Playing with color is a magical part of printmaking. I mix all my colors from the basics: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK), along with the two whites of printmaking, transparent and opaque. I occasionally find myself aiming for one color but veering off into another because of some gorgeous happenstance along the way. Years ago I was mixing brown, using the usual combination of red, yellow, and blue, and I found myself with a gorgeous grey instead. Mixed without a drop of black or white, it was a richer grey than most because of the complex combination of primary pigments. It’s tricky, but I did it again – the next time on purpose – and it appears in many of the prints in my “Pulps” series.
Each week, the students in my ongoing workshops choose colors for the following class. Sometimes we select a precise color from various swatches I’ve saved, but more often it’s a verbal choice – “blood red,” “pistachio,” or saffron.” Color can transform an image. Kitty Quinn-Friel carved a flower that never seems anything other than gorgeous, but various colors lend it different moods. First she inked it in black, and then “dropped” a bed of color, a rainbow roll from magenta to orange, creating a print that appears lit up from behind.Kitty left the remaining black ink on her plate, and then rolled that same rainbow roll right over top. The residual black ink mixed gorgeously with the bright colors to create a more subtle image, with extraordinary rich tones.