Scientists estimate 1 of every 3 bites of food we eat exists beacause of pollinators like bees, butterflies, moths and other insects, bats, and some birds.

I was inspired to make this print because our pollinators – like hummingbirds – are in trouble, and need us to provide them with native plants such as Bee Balm, and other natives that provide blooms throughout the seasons. What you do with your backyard matters!

I always try to reduce my design to the fewest colors possible, but this time I ended up with thirteen colors. Which means thirteen carvings and printings…

My first carving is for the background. I create a light lime to lemon gradient on the letterpress roller, carving out white negative space for the hummingbird and bee balm.

The next carving is for the lighter tan in the hummingbird’s wings, chest and tail.

Now a separate carving and printing is done in hummingbird green to create the flower’s leaves and stems – and of course, the hummingbird!

With the carving from step two, I cut away thick lines for the feather detail. A darker tan ink contrasts the lighter tan on the wings and tail.

I carve details of patterning on the hummingbird’s body and the veins on the bee balm leaf.

Next I carve the part of bee balm called the solitary terminal flowers. With delicate registration, the purple fits in neatly.

An even darker green adds dimension to the leaf and the hummingbird’s crown.

The plate from step six is carved and rolled with a darker purple to add dimension to the solitary terminal flowers.

Dark maroon is added to the flower…

I’m a bonehead! I forgot to do the carving for the other flower!

I made this bright red a bit transparent to allow some of the dark red underneath to show through and create another lighter shadow color. Fun fact – green is the complementary color to red, which is why the red pops so much with the light green surrounding!

I carve away the block from step 11 to reveal strips which get salmon ink applied. Once printed, the bee balm now has highlights!

This pale halo around everything, with little carving marks, gives an indication that the bird and flower are moving. I printed it as a gradient to coordinate with the background grandient.

Carving and printing plate #14. Finished! …Or maybe not.

The next day I look at the print, and I am really bothered by the heavy black outlines. They are too dark and thick for this delicate subject. What was I thinking when I did that carving? Gnash, gnash. Now what?

Maybe if I do another halo carving that covers parts of those heavy black lines it will thin them…

It worked! Here is Hummingbird & Bee Balm all finished!

For more information on how you can support diminishing pollinator populations by planting native plants specific to your region, check out the following resources:

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation

Pollinator Partnerships

The National Wildlife Federation