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August 27, 2007 at 10:28 pm

The prints are done — as of last Thursday night/Friday morning.

I printed the seventh color on Wednesday night/Thurs morning. After I’d printed about six copies, I realized that I had run into a classic transparent color problem, which I had expected to happen at some point along this process… but hadn’t looked for at the very end.

(background information: the previously promised transparent color mixing notes.)

It is especially hard to predict how the transparent colors are going to act when printed: what they look like is determined by the amount of pigment in the transparent base, and by how thickly it lies over the other colors. You can test solid colors by wiping them with a brush or your finger on a piece of paper, but with a transparent color you have to print it through the screen to see how dark or light it will be, and how it will change the color behind it. The transparent base I use also makes the printed colors a little bit iridescent, so they are darker or lighter when you look at them from different angles…

So, the ‘classic problem’ comes from the transparent color unpredictability combined with the hope of the printmaker that the color she mixes, at a certain density, will turn out to be the correct value to create a bunch of different effects in different places all over the print. In this case, the large text needed to be dark enough to be legible, but light enough to reveal what was behind it; the small handwriting text needed to be not too dark (so it wouldn’t show up as a blobby shape of its own) and not too light (so it could still be read); the small drawings of people in the rooms needed to be dark enough to be seen clearly…. and the wall in one of the upper bedrooms needed to be a light enough value to contrast with the wall of the hallway, and push the room walls a little further into the distance.

As printed, when the large text and the small people in the rooms were legible enough, the walls of the upper room were waaaaaay too dark. Since I was using the values of different colors in the print to try and create the appearance of receding space, this kind of value conflict — which actually made the room walls almost the darkest thing in the composition — was non-negotiable: it totally broke down any sense of space in the upper part of the print. After a couple moments of frustrated contemplation (post-midnight), considering various possible solutions, I decided that the best path would be to finish printing the transparent blue as planned, and then shoot another screen with just the wall shapes on it, and use that to print a transparent light color over the dark areas.

So I did end up printing an eighth color after all, Thursday night into Friday morning. It left me completely exhausted… and if I hadn’t written about it, you would probably never have noticed it.

However! the prints are finished.

I am working on a letter that will go out with the prints, that should be done tonight. Prints to out-of-town subscribers will be mailed out tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon, and prints for Providence subscribers will be ready for pickup after that — I will also do some delivery runs around town.

Then it’s on to some more exciting stuff…!


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