Saturday, November 8, 2014

White Line Woodcut Class at Allens Lane

Today I finished teaching a White Line Woodcuts workshop at the Allens Lane Art Center through the Mount Airy Learning Tree. It is the second time I've taught the workshop, although it might be the last, at least for a while. I do enjoy teaching the classes, but I have too much on my plate these days to continue for the time being.

This workshop was a nice way to go out. The people who took it were so ambitious; they each made more work than any other student who has taken this workshop with me previously, and one even brought in watercolor crayons for us all to experiment with. (The crayons added an interesting texture and allowed us to work more quickly.) This small group of people made some lovely pieces and were a joy to spend time with six hours over two Saturdays.

The last image displayed in this post is my own work, and the rest were done by four adult students enrolled in the workshop. The print of the person walking in the rain is a miniaturized copy from a white line woodcut by Mabel Hewitt. I include documentation of some of the painted blocks, as they are often stunning works of art in their own right.

If you want to learn more about the white line woodblock printmaking process, I recommend Jeanne Norman Chase's illustrated article found here and Viza Arlington's take on it found here.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

"Midsummer" by Hung Liu

Last week I went to the Hung Liu exhibit at the La Salle University Art Museum (press announcement here). It was amazing to see the print Winter Blossom (that I wrote about last year) in person. The only other woodcut in the show was this portrait, which explains why I'm writing about a piece titled Midsummer in chilly November. (It also helps that the color scheme in this image reminds me more of autumn than summer, the pink blossoms notwithstanding). 

Her eyes smile, and she seems to know something, possess some leverage. Her face glows and peers through a veil of rain and whispers. Everything else fades like a ghost or dissolves like sugar, but her face remains solid, colorful, lively. A breathing statue. An immortal angel blowing us a kiss. 

Hung Liu says of her portraits such as this: 

"I am looking for the mythic pose beneath the historical figure -- and the painting beneath the photograph." 

If you want to see the show (and if you can, you should!) it's up until December 5th. 

Also, there is a bit more information about Liu's unique printmaking process for making a woodcut at Magnolia Editions, here

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"Ammonite (Temple Ruins)"

Woodcut, 11.5" x 12" (image) 15" x 17" (paper), four layer reduction, oil based ink on white Stonehenge paper, limited edition of 2.

Walkin' to the south out of Roanoke
I caught a trucker out of Philly had a nice long toke
But he's a-heading west from the Cumberland gap
To Johnson City, Tennessee
I gotta get a move on before the sun
I hear my baby calling my name and I know that she's the only one
And if I die in Raleigh at least I will die free

"Ammonite (Firebird)"

Woodcut, 11.5" x 12" (image) 15" x 17" (paper), four layer reduction, oil based ink on white Stonehenge paper, limited edition of 2.

I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,

and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
Like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue. 

-Pablo Neruda

Monday, October 27, 2014

"Ammonite (Rhythm of Slack and Supports)"

Woodcut, 11.5" x 12" (image) 15" x 17" (paper), four layer reduction, oil based ink on white Stonehenge paper, limited edition of 2.

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh

"Ammonite (Forebear's Ascent)"

Woodcut, 11.5" x 12" (image) 15" x 17" (paper), four layer reduction, oil based ink on white Stonehenge paper, limited edition of 2.

“Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end.”    

― Edward Whymper

Thursday, October 23, 2014

"Ammonite Fossil"

I made this for a print exchange: [Baren] Exchange #62. The image is 4" x 4" and the paper is 6" x 6". It is printed in white, oil-based ink on black, Stonehenge paper. So far I made 2 editions, one of 30 for the exchange, and one of 4. All printed by hand with my trusty wooden spoon. So I'll be wearing my hand brace tonight.

I'm really stuck on making prints of ammonites lately. I keep going over it in my mind, and I've decided that there are three main reasons why ammonites are captivating my interests at the moment:

1. They are extinct. They died out during the same mass extinction as the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. But obviously they aren't nearly as famous as the dinosaurs. Nonetheless, they were this whole category of animals that were incredibly plentiful and prolific, and they were wiped out. They were something beautiful and unique and very much alive, and now they are nothing more than impressions of shells. We don't even know what the soft parts of their bodies really looked like, and probably never will. Such a thing seems worth exploring, noting, and sharing with an audience.

2. When I look at fossils mainly found in museum collections, they are often fragments or pieces, and also often have scratch marks on or around them. I think about all the painstaking work scientists in the field have to do, carefully digging and then scratching around fossil in order to expose these precious pieces of the past. And it reminds me of what I do with my wood blocks; how I carefully carve out the impression of an image I have drawn, while deciding how much to let the knots and wood grain influence the final impression.

3. Ammonites are in a spiral shape, which is just, plain awesome. So many plants, animals, and other things found in nature, from spider webs to whole galaxies form spiral patterns. Spirals are both mathematical and lyrical. Bruce Nauman had the right idea.