Friday, February 28, 2014

Owl and Cat in Love, "The Wave" (double page spread pages 13-14)

"The Wave"
Woodcut (reduction)
20" x 9.5" (image)
24" x 15" (paper)
Oil based inks on Subi paper
Limited edition of 2

Yet another installment of the Owl and Cat in Love project. Here the lovers' peaceful ocean voyage is abruptly disturbed by a threatening wave. 

Anyone out there familiar with woodcuts probably knows that with this print I'm a making small tribute to the Japanese master Hokusai's most famous print, The Great Wave of Kanagawa, often also referred to as The Wave. Although my image puts far more emphasis on the couple's panic, while in Hokusai's, the boats and their inhabitants are enveloped in the great wave that dominates the image. 

Hokusai did many wave prints, and I find that my wave print has more in common with a couple of his others. In his "Ocean Waves" print (right), the boats, especially the one in the foreground, are what mainly draws the eye. As in my print, the waves are more of a threat that surrounds the subject.  

My overall composition and color palette has more in common with Hokusai's Mount Fuji Seen from the Sea (left), though the main subjects are reversed, where in Hokusai's a cracking wave rises up on the right side, seeming to burst into dots of white, which are actually a flock of birds flying in the distance. In mine that compositional space is taken up by the owl, boosted up by the tilted boat, his wings dramatically unfolding against rushing blue. 

All of these prints incorporate stripes of blue and white to describe moving waters, although my print distinctly departs from the Japanese tradition when instead of the water breaking into claw-like curves (a decorative motif which apparently influenced the designs of Western silverware), the crest of my wave continues the lines in a row of spirals. I was going for a somewhat playful association with wheels or spinning machinery, as if my protagonists are being sucked under a steamroller. The closest Japanese print from the ukiyo-e tradition that I can find with a somewhat similar feeling is Totoya Hokkei's Mekari Festival (right.) Run, guys, run! 

That's enough about woodcuts and waves for now.

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