Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Black Ink, Fresh Art and Inspiration

Where to begin with this one? Let's start with the week I spent making black and white prints for Visceral Gallery's Color Restrained show the last week of August, because that seems like the beginning of this story. These are the prints, made from one of my mix-n-match moku hanga experiments, previously printed in color. This was the first time I had tried printing in black and white since I first began my adventures in printmaking, and I quickly became enthralled with the possibilities and results. I mentioned how much I enjoyed it to Dayton Printmaker Co-Op founder and former printmaking professor Ray Must and he smiled and said, "Black can be the color." Profound and true. And thus began my month and a half of exploration into the wonderful color that is black.

Then jump ahead a couple of weeks. It was once again time for Dayton Visual Arts Center's Fresh Art, a plein air event. I set off into the woods, off to the top of Mount Saint John, armed with all my soft pastel supplies on a beautiful fall day at the Bergamo Center. I trekked around off the beaten path until I found the perfect spot surrounded by trees and I was ready to go with my colorful array of broken pastels, broken so I could fit more colors. As I prepared to get started I was suddenly overwhelmed by the light coming through the trees and shot off a little pencil sketch, unaware of its future significance.

Once again I started to draw the magnificent gnarly massive tree in front of me, but I became distracted by the shadows dancing across my paper as light flickered through the leaves around me. Suddenly, three hours later, I had this rather than some colorful landscape. Something that made several people ask, "It's cool, but what is it?" I think I titled it my typical bad title fashion something like Shadows On Mount Saint John.

The Mount Saint John titled artwork didn't end at the end of the day. A day or so later I looked at that pencil sketch I had done and decided I should try it as a monotype. After five or six small monotypes I decided I should try it as a larger monotype. After a half dozen of those I decided I should try it in differently proportioned monotypes, which was followed by some monotypes of trees, and finally, a 4 block woodcut of the original sketch which had evolved into a design and composition I was very happy with. Every day for almost 6 weeks, with every spare moment I had I made art, black and white art with the exception of the woodcut, inspired by those three hours spent on Mount Saint John.

So a few of the pieces ended up in a show at Bergamo to which I was hesitant about submitting, as it was a show about Fresh Art and the plein air experience and they had been made well after those three hours spent in the woods. The were, however, a direct result of those three hours. They were reviewed in The Dayton City Paper, which was cool, and I've sold a few of them at DVAC and on Etsy.

The best thing, though, was making the art, and being inspired and consumed with it, and those few hours spent in the woods could lead to such an output. And remembering for a brief second on Mount Saint John while enjoying the fall day and the flickering shadows, I had a thought I will never forget pass through my head.

If this was my job, I would be good at it.