Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Treehopper: (If you give a printmaker a cookie.....).

After I finished printing my Cypress trees print of a few weeks ago I was eager to jump into a new project.
But in my life, the path between "A" and "B" is never linear.
Besides having a few acres of olive trees to prune, I wanted to try sizing some paper that wasn't printing well.   I have a few papers that are either too soft--difficult to handle and the paper pills while printing and others that hold up well enough but that print really flat and light-size formula of a few months ago helped but not enough to be called really successful so I decided to increase both the alum and glue and try sizing them to try out on my next print.
So I sized one each of Gampi, Mitsumata, a few varied 100% Kozo papers and a few mixed fiber/handmade papers. The weights varied from about 29g/m2 to about 50g/m2.

Now,  I needed just a little print to test out the newly-sized paper.....but I didn't really just want to print color swatches..nor did I feel like revisiting any of my old, already carved I ended up doodling, and sketching, and looking through my sketchbooks and idea folders for simple ideas that I hoped I could do quickly.  And I came across a few sketches I'd done of this insect, a thorn bug or treehopper that I've wanted to do in a print for a long time. 
Newly redrawn--quickly and very loosely and with only a passing nod to scientific accuracy-- I was ready to go.

Rainy weather this week meant I could take a break from olive pruning so, yesterday, I transferred my sketch using a piece of tracing and carbon paper and then carved and printed the keyblock.  The 6 copies I made were then pasted them down onto six,  4" x 6" Shina blocks and set aside to dry.

Today I managed to carve the color blocks and dashed off a few color proofs.

These are mostly proofs to check for alignment and registration and to look for areas that need clearing or recutting. This proof is still missing two of the blocks/impressions. Nevertheless, I think that probably NONE of the colors will stay the same in the final print and looking at these I'm thinking of carving one more block.........

So, I wanted to size some paper, that now I need to test, so I carved a little block, but now I need color blocks, and now maybe one more block, so I can proof again, then I can print an edition.....
but wait, I didn't size enough paper for a whole edition.
But first, I'll need to size some more paper.

(A nod to Laura Numeroff's book, "If you give a mouse a cookie"). 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Primroses/Primule-March Etagami.

"Spring primroses say, "Hello, Hello".
A little over a year ago we went to the mountains in the Appenines near Genoa.
It was late spring and very damp and there were wild strawberries in bloom (but no fruit) and lots of low yellow primroses flowering.

I dug up a few of each and potted them when I got home.
It's now a year later and the primroses, despite almost complete neglect, are in full bloom.
They are a pale yellow and almost glow in the dark in the early morning and late evening when everything else is dull gray and brown.
Since they are such a local symbol of early spring and seem to me so cheerful and optimistic.
So I chose my vase of transplanted mountain yellow primroses as the subject for my March etagami.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

2014: Looking back

I decided to look back at my output for the last year. Artistically, it was a mixed bag. While I produced a few interesting pieces, my general productivity was very low--I produced just a handful of prints in 2014.
Horse/White Knight, my 9 block year of the horse print.
Steel Metaphor (arrow road sign) For the Sketchbook project exchange.
Right of Way (driving school)-- a larger print.
Cardinal Creeper; my first-ever wood engraving on boxwood.
November Cypresses, a long-format landscape...carved and proofed in 2014 but I still need to print the edition.
 I also continued in my exploration of sizing Japanese papers and printing with the technique of moku hanga on western cotton papers and in preparation for teaching,  I made three new barens with the twisted-cord base trying out different kinds of twine and cord to see what might approximate a functional baren for students.

I also painted about a dozen quick etagami sketches--as part of the Florence/Japan Etagami exchange. My small drawings were sent along with those of the other Italian participants to our respective penpals in Japan.

And I entered the world of Art Education;
I demonstrated at the local Japanese Cultural Fair for 3 days in November 2014 and I taught a three day class teaching moku hanga printing to artists.

I also cleaned out a garage and house; supervised the new roof and painting of our Santa Cruz house and found a wonderful new family to stay in our home while we're in Italy. This took the better part of the Summer--the time I would have spent printing had I been more energetic/efficient with my time.

So goodbye 2014. We're well into 2015 and I'm going to try to get through my backlog of "prints waiting to be made" while jumping into a few exciting new projects that will move me in some new directions. Which way? Follow the arrows.