Since then I've been working on small practice blocks with the idea of concentrating on specific things. So in the Beach Pebbles piece I wanted to work on stones and water. Some parts work ok and I liked the looseness of the marks I made on the pebbles - it's a start.
I've also been reading lots of books including Simon Brett's "Wood Engraving How to do it" in which he says the engraver should work from dark to light on the block. He suggests the block should be darkened with an ink wash and the design painted on with white gouache. Black areas are left alone, working on the next darkest tone through to the lightest tones and finally to white.
My second attempt was an effort to work in this way. The proof print was far too dark so I reworked some areas but feel this made it worse.
Hey ho - lesson learned! I'm not sure this way of working suits me but I'll keep trying.
This block worked out much better despite being really small. I'm having to work with a magnifying glass and strong light - dodgy eyesight! It's not a recommended way of working and I can definitely see why. It's hard to judge how deep or how close together the cutting marks are as they're magnified with the result that the blocks can print far too dark. However - it's something I'm slowly adapting to.
This block was an exercise in cutting leaves overlapping one another with clearly defined areas of white and black. I drew directly onto the block this time and didn't bother to ink the design either. I liked working this way.
I'll continue working on the block to try and add some pattern to the feather. I haven't worked how I'll do this yet and could end up ruining the the whole thing but if I won't know until unless I try.
Another small block where I just drew straight onto it with pencil and didn't bother to ink in. I like the looseness of it. The goal was to make marks to show the form of the tree as well as some clear light and shade. It worked better than I thought it would. Next step is to try some different bark textures and to work on achieving a variety of tones... back to practicing working dark to light.
This tried to use the shape of this block to create a sense of movement and distance when I sketched out the initial idea. I like the tree but feel the sky needs clearing better and I might even take much of it out later. But all in all I was pleased with the overall image even if some of the mark making is decidedly iffy.