River Bed

Inspiration:

The North West Bay River runs through bush land above the township of Margate, in Southern Tasmania. Its rocky river bed is full of twists and turns, quiet pools, and small waterfalls. Because you can never see very far along it, each part of it feels like a private little world – a tiny valley with bush land on either side and paved with stones. Perfect for rock-hopping. The lively areas of white water alternating with tranquil green pools, was the inspiration for this artwork.

Linoleum block with the white areas drawn in, ready for carving.
Drawing of White Areas

Because of the complexity of this composition, I sketched out the placement of the rocks on paper before enlarging, flipping, and transferring it to the lino block. Then I drew the white water areas directly onto the block. Carving out these white areas will keep me occupied for a while now!

North West River artwork with first layer of lightest colours printed.
Layer One

All the white areas have been carved out and the first print layer completed, as can be seen in the gravity-defying image above! It looks a bit weird at this stage and I have to remind myself that it is way too early to judge any reduction artwork. I designed this layer to underlie the others and to only show through completely where sunlight hits the rocks and foliage, and in the reflections in the pool.

Mid-tone green layer printed.
Layer Two

I have now completed the second carving-out of all the lightest green areas, and sunlit areas of rock. The dominant mid-tone green was then added in the second printing stage. Most of the rocky areas were left uncovered, except where they lie underwater.

Layer Three

With this layer I’ve begun defining the form of the rocks, as well as adding to the complexity of the foliage and pool water. I think yellow ochre (actually in this case pigment PY 42, Mars Yellow) is one of my favourite pigments. Its a soft yellow that mixes to form beautiful gentle greens.

Close-up image of carving process
Carving Process

This is taking a lot longer than I had originally planned! While the number of stages/layers will be five, I am creating many extra colours through different overlapping combinations of colour. Also, as the whole area contains a fair bit of detail, I am needing to do an extensive re-carve for each stage.

Layer Five

The final printing is always hair-raising, as I never really know if the artwork is going to turn out OK, and by the time it gets to the final stage a lot of time and effort has gone into it. As this technique usually involves working from light to dark, the tone for each layer can be hard to judge; it’s the contrast with the dark tones that brings the lighter tones to life.

I’m really happy with how this one turned out – very relieved!

To see the gallery page for this completed artwork, select the button below: