July 28, 2009

Sunday's Labours, Monday's too...

Having survived Saturday night's storm, I spent yesterday morning catching up for lost carving time and getting the block ready for printing the new colour. I was looking forward to seeing how the lighter colour of the new layer would brighten things up a bit. Alas, things are rarely that simple.

I mixed my colour, inked the block, test-printed...too dark. I added more white and more transparent medium, rolled it on, test-printed...still too dark. More white, more transparent medium:

I was still too dark. It looked like cement which, most certainly, isn't what I'm going for. I told myself I'd already used up way more white than I wanted to, and that it would lighten up when it dried. But in my heart of hearts I knew, if it didn't, I'd be printing the same damn thing again this morning. Good thing I'm on vacation these next two weeks so I have some extra time.

This morning confirmed I'd have to reprint yesterday's colour. The storm of two days ago is a mere memory now and we're in the midst of what promises to be a record-breaking heat wave, so the ink is drying really well.  It didn't lighten and still looked like cement.

First though, we took the dog and ourselves to Lynn Canyon, our favorite park, to cool our feet a bit. The water was clear, cold, and wonderful. The dog swam, we waded, I took some pictures for, what else: possible future prints:

Then, back at home again, I over-printed yesterday's disappointment:

It may be OK now. In any case, it'll have to stay.

July 26, 2009

Donner and Blitzen

Nope, this isn't about Santa's reindeer. But, as R tells me, those names are also the German words for thunder and lightning and that's the theme this week: the brimstone and fire storm that shook Vancouver last night. It was incredible, magnificent, and terrifying in turn. The thunder began around 4:00 in the afternoon and lasted until 11:00 at night, the sky flashing in different parts of the city the whole time. I don't ever remember a storm lasting as long as this one even considering all the fantastic lightning shows we saw when we lived in Arizona.

The dog was so freaked out he hid in the bathtub and cowered there, shaking and panting. About two hours into it, foolishly thinking the storm had passed, we took him out for a walk and got hit by the next phase: ropes or rain pelting into us and lightning dancing right above our heads. Way beyond the ordinary. We were racing for home and safety when the sky ripped open with a crash and the street went black; the lighting had blown out the power transformers along the entire line and, here's the freaky part: directly over our heads. Close call?

Here's an image that captures things pretty well, as per the The Vancouver Sun

Photograph by: Marirs, Special to the Sun

Anyway, we're lucky; we love candles and have enough of them to light up a church so total darkness wasn't an issue. Sort of romantic too. But, after a day of working out in the garden, we were beat. What we were really looking forward to was kicking back, listening to some music, and then vegging in front the movie we'd rented. Not much chance of that now. No music, no internet, no TV, and not quite enough light to work on my carving by, or to read by. Too early for bed, too wild to go outside. Thank God I'm with a guy who can make his own music.

Somehow, R. pulled together enough energy to grab his accordion and play. All the old songs he wrote years ago spilled out into the night and wind while I sat on the floor in the kitchen and listened, mesmerized as always. I couldn't help thinking about what life must have been like for people, not that long ago really, before electricity was discovered and harnessed. It's so easy to lose sight of everything we take for granted every day until a part of that comfort is temporarily taken away. And it's so easy to forget how priviliged we are to have the luxuries we do have. Sometimes, a few hours in the dark, without all the distractions of our modern world, are not such a bad thing really, as long as we know the lights will eventually come on again.

July 19, 2009

When One is Two

I began working on my next print this weekend in earnest and printed the first colour. It seems that, in choosing my themes, I'm bound to revisit places we took previous vacations to. Having paid my little tribute to last summer's Texada Island, this new print is based on another trip we took, eight years ago this time, to the Czech Republic.

My cousin lives in, and is restoring, a farmhouse that's several hundred years old, in one of the many, many small villages still so abundant there. The village is really only a handful of houses tossed together and surrounded by meadows and fields. Being there was like stepping back through time. I took this photo in his girlfriend's garden:

I know, very "rustic". But, maybe because I have fine memories of the place, or maybe because the lack of modernism hints at a time I only know from stories and folk songs, I like it. R. often tells me I have to base the themes for my prints on the world I'm living in now and not on nostalgia for a place I don't really know and I suppose to a degree he's right. Be here now. But what if I'm in one place physically but another one still lives inside me somewhere? What then?

I guess this time the "other place" won out and Jolana's garden it is. I've tentatively decided to call it Water Pump. Along the lines of the minimalist poem, Red Wheelbarrow, by William Carlos Williams:

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

It seems to me that, in my photo, so much depends on that blue water pump...

Anyway, this is the first colour. Or, rather, the first I printed but, as it turns out, not the colour I meant to print which was supposed to be much lighter.

I don't know how it happened. Can I blame it on a sore toe? While I was getting ready to print, hauling all my gear into the kitchen, I stubbed my second toe on one of the faux Birkenstocks I use as slippers and it immediately swelled up and turned blue. What a bizarre thing! Anyway, whether it was the toe woe or not, the colour I mixed for the first printing looked perfect until it went on the paper. Too late by then of course.

I considered adding more white and printing again and then realized, duh, that I could just do that next time. So even though this is technically the first colour down, going by value, from light to dark, it's going to have to be the second. Oddly enough, for this print at least, it ends up being better that way. Given how much of the lighter colour there is, it'll be easier to clear all those areas after I carve away the shadows.

There's also that little line, bottom left corner, where my chisel slipped and made enough of a mark that it doesn't take the ink now. I'll have to fix that for next time.

July 12, 2009

Printmaking Show in Windy Ladner

Yes, I do have a new print I've begun work on, if drawing out the sketch and transferring it to my block can count as "having begun". But I set aside printing today and, instead, went off to spend a bit of time in a little park in Ladner, BC where Amie Roman, of Burnishings fame among other things, was taking part in an outdoor art show put on by the Delta Council for the Arts.

Amie is both a great printmaker and a very motivated and passionate proponent of printmaking in general so her booth not only had a good display of her work, she was also set up to do a live demonstration of the how-to's of a relief print. It was a very impressive display:

Unfortunately, the weather was the one bummer. I guess, this being BC, we shouldn't be surprised to get today's cold snap after the last couple of days of sun and heat, but we were surprised anyway. Demon winds howled through the park, intermittently but at racing speed, threatening awnings and knocking over the displays of some of the other exhibitors. Amie and I shivered in our jackets and bare legs but, while I tried to think of sunnier climates she, undaunted, talked to the visitors and gave demonstrations. For that alone I have to admire her...

Weather apart though, it was a good experience and it was contagious to see Amie's enthusiasm for this mode of creative expression we both choose as our own. I tend to think of her as my "kick in the ass" because she tends to motivate me into action at odd times when, left to my own self, I'd probably just sit at home and play hermit crab.

July 05, 2009

Texada Print Complete - Call for Champagne...

I'd probably drink some champagne tonight in celebration, if we had some in the house. We don't though, so club soda will have to stand in. Not nearly as heady but, given it's a work day tomorrow, that's probably just as well.

Hooray for Canada Day this past Wednesday. Why? Because by my logic, when a holiday falls on a Wednesday, and when you have the Friday of that week off already, there's really no sense in going to work on the Thursday after the holiday Wednesday either. Really, what's the point of going to work for one day? Might as well just take the Thursday off too, right? And that was the reasoning that netted me a five day weekend.

Boy did I love that! The weather was amazing and the days off felt like a mini vacation so we spent a lot of time strolling around different parts of the city and different parts of the ocean, mixing with the tourists. But, even with all that walking, I still found time to print. Twice.

I printed the second to last colour, a gray that initially seemed a bit blah, on Thursday:

The final colour went on today. It's amazing how much difference one colour can make.

Texada Sunset
9" x 6.5"
(edition of 12)

I am very VERY happy with the way it turned out. Is that allowed?