first of our Calendar prints for next year. I went so far as to run a few proofs on my bottle jack press.

For those not familiar with these, Deborah does the drawings, based on her year-round work at Maple Leaf Orchard, and I take the drawings and print them (along with all my woodcuts) She then takes them back and hand colors them. Finally, we pick out the best ones and electronically layout a calendar and have it commercially printed.

I forgot to put a border on this one; otherwise, we're liking it a lot. The night sky will be dark blue with the moons glow, and we're debating on what to do with the fore-ground. Our original idea was shadows of trees on snow at night, but leaving it black is a possibility, too.

Monday, March 14, 2011


... and with the black block printed, this print is finished!

I'm pretty pleased with this one. It was a complex image, but pretty simple print - it has only 5 colors. I really like the way the Daniel Smith inks finished off on the Rives; a very different feel from previous work. I'll definitely be doing more.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Progress on new reduction print

I made huge progress on a quick reduction print that I've been wanting to do for some time. It's an image that I've done before: a trout swimming with reflections shimmering on the surface of the water. I'm not too worried about over-doing the image, which is actually more of a theme, per say, as each new print will be so much different than the last.

I "married" two images that I have in my archives, a swimming brookie and some trees reflected on the surface of some water. The trees I shot a couple years ago on the upper Prairie while on a grouse hunt with Joe. He was wondering why I was throwing pebbles in the water and taking pictures of it...

I went ahead and transferred the married images to a block of maple, carved out a bit of white, and printed the blue background. I didn't pay close attention to how the background printed, as I wanted it to be somewhat blotchy and erratic, since it was supposed to be flowing water.

It came out satisfactory, but when I went to wash up, I discovered that in my haste to get the project underway, I had forgotten to "fix" the image - my image had peeled off with the ink.

I had no choice but to cut another block and start over.

But at least I had a start. Cutting a new block and transferring the images took up only a hour of time, so I was back on top of things fairly quickly. Things slowed down again when it came time to carve out the background that I had so recently printed:

I took a good solid day to carve it all out, and I was able to print the first color , the light colored parts of the trout, this morning:

I quickly followed with red, which actually started out pink, but since it was going over two colors already, I knew it would darken into the red I wanted:

Next came the dark green/blue of the brookies body. I decided to go ahead and print the whole block, as the new color would be dark enough to give me an idea of what the finished print is going to look like once I print the black (I'm impatient)and any mis-registration between the green and black blocks would give it sort of a shimmering look. That's my theory, anyway.

It's looking pretty good.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I got word a couple weeks ago that my work is appearing on some magazines this spring, most notably Gray's Sporting Journal, and the Yale Angler's Journal.

Keep an eye out - you'll see this one on the back cover of the Gray's Spring Fly Fishing issue:

These two you'll see on an up-coming issue of the Yale Angler's Journal, a fine literary magazine produced by the Yale University Press:

New Blocks

I've started several new blocks in the past week. Like I said earlier, I haven't done much since Christmas, so it's time to get busy.

I started a new reduction, this one on a block of maple. It's off myself casting on the Willow River. At the time, there was pretty good brook trout fishing right below the upper dam. The water squeezing around the dam through the porous limestone created a tail water effect, and brookies could be taken right below the spillway.

Anyway, there was terrific lighting, and a friend of mine took some gorgeous pictures for something we were doing at work at the time. I've got this block already to print the first color, the lightest, as soon as it get's nice enough to get out to the outdoor studio with the press (now with new wiring! yeah!)

I got a good start on a small Japanese-style block, that will be a print of a group of mayflowers that I took last spring. Lot's of work involved with this one:

We even got started on next years calendar. Deb assures me she's got all the images down in her head. This is the first one, a Great Horned Owl in mid-winter:

A New Year - there's a lot to do

A new year, and with it, a "new" entry. It's been a while since I've had any updates: I took a small hiatus from printmaking since my last show in December. I was a bit burned out from a steady schedule of shows in the late summer and fall. And with the coming of a cold and snowy winter, I was less than enthused to start any new projects on the new press in the unheated, unwired outdoor studio (though more on this later...)

So I did other things.

I joined my good friend Joe K up on our other good friend's land in January for an awesome late season grouse hunt on snowshoes. Herb couldn't join us, but we appreciated his kindness in giving us unfettered access.

It was without a doubt, a great year for snow sports. The skiing was pretty good this year, and I even got out on the snowshoes a couple of times this year.

In mid-January, friends gathered for what's come to be an annual event: the original Lie-n-Tie, held at our good friend Larry Aamodt's shop. I've lost track of the number of years we've done this, but all will agree it's a great time.

I of course did some cooking:

And I even started some new wines; to be specific, a couple of Port-style fortified wines. I have two carboys of Black Currant/Blackberry/Pinot Noir port bubbling quietly away in the basement, with some more Blackberry fermenting at my good friend Brad's house. Time will tell (if we can wait that long, 4 years or so)if we're successful, but preliminary taste test indicate these will be nothing short of spectacular.

Today I started a project that I've long put off: I started wiring the outdoor studio for electricity. Since the new press runs on a 1 hp motor, and with some "distinguished guests" joining me for the Creative Drive, I thought it high time to run some power out there (other than a loooong extension cord.)

So with that, it's time to get busy; there's a lot to do...