Canvases in Pieces

I’ve made some carved adjustments to the Wake Up print but haven’t yet printed the results. What I have been doing is dismantling and cutting up old paintings that I’ve felt are not my best. I’m working, slowly, to whittle down my stuff–whether works I’ve made or things I’ve bought. As part of that I’ve decided to be bold and take apart some canvases. This has felt daring at times because I feel that I’m breaking a taboo. I now have a pile of large and small pieces of old paintings. What I’ll do with them is still percolating within me.

One important thing I learned the other day was: Do not cut up your work until you’ve photographed it whole, that is, unless you don’t want a record of it. I reassembled the jigsaw puzzle of the most recent canvas I’d cut up after realizing I had never taken photos of it. This, despite having taken multiple photos of most of the other work I’ve done.

One of the most detailed processes was dismantling an old self portrait on a canvas board–peeling the canvas off, sponging the back to remove bits of the paper board still stuck to it and then recycling the board. Once I’d done that and cut the image into pieces, I played around with the strips and wove some of them together.

I’ll let you know where all this playing around leads as I find that out myself.

Box Mask Print

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:

Mercy for the Children Linocut

I’ve been working and not working on this linocut since March or April. I put it aside after seeing the first proof. In it, the creature’s body was not working right for me–it was not defined enough. The rough print has been hanging folded on my bulletin board since then. I had intended to print the smaller version, but hadn’t done so.

I owe the completion of the block to my husband who asked why I didn’t send it to the print exchange I was thinking of entering. ¬†(I have since abandoned that plan and am focusing on other prints.) The folded part of Mercy for the Children which you can see in the Amended Lino post was too large for the exchange. ¬†That prompted me to take out the original block. I was in a relaxed mood and decided to carve the body further without any carefully worked out plan. This could have turned out to be foolhardy, but, thankfully, the adjustments added more energy to the print. Here’s the inked lino block and the print.

Portrait of a Wary Bird

This is a proof of my most recent block print. I’ve been using this blue water-based ink for proofing because it’s easy to clean up. It gives me enough of an idea of the shapes and textures to see if I need to make any changes. For completed prints I use a washable oil based ink that’s more sensitive.

I never know what I will see in a print until I’ve printed it. To me this bird looks somewhat suspicious, perhaps rightfully so. What is going on over his or her shoulder that we don’t see in the print but can feel or imagine? There’s a story here that I may explore further.

Amended Lino

Here’s part of the proof of the lino block that I showed in my last post. The full print had a bit too much body and humorously looked like a cross between a cloud and sheep. When I played around with folding the paper, I preferred the image you see here. I’m going to print this narrower version in which I feel the shapes work better together.