Thursday, September 10, 2009

Evolution of a Tree Print

So, this is a story of printmaking gone wrong, or just not tuning out as planned. I always have such high expectations when beginning a print. Thoughts of "Oh, this is the One, this One will be good and I'll be happy" fill my head after the first few impressions until I encounter some kind of obstacle during the process and end up with something different than what I had planned.

The first three images were carved on a leftover piece of pine stair tread I found in my garage. It was my second attempt at carving wood as opposed to linoleum, and I quickly discovered that I preferred printing off the wood. I was very happy with second impression (first image), but impatience got the best of me and I proceeded to carve into the slab of wood when it was still damp. I learned a new lesson. If carving grainy wood, let it dry out before going at it with your carving tools. I lost some huge chunks (by huge I just mean larger than the thin branches) along the grain, perfectly vertical. Suddenly, my efforts turned to making these errors less evident as opposed to focusing on the finished print. I abandoned my original plans and proceeded to create something that is so far removed from what I had envisioned that I even have trouble describing it. It is growing on me, though, as I look at all of them taped to my kitchen wall drying.

Before I made the final reduction (the black in the second image) I decided that now was the time to make the print in my head that used two separate blocks for the sky and tree. I then printed about 24 of the third image, and I knew this print was going to be good. I was sure of it. I made a print on some architectural vellum I had around the house and mounted it to a piece of birch faced plywood leftover from panels I had made a few years ago for my fridge.

I spent three or four days carefully carving it out, growing increasingly anxious to try out the newly carved leaves and branches on my sienna colored background. I knew there was a problem as soon as I started to make the first impression. Apparently the paper had stretched when I glued it to the wood panel and the image I had carefully carved was about 3/4" wider than it should have been. I would write my initial reaction, but I'm fairly sure my mom would give me a hard time about the expletives. Now I have a stack of prints of the third image that I haven't been able to come up with a way to finish. All I have left of the original block is the black shadow area in the second image above, which just looks wrong and out of proportion on this version. I may revisit it at some future point, once I'm sure that I have paper that won't stretch (suggestions?).

This brings me to the final image, which is where I'm at now, after carving out a rectangle to put some color in the background of my newly carved tree. This is going to be the One.


Atelier Conti said...

OOOH! I love your trees. Your work is exquisite. I'll be back to read more about your process and look at your lovely images!--Nancy

starkeyart said...

Thanks, Nancy. Wow, your blog is awesome. What a great place to live! I'll be checking in on it as well. Very cool that you do workshops there.

Nighthawk said...

You have a marvelous way of turning your "mistakes" into beautiful art.