I’ve finally completed the block prints I’ll be sending to the miniature print show in Vancouver, Canada. Two of the three I showed in Proofs and the Past have either changed or been eliminated. The blue print called Dreamscape is the one that remains. Here it is printed on Japanese paper:
The print I thought of as a skull or mask changed when I experimented with repeating it and liked it better than the original. Here it is also on Japanese paper:
And I eliminated a tiny third one I had quite liked but felt it didn’t quite hold up. Instead, I carved a simple design in a lino substitute taken from a painting I did a couple of months ago. Just at the point where I had pushed the carving to where my back was starting to hurt, I stopped. The next day, though I had doubts about the outcome, I thought I might as well take a proof of the block. I liked the results. Here’s photos of the block in progress and the single print.
I continued experimenting and liked the effect of printing the block upside down on itself. This led me to try ten different versions. Here’s nine of them:
And here’s the tenth version that I’ve decided to send in. It’s printed red first with yellow on top, which I only thought to do after trying several the other way round with the light layer first. This was all a lot of work, but very intriguing in that sometimes I had no idea what the outcome might be. That’s where the fun comes in.
I’ve continued doing line drawings. I find the practice helps me focus–literally and figuratively. Last week, I began paying attention to a carving we’ve had for years. The plaque has been done very skillfully and with great care extending even to its back that is covered in soft chisel marks. We found it at a yard sale and loved it, buying it for only a few dollars. The carver hasn’t put their name on the work and I have no idea where the piece came from. The wood is very hard. If anyone seeing this has an idea where the carving may have been made, please let me know.
As I drew the sculpture, I discovered how tricky it was for me to see, with some accuracy, what was going on. With felt pens you don’t have the luxury of painting over anything you consider an error like you do with acrylics or oils. Each time I learned more as I made my next error.
Here’s the carving:
Here’s part of my first drawing:
That led me to a quick thumbnail-like sketch:
In these next two, I laid out general shapes in grey pen as guides and worked over them in black.
I even tried a gesture-like pencil drawing to see the shapes:
I don’t think I’m finished with this series. I have a lot to learn from studying this carving about being present and not allowing imperfection to kill my love of seeing and being with this wonderful sculpture.
Last week, while I was home with a cold, I began experimenting with an old water soluble crayon set I have. I find painting/drawing on an easel a lot easier physically than printmaking with the pain of repetitive strain I’ve acquired from lino and woodcutting. So, I’ll return to the latest print after a break.
For the drawing below, all I started with was a desire to draw a human profile. The rest developed from there. I mostly used the crayons dry and combined some pigment markers with them. The drawing has a controlled feeling to me because of the outlines throughout. I was interested in experimenting with layers of colour and texture. At times when I was unhappy with the results and redid them, I managed not to destroy the image in an attack of self-criticism. I find making artwork is a dance between creation and destruction. There’s a line between honestly facing mistakes and shredding myself for making them. Now that the piece is finished, I think I’ll try making further works using this drawing as a starting point. I want to practice a looser look, perhaps bringing out the watercolour properties of the crayons. As for the content, for me it reflects some of the different voices or faces within a person, coupled with strange sci-fi or unconscious looking elements.
The next experiment I did pretty quickly, as a reaction to the first one. I cut up part of an earlier crayon watercolour and adhered it to a sheet that I loosely marked in black. I like the feel of this one. There’s the contrast between black, white and colour. And there’s the contrast of the controlled edges of the cut outs with the loose scribbles of both the black crayon and the colours within the shapes themselves. Perhaps this collage technique is one I can develop. It could stand alone or be part of larger works.
I often find that during the process of making art work, I experience physical pain from repetitive movements. Oil painting at an easel was the only pain free work that I’ve done. And so, a few weeks ago, I took a break from making booklets out of old prints and rose from sitting to standing. I then made a few small collage cards using an old colour woodcut, some linocuts, a photocopy of my favourite fortune cookie fortune and pigment markers. I’ve sent out one of the collages as mail art and will send the others out in future mailings.
Having given my body a break, I’m back to making more booklets and I made a couple of origami models from halves of another print. I’ll show you these soon. As I varied the work, I found new ideas arose that I will soon follow. The creative process for me has always taken its energy from rambling.
About the colour woodcut I used in the collages—it was a favourite of mine, again from the 1970s. It’s another subtraction print, using one piece of wood that I carved away and printed in stages. I thought of the image as an ancient rock painting.