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Firetail Finches in Waratah


5 layers Multi-block Linocut print  ·  Edition of 100

Size 48 x 61 cm / 18.8 x 24 in

Handcrafted linoprint, featuring a couple of Beautiful Firetail Finches in Waratahs. Printed on archival, 100% cotton Fabriano Rosaspina paper. Limited edition of 100, signed and numbered by the artist.This is a multi layered linoprint, printed off five hand carved plates, and printed using a hand powered etching press in the artist's studio in southern Tasmania.The handmade nature of this printing technique means that every copy will be so ever slightly different from one another, each having their own uniqueness.

The only native Finch in Tasmania, the Beautiful Firetail Finch is known to be a little elusive, albeit social, gathering in groups of up to 20. If they are confined to coastal areas on the mainland, in Tasmania they are found throughout the island and at various altitude. They feed mostly on seeds, and are never far from a body of water. Their numbers are declining due to habitat loss and the rise of predatory feral cats.

The Tasmanian Waratah (Talopea Truncata) is an Alpine shrub producing stunning flowers in late Spring, early Summer. While they sport the same red hue as their mainland counterparts, the size of the Tasmanian flowerhead itself is much smaller at about 6-10 cm diameter, and holds fewer individual flowers, resulting in an airier, more delicate inflorescence.

The Nitty Gritty


This colourful print was executed using the multiplate method, meaning that I carved one block for each layer/colour. In this case I used 5 blocks of linoleum.Once my design has been identically transferred to all five blocks, I started carving each one in a different fashion, depending on the desired printing area. A lot of planning went into this one, as I played with techniques that were new to me at the time. I used a gradient for the first time (a gradient is whe... Here, on the background), and I also played with the transparency of the inks in order to create additional colours.Here's the breakdown:1/ The first layer is the light green gradient in the background. I blended three different shades of the same green and blended them up on my roller.2/ The second layer is a lime green, visible in the leaves highlights3/ The third layer is a transluscent brown, which stays mostly true withing the birds' plumage, but turns into an olive green when layed on top of the lime green from the previous layer (see leaves)4/ The fourth layer is the red, also transluscent. Small details where created within the 2nd and 3rd layers wich allowed for the red to take on additional tones when layed on top, creating some deeper hues within the flowerheads.5/ Last, a layer of black to bring contrast and definition to the birds and stem.

To be candid, it wasn't as straightforward as I just made it sound. I had to give it a few tries to get the colours right. The first print run failed and ended in the compost bin (this seems to be a reccuring occurence). The second attempt resulted in a version close to the desired one but with vivid flat colours, giving it a fun 'Pop Art' look. I released it as a tiny edition of 11 (now sold out), having discarded the remaining 25 prints due to the last block shifting in the press and creating smudges. Sometimes linoleum has quirks for no reason. So I discarded the dodgy block and recarved it, refined my colours and added the gradient to bring in some luminosity to the design. Third try really was the charm and my print was done. 

I was and am still proud of this one. It somehow marked a turning point in my practice, defining my style that I was fumbling around to find, and made the layering of colours a focus in my work to come.

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