Posted tagged ‘linocuts’

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!


Grimsby Wayzgoose 2013!

April 24, 2013

“Wayzgoose” is one of those old words of mysterious origin, but what is certain is that it was a time of celebration for printers, and printers are people who particularly enjoy celebrating! Today, the term is applied to  book artists to exhibit and sell their beautiful hand crafted work. And yes,  to celebrate as well.

The Wayzgoose in Grimsby, Ontario is a venerable book arts show, founded by the renown Bill Poole, and one we’ve exhibited at for the past five or six years. Once again, we’ll have a table there offering books and prints. Hope to see you!



Another Old Year – Achievements

January 23, 2012

Well, it’s rolled around again, and again I’ll do my  brief summing up. Overall, I didn’t stroke much off the big list of major projects. Work and life got in the way. But as usual, when I add up what I did achieve, it surprises me. A lot of work on marketing this year, and my first exhibition of prints and books in a gallery setting!

Last time, I set the following goals:

  1. produce ten books in five years
    I’m not really on schedule for this, since the current book project, Tintern Abbey, was pushed into 2012 by a sudden and welcome flood of work in the studio.
  2. step up production value
    What I did produce this year certainly shows more confidence, in keeping with the “get serious!” theme of the next 5 year phase of the press.
  3. marketing: on-line presence, adverts, launches, more shows, book sellers
    Some of the ground work on planning and pushing the books paid off, with some books winding up in special collections. We hired a marketing consultant late last year, and I am determined to stop whining and learn to love social media.
  4. intensify illustration: my own, but working with other artists as well
    I’ve got some irons in the fire with work from other artists, and my own frontiers have opened up with my first efforts on wood engraving (see previous blogs).
  5. form working alliances with writers, illustrators, printers, bookbinders
    I approached a Queen’s University prof to write the intro for Tintern Abbey. He said yes, so that is about to be set in type possibly within days.
  6. further my studies in book design and typography.
    That is an on-going project indeed. I did spend some free time trolling through book spreads on line, making some observations but it’s hardly a concentrated study!

What I did do this year was a lot of little things done, including:

1) a new years card – I’m silly late this year, though!
2) Pondered reorganization, and made some minor progress
3) Tintern Abbey book got pushed, although my Wayzgoose anthology contribution made for an early study of the idea
4) Two rare commercial jobs, both invitations
5) Did the usual shows, organized one of them
6) Saw the work produced by Saint Lawrence College students from the printmaking course I taught the previous fall at their year end exhibition (That was a highlight!)
7) Collaborative calendar with the Ottawa Press Gang – (I’m April)
8) Wrote an article for Ornamentvm on the Canadian fine press scene
9) Took professional advise on marketing
10) Produced a broadside type sampler
11) Tried out wood engraving, although rightly that belongs to 2012
12) Spoke to the 2nd year architecture students at Carleton University about book arts
13) Had my first gallery show in Kingston at Studio22

Almost everything mentioned above is covered in some form or another in the previous couple dozen blog entries.

Wood Engraving Part 2 – A Subtle Knife

January 12, 2012

Continuing on with the wood engraving (not on actual wood, but rather Resingrave, a synthetic plastic that emulates the nature of English boxwood), I worked up the background and puttered about with the middle foreground, more or less composing on the block. Reminding myself that this was supposed to be “play,” and that it was a first effort, I kind of let loose.

Next I tackled the ruined arch on the right. Initially I intended to just cut masonry blocks, but oh no! had to go for a carved multiple column with a mid break leading into a carved riser, and I experimented with marks that would define these features. This is the finished block:

It looked OK on the block, but would it print? Here is a decent proof, done on the same paper (St. Armand’s Canal paper) that will be used for the Wordsworth book.

Still more work to be done, clearing some of the white areas and lightening up here and there. It ain’t Bewick, but I like it. And I am totally and completely hooked on wood engraving, and gearing up to try out some engrain maple.

Here are a few things I learned, in no particular order:

  1. While working on the block, the stress level increased the further I got into it. Wesley Bates once told me that he starts with the toughest parts of the block first, and finishes off with easy areas. Makes sense.
  2. Handling the tools is tricky. It takes a while to get in the zone: not holding the graver too high or too low.
  3. Sharpening is essential. I’d return to the sharpening stones after about 15 minutes of cutting. And there’s a knack to learn about that too. The angle of sharping has to be pretty much dab on, or the blade and cutting point can be damaged.
  4. White marks define dark areas. That’s it. Bend your brain around that and you’ve got it made. Do enough of this kind of work and suddenly your brain will go “Click!” and it all falls into place. I’ve been there. I’ve done a lot of this type of work on lino, but I’ve still got a lot to learn about defining light and dark with engraving tools.
  5. “This little cut makes a tree. This little cut makes a stone.” Hard metal tool, hard flat surface, but a master can make it seem as though a semi-substantial ghost is emerging from a design. The whole idea of different marks for soft things as opposed to hard things in the illustration introduces a sea of technique possibilities. Very exciting!
  6. As you may have deigned, I am in a little bit of awe of wood engraving. It is a very subtle art. In many respects, I was over-heavy with the graver, doubting that some marks would even show. But even the tiniest prick on the surface shows up in the printing. That is a lot of potential. And I only really used three tools: graver, spitsticker and a small chisel for clear the white areas.

The graver is indeed a subtle knife!


Note: I’ll print a limited edition hopefully in March, when the book is complete, and will offer it for sale at that time.

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.

Talented or what!

May 27, 2011

I had the privilege last fall of teaching one half of a course on printmaking at St. Lawrence College in Brockville, Ontario. I taught the first seven classes on block printing, and eminent artist Robin Baker taught monoprint making in the second half. This past spring, the students mounted an exhibition at the Marion van Silfout Gallery at the college. Here are some images from that exhibit. Click on the images for full size.

The van Silfhout Gallery - one of the finest in the region.

The nine second year students collaborated on a self portrait collage.

Angie's wall hanging/book was one result from my part of the course. It tells the story of a water rat.

Melanie created a kind of demented Warhol graphic piece making a cross out of a demon -head linocut.

Zoë cut this lovely linocut based on one of her own photographs.

It was hard to choose one piece by Kerryn, but in the end this pottery creation was my favourite.

Megan hs the makings of a comic book illustrator. I liked her graphic manga-like characters.

Jeremy's detailed drawing of elephants took the Dean's Prize.

This shows the influence that Robin Baker had over the 2nd years with her life drawing course. I believe this is Melanie's work.

Possibly a monoprint, and by either Melanie or Kerryn; I'm not certain who. But definitely influenced by Robin!

A monoprint by Kerryn, from Robin Baker's half of the printmaking course.

Zany! Letters by Melanie, tableau below by Kerryn. I'm not sure who did the shoes!

I'm not sure what Zoë is saying about Apple. Maybe just making an icon from another icon. I liked it.

The students are (as I remember them):

Melanie Alguire, Serena Deir, Kerryn Graham, Jeremy Mboma, Amber McBratney, Megan Cassavoy, Zoë Reoch and Angie Van Peppen.

Apologies to Amber and Serena. Some of my shots didn’t work out as well as their artwork!

Oh, look, a blog!

May 14, 2011

Well, it has been a while. There are some picture-heavy posts coming, but for now, here are a couple images from recent activities.

Greyweathers set up at the Wayzgoose.

The Greyweathers table at the Grimsby Wayzgoose. By way of explanation, a ‘wayzgoose’, is an archaic English name for a gathering of printers. Ontario’s Wayzgoose is held annually in April every year, and has been for over 30 years now! It’s a great time to meet with other printers and bookbinders, check out some incredible work and, oh yeah, sell some books too. Holly and I share a table. This year she brought her amazing Muse Journals.

I’ve been doing a bit more commercial work, generally a response to the ever-present pressing need for cash! However, this is a job I would have done anyway, for my friends Laura and Jaimie, both artists, who have started up a business creating amazing interiors and furnishings from reclaimed materials. Check out Rusty Nail Reclamations. They are having a big sale next week, and wanted that unmistakable letterpress treatment, shown here in our house font, Italian Oldstyle, on the magnificent paper from St. Armand, Montreal.

If you’re in the region, come out and see what wild things Laura and Jaimie are up to!

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