January 25, 2009

A glimpse out of (or into?) the murky waters

Oh fruitful weekend!

Is it because R's just begun a couple of graduate courses and, with him desk-bound and working on assignments, I had more time for working on my stuff? Or was I just super efficient? Whatever the reason, I managed to get in two days of printing so that, instead of just my usual Sunday afternoon session, I printed on Saturday as well. And that means I was able to add two layers to the "mystery" print instead of just one; it also means that the mystery is pretty much about to take it's exit.

Here's the second colour I added in on Saturday, a deeper gray, both alone and together with the first layer:

I had used a mask for the initial colour and planned to use it even for the second but it wasn't working right so, in the end, I gave it up and rolled in the ink to where I figured it should go. One of my next colours will be mostly white and the white DS ink is pretty opaque so it should cover well.

This afternoon I added the third layer, a sage green which, I know, doesn't look anything like sage in the photos. I fiddled around with the colour editor to try and bring it up to real-life colour, but it just wouldn't go and wouldn't go no matter what, so here it is looking "turquoisy".

Quite clear now (kinda sorta) what the final image will be.

That's not all though. Not only did I jump ahead in this print, I actually began work on another block last week and printed the first layer in that one too. There's not much to show yet so I'm holding off on posting the photo until next week maybe. But needless to say, seeing all those lovely prints a-hanging in the kitchen, back to back on my great drying rack, gives the heart a little flutter.

January 18, 2009

No, it's not going to be a Linx!

I began printing my next project today but, alas, sans the new anxiously anticipated 8" brayer ordered from Daniel Smith.

I've been wanting to get this since I first saw it at the DS store in Seattle two years ago but it's not cheap so I've been holding off. Now, having sold some prints a couple of weeks ago, I figured I'd put the money to good use. Yes, I still debated the outlay a bit and, probably, if Speedball made an 8" brayer I would have gone with one of theirs, given that I'm quite happy with the smaller ones I have.
But Speedball brayers only go up to 6" and I've managed to sell myself on the idea that, at times, size does matter. At least in printmaking anyway.

Not meant to be. It's not crucial at this point anyway, because the block is still nearly intact for this printing. It'll be more of an issue once larger areas of it are carved out; that's when I find that my smaller brayers tend to dip into spaces I don't want them to dip into and I spend a fair amount of time wiping ink out of the valleys. I'll have to keep my fingers crossed for a speedy delivery.

As to the print, I've decided to shake things up a bit and I'm not posting the image I'm basing it on for now. It'll be a bit of a guessing game. Here's what the inked up block looked like:

And here's the first layer of ink down: I'm printing onto mostly onto BFK lightweight cream colour paper but am trying a few prints on Masa as well:

It sure does look like a Linx though doesn't it? Or maybe a Dr. Seus character?

January 12, 2009

Dancing Into Action

I have a new project in mind but didn't want to begin working on it until I got a hard copy of the image to do my sketching from. I was playing around with Gimp on the weekend and got some interesting variations I'd like to work from but had to wait to print the image out. So, in the meantime, I decided to finally finish some prints I'd begun work on way over three years ago: The Dance.
I managed to finish the block last April , print it out in May and have been meaning to add water-colour ever since. I think there's some kind of unfavourable saying about good intentions that may apply in this case but never mind. I'll ride on the other cliche of better late than never.

I set myself up on the kitchen table and went at it:

I tried one colourful version which I didn't like:

8" x 5"

And ended up doing almost all of the rest in more muted tones:

8" x 5"

One interesting difference that emerged was in how the three types of paper I'd printed on responded to the water colours. I'd printed the image on two types of BFK Rives, light and medium weight, and Masa paper. The BFK were both great but the Masa was a pain, and displayed blotter paper qualities, because the paint bled to areas where I didn't want it to go. Just a little, but still enough to be annoying. So, good lesson for the future. Now I can move on to my next piece. I'm hoping to begin sketching it out tonight.

January 02, 2009

New Year's Grace

Having survived a challenging Christmas season, having wept over, and rejoiced over, a cat who seemed ready to die and then was pulled back from death's door by lots of prayer and, possibly, antibiotics that finally kicked in, we made it into 2009.

Yesterday, on the first day of this year, R and I woke up to another half-foot of fresh snow and we moaned. There's no more place to put it, huge frozen heaps line both sides of the driveway and the backyard is a landscape of small mountains. The fountain is obscured and God only knows how the poor fish are faring, under the frozen layers. Plus, as per the old Czech saying: as on New Year's day so for the rest of the year, and shoveling wet and heavy snow is not the thing I want to be doing all that long.

And yet, looked at objectively, the fresh snowfall was somehow appropriate to the day. I like to think of each new year as a clean slate, a time to leave behind the regrets of the past year, a time to forgive ourselves for all the stupid things we may have done, and a time to move forward and see if we can catch some of those dreams we dream and bring them down to earth. So, for a brief moment, I took the fresh snow covering our piece of the earth yesterday morning as a symbol for that new fresh start we are all given. And then I put on my hat and gloves and went to help R clean the sidewalks and shake the weight away from delicate trees.

Later on, mitts and hat drying, I sat in front of the fire and did my annual Tarot spread for the year. I'm not as involved with the cards as I used to be a few years ago but I never miss doing a New Year's reading for myself. I generally get good insights from it and this year was no exception.

I read with The Light and Shadow Tarot, one of my favourite decks because all the cards are linocuts. Brilliant linocuts by Michael Goepferd who died shortly after he completed them. I get inspired just looking at the images.

Here are three of yesterday's cards:

Lots of water in the cards (water featured in one way or another in eight of the ten cards I drew) so the year ahead holds the promise of creativity, inner truths learned and inner growth. Interestingly, the Temperance card, suggesting a search for balance and harmony and personal "tempering", showed up in the same place last year. Clearly I'm not finished learning all my lessons yet so I guess I'd better get working.

On that note, I still haven't started on any new pieces and am still reading the art theory books by Andrew Loomis. They're a bit dated and yet marvelous; I've gained lots of insight into what the weaknesses in my work are and how to work around them to make myself a better artist.

It looks as if 2009 will be a pretty good year.