January 30, 2011

One Little Spider

What a treat to wake up to a cloudless blue sky today.  It's impossible to stay indoors on such a crisp and clear day so, even though I was looking forward to printing the last pass of my spider print, Roland and I grabbed the dog and headed out to Tsawwassen's Centennial Beach for some open space and sunshine.  It's a bit of a drive from where we are but it's always worth it.  We love the combination of grassland on the one side,

and ocean on the other.  It's a beautiful contrast. 

I brought my camera today, proud of myself for remembering, but ended up only taking a handful of pictures.  It was way too windy.  Bracing I think is the word.  The dozens of ducks out in the water seemed fine with it, but my fingertips got numb whenever I took off my gloves to work the camera so I gave it up.  Still, despite the wind, we left the place feeling invigorated and charged up.   

Next, the print.  Even after almost six years, I still have that little bit of anxiety before each time I print. It gets stronger in relation to how far along with the print I am, but it's always there.  Will things work out or am I going to screw up?  Will the registration come together?  Will the colours work?  That sort of stuff.  It was no different today and those same little fears all came and went as I inked up the block. 

The worries were all for naught because it was pure pleasure printing today. But then I love printing with Daniel Smith black ink.  I probably don't use it nearly enough.  And each time I do, I always think I should do just a black and white print and then, distracted by the lure of colour, I don't.  The DS black ink is rich and smooth and glossy and everything else an ink should be.  

Anyway, Ta Da, block one of my nursery rhyme series is now finished and I'm very pleased with how it turned out. 

One little spider
At first light of day,
Spins a fine web
to catch her prey.
(Reduction Linocut, 7.5 x 9 inches)

January 24, 2011

Rainy days and Mondays and Happy Printing

There's something really wonderful about getting a day off on what's normally a work day.  Today was the first Monday of my new every-third-Monday-off schedule and boy did I revel in it!  Roland at work, Nora in classes, and just me and the dog hanging out at home, watching the rain hammer the sidewalks outside and glad not to have to be out there. 

Not to waste a fine opportunity, I got two colours down on the spider print this weekend.  One yesterday and one today.  First, yellow...

...and then this one.  Sort of a dusty rose? 

I used a mask for the second colour but it would have been too complicated to use one for the first, so I'm hoping there are no registration issues when I add the next and final colour.  I want those spiderweb lines nice and thin please. 

Now I just have to very diligent, ignore the call of the latest of the Jane Austen novels I'm strolling my way through (three down and three left to go), and spend at least some time each night working on the block so it's print-ready for Sunday.  

January 16, 2011

Bumpy Beginnings to the Year's First Print

There's nothing like kicking off the new year with a bout of the stomach flu.  Thank God for all that positive spirit I entered this year with.  Indeed, no sooner did I finish updating my website, adding some of my latest work to Etsy, and begin working on my nursery rhyme block, mentally at least, than I got sideswiped by the flu bug.  As if I already didn't have little enough time to work on my prints without this past week's forced and unexpected inertia.  

Four days in bed, one rough day back at work, and three days trying to catch up. On the plus side, I was, a couple of days before I got sick, considering doing some kind of cleansing purge to balance out the effects of our over-indulging through the Christmas holidays.  No need for that now.  I'm definitely cleaned right out although I'm not sure this would have been my choice for how to go about it.  

Anyway, I was finally back at 'er last night, in a carving frenzy, determined to get the first stage of the block cleared so I could print today.  I often wonder how long it takes other people to carve their blocks.  It is, in fact, one the things I'm most curious about.  Do other people take as long as I do?  Because I tend to work slowly.  Specially when there are things like thin spider web bits to work around.  This little bit bellow, for example.  It took forever.

But I did get it all done.  At 11:00 last night and only then did we go and start watching our regular Saturday night movie, so my goal of not always throwing off my sleep schedule on weekends was, yet again, postponed until next week.

This morning we got up reasonably early, given we were up until 1:30, and headed over to Granville Island to see my Sand Dollar print, in the Malaspina member show, hanging on the wall.  High time too; today was the last day so I was glad to get a chance to finally see all the great work on display.


Then, after the show, home to print.  At last.  There's not much to see yet, as usual with the first colour down, but I'm sure pleased to see prints hanging on the drying rack again. 

January 03, 2011

Welcoming A New Decade

I know I'm not alone in seeing the start of each new year as a clean slate.  And this time, at the beginning of a new decade, the slate is even bigger.  I've been thinking back on all the things that have happened in this last ten years and it just blows my mind.  It seems there's been so much:
  1. We bought our house and built a garden.
  2. Nora grew up. 
  3. My parents, seemingly invincible, accomplished, and so very capable, got old and turned into children again.
  4. I began my involvement with printmaking.
  5. I taught myself HTML and built my website, and learned all about GIMP and Photoshop.
  6. We traveled to the Czech Republic and to Disneyland.  
  7. I worked for the Vancouver Olympics.
  8. We moved away from eating meat (again) and I learned how to make awesome bread, made my own yogurt and my own cheese.
  9. I learned how to kayak. Sort of. 
  10. I finally read War and Peace. 
And there are a million other small things that left their mark, forgotten for now but still important.  Seems to me that looking back at such a list of summits, except for the parents getting old part, makes it very easy to get charged up for this next year and decade.  There are already a few goals I've set out for myself, you know, the usual ones (strengthen the body and mind etc.) but otherwise, the door is open and I think I'm ready.  

In that frame of mind, I move to my next print.  Years ago, before Nora grew up and when she was still a little tot, I wrote a children's book.  I worked only part time in those days so each week she and I would head over to the library for story time.  We always came home with a huge pile of books, at least one for each night of the week until next story time, and we read them all.  Some were good, some were not so much.  Still, I got a pretty good idea of what was out there and what seemed to appeal to her and I wrote my own.  

It was going to be a book of twelve rhymes with illustrations to go with them.  I got as far as writing the rhymes, doing up all the thumbnails for my pictures, and drawing four of them to size.  Then I stopped.  Why?  I don't know.  I was taking a couple of university courses back then too, and learning how to knit, and making all of Nora's clothes and Roland's shirts.  It could be there was just too much to deal with.  Whatever the reason, the book sat undone.
But never say never.  After all this time, 16 years maybe, I've come back to it.  Just for the hell of it. Just to see if I can finish it now.  And maybe the illustrations will work better as prints than they ever would have as watercolours or pencil crayon drawings or whatever medium I was thinking of at that time.  The slate is clean.  

I've reworked my first image, transferred it over to the block, 

and spent yesterday afternoon playing with Photoshop to work out my colours.  

For obvious reasons I'm leaning toward the second version. But I haven't started carving because I still haven't totally made up my mind about it. I do know I want to keep it much simpler, no more than four colours per image.  Ha, famous last words.  I'll need to take this next week to think about it more.