Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year, New Print & Out of the Mouth of Babes Comes Wisdom?

So there it was, January 2 of the New Year, and I had just finished a reduction print and was thinking about clearing up my printmaking mess and putting away the Christmas decorations. Instead I kept staring at the two 12" x 12" linoleum blocks my 14 year-old son had picked out for me as a Christmas present, and he was putting the pressure on.

"Those are big, you need to make something cool!" and "What are you going to print from those?" were just a few of the comments I was getting on a daily basis. He was so proud of himself for picking out a gift he knew I would enjoy that he was beside himself with anticipation of what would come from it.

I've been thinking for a while that I wanted to a reduction print based on this pastel I did earlier this year, with a greenish sky and orange trees, and I decided now was the time. I proceeded to draw out something similar in Sharpie on one of my new Christmas blocks. While I was drawing and looking at the pastel it made me think about what direction I wanted to go. For some reason, I am compelled by the idea of having prints look more like drawings, of having more freedom and expressiveness line. I don't want them to look graphic or like a copy of a photograph, I want them to look in some way representational of what I see, and have some feeling and movement to them, and maybe impressionistic is the word to describe it.

And then I start to think, why am I not just making pastels? This one is pretty decent and it's a hell of a lot easier than printmaking. But, as anyone who prints will understand, there is nothing quite as rewarding as pulling that paper off the block and seeing what you have created even though it does take a lot of planning. Is it possible to make something planned look expressive? Or even more important, is it possible to create and carve something expressively that has to have planning to it? The planning kind of takes some of the freedom out of it for me. So that, I think, is one of my goals this year, to find a combination of spontaneity and planning that is evident in the finished print.

So, as I began to draw out the future print on my fresh piece of linoleum, I had a lot of things running through my head. I was thinking about how it would work out, and how I would carve it and how I would refine the lines before I carved. Then my son came into the room. He said something like "Too bad you can't make a print look like the way you draw." Hmmm.

I've never tried to print the way I draw and sketch. I was getting kind of close to it with that sycamore reduction print I just finished, but that was planned. I've always drawn, and then refined my lines to what I think a print should look like before I started carving. Maybe the key to finding the balance between what is planned and what is spontaneous for me lies somewhere in following the lines that come naturally to me when I draw.

I have no idea how this will go as I follow these Sharpie lines, but it's worth a try. Game on, son. I'll take that as a challenge.