Friday, May 31, 2013

"Leaping Together"

8" x 10" (image)
5-layer reduction woodcut
Edition of 5

This was a commission, which I was enthusiastic about making just because I've never made a woodcut of dolphins, or any animal shaped much like a dolphin. It was an interesting challenge to render an animal so smooth and shiny in a medium so course. Especially when I normally depict things with fur, and occasionally scales or feathers. I did find a connection in the form of camouflage and dissipation; in addition to going with monochromatic blues, I tried to echo some of the squiggles and shapes of the shadows/highlights on the dolphins in the moon and splash of water. And of course the horizontal woodgrain worked well giving the sky some depth and the water some texture. Overall I'm rather pleased.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"Dividing Hives in Spring" by Willy Reddick

Image posted with the permission of the artist. More of Willy Reddick's wonderful white line woodcuts and other artwork, jewelry, and ornaments can be viewed at her website.

It is spring! These celebrants of nature are suited up in loose, white costumes and fastidious as they perform their seasonal ritual. The browns will turn green, the greys will turn blue. The scent of fresh blooms will delight our sniffers while a cacophony of birds chirping and bees buzzing will fill the air.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"Pickaback" by Eliza Draper Gardiner

He refuses to wear shoes, which doesn't matter since he loves to be carried. She leans forward and walks at a slow pace into the still, dry air with him clung to her back. The sun hits them at an angle, warming their skin and casting a long shadow on the sand, which is sparsely littered with wrappers, toys, and other evidence of the day's human presence. There aren't enough clouds in the sky to produce a fantastic sunset. Instead, the colors are soft and even. However, the play between the contrasting cool hues is quite lovely, and certainly worthy of taking notice.

Monday, May 27, 2013

"Nightwalker" by Holly Meade

Image posted with the permission of the artist. More of Holly Meade's work can be found at her website.

As I move through the forest, all the branches, leaves, buds, and blooms in the foreground expand and disappear, leaving room for more and more of the same. Dry leaves crunch under my feet. I look down at uneven layers of bark, twigs, and soil, and it occurs to me that I'm walking on eons of broken down corpses. I think of the multitude of small rodents, bugs, and roots that make up a whole other dark, squirmy and moist underground world. I'm walking on that, too. It's night now, and the only reason I can see anything is the beams of moonlight which criss-cross from surface to surface. It's so easy to get lost here. How much times has passed? Ten minutes? An hour? I just don't know. I've become so divorced from this sort of experience, I feel like an alien visiting another planet. But really I'm from here.

Suddenly, out of all the blue-black debris and into the most brightly moon-lit spot steps a deer. I stop and cautiously look up to examine this native inhabitant, and to my surprise encounter a familiar face.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

"A was an artist" by Sir William Nicholson

This is from Sir William Nicholson's book An Alphabet, first published in 1898.

A print-maker and mentor I knew once said, "After we finish making it, it's dead to us." I've often pondered that melancholy statement. Indeed, once the process of making, the relationship with the piece is over, the artist might still feel a deep attachment, but the lover is gone.

That said, these works of art are often said to take on a new life of their own, a new relationship with the world, when introduced to an audience. So maybe the completion of a work of art is less like the death of a relative or loss of a lover, and more like watching a child become an adult and move on.

Any way I look at it, it is a loss.

Friday, May 24, 2013

"Shepherd Boy"

4-layer reduction woodcut
5.5" x 8" (image)

I was really excited about this print while I was making it, but alas, it's one of those that left me completely disappointed in the end. The light blue is too light in many places, and the orange and green are too washed out to stand along; there really needed to be one more layer of medium value before the final layer of dark blue. Why have I been so timid with my color execution these past couple years? And how can I get over these troublesome apprehensions?

The original drawing had been truly lovely, but since I drew this one directly on the block, that drawing is now destroyed. I think this should have been a white line woodcut.As this is a reduction, I can't go back into this (except to paint over the individual prints, which I might do.)

I did stay up until 2:30am two nights in a row working on this, and that was exhilarating. Nice to really savor the process, even if in this case the product was a letdown. And hell, so long as I'm paying attention, I can learn from my mistakes.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

"Harbor View Medical Center" by Charles Spitzack

Image posted with the permission of the artist. More of Charles Spitzack's work can be viewed on his website.

This place of healing is ominous and fragile. A tall, dark structure dominates the landscape, and yet seems to be pulled this way and that by the wind.  And a great sun like a dragon's eye bulldozers into the scene. I can hear a violent chopping sound as the eye sucks a passing helicopter up into its orbit, while cutting into the side of the building. The eye is fixed on this great structure that apprehensively leans away. A short, blue wall curves around the perimeter like the dragon's bottom jaw, while the tops of evergreen trees point up like teeth, and a mud path slithers like a slurping tongue.

We think of buildings as strong, but everything man-made is vulnerable to greater forces of nature, and all of it will fall away.

We think of our bodies as strong, but every person born is vulnerable to injury or illness, and all will die.

I am reminded once again of Alice and the Red Queen's Race. Entropy is our fate.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

"Spring Rain No. 2" by Andrea Starkey

Image posted with the permission of the artist. More of Andrea Starkey's work can be found at her website, blog, and Etsy store.

Whispering, yellow trees form a tight line across the landscape. Heat from their hearth escapes, rises, and mingles with wafts of chilled air and a smattering of rain. A meeting of warm and cool in the firmament. The rival pair dissipate into colorful blotches and streaks. In the promenade of faded coral and stormy-sky blue, I can almost see a rainbow.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

"The Blue Jug" by Blanche Lazzell

The rain has caused me to stay inside, but it is spring, and so flowers still dominate my thoughts. Turning their heads downward and dying here in this vase, the yellow pedals are none-the-less vibrant. Indoors just doesn't flow like outside. Indoors is darker and full of sharp-edged objects. So easy to bang myself black and blue. But these sunshiny flowers give some relief.  

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

"Little Boat, Big Ocean" by Ele Willoughby

Image posted with permission of the artist. More of Ele Willoughby's work can be viewed and purchased at minouette.

This image reminds me a lot of the print I did last year: The Flood. They both feature giant, underwater, sea-creatures, churning up waters and threatening something small and man-made just above the surface. Also, even though the colors in mine are vivid primaries and this print uses pastels, the two prints are similarly bright and cheery in color, which is in contrast to the perilous subject matters. The main difference I see between the two images is that while the boat in this seems paper-like in its fragility, and ready to go under in its topsy-turvy placement off to the side, the house in my print is holding strong, upright and in the center.

The narrative in this print is more like that in Hokusai's iconic woodcut The Great Wave of Kanagawa, where the supreme power of nature, specifically the sea, over mankind is dramatically emphasized. However much the octopus is a dominant feature, its present seems more indicative of the danger, mystery, and power of the sea. Notice the title mentions not the creature, but the ocean.