February 22, 2009

I should be studying for an exam...

I have to write an exam on Tuesday morning. I made copious notes and told myself I'd study them today. I printed instead.
Now I'm telling myself I'll study tonight but here I am, playing on the computer. Most likely I'll be cramming tomorrow night after dinner, reliving my school years.

I actually took a little trip down the memory street to school last night already: R and I watched the 1952 version of The Importance of Being Earnest. Still, after all these years, a great film; we totally got into it. In my university days it was one of my favourite plays. I did several projects on it for a couple of my theater classes, including a full set of costume plates -- I think I still have them saved somewhere.
Seeing the movie again took me right back to Arizona and the NAU theater department like it was yesterday. If I close my eyes, I can smell the make-up...

Back to reality. I added in the next colours of both of the prints I'm working on today. Here's print one, only two colours left now:



And here's Dreams, also a couple of colours left:



February 15, 2009

Painterly Prints


One of the main things I've struggled with, pretty much right from when I first began doing relief prints, is the question of style. My style. On the one hand, I love the defined edges and linear quality of the work of artists like Angie Lewin and Stephen Alcorn. On the other, there's the subtle and softer-edged work of printmakers like Gustave Baumann. Two very different approaches to working with the same medium and I can't make up my mind which style I prefer. Or which way I want to go.

A couple of years ago, the March 2007 issue of American Artist magazine had an article on an Oregon printmaker, Brad Teare, who's following in Baumann's footsteps and producing prints in a very "painterly" style. Beautifully. Here's an on-line copy of the article and some more images.

And so back to my work. I'm still fence-sitting. Because I was disappointed with my last print, Eve and the Serpent, I'm making a conscious effort to get a more "painterly" feel to the print I'm now working on. No key block; no harsh lines. It's still too blocky at this point to tell if I'm succeeding. Here's the latest colour:




But I'm also working on another image which will be more linear.

There hasn't been much to show over the past few weeks. The first two printings didn't give much of an idea of anything:





It wasn't until today, when I added in the next two colours that an image begins to emerge. This one is based purely on imagination; the idea came to me one night as I was drifting off to sleep. I think I'm actually going to call it Dreams.



Ironically, although my new and much anticipated brayer arrived from Daniel Smith this week, I couldn't use it. I was printing two colours at once and had to use smaller brayers.


February 09, 2009

White Lady

This week I took the first real steps in fleshing out the focal point of my current piece and added in the base colour.


I haven't settled my mind on how many other layers I'll be putting in, but I'm leaning toward less as opposed to more. It all depends on how well I can resist the seductive power of my reference photo which has at least another eight colours in this next section. But I originally planned to only use seven colour layers for the entire piece so I'm curious to see how well I can match my expectations.

February 01, 2009

One Step Forward, One Step Back: Stalemate

It almost turned out to be a one step forward, TWO steps back kind of weekend; after my progress last week it looked like this week would be a total bust for printing. That's because, after almost two months, the restoration company finished fixing my parents' suite downstairs and today was the day we moved them back in. I knew, in advance, there'd be no printing going on today so I planned to print yesterday instead. Well, by Friday night that idea went pffttt too and the outlook for my current print getting it's next coat was pretty grim.

So, reluctantly, I hauled all my stuff to the kitchen on Friday night and went at it. I don't generally like to print at night mostly because, after a full day of work, I'm just too tired. Two years into my latest work schedule and I still haven't adjusted to the 6:00 am rising time. Frankly, it's ridiculous that sane people should have to force themselves out of bed in pitch blackness to go to work, unless there are cows to be milked or something. I guess, considering some of the people I work with have to get up at 4:30 every morning, I should count myself lucky and not gripe. Except it makes me too tired to want to drag out the press and inks and stuff on a weeknight.

I also haven't liked to print at night because I don't have the best lighting where I print and judging ink colours in artificial light isn't easy. However, this being BC, where for a good part of the year it's overcast and where two in the afternoon can seem like twilight, I invested in a small "daylight" lamp a while ago. It's not big enough to illuminate my work table but gives ample light to my inking glass and mixing area. Now, I'm not dependent on real daylight anymore to know that my chocolate brown ink really is brown and not deep purple.

Anyway, Friday night, feeling proud to be so committed about my work, I printed. The next colour after this one will be more of a transformation point for the image but, for now, this is the next stage:



Sadly, the other print I've started on will just have to wait for this week.