2017. Watercolor background. Hand-carved octonaut (linoleum) printed onto page and gone over with shiny white acrylic. Octonaut concept from a sketch of mine done on a notecard back in 2013. Might make into a greeting card…Alternate name: “What do octopus see when they trip?” or “Acidpus”.

Linocut and Block Printing Tips Beyond the Absolute Basics

I’ve been keeping notecards with tips I come across, from various places and resources or from my own experiments. In time I’ll try to cite the resources and build a nice little helpful page here with links and such, but for now – simply my notes.

*Linoleum hardens over time. Newer/fresher linoleum is easier to cut.

*Warming up linoleum before cutting also makes it easier to cut. (Ex: heating pad + large book + sit on top a while)

*Effective image transfer to lino block – carbon/graphite sheet + trace image w/ ballpoint pen.

*Rolled ink sounds rather like velcro when ready/rolled to proper consistency.

* Color or tint linoleum when carving (use permanent marker/ ink pads/ etc.) for clarity

*Prevent fingerprints from ink by keeping bowl of baby powder to dip fingertips in if ink gets on them (so you don’t have to constantly stop + wash hands)

*Use super glue to repair “mistakes” when cutting. Can also use hot glue to add/repair lost or damaged lines

*For the most minor imperfections in a newly made print – use a rubber pointed tool to blot the ink a bit to cover spots (too much of this or done too late will be apparent in the texture/surface of dried print)

*Use sheet of wax paper or a transparency sheet between paper and spoon when printing to make surface more slippery

*When hand-printing (with a spoon or brayer and not a press, etc.) use lighter weight papers to ensure all details and surfaces transfer well without over-inking.

On Cutting (the good kind); or My Progress so far into Linoleum-block Carving

So although I posted my first Etsy listing quite some time back (a lino-cut of a panda shown in a previous entry here) it didn’t really go anywhere or turn into anything. Probably because I didn’t advertise or social media much….it seems the follow-through and follow-up are the weakest (if not nonexistent) links in my chain. So, although I didn’t make any sales, I did in fact keep learning and experimenting and whatnot and have come around back to it, relisting “Panda Prophecy” and also a new hand-carved and printed artwork (I’ve been calling it “Evilephant” which seems a bit…silly, but I haven’t come up with anything else yet):

(below: Panda Prophecy – one of a kind edition hand-painted with gold embellishments – an’eye-catching/interesting’ photo for my Etsy listing – also see link at the bottom of this post)wTools

(below: Evilephant – photo with the carved lino block and the print – also see link at the bottom of post for my actual Etsy shop listing)


So, those are the two listings I have so far. I have many other almost ready lino carvings, but what has taken a lot of my time is experimenting with this craft. A LOT of trial and error, a LOT of unsatisfactory prints, and a LOT of scouring the internet for tips, tricks and supplies. In fact, since I took notes (I take notes on most things I study – really I could be quite successful and regular in my posts and informational transference if I only had the same urging to make posts and ‘share’ as I do to learn and create…) anyway since I took notes, I’ll make a useful separate post with them, to be updated over time, with my findings on linoleum carving and whatnot.

Both of these prints started as conceptual sketches, and were a bit of an endeavor to adapt to carving (I felt both needed a lot more than they started as to make them visually work with the medium) though I might have overdone Evilephant…but hopefully newer discoveries in ink and paper will allow me more freedom in design and not worry about large areas of solid ink not transferring well.


Above, left you can see my very first drawing of Panda Prophecy on a notecard. Being that this was the first carving I made, I thought taking out the bird might be a good idea for simplification, though the swirling details I added ended up being just as difficult (if not more….smooth curves can be tricky – especially small ones and circles) to carve. I can’t tell you how long it took me to finish – definitely a few separate days of work. I drew the swirls right onto the block and carved away – sometimes having to change or alter things to fix mistakes, and often returning and refining things after trial prints. Above, right you can see the plain black print – some swirls are missing their centers and certain areas are thicker than intended. Also note the areas where the ink did not transfer well enough onto the paper in the solid-black areas. Apparently I had been printing on far too thick a paper stock for hand-printing with a spoon. I’ve since been looking at lighter papers to use until I can get a press of some sort. The embellishment-with-paint idea arose from my desire to further correct the errors apparent to me, and I really like how it turned out – though it’s quite a bit more of a time investment to hand-paint all those swirls. In earlier prints I discovered that other paint could not very successfully be used to cover errors, as it seems each paint/ink/etc. has a slightly different tone, texture, and finish, and is visible in the right light on the print. In my elephant print, I tried to use a brush and later a rubber point to apply a bit of the printing ink I’d used to correct any mistakes. Unfortunately, for all but the smallest fixes, the ink applied this way does not match in it’s finish and is thus visible on the print.


Above here you can see the original concept sketch for Evilephant. Obviously a lot has changed, from the addition of linework and designs outside the figure to alterations to the figure itself due to errors in carving and realizing my limitations as a newer carver (there was likely no way I could get the gears in the ear like above carved nicely). I may yet still do something with the original sketch as it is above since things changed enough for the carving. It’ll be interesting to see how different manifestations of the concept come through and perhaps vary in feeling across different mediums. This carving too was one I returned too over and over to make refinements, and after test prints, to correct problem areas. I think I also learned something of overdoing via design in trying to prevent uneven ink transfer. Maybe I will carve still more away to simplify the print a bit in the future…For now, the few printed successes are for sale as limited edition prints in my Etsy store.

Feels slow, but progress comes. Hopefully soon the same will apply to my sales…

((My Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/HollyZezuArtStudio ))

Dysfunction Look-and-Find, and Doodling for Focus

((Featured image – an example of ‘drawing so I can also focus on something else that’s happening’ from a few years ago, I just called it “Colorbomb”))

I did a google search on “artist with A.D.D” and found an interesting blog write-up on someone with A.D.D that has many similarities to mine – undiagnosed throughout my childhood and early adult years, just thinking certain things were normal and that other people just dealt with them more adeptly.

Article: http://www.avrilejean.net/2013/01/27/attention-deficit-disorder-and-art/

My favorite and the most accurate-to-myself bits (things like these help me remember the insights and progress I make in figuring out what issues I have, and hopefully how to work to correct them before I forget it all or lose my place and have to restart any effort):

“I always knew there was something amiss in my head, but not what. I was tired a                 lot, moody a lot, unable to cope a lot. I would cry on the way home when I worked                   full time, wondering how no one else seemed to be as traumatized by work as I was. I            thought of it as a big wall I just could not get over, this thing that blocked me from                doing some of the things I wanted to do.”

“One thing that I did do, all through primary and high schools, and uni, was I drew on          my class notes and my lecture notes. I drew incessantly.”

“You know when you go into a room and forget why you’ve gone into it and you stand            there helplessly? Apply that to almost everything – work tasks, going shopping,                      where did i put my car, what was I just thinking, what did I mean to do now, how come          I’m doing the washing, I thought i was in the middle of the dishes – wait I am, better            go start the vacuuming…..”

“I have used art work to sooth and calm the swirling in my head for years. It started in          class when I drew on my work, and that in effect has been the thing i go back to                      whenever i need a time out from trying to concentrate or think. I find i can direct the            energy and concentration and turn off the chaos by getting out a pencil or a brush,                  and working on a piece of art.  Selecting and choosing colours and working on a bit of            something till it looks right, is awesome therapy for the messed up brain, it soothes it          and calms it and gives it something to look at. I guess art to me is self-medication, it            is the thing I can hyper-focus on.”

(Avril Jean, 2013)

It makes me hopeful to know that others in similar mental configurations figure out how to be at least reasonably successful in life and living with A.D.D. Avril also mentions that forming habits has helped combat a lot of the chaos that tends to make normal life things so complicated. This is something I am still working on…habits seem so unnatural to me, so innately repulsive to my more free-spirited and impulsive self, but I know that they will be vital to me accomplishing anything.

I still often end up a slave to things that just help me forget and block out the world, like video games or shows or just…drawing and not using my work for anything. I suppose part of the habit forming process will be working to un-learn my bad habits and tendencies. I’d really like to be able to find a great psychologist or some variant that could help me not only with my mental state but with getting the foundations of habits and strategies that work for me into place. I haven’t had tremendous luck there, however.

So combining the aspects of myself that are very…control freak, plus the unlimited way I view just about everything (Perceiving type MBTI) many endeavors are just too enormous – too many possibilities, too much work needed to feel I have a decent (complete enough) grasp of the information to make a decision. Add to those how easily I can lose my progress from one day to the next, and my need for an environment that won’t sabotage my attention and it feels impossible to take on anything that can’t be completed in one cram-all session on a day where I have nothing else scheduled (even small shifts at work or appointments that won’t take very much time seem to weigh down and consume a day…).

So here’s to hoping I can figure it out, and find someone who can help me with that. I hate feeling like I am wasting so much potential and talent floundering around in such an inconstant manner. I hate almost ALWAYS being at the mercy of my impulses and moods. I hate how alone I feel in it, which is also on me – shutting almost everything else out of my life in an attempt to get my dreams and future on track, while still keeping my head above water in terms of survival and basic life necessities.

Tyranid Collage Poster

A gift for my brother’s birthday – his first 40k army was Tyranids, and I fondly remember sitting around with everyone and helping to paint them, watch battles, and take amusement in the lore/backstories and “flavor text” for the various factions. Since he is practical, his abode is thus sparse and could use an epic poster – especially one custom-made for him by his ‘delightful’ sister. So I gathered a bunch of images from online and among his books and collection and put together a collage in Photoshop, then had it printed and framed! Below is the poster image itself (minus mat and frame):


I painted a large wolf…

Well, larger than most other things I have custom painted up to this point. He was a Halloween decoration – plaster or something rather fragile-ish (bits of it sort of chip off the bottom sometimes). I painted him with acrylic paint (and holy crap did it take a lot longer than I anticipated…granted the ink shadowing didn’t work on him the way it does on the smaller figures so that set things back…) Hopefully making a plan AHEAD of time will speed things up in future endeavors – though I guess that won’t account for trial-and-error scraps of plans…Anyway I think he turned out rather well at this increment of decided completion, and I really like how his back details turned out with the paint shade layering for his fur. Also worth noting that being plaster or whatever and not a high quality material/expensive perfect statue, there was a lot of pitting and/or flaws to work around and try to mask with my painting work. But he’s quite lovely and I wouldn’t mind painting another something large sometime.

Crafts and Gifts Cache #1-3

Eventually, even I get tired of explaining away (or trying to) my absence periods. And thus, just down to business: Despite the lull here, I am quite busy at my art and creating, so it is time to schedule a series of (long) finished objects for all of you lovely people to see. More to come!

  1. Mom’s Gazebo – Christmas gift custom painted wooden gazebo – from either 2013 or 2014 (we were still at the old house). Acrylic paint.


  2. Mom’s Star Box – mom’s birthday is on Christmas, so a lot typically goes on gift wise around that time (including my birthday on Christmas Eve…) I forget whether this was the same year as the gazebo or earlier…but it was around the general time period. Acrylic paint, nail polish, gold wrapping paper on wooden box.


  3. Katie’s Box – 2011 – for my friend’s birthday, acrylic paint on thick cardboard box thing. She’s a forestry/plants and such major and does a lot outdoors so I used leaves to make prints around the box. Unfortunately this seems to be before I had good item photography skills so I had to make some digital edits to clarify and tune down the shine of already tricky-to-photo-metallic paint on Hello Kitty on the box lid…and the annoyingly persistent perfectionist in me necessitates my mentioning the rustiness of my painting skills back then (the lettering could use work in my opinion), coupled with a time constraint I actually had to stick to (I believe she was moving away at the time) but I’m still very fond of how the patterning turned out, and as it seems no one else is as picky and particular of these things as I am, she loved it just the way it was, although I protested it wasn’t finished.


    So anyway, there’s three. There are many more and I’ll try to get them up regularly, I’ve photographed most, so that just leaves the edits/preps and commenting. Stay tuned!

Frustration Sandwich

Like a ‘compliment sandwich’, but the opposite (frustration bread + meaty middle goodness + another frustration bread).

I work so hard and intensely on any given artwork or project, then once it’s done or almost done…it’s like I forget about it. I don’t brag about it all over or show everyone, market it or give it even it’s 15 minutes of fame. Why? I am usually pretty happy with the things I create and have tons of ideas for them, design and sales concepts that I feel could really take off….but that spark that drives my artwork and ideas and passions just doesn’t ignite for the sharing and marketing…almost as if I am unable to stop moving forward with my artwork, to the point of being detrimental to any potential I might have for anything I create. I recognize this, but it gets…’lost’ in my head or buried by my moods and whims and desire to lose myself in the moments…and then I’m just going in circles trying to find progress and/or success.

Middle yum yums: I was going through my artwork, and came across this album art I created for a friend a few years ago: AudioDopeCoverWebV

However (here comes the finishing bread of our sandwich), I don’t think it ever made it onto a physical item (I don’t know that the album ever did end up released or anything like that). The both of us (artists visual and auditory) were neither very good at the finishing and progress part. Always missing parts or things needed that never came about. I withheld it for a while, just in case it should ever come to be, but I haven’t spoken to that friend in a long while and haven’t heard anything regarding the project so…at least I can share the artwork I created for it!