March 07, 2010

Mastering the Art of Printmaking

How absolutely fantastic to have a normal weekend again and not have to go to work for 12 hours on a Saturday or Sunday night!  Funny how quickly last month's shifts are already fading into hazy memory.  I still have a part to play in the Paralympics but I'm back to a regular work schedule and to my printing on Sundays routine and have finished the bridge print, now officially named Bridge Into Morning:

  Bridge Into Morning
Reduction Linocut - 8" x  9.5" 
Happily printing today, a realization I had a few nights ago came back to me.  On Thursday night I was making pipérade, a fancy name recipe for an omelet with tomatoes, onions, and peppers (from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking) and it suddenly hit me: Printmaking is totally like the Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  I know, it seems like a bit of a stretch. Bear with me.  
A few weeks ago we watched Julie and Julia.  It's the interwoven story about Julia Child's discovery of French cooking (and how she came to write her groundbreaking cookbook about it) and New Yorker Julie Powell, who took it upon herself to cook her way through, in one year, Julia's book.  Julie P blogged about her trials and her blog also became a book and the book became the movie etc. etc.
Anyway, I was never, even remotely, drawn to either French cooking in general, or Julia Child in particular.  My main interest in the movie was Meryl Streep, whom I love and who plays Julia Child.  Since seeing the film though, I've read Julia Child's My Life in France, Julie Powell's Julie and Julia, I've watched a few U-Tube clips of the real Julia C. in action (I laughed for ten minutes watching her on David Letterman) and just finished reading, cover to cover, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I'm not sure if I've actually become a convert to French cooking but I've definitely become a Julia Child groupie.  
Why the obsession?  I don't know.  There's something inspirational about the oddball that Julia was, discovering her passion pretty late in life, following her dream, and living happily ever after.  And there's something about the food although, with a preference for vegetarian meals, I have to be selective; the chances of me dishing up a meal of offal are absolutely nil for example. 
Beyond the kidneys and marrow bone though, there's something that pulls me into the whole Julia Child French cooking thing.  For one thing, her food certainly isn't as hoighty as I imagined French cooking to be. In fact, many of the recipes in JC's book are basic old-country cooking.  So maybe that's it.  Maybe it's the connection to hundreds of years of tradition that's so appealing to me. The other night, making my fancy-named but not-so-fancy omelet, I realized I'm only one of hundreds, if not thousands of cooks (given that MTAOFC was first published almost 50 years ago and reprinted 40 times since then), who've followed the same directions to recreate a recipe hundreds of years old.  Maybe I'm also an oddball but I get a rush from that.  From doing something that reaches through time back into history.  
And this is where I draw my printmaking analogy.  In the same way I reach into history for lessons on making my perfect French omelet, when I take a piece of wood or lino and carve it into images for printing I reach back to build on traditions established by printmakers like Albrecht Dürer, or Thomas Bewick, or William Morris and so many others who followed.  In both cases, cooking or carving, the tools and materials might have changed somewhat through time but the pursuit of the craft of perfecting the cut to make the line and coax the image out of the block hasn't.  In a world so driven by technology and digital wizardry, I love being part of something rooted in a time when this technology didn't exist.
Tonight, Bridge into Morning finished and one more step taken towards my mastering the art of printmaking, I'm headed to the kitchen to cook up a batch of Julia Child's Leek and Potato soup.  Does it get much better than this?


Amie Roman said...

Gorgeous final, K!! Just love it. And what a great parallel :)

Robyn said...

What a satisifying post: beautiful print and good food talk. Perfect combination.

Katka said...

Thank you both very much, Amie and Robyn.

I'm so glad my little ramble didn't come across as too odd. It's not always a sure bet others will share my enthusiasm for something.

Eraethil said...

Not odd at all. I found it a great post to read Katka! And the print really is gorgeous. Well done!