Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Changing Views

So there was a day this March when I looked out at the freshly fallen snow and realized that it was time to make a print of the view. I had thought about it many times during the past six years that I've been printmaking, and in fact many of the trees and limbs in my prints are modeled after those in my yard. Doing a whole landscape, though? It was time.

I knew the view would be changing. There were trees in it that had to come down and I was planning on clearing out some smaller ones, now that the screen I planted a month after moving here fourteen years ago to block my neighbors to the east was reaching maturity.

While I was carefully penciling it in, I started thinking about other things, mainly that this would be a print that I would give to both my children who grew up with this view as a reminder of all the beloved snow days we've had here. All the nights gone to bed with pj's on backwards and inside out and a spoons under pillows to help make the wish of a snow day come true. Oh the screams of delight once school was cancelled, when suddenly a morning that would have been filled with making lunches and taking turns in the shower and going off to work was turned into a sleeping-in, kicked back lovely time of going nowhere and doing nothing.

Doing nothing, that is, with the exception of enjoying the view and the quiet and the peacefulness. I can hear it now. This is it.

Snow Day
The print was a challenge. It's a reduction printed moku hanga style and it's large at 21" x 10". If you are a printmaker, you can see that it was a challenge. There's a lot of detail in the background and all of those limbs. There were some frustrations! I'm guessing there were between 15-18 reductions and around twenty impressions on this edition of 28. I lost track along the way, during the month it took to print. Actually, I think the daffodils were coming up by the time I finished.

Now, though, we all have something to carry with us through life, wherever it may take us, to remember the view and those special days.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

No. 32, and Things

So, this print took a while.  Originally it was going to be quick, and it was intended to be used as a demonstration of woodblock reduction printmaking for a couple of talks/demos I was scheduled to give at the Dayton Art Institute.  I had it all planned out as I began to draw the limbs and leaves on this tree.  I would bring images of the pencil drawing, the marker drawing and a partial print from each of the reductions to help illustrate the process.  I even had the colors planned and a schedule for completion in two weeks as I sat and drew these limbs on a warm fall afternoon.

But then somewhere after the carving had begun, the planning was tossed aside.  I came close to losing an eye.  This is a short story about that as well as a story about finishing the print, and maybe, even, it's a bit of a fable about watching about what you wish for.  I'll leave out the cringe-worthy details, so here's the condensed version.

During a planned break from the carving, I drove my daughter and two of her friends to Chicago for college visits and managed to scratch my cornea on the way, hence the pirate patch in the mandatory Bean tourist photo.  Now if you have ever scratched your cornea, you know what it was like to manage to smile through it.  Still, they had a great time and memories were made, including a visit to an Urgent Care on Michigan Avenue.  My favorite is asking for half price admission at the Chicago Art Institute, since I could only half see it.

When I we got back to Ohio, though, my eye situation suddenly turned into an emergency.  The first few days were just scary, because I had nothing from the eye except blur and pain and no reassurance from my daily ophthalmologist visits about when or if the condition would improve. And he used the words "cornea transplant" way too often.  The good news is that three and a half weeks later, I am on the mend.  The infection is gone, I have some blurry vision back and next week we start trying to correct that.  There were some dark days, though.  Days upon days when I couldn't use the computer (day job) or drive or even read or watch TV.

Now we get to how this relates to Tree No. 32, and the fable part of the story.  On the second day of the emergency, when light was painful and I had no vision, I found out I could still carve wood.  And I was not worried about the eye any longer.  In fact, there were many moments when I wanted to rip the thing out of my head because I could do just fine with one.  It was actually the only thing that brought relief during the pain, the slow and steady process of carving.  And this is the "watch what you wish for" part of the story.  The two things I have said repeatedly I am tired of?  Which I've said I could do without?  Computer work and driving.  By some freak accident I could do neither, but I could still carve and print my trees, and everything was fine.  There is a message in there somewhere but I don't know what it is yet.

Anyway, back to the print.  Nothing really went as planned.  The demos went well without my printouts and in-process prints.  The colors weren't as planned and I ended up with three versions of the print, and it was not anywhere close to what I envisioned at the onset.  But it's all good.  And this tree has a story.

Tree No. 32
reduction print, two blocks printed moku hanga style
9.5" x 6.5", shina plywood, Akua Kolor inks, a variety of paper
Version I - edition of 17 
Version II - edition of 4 (above)
Version III - edition of 8


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Numbered

So I have a solo show coming up.  It's at Glen Helen in Yellow Springs and runs from March 4-April 29 with a reception on March 9.  I hang it in five days.  I had to come up with a name for the show, and just like when it comes to naming prints, I drew a blank.  And there you have  it, the reason all my prints are numbered.  Suddenly Numbered seemed like the perfect title for the show.  I imagine I'll probably end up explaining that a few times at the reception.


Anyway, in typical fashion, I had to do one more print before beginning the mat cutting and framing.  That's it hanging to dry after a full day of printing Sunday.  Also in typical fashion, it could have been done after 4 blocks I carved throughout last week, but I had to add one more on Saturday.  I need to work on it a little and the color isn't quite where I want it, but it's almost there.  And having an excuse to spend a whole day printing is a good day.

Forest No. 9






Sunday, August 11, 2013

How do you know when a print is finished?



I have no idea what the answer is to that question.  If you have any idea, please let me know.  The thing is, that when it comes to these multi-block prints, you can always add another block or keep editing.  The hard part is saying to yourself, "This is enough, it is what I want, I like this."  At least that's the hard part for me.

This image?  It's Tree No. 21 in progress and that's about 2/3 of the proofs I made to get to the final print.  Even when I thought I was done, I added another quick block because of one spot that bothered me.  Quick as in it took a week to carve and meant editing the other 4 blocks.

I'm stuck in the middle of another one of these now.  Tree No. 25.  Four weeks and I'm still editing and proofing and thinking I need another block.  As well as thinking that I need to finish this so I can get on with my life!!!  These things take over so easily!  

It's just not to the point yet, that when I look at it, it feels like it does when I am standing on my back porch looking at the glorious shag bark hickory tree a few feet away.  Just a little more work on it...

Tree No. 25



WHAT???

Almost 2 years since I have made a blog post???  I have thought out a hundred of these things and yet they have not made it here.  Time to do some catching up.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9-10


So I spent today making this woodblock reduction print.  It's pretty surprising that I was able to start and finish an edition in one day, and equally surprising that I do a print that has much meaning other than being, well, trees.  It was inspired by a conversation I had a few days ago with my teenage son that was stuck in my head and doing the print was a good opportunity to get it out.  We were having a conversation about the tenth anniversary of 9-11, school related activities and what he remembered about it.

"It desensitized my entire generation.  The America we know isn't invincible."

He went on to say something about growing up in a country where being attacked was a possibility.  I have no idea what that is like.  My generation didn't have such concerns or worries or images of burning towers stuck in our minds when we were in elementary school.  It's not difficult to think of the impact the events of that day had on the lives of thousands of people, but it's hard for me to fathom the effect it had on a generation's view of the country and world they live in, and what it is like to grow up in that world.

This print is titled 9-10.  I think it's about that beautiful, recognizable skyline and about the last day a country full of elementary school children went to bed with a different view of the world they grew up in.

9-10
reduction woodcut, edition of 20, 7" x 3.5"
Akua Kolor on various papers

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Receptions and Things



So, I was feeling pretty good about being the featured artist at this charming new cafe, Amicis. There's not all that much wall space and I have plenty of prints and framed prints and empty frames, and I have a week to decide what will go. I was feeling pretty good about it until I made this postcard this morning an sent out invites to a ton of people and started getting back responses.

Seeing the invitation on the internet has started one of those spiraling-out-of-control feelings that I need new prints. My head is filling up with thoughts of a couple new monotypes and reprinting a few blocks in different colors. I need to stop thinking and be happy with what I have, but as much as I try and talk myself out of it, I know I won't be sleeping much this week.