Archive for the ‘Prints and Printmaking’ Category

Skater Series Woodblock Carving Videos

Sunday, April 11th, 2010
Land Speed Skater Woodblock Print

Indecision Time, 4x4 Woodblock Print

I filmed myself carving the 4th skater series Woodblock Print, and put together this little video.

The block took about 4 hours to carve, but using the magic of video editing software, I crammed all of this into 15 minutes. The video starts with a pencil drawing on the block, and shows the entire carving process, until it is finished and ready to be inked and printed. The video is in two parts, each part is about 8 minutes long.

I threw in all of the punk rock music that I listened to while carving these blocks, and that inspired the beginning of the skater series.

Want to see more of the prints from this series? Maybe even buy some? Check out the Skater Series Gallery.

This print is the last print in a series of 4 prints inspired by punk rock and skateboards. The prints are all 4″x4″, black and white, most done very quickly, in 5 or 6 hours, from start to completed edition.

Part 1:

Tired of my video? Wanna just look at the art? Check out the Skater Series Gallery.

Part 2

Now you’ve seen the video, check out the final print in the Skater Series Gallery!

What Is The Difference Between Western Woodblock Printmaking and Japanese Woodblock Printmaking (Moku Hanga)?

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

Executive summary:

Western Woodblock Printmaking uses oil based inks applied to the block with a brayer (roller), and the blocks are sometimes printed with a press, and Japanese Woodblock Prints (aka Moku Hanga) are made with water-based inks applied with a brush, and are printed by rubbing a pad (baren) across the back of the paper.


Before I go on, I should make a little disclaimer: I’ve never made a Japanese Style woodblock print. Everything I know about it is from research, reading, and viewing Japanese Woodblock Prints. As a result, I might be a little irreverent.

Also, I am going to use the terms “Japanese Woodblock Printmaking” and “Moku Hanga” interchangeably. Moku Hanga translates to something like “wood pictures” or “wood graphics”, and is the Japanese name for printmaking.

Ink, Wood and Paper

Woodblock Printmaking is the art of using wood to mash ink onto paper. By carving the block of wood, you can control where ink is applied to the wood, and as a result, where it is mashed onto the paper. Sure, it gets complicated as you add detail to the image, and as you carve multiple blocks to include more colors in the print. Basically, however, it is the same principle regardless of how much detail you include. Mashing ink against paper is mashing ink against paper no matter how you spice it up.

…and no matter where in the world you do it.

There aren’t really many differences between Moku Hanga and Western Woodblock Printmaking. The biggest difference is that Japanese Woodblock Prints are, well, Japanese.

Moku Hanga

Japanese Woodblock Prints use water based ink. The water-based inks used for Japanese Woodblock prints give them a particular texture and quality that I have trouble describing, other than to say “it looks like a Japanese Woodcut”. The technique used to print in the Japanese method results in a little more texture than western methods, because the ink is applied by hand. This leads to a little variation in the density of ink throughout the print.

Speaking of “method”, it is the methods that really make a Japanese Woodblock Print what it is. Moku Hanga uses specific carving tools, which all have very specific names. Each specific tool (with its specific name) is used for a specific task.

Registration is done in a specific way, by carving very specific notches into the woodblock. Each of those notches has a specific name too (kagi and hikitsuke).

The paint is mixed in a very specific way, and applied to the block with a specific type of brush. You use a baren to press the paper against the block, to transfer the ink to the block. [Note: a “baren” is a handheld pad used to rub the paper against the block to transfer the ink] There are different barens for different uses.

Japanese Woodblock Prints are printed on a particular type of paper, called Washi, made in a particular way. This is sometimes called “rice paper”, even though it is not made of rice. It is very thin and delicate, however.

The emphasis on method and tradition is very Japanese (for lack of a better way to describe it). It reminds me of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, where everything is done in a particular way, with particular tools.

Western Woodblock Printmaking

Compare this to Western Woodblock Printing, where it seems that by comparison, anything goes. Use whatever roller you want to apply the ink. Any registration method will do, as long as it works. Press it by hand or run it through a press. It’s all good.

The ink used in western Woodblock Prints is typically oil based, though there are some modern water based inks that are designed to imitate the look and feel of the traditional oils (makes everything less messy).

Ink is applied with a brayer (ie. a roller), which results in a very even and smooth application of ink.

Washi paper is sometimes used, though other papers are also used. Rice paper is not required.

Not much difference

So, what is the difference, other than some very specific traditional ways to do things, and a difference in ink?

The answer is, “not much”.

I may sound a little irreverent about Moku Hanga, please don’t get me wrong. Japanese Woodblock Prints are some of my favorite art from throughout history, and throughout the world. This is merely my perspective from my point of view as a Western-style printmaker.

The goal of each method is to make beautiful art. The process is pretty much the same: Wood, ink, paper. Apply and transfer. Repeat.

Make beautiful art.

Skater Series Printing is Done

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Lotsa printing yesterday.

The skater prints are all done, I just have to let the ink dry. I printed about 65 impressions yesterday. Here is my progress about 2/3 through the day:

woodblock prints hanging to dry

The Skater Series prints are all printed, and will be signed and numbered after they dry.

The black ink takes longer to dry than colored ink, these usually need a good week or so.

(Note to self: a little cobalt dryer might be appropriate next time I’m printing black and white)

These will be signed and numbered next weekend, and I should have them up for sale shortly thereafter. These are gonna be pretty low in price, so you will be able to get one without breaking the bank. I’ll probably have some sort of deal for people that want the set of all 4, but I’ll figure that out next weekend.

Note: If you are itching to buy some art, you can buy prints from the 101 Woodblock Series HERE.

Ye Olde “What I’ve Been Doing” Update

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

I got new supplies!

new roller

Armed and dangerous with a new roller. Time to do some damage.

A big fat order from McClain’s arrived yesterday.

(I order from them ’cause they’re the best. Seriously. I placed my order late afternoon Thursday, they ship it Friday, it arrives Tuesday)

I got a new roller, which I am very excited about. It is far nicer than the dinky pinky Speedball roller I’ve been using.

Got some clean up supplies, soap and nitril gloves, and most af all, paper. I got a dozen sheets of Shin Torinako washi paper. I used it for the first round of printing of these skater prints I’ve been making, and I needed more to print up the rest of the editions.

Each sheet of the paper can make about 16 or so prints, so I have enough to print up a nice edition of each. I’ll probably make about 15 prints of each block, except block 2, there will be 23.

(I’ve already printed some, and gave some away on Twitter. Follow @BadDeacon on Twitter. You might get free stuff)

Speaking of rollers and paper, I finally got the 4th skater block printed:

skater print 4

Woodblock Print, 4x4 inches, title to be determined

This means you can expect a few things to happen now that these are done:

  • I’ve got an upcoming post discussing what this series of prints was really about. It actually has little to do with punk rock and skateboards, anbd a whole lot to do with deliberate practice (I’ll talk about exactly what that is).
  • I’ll have a video coming out about this 4th print. I filmed the carving and printing of this block, so as soon as teach myself how to edit video, I’ll have that out. Turns out video ads quite a bit of complexity to pretty much everything.
  • These skater prints will be going on sale. They’ll be pretty cheap, about the same price as a sandwich (I like to think of value in terms of food). I’ll probably do a bunch of stuff like make a “buy 3 get the 4th free” promotion, as well as discounts and early sales to people on my newsletter. Sales should begin some time next week.

That’s it for now. Leave a comment and say “hi”.

Poser Skates and Woodblock Prints

Saturday, February 27th, 2010
skateboard 1

Real skate

skateboard 2

Poser skate

You can tell how good anyone is at skating by looking at his skate(board).

If the bottom of the skate is all torn up, like the skate on the left, then they know what they’re doing. Skate’s get all torn up when they are used to grind and slide all over public curbs, handrails, stairs, etc. The bottom of the skate gets all torn up.

If the bottom of the skate is in nice, new condition, like the skate on the right, then they probably can’t skate worth a damn. If the bottom of the skate isn’t torn up, then they aren’t really skating.

So anyway, I can’t actually skate worth a damn. A dude I knew back in college working at the coffee shop gave me the deck on the left, after he had ridden it to death, and got a new one. The skate on the right is mine. Nice and shiny!

Back in Santa Cruz, I lived by a little skate park. It was little more than a bowl with a little box knocked out of one side. My roommate Luke and I would skate over to the park, and goof around. I could roll into the bowl and skate around it a bit, that’s about it.

Meanwhile, all the 10 and 11 year old kids would be tearing it up. These kids are as tall as their skateboards, and they could skate circles around me. It was always a little dis-heartening.

Oh, well. Big, 6′-2″ dudes have a whole lot further to fall before their head hits the ground.

Consolation prize

I may not be an awesome skater, but I can make decent woodblock prints. Just finished the latest one of these little things, the one I started the other day.

It came out kinda interesting:

Skater Woodblock Print 3

Woodblock Print, 4x4 inches, third in the series

Not sure what I’ll do with all of these yet, we’ll see.

More Punk, More Woodblock Prints

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Punk rock does it again.

I had fun the night before making a silly little print, so instead of catching up on sleep (I was only up till midnight last night though), I made another print. Another skater dude print. Good times!

Woodblock Print Skater Rise Above

Rise Above, 4x4 inches, Woodblock Print

It’s pretty much the same thing as I did before, a dude with a skateboard who looks kinda excited about the fact that he has a skateboard. Who wouldn’t be excited about riding a skateboard?

Actually, all this talk makes me want to grab my skate out of the closet and start bombing down these hills I live on. Anyway, I know I can’t skate worth a darn anymore, and 6′-2″ is a long way for my head to fall before it hits the ground.

This idea is just a repeat from the night before. I don’t know why I did the same thing over again, this isn’t on my schedule or anything, I just enjoy making these things. I may make a few more of these, we’ll see. I have to deliberate with myself. It’s not like these goofy little prints require a ton of practice, they are just fun.

I only printed 4 of these last night, because I was tired by the time I got around to printing. I may carve a little more on this, I think I want to see how it will look if I carve a white line around the figure, to separate him from the lines in the background.

We’ll see. Maybe I won’t carve any more. It’s just punk rock, right? Rise above.

Important stuff

This print was brought to you by some great early 80’s hardcore:

  • T.S.O.L.T.S.O.L.
  • Agent OrangeLiving in Darkness
  • SNFUAnd No One Else Wanted To Play
  • Black FlagThe First Four Years
  • Black FlagDamaged
  • MinutemenParanoid Time
  • MinutemenThe Punch Line
  • Redd KrossBorn Innocent

I can guarantee I won’t toil away my hours tonight, I got something to do. I won’t be home. If you were hoping that I would somehow have yet another of these little prints done tomorrow, I won’t.

It’s also punk rock to skip days.

All Work and No Play makes Deacon Listen to Skate Punk all Night and Make Woodblock Prints

Monday, February 22nd, 2010
Horse Bites Dog Cries album cover

Horse Bites, Dog Cries by D.I. One of the better punk rock records ever.

I didn’t intend to stay up till 3am last night.

I’ve been in the Spice Mines (DayJob) all weekend, trying to get caught up for a deadline. This put a huge damper on my weekend, when I usually put in a lot of time working on art. I got home around 8pm last night, after a 10 hour day in the office. I packed up a few orders, and relaxed for a bit.

My mistake was to listen to “Horse Bites, Dog Cries”, quite possibly the most perfect punk rock record ever. I got fired up, and grabbed my sketch book. Then I remembered I have a bunch of small 4″x4″ woodblocks.

Before I knew it, I was sketching out an idea for a quick little woodblock print. 10 to 15 minutes later, I had a decent enough sketch on paper, so I re-drew the image on the block, and carved for a good 3 hours or so.

I rolled out some black ink, and printed up 8 copies of this silly little image. It’s not meant to be anything groundbreaking, just a funny little image of a dude on a skateboard.

skater woodblock print

Static On The Brain, 4x4 inches, Woodblock Print

I am gonna be wiped out all day because I stayed up till 3am, and my alarm went off at 6:30.

…though it took me till 7:15 to roll out of bed.

I have been a bit frustrated lately that DayJob has required all my time, and has put printmaking on hold for a few weeks. It felt good to make a little something. Even a silly little something.

What really fired me up was listening to some awesome music. This print is brought to you by the following albums (I listened to D.I. and Suicidal twice):

  • D.I.Horse Bites, Dog Cries
  • Circle JerksGroup Sex
  • Dead KennedysIn God We Trust, Inc.
  • D.I.Team Goon
  • AdolescentsAdolescents
  • Wasted YouthReagan’s In
  • Suicidal TendenciesSuicidal Tendencies
  • 7 SecondsWalk Together, Rock Together

All albums I recommend if you want to get your early 80’s punk rock fix.

A Few Things Learned

1 – Washi paper accepts the ink on the block far better than cotton rag paper. The paper I have been using for my last project is Rives BFK, a heavy, thick paper. It is meant for lithography or intaglio, not block printing.

A few weeks ago I placed an order for a selection of Washi papers. Tonight was the first time I used these papers, and the more delicate washi takes the ink far easier than the cotton rag paper.

2 – When an ink maker calls their ink “Intense Black”, they might mean it. This stuff is a mess, and is gonna be stuck under my fingernails for a good week or so.

Oh well.

The Real Lesson

The real lesson of this whole thing is not to listen to awesome music, because it will make you do awesome stuff, and you won’t sleep. This is the danger of Punk Rock music.

I will probably end up giving these away as promotions, or selling them for a few bucks. In this case, the doing was far more important than the product.

A Free Monoprint Available (a mono-what?)

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Yes, I have a free print to give away to somebody, just read to the end [update, 11:38am, Jason claimed the print, thanks for giving it a good home!].

It’s a weird abstract thing. Hope you like it.

But first, a short journey into the studio…

Take one big mess…

After a weekend of printing, my ink palette looks like this:

My Ink Palette

After a weekend of printing, I have bits of various colors, all partially used.

I have dabs of ink everywhere, and I keep a dollop of every color mixed, in case I use it again. The ink is left out overnight from Saturday to Sunday, 1 day isn’t enough for the ink to dry. It usually takes at least 2 days for the ink to develop a skin.

When I finish printing on Sunday, I scrape off all the unused ink and throw it away, because it will have started to harden by Wednesday, the next day I have any time to print.

Usually, quite a bit of ink gets thrown in the can.

Nothing wasted. Kinda..

I found 1 last use for this ink however.

I masked off the edges of a sheet of paper with painters tape, like so:

Masked Paper

The tape protects the margins of the paper from the ink

Lesson learned: painters tape isn’t the best choice when working with this paper (Rives BFK). The tape sticks a bit to the cotton rag, and roughs up the paper when the tape is removed.

Next, roll out all of the ink left on my palette to one big flat mess, and plop the masked paper down on it.

Rub the back of the paper to transfer the ink, then removed the paper from the palette:

The paper is pressed against the ink

Left: the paper is pressed against the ink palette; Right: the paper, after it is removed from the ink surface

The ink left on my palette is a huge mess! This ended up taking more time to clean up than usual.

Moving on, I remove the tape masking the edges of the paper, and end up with an interesting monoprint:

Palette-made Monoprint

Palette-17 Jan, monoprint, paper size: 11x15, image size approximately 9x12

A Monowhat?

A monoprint is made by painting ink on a plate of some sort. Glass and metal plates are commonly used, but a flat plate of any material will work.

The plate, with the hand applied ink, is pressed against paper to transfer the image. Usually, only one print is made from each design painted on a plate. Most of the ink transfers to the paper, and needs to be re-applied by hand.

Each monoprint is unique. They are usually labeled as 1/1 in the bottom left corner, meaning it is the first print out of a total of 1 made, an edition of 1.

Monoprinting is a method “in between” painting and printing. All printmaking processes have two characteristics in common:

  • Ink is applied to an element of some sort (metal plate, woodblock, limestone, silkscreen, etc), then transferred to the paper
  • The process is repeatable, allowing identical images to be made

Monoprinting has one of these characteristics, the ink is applied to a plate, and transferred to the paper, but not the other. Since the ink is applied by hand, without mechanical control of where the ink is applied, each iteration cannot be duplicated.

It borrows from both painting and printmaking to form a new, unique medium.

Free Monoprint (only 1 available)

This print was an experiment, and a way to have some fun after a long weekend of printing. The resulting abstract print speaks for itself — however it is up to you to interpret what it says.

Palette made Monoprint

Only 1 available

I played with the ink, and asked myself what will happen when I mix all my leftover colors, and is more a product of chance than of forethought.

This print documents a weekend of work on the 101 Woodblock Print Project, and is a companion piece (of sorts) to the larger project. For me, the “meaning” in this print is the history and documentation of the work I am doing on the larger overall project.

Do you like the image? I’ll put this in an envelope and send it to the first person that sends me an email requesting it and includes their address. I’ll pay for shipping. All you have to do is make the request. To make this easier, I’ve got a contact page.

I’ve only got one of these, so it is first come, first serve.

[Update: Jason beat you to the punch! The print has been claimed]

My Artist’s Cerebral Struggles

This isn’t the kind of artwork I usually make, which is why I am giving it away. This monoprint is the result of following a process largely relying on chance, not on forethought into the design and composition of the image.

The art I usually make is well-planned and thought out. I don’t rely on chance and randomness. Even when I take chances and take risks, they are calculated risks.

Many artists create art closer to the method I followed with this print, allowing chance and the nuances of a process to influence the artwork. The art is more of a document of a process than a composed image.

Both methods are valid, and of those methods, I feel compelled to make composed, planned art. It is difficult for me to allow chance to have a large roll in the final product.

What do you think? Do you mind art that relies more on chance than on composition? What do you think of the method I used to make this monoprint, randomly rolling out my unused ink?

Leave a comment and let me know!

Prints in Progress: Color Choice and Resolution

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

I have to think about color extensively as I am working on a print.

Yesterday’s post about color choice is continued in this post today. In yesterday’s post I mentioned how color can be used to resolve other colors together, and make them work well and look good together.

Examples of Prints in Progress

This print can easily be resolved with a darker green

This print can easily be resolved with a darker green

I have a few prints that are in various stages of completion, one of them has an obvious resolution, one is still making me think. In this section I am going to discuss how I think about color in these prints, and what I think is needed to resolve the colors I have printed so far.

The print on the left is waiting for 1 last color to be printed, and I think that it is pretty clear what that color should be. I plan to print a slightly dulled down (ie. less saturated), transparent forest green color. That color should make this image pop together.

The trick to this image is going to to find a color that is rich enough, but not so rich that it overpowers the other colors already on the page. The 3 colors on the paper so far are not strong in value and saturation, so a very saturated color might visually dominate these colors, and make them appear weaker, and lose definition. A strong color would draw all the attention, and the other colors would appear very gray in comparison.

A color without enough saturation, on the other hand, will make the entire image appear bland, and the definition will be lost because nothing will stand out. If the 4th color is as dull and grayed out as the first 3 colors, then the entire image will appear to be a dull gray mess, and nothing will catch the eye. Everything will blend together, nothing will be interesting.

A quick aside

I wasn’t going to discuss this in this post, but it came up as I was thinking about the above print, because I noticed another completed print that seems to contradict what I said above.

The vibrant dark green works because it is used sparingly

The vibrant dark green works because it is used sparingly

Interestingly, the issue of matching the value of the other colors is more and more of a problem when the area that ink will cover becomes larger and larger. In the previous example, the 4th block will cover a large portion of the paper with ink. This makes the color choice much more important.

If the block applied a smaller area of ink to the paper, then a color with a much stronger value could be used. The color will not overpower the others because there is less of that color on the paper.

The print on the left demonstrates how a stronger color can be used when used sparingly. The first four colors that were printed are all very close to gray, their value is all very low. A strong color could easily overpower all of these subtle colors.

I printed the final block, the little bits of definition of the leaves, with a very saturated green color, straight out of the ink can. I didn’t thin the ink or mix in other colors to tone down the vibrancy of the color.

This choice worked well for this image, and the small, vibrant bits of color make the image come to life in a way that it didn’t before this vibrant color was printed. If the final color covered more of the paper, however, this strong green color would start to overpower the rest of the colors because it would become too dominant.

The fact that there are just very small bits of this color allow me to use a color so vibrant.

Back to the Regular Program

The last block I have to discuss today is another print that is in progress, and that I have created a bit of a problem with.

These two colors will be difficult to resolve

These two colors will be difficult to resolve

The block on the right has only the first 2 blocks printed, but I used 2 very different colors on this print so far. The light blue, and the dirty orange color do not look very good together as they are. A third color is needed to tie everything together, and visually connect these two colors.

Even though these two colors are not that saturated, they look more saturated than they are when placed together. The blue and the orange are compliments (opposite on the color wheel), so they make each other look brighter. Because of this, I will have to mix a color that is a little more saturated than I might guess, because I have to match the apparent saturation of these colors, rather than the actual saturation.

I’m not sure exactly which color I will print on this block next, but it will probably be in the brown family. The trick is going to be to pick the right shade of brown to make these two colors come together. It would be just as easy to mix the wrong color brown as it would be to mix a color that makes the blue and the orange look good.

Last Thoughts

It turns out that I think about color a LOT. Color choice is usually the most difficult part of the printmaking process for me.

If you missed yesterday’s post, click here to check it out. Leave a comment below and let me know if this was interesting, confusing, or anything alse.

Case Study: Saturation, Value, and Matching Colors

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

I create a lot of problems for myself that I later have to fix.

A lot of those problems have to do with color.

The 101 Woodblock Series project is largely a design project. I formulated the idea for this project when I was still thinking a lot about design, rather than art. That influence has found its way into this project. Most of the thinking and artistic consideration that goes in to each print has to do with balancing color and shape in a way to make a pleasing image.

Most of the prints have 4 or 5 colors printed on them, which requires mixing a lot of colors, especially considering that each of the 101 prints is different.

The trick is to get all of the colors to work together.

Sometimes, everything works out, and the image just comes together. The colors work together well, and the resulting image is rather… pleasing.

Much more frequently, I create a bit of a “challenge” with the first 2 or 3 blocks, and have to figure out how to fix this “challenge”.

In the challenging prints, the colors don’t quite go together, and the image does not look complete. Often a final color is required to make the disparate colors come together and look good. I think of this as “resolution” of the colors, with “resolution” used in the sense of “resolving” things.

Resolution explained with Music

In Music Theory, Resolution refers to the part of the music that brings everything together, and makes the piece of music feel like it is complete. It is the final note that makes the piece of music complete.

Technically, Resolution is a change within the music from dissonance (sounds that don’t sound good together) to consonance (sounds that do sound good together).

The parallels to printmaking are that I often have to find a color that makes all the previous colors – which don’t quite look good together – fall in to place and look good.

Before going on, I want to show you, with music, what resolution sounds like. I picked part of The Four Seasons, by Vivaldi, to demonstrate Resolution.

This audio file has the very last chord edited out, so that it is unresolved. Take a listen.

Vivaldi Unresolved:


Without the final note in the piece, it feels like everything is left hanging, it is unfinished.

Compare the above to the following audio clip, which is the same music, but with the ending chord left in.

Vivaldi Resolved:


The last chord completes the music, and makes it sound finished. Everything that came before it works together as an overall piece of music, when the last note is added at the end to resolve the music.

Resolution applied to color

I often find myself in situations where I have to pick the right color to visually resolve the colors I previously printed. The colors on the paper up to that point don’t quite work, don’t feel complete. I have to think about what color will tie all the others together, just like the last note in The Four Seasons ties that piece of music together.

I’d like to take you through a brief color imagination experiment:

Imagine something purple. Not bad.

Now add some orange next to it. Not good.

Orange and purple have a natural dissonance them. They don’t look good together. It is difficult to find a 3rd color you can add to these 2 and make the combination look good. It can be done, but it is a challenge (hint: the color that can do this begins with “green” – click to read why*).

Now imagine green and blue together. These colors usually look pretty good together, because they are close in hue. Another color is needed though to make these two colors really pop, other wise they may look fairly drab together. Because they are so similar, the combination of the two can be boring. A small bit of red, or a red-orange color may make those colors really look good together. A neutral color, like brown or gray, can also bring these colors together. Since blue and green naturally work well together, they are easier colors to resolve with a 3rd color.

Examples from Complete Prints

I recently finished a batch of prints, some of them resolved well, some of them did not. In this section I will explain which I think resolved well, which did not, and why.

The challenge is to find a color to match the warm oranges and reds

The challenge is to find a color to counter the warm oranges and reds

The print on the left surprised me. I started by printing the horizontal stripes, and then the 2 blocks for the leaves. The result was a very vibrant image full of warm colors, yellow, orange, and red. I like the vibrancy of these colors, but I knew that I needed something else to counter the warmth.

Without something to cool down the image a little bit and pull back the warm colors, this image could be too vibrant, to the point that it is difficult to look at. In fact, you can see the print as it looked with just the 3 vibrant warm colors in this post: Weekend Printing Results.

The warm colors in this print are similar in value and hue, and the image gets lost in a sea of orange. This image required a 4th color to resolve the previous 3.

My first thought was to put a cool color, like a blue or a green in there, but after thinking about this, I thought that a cool fourth color would stick out too much, and the image would be a visual game of “one of these things is not like the other”. I took a gamble with the gray color I printed the gears with, and I think it worked out well.

The gray color I printed has a touch of yellow and green to it, and has almost a “cool golden” color to it. The touch of cool that the image needed was added, but with a toned down, grayish hue, so that the value of the cool color did not contrast too much with the overall warmth of the image. The warm vibrancy of this image is something I like about it, and I did not want to counteract that, I just wanted to cool it down a little so that it wasn’t overpoweringly vibrant.

The same color used before did not resolve the colors in this image

The same color used before did not resolve the colors in this image

Contrast the use of the “golden gray” color above with the use of the same color in the image at right. In this one, the golden gray color does not resolve the colors in the image, and in fact, makes the dissonance between them worse.

The use of the color for the gears in this image, was, I believe, a mistake.

This image was difficult to finish because I created a visual problem when I printed the first few colors. I like the red in the leaves and the pot, and I like the light, slate blue of the horizontal stripes, but together, they look bad. They have very little in common, and adding the last color of the gears made it worse.

I am still not sure what color would have made this image work, but I think it is in the purple family. A purple might bridge the gap between the red and the blue and tie them together somehow.

In some ways, I backed myself into a corner with the red and blue, and created a color combination that does not have an easy resolution.

I find myself doing this quite a bit, because I am experimenting color combinations when I make these prints. I have tried a lot of combinations that are not obvious to me, and aren’t from the usual palette of colors that I would choose. I am trying new things, and sometimes it doesn’t work.

Final Notes

Color can be a tricky thing. Finding the right color to complement and make other colors look good together can be difficult, especially if you use colors that don’t play well together in the first place.

Tomorrow I will have a post with this same sort of look at color choice and resolution, except with examples from the prints that are in progress, but not quite done. I will be share with you what I am planning to do and why, instead of just telling you what I have already done, as I did today.

Also, these prints are currently available for sale to Newsletter Subscribers for my cost for supplies and shipping. They are my nice little bribe to get you to try out my newsletter. This special, “subscriber only” price only lasts until I finish all 101 of these prints, sometime in the next few weeks.

If you would like to see the rest of them and get your chance to purchase them for next-to-nothing prices, sign up for the Newsletter now.

Quick Thanks to Vivaldi


The Vivaldi clips I used above are from my CD of Vivaldi, “The Four Seasons”, performed by Anne-Sophie Mutter and the Trondheim Soloists. The disc also has “Devil’s Trill” by Tartini on it. It’s a good performance of the pieces, you can Click here to check it out on Amazon.

The disc also features a cover with Anne-Sophie in a strikingly striking pose. If you still need a recording of The Four Seasons for your music collection, this is a good choice.

If you click on the link and buy something, Amazon will give me a small piece of their huge pie (you pay the same price though). This allows me to buy food, make more art, and makes me happier.

As a result, I make more beautiful art, and share it with the world, making it a better place full of more happiness and good will towards men and women.

It’s probably actually your moral and patriotic duty to go buy, buy, buy!


*[note from above]Orange and purple are a split complement of green. The complement of green is red (they are opposite on the color wheel). A split complement is when you take one of the complementary colors, in this case red, and “split” it into two colors on either side of it on the color wheel. In this case, red is “split” into purple and orange, which are an equal distance away from red on either side of the color wheel. Usually, split complements look better when the split is much smaller, meaning that red would be split into a red-purple and a red-orange. The bigger the split, the harder it is to resolve the colors. Now click HERE to go back.