Monday, February 27, 2017

Five O'Clock Shadow

I like to joke that I have a "serious" line of work and a "frivolous" one.
This would fall in the latter category but these silly works, made without thoughts about meaning or purpose always have a spontaneous feeling rather than being fussy or forced.   And I think if they still make ME smile, then I think that's a good thing as they'll probably make others smile too.

This is a small work--the image is just 2" x 2" (5cm x 5cm) and is based on one of my many scribbles and doodles in one of my sketchbooks.

I had meant to do this as pure color woodblock. But cutting all those little dots for the beard stubble takes time and I really thought they'd be perfect done with an etching so the drawing was etched on a small zinc plate.
Unlike the previous Lampreys/Valentine prints, rather than using aquatint for the colors, I went ahead and cut several small wood blocks for the color passages.

So this ended up being Japanese woodblock and hard-ground etching on zinc and three color blocks (Shina) and was printed both with a baren (the color plates) and a small press.

These are test prints (rather than true Artist proofs),  and I think I need to darken the lines in a few places and decide on how much plate tone I want as I try to print a reasonably consistent edition once I decide which one I like best.

Monday, February 13, 2017


Valentine, 2017; aquatint, etching and trace monotype.
Don't look for deep, symbolic meaning. This is just a stylized, parasitic, toothed, Lamprey, with a heart-shaped tongue, and hollow, sweet cliches stamped on it for Valentine's Day. 

I've been frequenting the Printmaking Studio and Cultural Association, Il Bisonte, in Florence during their once a week evening classes. It's been years since I did any etching or worked with a press and I was ready to spend one night a week in the company of etchers.  I like to work small and I chose to start with a square, zinc plate and some sketches from my "random doodles" sketchbook.  I started out with a simple cartoon of two entwined Lampreys called "Lampreys in Love" and then with Valentines day and all, I got kind of carried away.  For those who don't know, the Lamprey is a primitive, jawless fish that is a parasite on other acquatic animals. It attaches to the body of other fish and uses the serrated teeth and sucker mouth to attach firmly to the body of the host/victim. It has a toothed raspy tongue that bores into the side and it feeds off the body fluids and blood of the host. It doesn't necessarily kill the fish it's attached to--but they can perish from the gradual weakening through the loss of blood and nutrients, and the constant wound and weakened state can lead to infections and death. The Lamprey has a complex life cycle--similar to that of the Salmon, hatching in fresh water rivers and streams, growing in fresh water, then moving out to sea to become adults and living for years in the open sea but coming back to fresh water to spawn. Once highly prized among royalty, as it is a "meaty" fish and could be eaten during Lent and was consumed in very large quantities (leading to gouty flares among the rich and puffy).

The Nekko company has been making candy and wafers since the 1800s. One of their best sellers, especially around this time of year, are their candy hearts.  Small sugar wafers, die cut and printed with various coy sayings. They're smart enough to change with the times. They now come with "text me" or "LOL", etc.

But my Lampreys are purists. So I went with the classics from my childhood schooldays.

BE MINE, TRUE LOVE, REAL LOVE, MISS YOU. (I skipped STUCK ON YOU, ALL MINE, and a few others due to space issues and some emotional baggage).

These are small 4"x4" images, printed using oil based inks, a la poupee for the color with trace monotypes in purple ink for the words.