This last weekend, I spent Saturday and Sunday at the San Francisco Center for the Book, taking another one of their exceptional classes. Over the years, I have learned how to do letterpress and book-binding at their awesome facility on 16th Street. When I saw that Rik Olson was teaching a class on multi-block linoleum printmaking, I signed up in a heartbeat. I am so glad I did. A note to artists who teach: Thank you!
Gorgeous, right? So I was stoked to learn from a guy this good. I showed up on Saturday morning with this photo that I took recently of Sutro Tower:
I had fun carving out Sutro again. My previous edition of Sutro Tower is close to selling out, so it was time to do another version. After transferring my drawing onto the linoleum, I began carving out the "key plate", the plate that will print black and have the majority of the detail on it.
Once I had that done, I had to work on the two other plates. We had blue and yellow inks in addition to the black, so I began to figure out what to print where. It was much more difficult than I expected - thinking in reverse, AND in color, is really a challenge. Here is my workspace as I did about a dozen studies of how I wanted it to look:
That book I am looking at is about William Rice, a California printmaker back in the 20s. Looking at his technique was so inspiring. I just ordered the book on Amazon so I can reference it any time I want.
I spent the first day, and the beginning of the second, carving the plates. Here is the key plate on the press (we used a Vandercook, but I will be doing this on my etching press):
Here are all the plates ready for printing:
The notches in the middle of the top and bottom of the plate are used to register. Simple and effective. We pulled some proofs to check registration and plate integrity. He printed blue first, then yellow, then black. Rik offered to print them, so I agreed. Here he is pulling the blue:
And the black:
Good, not great. I wasn't digging the artifacts of the cut marks in the black plate, especially after spending all that time carving out the clouds. And the yellow left me cold - I wanted to warm it up a bit. My first step was to carve out those lines. I did it on the press bed like this:
When that was done, I added some red to the yellow ink to make an orange. Here is Rik handing off the first one after all three colors had been printed:
Here is the final piece:
I gave one print to Rik, and swapped with two more with other printmakers, and keeping one for myself. I have 8 left. If you want to get one from this series, I am selling them for $50 each on the 3 Fish Studios website until they are gone.
It was a great experience. I can see how learning this technique will influence my work for years to come. Thanks again to artists who teach. You inspire me.