September 27, 2009

Help from an Inspiring Printmaker

Chisel in hand again, and at last, I began carving the Hummingbird Vine block and printed the first colour today. It is, however, nothing more than a faint and shapeless smudge of ink on paper at this point and not much to see so no photo yet. But, just so we're not wholly lacking in visuals, I'm posting a link to the work of another printmaker whose site I came across last week.

By Tuesday night, my block oiled and carve-ready, I still hadn't decided how to move ahead and was stuck in an internal debate over whether I should simplify my colours or keep them all and go to a more complicated two-block reduction. After about half an hour of staring at the prepped block and getting nowhere, I chose to skirt the issue for a bit and go surf the net, to look at other people's work. Escaping/procrastinating is something I do quite well but this time it paid off because that's how I ended up at Jim Meyer's woodblockart site.

Lost Lake Lodge - Jim Meyer

The concept of "life gives us what we need just when we need it (if we're open to it)" isn't new to me but it's still very cool when it actually happens. This time, the needed thing was the answer to my one block/two block dilemma and it came by way of Jim M's demonstration on two-block reduction. The demo, combined with Jim M's incredible prints, pretty much settled my debate. I got another block and oiled it, worked out a mind-map of the colour distribution between the two, and transferred my sketch over to it. Two blocks it is:

Now all I have to worry about is getting two blocks to register properly instead of just one.

September 20, 2009

Printmaking Lull

My ambitions didn't quite match reality this past week and my plans to begin carving didn't gel. However, my new way of looking at things, as a result of the reading I've done lately, leaves no room for the guilt (about my lack of progress) that would have been there before.

One of my recent realizations is that I've spent way too much time stressing about how much I manage to accomplish in any given week and worrying that it's not enough. That I'm not learning fast enough, progressing fast enough, producing enough. What a waste of life that is! And how such thinking cuts into the actual enjoyment of the work itself! Well all of that is in the past now. I've pulled out of the race I thought I had to be in and am allowing things to happen as they will.

So no carving.

But I finished a very rough colour sketch for my next print:

Is there ever a lot of colours in it! I'm going to have to decide how I'm going to deal with that: do I keep all the colours and use two blocks or do I simplify?

And I also sketched out the image of the head of the African Daisy in the garden (in my last post):

This print will be a black and white one and I plan to have more black, in the petal areas, in the actual work.

And that's about it for this week's work. Chisels sharpened, I hope this next week there'll be some carving going on.

September 14, 2009

Homelife Distractions

Boy, some things just end up being way too time-consuming and distracting, specially when one has a garden with everything (pole beans, beets, summer and winter squashes, chard, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, raspberries) bursting into harvest mode all at once. That zucchini boy, it can literally grow exponentially over night! No, I'm not complaining; it's great to have fresh, pesticide-free veggies and berries. But picking all the bounty and trying to keep it from going to waste cuts into the already limited time for creative stuff.

However, I managed to get it under control a bit and tried to catch up to my muse who almost gave up on me and went elsewhere. First, I've prepped blocks for two new prints. Both summer-themed. The first one's based on a magnificent vine that climbs up the roof of the house every summer (and would probably swallow the whole house up if left untamed). I think it's called a humming-bird vine:

I've done up my rough sketch and my MDF block is oiled and ready to have the sketch transferred over.

Print number two, and no, I'm not really planning to work on both at once so this is just to make me feel like I'm moving forward again, is from last summer. Again from Texada Island:

Is this what one would call "whimsical"? Those are R's feet BTW, not mine. I love the play of the light on the water here but, doing up the sketch I realized how difficult it may be to do it justice. A challenge surely. I've tried to keep the sketch very loose, to allow for a lot of freedom once I actually carve the block. But it's a scary one so I'll just hold off on this until after I finish the vine.

There is no end to the inspiration all around me though. In fact there's too much almost. I took an hour on Saturday afternoon to take some pictures of the garden, all of them as possible fodder for future prints.

Again, the textures on the water in the fountain are so very intriguing...

This next one is almost something Georgia O'Keefe might have chosen for one of her paintings. Very erotic!

And the Dragon Maple. Yeah, I've done this one before. But I did not do it justice at all, at all, at all; I didn't even come even close. So I'm considering trying again. Maybe.

But first, before that, I was caught by this next one:

That's a blow-up of a flower center that's actually about half an inch in diameter. Less maybe even. And yet there's all this incredible detail...all those little tiny separate floral shapes. This one's hooked me to the point that I'm working on a sketch for a potential black and white print. I'll post that when it's done; right now it's only in the primal stages.

And that's it for now. Seems I'll have enough to keep me busy for a bit, given there's still that Year of the Tiger print in the works too.