Monday, June 24, 2019

Of Purple Cows II-The Hard Part is Going Home Again. Williams College Reunion Print-Idea to Completion.

Here is the finished print (one of almost 200 copies) and the accompanying essay that enclosed the print inside the gift envelope.

As I alluded to in my last post, in addition to providing some graphic work for the T-shirts and other goodies for my 35th college reunion, I was really intrigued by the idea of making a small print to include as a reunion gift.  Originally I thought that would allow me to skip attending--I'm too far away after all--yet still let me participate in a meaningful way.
I was really interested in the Purple Cow for all the possible ways it could be imagined and it fit so well into my odd collection of animal prints.  I spent a fair amount of time thinking and doodling possibilities: I really liked the idea of working with a porcelain cream pitcher and putting together a interior vignette with a limited palette (à la P. Vallaton):
or less ambitiously, two cows chatting/gossiping about the returning herd, "Why is everyone here so OLD?" or "Everyone seems to be Vegan Now" or "I think Bob had his horns done..".

 Fortunately, there was a gift committee, and although I realize now they would have been quite happy to give me free rein to come up with a finished thing, I was reluctant to risk giving unsolicited art object to such a large audience without a little feedback (I was afraid my work would be a little too odd or possibly somber or bizarre).  So I sent them written ideas and thumbnail sketches and they worked through them and helped choose from among my ideas something that was consistent with the idea of Reunion, still representative of my "style", a little bit funny and pretty enough that it would be a gift people would be happy to receive, yet without (I hoped) becoming trite or banal.
An acrobatic cow--getting closer....

Family, the Reunion Committee and even strangers liked this idea the best: It would get reworked extensively before I committed it to the block(s).
I put the original sketch together on my flight back from Tokyo, and although I originally imagined a more athletic, acrobatic bovine (with a hoof that poked through the border) the final design focused more on the purple hills, and included a recognizable Williamstown landmark and the Purple Cow at a size that I could manage to carve both the text I wanted to include, as well as the small "84" on the ear tag (the limiting factor for my carving ability) from my cherry key block.  It also allowed me to pick out woods with grain patterns that would enhance the cow hide and vertical "trees" of the hills (mahogany) and the idea of clouds and swirling in the sky (Shina/linden plywood).

Below are various process shots of the key block and color blocks and some intermediate steps.
The keyblock with the drawing glued down but before carving (cherry wood).

Carving of the key block mostly done.
Detail: key block.
from the finished keyblock, prints were taken to do the color separations. These get glued down to new blocks that will become the color plates. 
Back hill and steeple shadows. (the rest got eliminated).
This plate was printed yellow first: ear tag/chop/steeple brass bits, then it was inked and printed again with the brass color for just the metal parts--so two colors printed from the same plate in separate inkings and impressions.

From the block above after 2 color impressions (Yellow and "brass").
color plates (udder/hills/hooves/chop)
Color plates: yellow bits, sky, purple hills and cow.
Sky block with gradation (bokashi) printing.

The print with all the color plates printed waiting for the black final impression.

The 9-10 color impressions (from the 7 blocks).

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