I know … many urban dwellers have entertaining stories about being chased by a mean Canada Goose, or having to navigate their multitudinous droppings in a favorite park, but I still say: they are pretty fabulous.
There’s nothing I love better in the fall than hearing the honk of geese as they fly overhead in a V-formation, with the lead goose taking the hardest position to make flying easier for the geese behind.
Canada Geese like to cruise at about 3,000 feet when migrating, but they’ve also been found as high as 29,000 feet!
Here are a few other facts I love about these birds:
- Canada Geese mate for life
- they nest in the same region their parents did, often in the same nest every year
- both mother and father help raise the young
- hatchlings leave the nest when 1-2 days old, already swimming and diving
- though they typically live 10-24 years, the oldest known wild Canada Goose was 30 years & 4 months old
- native to North America, their migration sometimes reaches as far as Europe
- most Canada-loving Canada Geese migrate south to the USA for winter, or stay in warmer parts of British Columbia
It was only a matter of time before I would create a print of this lovely creature. Here is the process for my three-colour reduction linocut print of the Canada Goose.
It starts in mid-June with a sketch on tracing paper that can be easily transferred to my block.
The first layer is created with only a few marks where I want the white of the paper to show through on the print.
For this print, I use a ‘monoprinting’ technique on the background around the bird to give texture to the water. On each print, I either used a rag to make marks, or a bristle brush to create waves of ink for the background.
Here, you see the block inked before pulling the print. This is such a playful technique, and hard to control – which is also why I love it.
Pulling the first layer of the print. A different colour palette than I usually use!
The above print shows the effect of ‘ragging’ on my block.
Layer one done, and drying on the line in my art studio. Next up: the brown ink layer once this layer is dry.
Layer two begins with removing most of the background. I leave lots of line-work, though, as I want ripples to appear in the water/background. The reflection in the water is also subtle…and a rather tricky part of this print.
Although the real-life Canada Goose’s brown feathers run the spectrum from light grey to dark brown, the one in the photo I based the print on was definitely on the darker-brown side. I custom-mix the ink to a nice rich brown that makes me crave chocolate!
Here is the second layer of the block, inked and ready to print.
Pulling the print: the brown and the ochre work together beautifully!
The print develops nicely, and I vow to do more prints with this color combo!
Next, I remove all parts of the block, except the areas that I want to print in black. The neck and head stay virtually the same, while the feathered area of the back and sides has only black highlights left. Once I see the previous layer of brown, I make a decision that the background will have no black at all. This is how it works: you figure it out as you go along.
Once the block is inked, I can see how the final black layer will work with the brown.
I pull a print and see if I need to make any adjustments. One of the adjustments I made was to the tone of the black ink. A straight ‘lamp black’ was too harsh over the brown, so I mixed the black with a good deal of brown ink (left over from the previous layer) to create a softer black that would integrate with the print better. My gut told me that this would improve the overall look of the print, and I have learned to go with this part of the creative process.
Here you see the progress … all three prints at once show how the reduction block works: as we move from left to right, more of the block is carved away, while the print layers up and gets richer.
And the final print, completed at the beginning of August, after about six weeks in development. Each one with a different background, and layers of ink you just have to see in person!