One of my most popular linocut prints over the years has been this small West Coast map. I've always wanted to make a much bigger one and it's finally done. This new map block print features the airport codes of major cities on the West Coast, including San Francisco (SFO), San Diego (SAN), Los Angeles (LAX), Portland (PDX) and Seattle (SEA). The limited-edition print comes in two different colors and was made by the reduction method (on the first block) plus a second block for the text and flight path design.
"Pacific Coast" airport code linocut print
I always look forward to the San Francisco Center for the Book's annual Roadworks Steamroller Printing Festival and I'm excited about being a vendor again at this year's event on September 28, 2014. Last year, I was fortunate enough to have been invited to be a featured artist for their 10th Roadworks Festival. My role was to carve a huge 3-foot square linoleum block that was printed using an awesome old steamroller.
Though it was a challenging project for me, I really enjoyed it and this is how I created my print. The design process started with some small studies - experimenting with subject matter and patterns. I came up with an idea of a cross-section of San Francisco Bay, from the Ferry Building all the way down to the Transbay Tube. Sometimes, when I'm crossing the Bay and not taking in the beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge, I think about what is lurking under the water's surface. I then sketched out my preliminary design on a big sheet of paper to help work out some compositional issues. I wasn't used to working in such a large scale - so much space to fill!
I then transferred my image to the lino block and started carving the design. Here are some work in progress shots of my 3-foot linoleum print during the carving stage.
Near the end of the project, I started taking trial proofs of the big print to see what changes I still wanted to make. It was a tiring process because of the block's size and the fact I was printing it by hand - thank goodness for steamrollers! My forearms were cashed but it was a real thrill to finally see the image near completion.
My finished block was printed by the hardworking Roadworks crew on September 29, 2013. It was gratifying to see my finished print and to play a small role in the annual printmaking extravaganza. Big thanks to the staff and volunteers at the San Francisco Center for the Book for an awesome day!
My carved linoleum block.
The crew inking it up.
Carefully laying the paper on the inked block.
Covering it with blankets.
Driving over it with a beautiful old steamroller.
Carefully peeling back the paper.
The finished linocut print featuring San Francisco Bay from the city skyline down to BART's underwater Transbay Tube. Oh, and a giant octopus with a submarine in its tentacles...
My family and I took a wonderful trip to Scandinavia a few years ago and one of the places we visited was the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, Norway. I was taken with the aesthetics of the old viking ships they had on display and knew I wanted to somehow incorporate them into a print.
Viking Ship Museum in Oslo
I let the idea stew for a while and after illustrating a concept, I started carving a large 21-inch wide block of linoleum (mounted on plywood) last year and researched old Viking proverbs and alphabets (runes). I wanted to incorporate words into the composition and came across this perfect Icelandic proverb, "There seldom is a single wave." The proverb is found online amongst others here and here. I used websites like this one from PBS and here to translate the proverb into runes, as best I could.
Initial carving of the block in 2013
Frustratingly, I got to the point while carving last year where I didn't know how I wanted to proceed so I put the project off to the side for a while. Enter my new jigsaw and an 'aha' moment - I cut the carved block roughly into two halves. After taking some test prints, I realized that the blocks worked so much better printed on top of each other than as a larger reduction print, as I had originally envisioned.
Test printing the two blocks in 2014
I recently printed the final edition and it is now hanging to dry. First, I printed the background lino block in blue. Then I took the second block, which contained the ship and text, and cut the portion of the block with the text off that block. This allowed me to print the second layer as a jigsaw print - one color for the ship and a different color for the text. Once the individual blocks are inked with different colors, they're reassembled and printed with the etching press as one. This is how the final print turned out.
Final linocut print tentatively titled, "There seldom is a single wave"
I feel lucky to be able to see Mt. Tam everyday, including at the end of the day as the sun sets over the Pacific. I love seeing it from different angles and in changing weather conditions as you travel through the East Bay, Marin County and San Francisco.
Here's a new five-color linocut print - the second in a series (the first Mt. Tam print). This limited edition block print is made partially by the reduction method where the same linoleum block is used to print multiple colors in the print. After a color is printed on the paper using my etching press, more of the block is carved away for the next color. The print can never be replicated because the block has been carved away during the creation process. Two blocks were used for this print.