November 30, 2008

Noel Production Line

I realize it's not the right type of attitude I should have with respect to Christmas and all but I feel a bit like a line worker today, all afternoon gone over to cutting and pasting squares of card-stock and turning out this year's batch of cards. I've managed to pull together 20 so far with another 20 to go. No, we don't have 40 people to send cards to, more like 15. The majority will go to mother and her vast social circle.

I couldn't decide which colour I wanted so I got both and did up half in gold and the other in the green.

On the plus side, it gave me the chance to go visit Jessie at her Cherish the Thought where I got the lovely paper for the backing. I haven't been to her store since the grand opening so it was great to see it a bit more grown up.
The papercraft world is a different one from printmaking but one that still draws me and I could definitely spend a lot of money at the place if I let myself go -- there's so much cool stuff there. Maybe printmaking and papercrafting can somehow be merged together?

November 23, 2008

Ivy League?

This afternoon went to printing out my X-mas card block. The image is small enough to fit two per sheet of paper and I managed to pull around 55 prints (I lost count toward the end). Plus, since I'm not particularly concerned with longevity nor obsessed, as I normally am, about keeping my paper acid free, I experimented with a few different papers, including parchment.

The Wonder-Cut lino proved to be ok in printing but was, as I expected, a bit grainy. I had to lay on more ink than normal and that made it somewhat gloppy, with some of the finer lines being lost, though I'm not sure that would be an issue if the image were larger. Overall, I think the cards will be close to what I envisioned. I will be cheating, and adding in some hand-colouring with ink once the prints are dry, then cropping them and mounting them onto some special card-stock. Lots of work for idle hands still ahead and I really have the sense that Christmas is flying at me with supersonic speed this year. I realized with horror today that I'd better begin thinking about gifts and baking and soon.

November 16, 2008

Misty moisty morning.

Even though the day, misty and gray, is perfect for staying indoors and indulging in creative past-times, I haven't been able to gather enough momentum for printing today. I'm fighting a war with some virus that's going around and I think the virus is winning.

So, a pot of soup simmering on the stove and my ambitions set aside, I'll content myself with tidying up some loose ends and waiting until next week. It's probably a good idea anyways since the Eve and the Serpent prints hanging in the kitchen aren't fully dry yet and I'll need all the room I can get for my Christmas cards.

I've got the matrix done:

I finally got around to using the piece of Wonder-Cut lino I ordered out of curiosity two years ago. It's been well wrapped in plastic and is still fine, but I've been hesitant to try it until now. The texture seems rougher than either the Battleship Gray, or the Golden Cut and I wasn't sure how much detail it would take. Happy surprise: it was actually pretty good to work with, cut easier than the other two types and didn't crumble (my main fear). For an image as fast as I wanted this one to be, it worked really well. The true test will be how it prints up but, so far, I liked it.

Next time I'll have to try a larger image; this one is only 4" X 4".

November 11, 2008

Lest we forget

Car un enfant qui pleure,
Qu'il soit de n'importe où
Est un enfant qui pleure;

Car un enfant qui meurt
Au bout de vos fusils
Est un enfant qui meurt.
[Because a child who cries, where ever it may be, is a child who cries;
Because a child who dies, at the point of your guns, is a child who dies.]

Barbara, Perlinpinpin

I'm not generally one for making speeches; that's R's role in the family. But last night, as N and a handful of friends were getting ready to go out on the town, all of them feeling lucky to have a day away from classes in the middle of the week, I took it upon myself to remind them just why they have the day free today. There are so many people for whom Remembrance Day is "just that day off in November" and another day to shop. I didn't want N and her friends to fall into that category.

Four pairs of teenage eyes sat fixed on me as I delivered my speech about remembering those who fought and died for the sake of peace and about honouring those who still do. I believe it went over fairly well although I know it's hard for someone to comprehend hardship if they've never known it.

Today the rain fell heavy outside, pretty much non-stop all day. I sat at home working on sketches for my Christmas cards, thinking about the people marching to the cenotaphs in today's ceremonies. I didn't want to go out in the rain, to stand in the cold and damp. Yet the men who died in the trenches of WWI and in the battles WWII endured much worse things than the weather. And the men and women who fight in modern-day conflicts endure much greater ordeals than a couple of hours in the rain.

Today, the issues which conflicts are based on are much more complex and murky -- much less black and white. But regardless of how we may feel about our troops in Afghanistan, our soldiers there take on their roles with the same conviction and the same selflessness as the men who fought and died to make Canada safe all those many years ago. They deserve our respect and all the blessings we, in our safe and bountiful lives, can muster.

November 09, 2008

Some prints turn out to be potatoes...

The last colour done on Eve and the Serpent and I hate to confess that I don't like it. I was so excited about this print about three colours ago and now I want to turn my back on it and forget it at the bottom of some drawer somewhere. Then, one day, I'll stumble across it and be happily surprised. Maybe.

5.5" x 8.5"
My problem, I think, is that the first few layers that went on were very subtle. The finished product now seems too "comic-book" and so not subtle enough. In my striving for simplicity and stylization I went too far and I've managed to lose the essence of the driftwood in the process. Damn. One more for the experience box.
Yeah, I know. Stuff happens; that's part of the whole learning thing. But it's always frustrating because each print takes me so many weeks to put together. Nevermind, back in the saddle tomorrow.

November 04, 2008

Witnessing History

I suspended work on my blocks tonight and sat glued to the TV and CNN, fingers and toes crossed that Americans would do the right thing. And they did, thank God.

I moved to Canada when I was ten and, from the first moment when I actually started thinking about such things, I've been proud to be Canadian. Specifically, proud to be Canadian in contrast to, and distinct from, being American. Tonight, for the first time in a long time, I think it must feel pretty damn good to be American. Kudos to all those who got out there and voted.

This is a day of great significance and magnitude in so many ways and on so many levels.

November 02, 2008

Making choices

Sometimes, most of the time actually, I have a very clear idea of the exact colours I'll be using in an image, from start to finish. And then there are the exceptions. This time, having arrived at the final colour stage for the Dragon Maple, I still hadn't decided just what that colour would be. I knew that, for maximum contrast with the rest of the image, it would need to be dark. But in what shade? Thank God for Gimp II; it really came through for me.

A few mouse strokes and a parade of backgrounds in all kinds of colours came and went before I finally chose the one I'd go for. I had so much fun with it that I even called R into the room to see just how cool the process was. Ah the wonders of Technology!

Here's the one I went for which, ironically, isn't showing well here; it's actually a nice dark chocolate brown:

5.5" x 7"

This was the first print I ever printed on Masa paper. It's a lighter weight than my normal BFK Rives and I had some concern about how well it would stand up to multiple layers of ink. It held up very well, the only issue being that a couple of the prints curled a bit as they hung up to dry but this is a minor thing.

And here's the second to last layer of Eve and the Serpent. Moving into countdown mode now...

I'd better start planning that Christmas card.