January 25, 2021

Winter in Winter

         Here is the second of my season fairies, the winter spirit.  This one is based on a nuthatch.  Although nuthatches are in my neighborhood year-round, I think of them as winter birds because they’re much more visible hopping headfirst down trunks revealed by leaf-bared branches, or visiting the suet feeder that I put out only in the winter.  I had a little trouble immediately coming up with some way to transform an ordinary bird into a winter fairy, but then thought of the similarities between the patterns of frost and feathers.  I gave my bird wings and tail made of snowflake-like crystals.  I imagine if it were to flit past a window, frost would grow across the pane as its crystalline feathers brushed the glass.
        For consistency, I plan to keep the pattern of doing each of these fairies as a two-layer reduction print: the first layer with a mix of colors, and the second layer in solid black.  For winter, my first inking was pale grey and blue, plus dark green for the pine needles.  I found this design to be quite forgiving on the first inking, since much of the faint or uneven inking looked appropriately frosty.  (On the other hand, most of the pine needles aren’t as crisp and dark as I would have liked.  The more colors you use at once, the more likely they are to get too dry.)  Also, I printed on cream paper for consistency with the summer fairy, even though if this were a wholly independent print I would have used white.
        It’s still January, but I’ve begun to gather references for the next fairy design, and that means that spring is on the way, at least in my studio.

[Picture: Winter Fairy (Crystal Nuthatch), rubber block reduction print by AEGN, 2021.]

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