I’ve been working on the block print, Wake Up, that I mentioned in my last post. I wanted to add colour to the image using 2 separate blocks. I decided where I wanted red to appear, but first I needed to make a registration board to align the colours.
I’ve been doing many small prints–4″ x 6″–on a soft eraser-like material that’s 1/4″ thick. So, I designed a board that can help me with those blocks, this print being one of them. Today I took 2 rough proofs to see how things are going. I’ll make a few adjustments to some details, print the image in rough again and, once I like the finished print, I’ll move on to some handmade Japanese paper. Here’s the latest proof.
Global warming is on my mind every day. It is with me in the art work I do. I tend to do most of my work without a lot of detailed planning because that keeps the process more alive for me. So it’s not that I decide: ok, today I’ll make an image related to climate change. It just shows up repeatedly in the small sketches and doodles I make that turn into the basis of my prints.
The Global Climate Strike is happening this week. Here’s a recent relief print I’ve made on my feelings about human caused climate change and the destruction of nature and here’s a link to the worldwide strike.
I’ve spent a few weeks seeing if I could come up with a plan to turn two paragraphs of my writing into a linocut–the actual words, that is. At first the plans had little grace, then the reality of carving so many letters felt stifling. A few words here and there is something I enjoy, but this idea would have been more painful than creative.
Once I realized that I was going to change course, I looked up from a block I had decided to carve and saw the mask I made years ago out of a box. There it was, leaning against the wall at the edge of my work table where it’s been faithfully sitting. I did a quick sketch of it and made a subtraction colour print which I’ve been wanting to do for many months. I started with the blue, then cut away parts of the same block, overprinted the piece with a deep red and finally with the wisps of yellow. For the final layer, I cut away the entire surface of the block, following the shapes that were there so that the peaks that remained were all that printed in yellow. Also, I printed over wet ink as an experiment.
It’s been a good process, once again showing me the importance of registering each layer carefully. I’m going to make myself a registration board to line up the colours for future prints as opposed to the makeshift system I set up for this print.
Here’s the mask and the linocut:
I began carving this print last month on gomuban, a Japanese carving material that’s like a synthetic rubber, similar to linoleum but smoother and a little easier to carve. It began as lines and shapes of movement and developed into an expression of love of plants and flowers. I had recently been to Le Jardin Botanique in Montreal and I’ve been walking around Toronto, admiring flowers and trees this spring and summer. Some of those experiences plus my love of the house plants I live with came out in this print. It went through some changes with my adding lines to the first proof I made. Yesterday I printed another proof and am happy with it. There’s a lot going on in it and I didn’t know if the print would look chaotic. But, to me, it seems energetic as opposed to chaotic. Soon I’ll print it on Japanese paper.
I had an enjoyable time at the Printmaking Show Reception a few weeks ago. And a week later, I learned that, happily, my print, Smarten Up, had sold. Since then, I’ve been working on two more prints that I’ll post when they’re further developed.
In the meantime, here’s some photos of two shows I went to last weekend in Toronto. The first is Brian Jungen Friendship Centre at The Art Gallery of Ontario. Jungen turns consumer objects–baseball gloves, Nike sneakers, golf bags, plastic lawn chairs–into indigenous masks, headdresses, totem poles, a whale skeleton and more. This was a fabulous exhibit. In the main room–a basketball court–filled with masks, headdresses and totem poles, I had a very positive feeling of awe and peace together that I can’t put into words. And the whale skeleton of lawn chairs seemed to me an act of genius.
The next show was The Moon at the Aga Khan Museum. It was both a tribute to the moon landing in 1969 and to the moon in Islamic art and thought over the centuries. One of the objects in the exhibit was a very impressive moon sculpture, five metres in diameter, by Luke Jerram of the U.K. A very meaningful part of the exhibit for me, in this time of extreme divisions in the world, was a quote on a wall by Rumi: We see the same moon, you and I.
I was in Montreal, Quebec last week where one day we went to the McCord Museum that we had not been to before. One of the exhibits at the Museum was the Polaroid Project showing work by many artists. Later, when I was in the gift shop, I saw that the Museum was lending Polaroid cameras to guests to use within the Museum for several hours. I had never owned a Polaroid camera and liked the prospect of taking some photos with one. So I borrowed a camera and wandered around the Museum for several hours, in and out of exhibits and looking at the building itself.
The camera had film for seven photographs and I chose each one carefully. Some, like the two below, I like. Others did not work as well. But all of them allowed me to explore seeing in a different time frame–not with the speed of the app on my phone. The contrast to the process of taking digital photos on my phone was stark. Seven photos versus however many I wanted and could then carelessly delete or edit. And, of course, there was still, even in this age of a new technology a minute, the magic of a physical object being produced that developed over minutes. I enjoyed this reflective process greatly.
Here’s two very small prints–under four inches longest side each–that I made while thinking of entering a print exchange in the UK. Nothing was going smoothly and I finally decided not to enter the show. The first one morphed from a sunny face into one that began looking like some politicians I dislike and into this final ambiguous face surrounded by eyes and an innocent looking child. The second leafy print is one I drew quickly right on the block and carved.
I have four prints in an upcoming group printmaking show at Gerrard Art Space, 1475 Gerrard E in Toronto. The reception is this Saturday, July 29 from 3 to 6 and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve submitted the following prints that I’ve posted here over the last while.