Wednesday, June 8, 2011

#8 - 30 Prints in 30 Days (Unicorn Marionette)

"Unicorn Marionette"
Woodcut with hand coloring
Oil based ink and watercolors on Rives BFK
3" x 4" (image) 5.5" x 7.5" (paper)

This marionette reminds me of Sesame Street characters, what with the simple shapes, solid colors, and wide-open eyes and mouth that make up an expression of almost maniacal cheeriness. I have always liked children's puppet shows. There is something magical about a puppeteer performing so convincingly within the natural limitations of his or her craft. It takes real talent and skill to get the audience to either forget or simply not care that they can see the strings, or that they never get to see a character's lower half.

I tried to get this little unicorn bouncing around a bit with his head cocked, as if inviting the viewer to dance along with him. I like the idea that my image of a marionette is carved out of wood (and obviously so), since it parallels the obvious artificial characteristics of real puppets. Maybe puppets can be so endearing because they bring the audience so close to the artist, as there is little mystery as to the mechanics going on, but real mastering in working the mechanics. Elmo is arguably the most famous puppet character ever, but there is nothing special about the actual puppet. For years this plain, red, monster puppet was merely a background character, brought to life by many different puppeteers. It was only when Kevin Clash picked him up and created a voice and laugh and distinct way of moving around that Elmo became the hit he is today with young children. I keep making these horse (okay, in this case unicorn) marionette prints, trying to get one to really come to life. I feel I might be getting closer, but I'm definitely not yet there.

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