October 28, 2012

Blossom Print Finished

Well I added the last two colours to my latest print a couple of weeks ago and hung the print on the drying line and that's where it stayed.  Last weekend I was going to scan the latest image and write a post but somehow the weekend got away from me and I didn't get to it.  Now here it is, another weekend almost done and, yet again, I haven't done anything about bringing things up to date. 

This weekend I've got a lousy cold and my head feels like it's wrapped in fibreglass so I'm not at my best.  But I really wanted to mark the print's completion so I've dragged myself over to the computer.  Here then are the last two stages of the print:

Blossom - Reduction Linocut
9.5" x 7.5"

To be honest, I'm a bit on the fence with this one.  There are a lot of things I like about it but I think maybe the leaves are too dark and they're now over powering the blossom itself.  This is one of those works I'll have to set aside and look at for a while to see how I really feel about it.  For now, I'll go back to lying down.

October 10, 2012

Autumn Colours and Colourful Tales

So there we were, heading home along the old Princeton highway after visiting Roland’s mother in Kelowna this past weekend. We'd stopped at a couple of places along the road to take some pictures of the autumn colours...


...and now we were about two hours out of Vancouver, driving through the Manning Park area, the day golden and warm and everything around lit up by the autumn sun. We were both agreeing it doesn’t get much better than this when we passed a couple of hitchhikers standing at the side of the road. One held a sign we couldn’t read and we drove right on by them. Years ago, in California, after picking up two guys who turned out to be a lot creepier once they were in our van than they first seemed (and in whose company we spent over two anxious hours that felt like four) we decided no more hitchhikers.  Now, as we’d done many other times since that day long ago, we kept going. 

And yet, although I couldn’t read their sign, I did notice how the sunlight lit up the one guy’s white beard and how this made it look very interesting...sort of like a little upside-down halo on his face.  And I also saw that the other guy was quite young and that they both wore hiking gear and had backpacks resting on the ground at their feet.  And I guess Roland saw something compelling in them too because suddenly we were both debating whether we maybe shouldn’t have stopped to pick them up after all. There was just something about the scenario that made us want to help. We drove on, yo-yoing while five more miles passed under the wheels, and then we turned around and drove back to have another look at the two of them, to make up our minds one way or the other. 

Well, long story shortened, we picked them up.  It turned out to be the right thing to do. The best thing to do.  Turns out they were father and son: Peter and Hamish Coldicott of Christchurch, New Zealand.  And yes, they'd been out hiking.  In fact, just a couple of hours before we met them, they'd emerged out of the forest trails in Manning Park after hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to BC.  Five and half months, 4,200 kilometres.  They’d gone on the hike to raise money for a children’s charity in Christchurch where a number of earthquakes have caused some significant damage over the last few years.  

They'd been planning on catching a bus from the trail end but had missed it and, since the next one wasn't going to come until the next morning, they decided to try getting a ride.  They'd been standing at that spot for a little over an hour. They rode with us for about two hours that, this time, seemed like 30 minutes and, tired though they must have been, they answered all the questions we came up with.  The story of their travel, told in a very entertaining way, is here at the walk4kids blog where Peter describes their adventures and shows off some of the photos they took.  I read every single post and looked at the photos and was immensely awed by the big things some people do with their lives. 

Funny how things go sometimes; we gave a ride to a couple of strangers and I feel like we got so much more back in return. How fitting that this should have happened on Thanksgiving weekend!

October 02, 2012

Printing With Half a Brain

My last printing day, Sunday, was one of those vexing days when trying to stick to a plan becomes more a source of stress than anything else.  The first problem was the weather.  It was too nice.  Too sunny, too warm, too beckoning.  Specially here, on the “wet coast” where we all know we’re on borrowed time at this point and six months of rain is lurking just around the corner.  So, although I really just wanted to hang out at home and indulge in a leisurely printing session, I also really wanted to walk hand-in-hand with Roland along the seawall and soak in the beauty of the day, and maybe stroll over for a coffee and a snack…
The second problem was the season.  Autumn.  Harvest time.  Our neighbour gave us some apples from his tree and, while they’re not the best eating apples, they’re tasty dried.  Sliced up, sprinkled with cinnamon, not bad at all.  It does take time though, cutting out the flaws (and ok, worm holes) and slicing and getting them ready for drying.  I didn’t actually do any of that this time, Roland took on the task, but he occupied my printing space while he was doing it so I had to wait until he was done.  By the time I got around to setting up the press it was early afternoon and I still had this crazy idea about the seawall walk. 

So, half my mind on other stuff and only half on my work, is it really any wonder that it didn’t go all that smoothly?  It’s kind of like when we’re in a rush to go somewhere and we take the dog out beforehand and the dog, normally a “let’s get this business done quickly and go home for cookies” kind of guy, decides to sniff every last telephone post and random grass clump along the way and won’t go and won’t go until his sniffing is done.  Yesterday’s printing went like that.  I felt pressured by all the things I decided I wanted to do, the things I was hellbent on doing no matter what, and so every second thing seemed designed to slow me down. 

I was only printing part of the block so I fashioned a mask but the mask was awkward. There was no place to anchor it to and it kept sticking to the brayer and then sticking to my fingers and making a mess.  I wasted time on wiping and more wiping and cursing, and all the while the hands of the clock were sweeping the precious minutes into history.  In the end I tossed the mask and just wiped off the area I didn’t want ink on after I rolled it and it went better but oh, it was still a teeth-grinding process. 

Yet, bit by bit, the image is coming together:

Sadly, even with the faster-drying inks, I've had a tough time finding the time to print more than one colour a week.  I had a three day weekend last week but spent the Monday on doctor's appointments for my mother so only managed to get the above colour down.  And if you're thinking it doesn't look any different from the one that came before that, you'd be right. You've gotta look really hard, at the leaves, to notice a slight change.  I'll admit it's not exactly the way I planned it but I'm still learning the nuances of the Akua inks and how the colours interact with each other. Here's this week's addition:

This one came out close enough to what I was going for so I'm content.  Now I just need to hack out a block of printing time to do the next colour but this coming weekend is our Thanksgiving and, as if that weren't enough, I've decided I want to go hazelnut picking.  And wild mushroom hunting too but that just might have to wait for a couple of weeks.  There's only so much I can stuff into any given weekend really.  

Anyway, happy Thanksgiving for all of you on this side of the border...