Monday, February 26, 2018

Wise One

The third print in my cat linocut print series, is "Wise One."  This was my first print using three colors.  

My method of printing multiple colors is by carving my block into pieces, like a puzzle. 

Once the pieces are carved, they are inked separately, and then fit back together, carefully, before the paper is laid on top of the block. 

As you may notice, the eyes for this print were left white, then I hand painted them in with the printing ink to match a combination of the background colors.

This is part of the 50 print edition. 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Why Cats?

I adopted my first pet, a cat named Tiger just over twelve years ago.  I wanted a buddy for companionship for the days I was home, working in my studio.  I have learned so much about animals since adopting Tiger.  I would have to say, Tiger has changed my life for the better.

Tiger, just a few months old.
When Tiger was two, we adopted a second cat, Motor, the constant purrer.  Once again, this little furry boy changed my life, for the better.

My Motor, just adopted.
I used to say Motor was my heart on the outside.  I used to tell my husband, if anything ever happened to Motor, I didn't know what I would do.  I was so bonded to him.  Almost two years ago now, Motor got sick with intestinal cancer and passed away.  He had never been sick before.  It was quick.  I was devastated.  It's still hard to look at this photo of him.  He was just nine years old when he passed. 

In a way, this body of work is a tribute to him.  Many of the images start with a photo of Motor.  The cats in my prints are black, not because I am making black cat artwork, specifically.  For me, the black cat is symbolic of all cats.  My cat images could be blue, or brown, or red, but I chose black. 

When Motor passed, I had no thoughts or desire to adopt another pet.  But my older cat Tiger, my original cat, seemed lonely.  After all, Motor was his companion for nine years.  So five months after Motor passed, we decided to adopt again for Tiger.  There were not a lot of kittens available at the time, but we found two boys, similar age, fours months old, from two different litters.  This is Hobbs and Oreo.  You can see I have a thing for ginger cats.  They have been great additions to the family.

Hobbs and Oreo - just adopted.
Two brothers from different mothers.
So anyway, why cats?  I think you can see why.  For me, I want to create art that I feel passionate about, and I have a strong connection to animals.  So this is my starting point.  I know after a while, my imagery will change, but I will always come back to the cat.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

What is a Linocut Print?

I have been trying to figure out an easy explanation for the process of linocut printing.  This is what I have come up with for you.

Tools for printing - gouge, ink rollers, carving block, ink.
Lino printing is a form of fine art printmaking where traditionally, the printing plate is a piece of linoleum. Yes, lino as in linoleum, as in floor covering.  More recently, there are other rubbery surfaces being used instead of linoleum.  I use a block called Speedy Carve by Speedball which looks like a large pink eraser.  It is easier to carve than linoleum because it is softer.  It's flexible, durable, and will not crack, crumble, or break.  So it has certain advantages to traditional linoleum.

Transferring the image and beginning carving.

Ink rolled out on block and first print pulled.
Once your design is worked out, it is transferred to your block.  The design is then cut into your sheet of linoleum with a sharp knife or gouge.  The parts of the linoleum that are cut away create recesses, and the parts of the linoleum that are uncarved are raised.  These raised surfaces are then inked with a roller, and paper or fabric is pressed onto the block, transferring the design.  This process can be hand done or with a press.
Multiple prints and the tools.
From one carved block, a number of prints can be printed.  This can be any number from the first, to an unlimited amount.  All the prints printed from the same block are called an edition.  The artist decides how large the edition will be.  Sometimes how large an edition will be is determined by how well the block holds up. 

When a print is signed, traditionally it is done in pencil, under the image.  Limited editions are considered more valuable than open, or unlimited editions, just because there are only a limited amount of that print image.  If it is a limited edition, in the left corner will be two numbers, the first number is the print number and the second number will tell you how large the edition is (e.g., "10/30" for the 10th print in an edition of 30). 

Care for your print, as with all works of art on paper, should always be used.  Keep your artwork out of direct sunlight and away from incandescent light, to keep your print from fading.  And a moisture free environment is recommended, so that the paper does not get water damage from moisture that can collect under the glass in a frame.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Jim Carrey - I Needed Color

Jim Carrey: I Needed Color from SGG on Vimeo.

"Your vocation chooses you."  Jim Carrey

I like that idea.

This is a wonderful video of Jim Carrey, and his creative process.  I find it inspiring.  I hope you do too. 


"Enlightened" © MaryAnnTestagrossa
"Enlightened."  My second cat print in my series.  This one has special significance.  It was inspired by my beloved cat who passed away, Motor.  A very special boy, indeed.  

The idea behind the print, "Enlightened,"  is that when we all pass, we have a larger perspective on life, and what our own personal journeys are all about.  We become enlightened.  And so this print, is a tribute to my Motor, but also to all cats who are waiting for us at the ***Rainbow Bridge. 

This is the carved block.  There are many different types of block to choose from.  This is Speedy Carve by Speedball.  It is very soft and easy to cut.  Highly recommend, especially for beginners.  

This is the carved block, cut and separated for inking two colors. 
Finished prints and tools of the trade.

More samples of finished prints, and the tools used.

***The Rainbow Bridge  ( inspired by a Norse legend)
By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,
Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.
Where the friends of man and woman do run,
When their time on earth is over and done.
For here, between this world and the next,
Is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.
On this golden land, they wait and they play,
Till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.
No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,
For here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.
Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,
Their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.
They romp through the grass, without even a care,
Until one day they start, and sniff at the air.
All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,
Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.
For just at that instant, their eyes have met;
     Together again, both person and pet.
So they run to each other, these friends from long past,
The time of their parting is over at last.
The sadness they felt while they were apart,
Has turned into joy once more in each heart.
They embrace with a love that will last forever,
And then, side-by-side, they cross over… together.
 Author Unknown


"Curiosity" Original Lino Cut Print ©MaryAnnTestagrossa
When I decided I wanted to explore lino cut printing again, and in more depth than I had in the past, I knew that I wanted to start with a series of small images first.  And since I am an animal lover with three cats and a dog, I knew it was going to be cats.  "Curiosity" is the first print in my series of twelve cat prints.  They are all 8"x8"prints, with the actual image being 6"x6."

I tend to take a lot of photos so I can share different parts of the process of making my prints.  This photo shows the block carved into three pieces.  This is for the three different colors of the print.  Makes it easier to roll the separate colors onto the block and not overlap colors.

A few finished prints, and the tools of the trade.

A few more finished prints.