Here's a new print I'm working on called "Fighting Cats." One night I dreamed about 2 cats wearing high heels and sparring. When I started sketching, it became obvious that there was no way to have anatomically correct cats shod in heels. Cat feet and legs are so different from humans', it would've looked stupid. And I didn't want to draw human shaped bodies with cat heads. So I decided to tweak my original vision a bit and put some women's fashion in the background. I ripped pages out of style magazines and pasted them in diagonal strips. All the original colors will be changed too, so that the background is cooler than the cats and the Pow! pink star.
This is a suicide aka reduction print. Most of my other prints are multi-block color prints. There are pros and cons to each type. With multi-block prints, I carve a separate block for each color in the print. Because the blocks are not destroyed in the process, I can print larger editions, and make color changes at will. The negatives are that it is more difficult to have many colors per print, since carving separate blocks for each becomes more and more work. Also, linoleum blocks aren't cheap, so each block is an expense. A suicide print is carved from one block. Think of that, just one block for many colors! "Fighting Cats" is already up to 4 colors and will probably end up having around 14 colors. How is this possible? Magic, people, MAGIC! Trying to explain the process of reduction printing is daunting, but I will try. The reason it is called suicide printing is that the block is destroyed, step by step, through the printing process. At the very beginning, I have to decide how many finished prints I want, and that is all there will ever be of that image. With multi-block prints, I can decide to make an edition of 50 or 100, because I can print 10 now and as they sell off, go back and print another 10, etc. until the edition is complete. Suicide prints are printed all at once, so my editions are a lot smaller. There are 16 "Fighting Cats" prints in the edition, that's about the maximum number I can handle inking and printing per printing session. After deciding how many prints to make, I sketch the image onto one linoleum block. If there are any white spots in the sketch, I carve all the white areas out of my block. Then I will print the lightest color in the image. In "Fighting Cats," I mixed a pale yellow ink and rolled it onto the entire block, then printed it on all 16 sheets of paper. I let the prints dry overnight. Next, I carve from the block all the parts of the image that I want to remain pale yellow. Since they are carved out, the next layers of ink won't overlay and hide those areas. Then I roll the block with bright yellow and print all 16 prints again. Allow the prints to dry overnight. Meanwhile, I carve away the sections of the block that I want to keep yellow. The third color I printed was orange. Follow the same procedure: print orange, then carve away the areas that will remain orange, ad infinitum. As things progress, more and more of the block has been carved away until ultimately it is destroyed. The prints will take longer to dry as the layers of ink build up. I tend to print from lightest color ink to darkest, but not always. I take into consideration what happens when certain colors overlay each other, for example overlaying green with red will dull the red because they are complementary colors. There are lots of things to think about, and I can't go back and change what's already been printed. That makes it an exciting challenge, and I love how the image reveals itself gradually through each color layer.