Monday, August 11, 2008

Big Ole' Update O' Everything!

Of course, I love the design phase of printing! Drawing is at the root of my artistic abilities since I was 5 years old. That being said, I probably have a truck load of sketch books full of drawings that will never make it to an actual print. That's okay but I fear stagnation like none other! Having a looming deadline sure can horse whip you into getting a move on and not dally long on things. I know this project will take years but I want at least a few prints to show for it in July! When faced with things like this I'm a nervous wreck until I feel like I'm making significant progress. It's sort of like not being able to sleep the night before a big day. I am breathing a sigh of relief as I've finished constructing the key block for the Precipitation page. I feel at least now I'm on the road to success with block ready to carve!
I don't know if you would consider it upcycled but the wood is at least "reclaimed". I had a show in Fredricksburg VA a few years ago and I had constructed a long plank of poplar designed to be hung on the wall. The plan was to ink it up in black and then "white line" draw an image into the wood with my carving tools. The drawing itself would be sparse and in the end it was shelved in leu of better projects. I had already constructed the plank and it was a really nice piece of poplar. I knew humidity would be high and that the wood would most likely bend out of shape so I shore it up from behind with bars of poplar similar to stretchers on a canvas. It sat for a few years between sheets of protective styrofoam and then came to rest behind my sofa! Last weekend I pulled it out and we visited Mr. Miter saw and had a grand old time. My plan was to rip out the stretchers and reform them around the new planks. I did NOT remember that I had wood glued them on. I just went with it and bought two new end pieces to fit on the ends. Now, because I am employing a kento this block is far from "perfect." Mr. Miter saw didn't get everything straight but after some sanding, glue, and the end pieces things shouldn't move but so much.

In other news, I'm carving the color blocks for my Seedless Watermelon broadside. I proofed up the "sand" block in some ink I mixed up from Graphic Chemical. I was shocked at how close the color came out to what I wanted!

On the glass it almost had a greenish tinge to it. (When learning how to etch in zinc, we could curse the yellow as it would tinge to a muddy green when touching the zinc due to a chemical reaction between the metal and the ink.) As I mixed, I thought Oh well, I'll work on better ink later. This is only a proof. When it came off the press, the color was a pleasant surprise. I think my initial perceptions were an illusion from the glass and the cream paper gave it some warmth. The red of the melon is a different story.

Alizeran is the only red I have in oil based block ink (fixing that soon). It was so tacky it wouldn't pick up on the rollers. I added a hair too much easy wipe (easy to do when working with tiny quantities of ink) and the proof printed out a little splattery. At least the registration is in the ball park. Here they are lined up without the green.

I would say it was a productive studio day!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Book of Life Update

Unfortunately, this image has all the charm of UFO or yeti shots. That's what you get when you try to photograph a 4H pencil drawing because it won't fit in the scanner. Anyway, I'm that much closer to beginning the carving on the first Book of Life page. Simply put, instead of the "Water Cycle" I think I'll call it precipitation. I am in love with the natural imagery itself and this picture definitely doesn't convey it but the band around it is supposed to represent H2O molecules reaction's to temperature. This reaction for the most part fuels precipitation. Close up (as long as the wood grain will allow me) I hope to be able to carve out enough detail so one will be able to count that the inner circle has 8 valence spots and that the smaller outer circles are covering 2 of those valence spots. We'll see. Here's the trouble. Having learned about the 4 major forces in the universe, it becomes a mute point to include those symbols because all four will ultimately be used in some way (weak force may be a challenge) and it becomes repedative. Convection is the ultimate drive. The two "ribbons" on either side of the sun indicate this. I'm not sure wether or not this is a successful tool though. To me, they seem to get in the way. I would welcome other opinions on this! Regardless, I must plug on. The 4 forces of the universe will definitely be addressed in their own print. There is rich inspiration there!

Sunday, August 3, 2008


I am finishing the rough workings of the Solar Cycle page in the Book of Life. This page will be particularly complicated and I am also working on a painting in gouache to help me visualize what sort of blocks I will have to carve to make it work. The Precipitation page is fairly straight forward in that there is one key block that can have colors added to it later but for rendering space I want to use a series of nearly black purples and blues instead of just black. I have a feeling I'll need to carve a key block and just deconstruct from there. I was contemplating a straight black ink version of the Book of Life anyway to mimic the old medieval alchemists texts. I snapped a shot of the center stone that the entire book has been designed around and how it will lay in relation to the book. I plan to make (most likely have made :P ) a wooden book stand with the stone resting half sunk into the middle so that the pages will appear to orbit the stone as the turn. I purchased this labradorite orb from China. Labradorite is my favorite stone. The stone itself is unremarkable and most of the time a muddy hue and flecked with dark black flecks. An impatient person would regard it as an eye sore at first glance and continue on but those who lag behind to satisfy their curiosity are in for a treat. As the object is turned and rolled in the light, a flash of blue streaked with green erupts as if the essence of the universe itself is encapsulated within this sullied shell. Contemplating the orb by night helps one to imagine what dark matter must be like. Having this mineral as the center of my book will hopefully convey the fact that wondrous beauty can lie within those often overlooked.