Raven swoops into a day of rich, yet muted color.
The amoebic sky drifts above calm, grey waters.
Sunlight wanes and turns rocky cliffs to moldy cheddar,
Green earth to a parched ghost town.
Head low, Raven's eyes fix upon some seeds, carcass,
Or lonely traveler.
I did an Teaching Artist residency at Solis Cohen Elementary School this fall through the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Delphi Art Partners program. I taught white line woodcuts to one class; they made woodcuts of leaves on small blocks of Shina plywood. Here is a sampling of the lovely results.
This is a quiet, stately work with muted colors. I stand at attention and listen. The wind is barely audible. The potential for catastrophe is palpable. Maybe an avalanche, or terrible freeze. I cannot muster any fear of it, for what purpose would fear of a sudden downpour cause in a butterfly flying freely across a wide open field? Majesty is always before us, death, always just behind.
My daughter was hanging out in my studio today while I was printing some proofs. She wanted to do some printing. Usually I just give her one of my old blocks to play around with. But I had a pile of cut up cardboard and I've been doing collographs with middles schoolers lately, so I had her make her own plate to print from.
She drew a turtle on a piece of cardboard, and I cut it out and taped it to another piece of cardboard. I'm pretty impressed with how well proportioned the little guy is - see the head, tail, large claws in the front and two smaller claws in the back? He's obviously some kind of aquatic turtle.
She printed with magenta and black water-based block printing ink. One of the prints turned out all faded (the ink was drying) so she drew all over with pastel pencils and markers to make it look like he was a shadow swimming under the water.
I really like these, and I think I might make the print for my next print trade based on these.
I spent another weekend with Mr. C. W. Brooks in his studio at the University of Maryland. This time he talked me into trying something new: screen printing! The process is so antithetical to what I normally do with woodcuts. No laborious carving, no grain to battle against or yield to, no splinters - bah.
Just to get started, I made two studies comparing one of my beloved, extinct ammonites to one of its living cousins, a nautilus. I want to eventually develop them into characters for a picture book (that's all I'm sharing about that right now.)
If I go back and try more screen printing, I'll probably attempt some landscapes. Those flat fields of color produced by the process just seem so far away. Another thought I had was to look at a lot of prints and wall hangings by Inuit artists because their unique ways of depicting figures in space lends itself well to screen printing.
Mr. Brooks was also screen printing. He looks good in blue.
I made this for yet another exchange, the 5th Annual Day 2 Day Print Exchange. It's yet another ammonite fossil. I had fun making this print for the last exchange, and wanted to do another on black paper with white ink. I tried to loosen up the linework and make it look a little more like a soft organ, as if this thing that is only a fragment of a creature long-dead somehow has renewed life (hence the title.) This image is 3" x 4" and the paper is 6" x 9". It is printed in white, oil-based ink on black, Stonehenge paper. So far I made 1 edition of 14. "Writing stories was not easy. When they were turned into words , projects withered on the paper and ideas and images failed. How to reanimate them? Fortunately, the masters were there, teachers to learn from and examples to follow. Flaubert taught me that talent is unyielding discipline and long patience ." -Mario Vargas Llosa