Archive for the ‘Lino Cuts’ category

Creating Relief Blocks and Prints Workshop – OCT 12 & 13, 2013

September 1, 2013



Creating Relief Blocks & Prints
with Larry Thompson at Greyweathers Press
Merrickville, Ontario

SATURDAY & SUNDAY, OCTOBER 12 & 13, 2013 – 10 AM TO 4 PM

Want to explore the graphic possibilities of relief printing? Discover how to think in reverse; learn about the tools and how to use them; transfer a design to the block; explore cutting techniques; make your own prints by hand and on a printing press. Read more


It’s going to be a great weekend. Hope to see you here!

Back Lane Cafe

February 17, 2012

Some while back a restauranteur asked me to cut a block for his new place, The Back Lane Cafe. I struggled for a while, gave up and sent him one of the experimental proofs, not really like anything we had discussed, framed up as a gift, or more an apology, for failing to deliver. Well, “Back Lane – Study” proved to be exactly what he wanted, and I was delighted to see the business cards his designer produced.

Back Lane Cafe business card, 2-sided.

Lovely font  combination, nice tension between the roman and italic, and the size of the reversed text at bottom more or less begs for sans serif. And a very fine choice of green. I particularly like the square configuration – a great design. The designer could have cropped the image down to the standard business card profile, but the square shape makes the card immediately stand out from the rest.

And if you are in Ottawa, definitely check out this restaurant. The food is fabulous and reasonably priced (yes, I can afford to eat there!) But do the reservation thing; it’s not a huge place, and it has become an instant hit, so busy busy.

My friends Laura and Jaimie at Rusty Nail Reclamation Design did the turn-of-the-20th century urban-meets-country interior design, and they’ve been getting a lot of acclaim for it.

Farewell to the Big Big Sea

December 15, 2011

Later this afternoon, a young teacher will come by the studio and take away the last print (in my possession) of Big Big Sea. It has been without doubt one of my best selling prints, much to my astonishment. I based the composition loosely on a photograph I took during a dead calm at Peggy’s Cove in the summer of 1993. My sister Marie and my daughter Meg, probably about 8 years old, stood looking out onto to a sea that seemed to merge with the sky. The photo stood on my desk for years. I liked it for its own merit, seeing the small figures again the enormity of the sea, calm though it might be. It put all my petty problems in perspective.

Time passed, as it does, and by 2008 Meg was a desperate young mother courageously struggling with a near lethal case of depression. Holly and I dealt as best we could pondering the horror of losing our daughter in the face of indifferent health care and fragmented support structures. When I came to plan that year’s series, I pulled the photo off my desk, cut a proportional block of lino and just drew five or six rough lines to mark the rocky shore line and the figures. No tracing paper, no careful details, no precise acetone transfers.

The rocks and the figures were simple lines. But I no longer saw calm in the undulations of the treacherous and tragic waters off of Peggy’s Cove; rather I attacked the block with a variety of cutters, with no real thought to the composition but rather pouring out my own fear and frustration through my hand to the tools to the block. I worked fast on this one. People often ask how long it takes me to do the work, and this one might have consumed half an hour, if that. I proofed the result and was not impressed. Who would buy such a choppy shriek of a print – two figures poised on a fatal abyss? At first, I wasn’t going to edition it all, but fortunately Holly, whose instincts are honed better then mine, convinced me to do so, and I compromised by printing just 35 (normally I do 50 or 100) along with the Artist’s Proof above.

In the three years since I pulled the edition, Meg’s life has turned around. She still struggles, but like we all do with life’s challenges and opportunities. Depression remains a specter, but one that has receded. As for the print, I still look at it with some emotional ambiguity, but I now acknowledge its beauty and honesty – that latter quality I feel must be key to its success. Several artists have bought this one. When we’re at shows, other exhibitors sometimes come into the booth, appreciating the work generally, but tapping the glass on Big, Big Sea, nodding, as thought to say, “Yes, you nailed it here.”

The very last numbered copy of Big Big Sea is available only from Studio 22 Gallery in Kingston, Ontario.

Wordsworth for Wayzgoose

March 20, 2011

This year, and as per tradition, at the last moment, I set about to design and print our modest submission to the annual Grimsby Wayzgoose Anthology.

I wanted to try a few ideas around the upcoming Wordsworth book, and a designer title page done in multiple passes using lead type, not magnesium plates.

So here’s the result of the first pass:

And lined up on the press for the second pass:

And after the second pass, including the back page colophon:

Then the third pass, in red:

And then the fourth pass in red to finish the cover:

A fifth and sixth pass for the inside spread, one for the illustration, the other for the text:

It gives Tintern Abbey a rather spooky feel, does it not! I like it. Holly’s design, my cutting work.

But not done yet! Holly insisted I print the Greyweathers Press logo on the back between the colophon and the copyright line. So a seventh pull, at 150 copies made for 1,050 impressions, not including proofs and test runs.

That’s just four pages. Just wait until I print the entire book!

New Year’s Greeting

January 17, 2011

Warm by the fire...

Well, it’s done. The cut for the front of the very extremely late Christmas card worked out relatively well. Holly’s been lobbying for years to do a card featuring our beloved pets, so here it is. She loves it, but I see some problems that may be addressed in future efforts with the same illustration:

1) the floor grain is too pronounced, causing an imbalance with the white walls in behind. However, there’s no mistaking that it is a pine plank floor!

2) Sneak (the dog) in the chair needs a bit of work to define his parts properly. Where the tail comes across his tangle of legs does not telegraph to the viewer as clearly as I would have hoped.

3) Tennyson just kind of happened, without a great deal of thought which sometimes work (I am a lucky guy) but not, I think, in this case.

4)I’m not exactly sure what I was thinking with the bookcase behind Sneak’s head. I guess that combined with the art on the wall top left makes the visual tally for our studio motto: “Books and art in a house give it a soul.” However, we run into a black hole of clarity in the area where chair, book case and the dog’s ear collide ungracefully. These are all fairly minor problems that could be solved with a second cutting, which I may do for a limited edition run.

There are aspects of this particular run that I like very much:

1) the contours and textures created by line-work in the chair works very well IMO.

2) anyone who has been to our wee mid-19th century house will recognize the window and trim. The window reflects very much the style and feeling I am trying to achieve with some of my more recent cuts: loose, more free, less slave to the rigidity and exactitude of “photographic” reproduction, more illustrative and stylish.

3) the stove worked, although it’s very simple, just white line technique, but it scans well with the window, creating a horizontal (or rather perpendicular) balance.

Overall I’m pleased with the result, and Holly loves it. It goes in the mail to friends and family this week.

As for the inside, I turned to my old friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge. For certain I studied Coleridge’s depressing poem Work Without Hope back in the day, and learned about the brilliant poet’s tragic addictions and troubles that kept him from finishing most everything he set out to achieve (in poetry at least). That is what the poem is about; however, it is the brief lines which serve as a paean to the subtle promise of spring that I remember Bill Murray reciting in the brilliant movie Groundhog Day, and not melancholic ode to procrastination, that stay with me. I know: that’s a lot of deep stuff for a greeting card! Here it is set in the elegantly practical face Italian Oldstyle designed by Frederick Goudy:

A New Year Full of Hope

January 4, 2011

Bill's barn, as viewed from the 'old' house.

When I say that by late December, the year gone by had gotten really old, to use the youthful parlance, I mean it. Over the interim between Christmas and New Years I did little but socialize and wheeze, the latter symptom now a carry-over from a year I’d rather put behind me.

Now it is snowing again, after a new year’s thaw which robbed us of our thin covering, and the radio tells me it is causing havoc in the city. The view from my window is much like above, but without the sunshine. It’s good to be here and not there, back on a schedule, working with solid orders to start off the new year. It lends to a desire to shake off the lethargy and fatigue that coloured the final days of 2010.

My intransigence extended to the press, most notably a Christmas card that never materialized, which is now morphing into a ‘winter’s wish’ card or some such. It’s been I while since I posted process shots, so I’ll do that now.

World as ornament

Part of the reason I couldn’t force myself to the task (aside from feeling rather grinch-like) was that I didn’t like the idea: the globe as an ornament ties in nicely to one of our products – indeed, our livelihood – but I just couldn’t get my head around it. I thought about doing the obvious and making a statement, just setting type for “fragile – handle with care” but it seemed so preachy. The design was simple enough – snagged a public domain shot of the globe, traced it in Illustrator and hand-drew the ribbon and the lines of longitude and latitude. But the idea still need work.

Holly’s always wanted me to do a card featuring our dog, Sneak. So I started by doing some collage, taking bits and pieces of photographs, played with them and arranged them until things looked right, and produced an outline drawing using tracing paper. Personally, in this image I wanted a feeling of warmth and comfort, so I placed both Sneak and our cat Tennyson in front of the woodstove, with Sneak in one of our wing chairs, which he claims as his own (when I’m not in it!).

"Christmas" card idea, with line-work transfered to a linoleum block.

I’m thinking of using a quote from Coleridge:

And Winter slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!

The context is ominous though, coming as it does from the poet’s depressing ode to incapability titled Work Without Hope. Well, time still to ponder that, while this morning I’ll cut the block, proof it and decide whether it’s worthy enough to share with family and friends.

Fractal design in our window, like a mad economist's line chart!

The new series (so far) on display

November 17, 2010

Here’s a shot of the new series of prints, excepting the house portrait from the previous blog, exhibited together at The Maker’s Hand a couple of weeks ago.

The four on the left have been covered in an earlier blog; the three down the right side are new figure work. Four of these pieces sold at the show.

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