Monday, January 11, 2010

Things that make you say “Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm....”

After finishing up the WhiteLine print of Poor Old Bob, I immediately started another with an image I've been harboring for a couple of years, a riverscape featuring Elk Creek, looking east/south east, just as the sun was setting. Although I was alone when took the original photo, I wanted to firmly anchor the idea of fly fishing into the print.

Since I fished with him the next day, on a different section of the creek (up where his yurt is located), I electronically added my friend Mark Nash.

Once I had my image, I went through the same process steps as before of creating the maple block that I would print the finished print from: transfer the image, carve out the lines, affix the first sheet of paper, start the printing process.

Starting out, I really had no idea whatsoever of what I was shooting for with this print. I’m still finding it hard to “visualize” what the final results will be, so figuring out the lines for the color fields involved a lot of guess-work. But, knowing what I know about the Akuacolors, and looking back at the POB print, I figured something interesting was going to come out of this.

My palette this time is for an early autumn, mixed in with the cool colors of twilight.

I’m using a slab of maple again for this print, even though the traditional Provincetown print is done with either pine of poplar. But, I’ve got a good stock of the maple I got from my friends Margy and Gary on hand, so I’m going to use it!

The “traditional” method of attaching the paper to the wood was to tack the paper onto the wood directly, and then folding the paper to create a “hinge” that would raise and lower the sheet onto the block, keeping perfect registration through the process. While this certainly works great, I wanted to use a sheet of Rives BFK for this print, and since this is a thicker sort of paper, I didn’t want to fold it. I solved this by sandwiching the paper between two pieces of packing tape, and then stapling the tape to the board.

Cutting the lines was pretty straight forward and quite fast. I cleared away the edges with a large chisel and mallet, so to ensure clean, clear borders.

Printing is another matter entirely. Each color field is printed individually. I “ink” the fields by hand with a small paintbrush, carefully wiping with a tiny sponge to create the gradations. Some areas are just too small to wipe, so I don’t bother. Most areas take multiple passes – it’s a matter of you can always add a little more, but you can never take any back. Bit by bit, millimeter by millimeter (inch by inch would be too much!) the block is filled in.

The results so far are fantastic: I’m very satisfied with what’s going on. Like I said before, I have trouble visualizing what’s going to happen to an image with this technique. But so far, this is terrific:

Just a couple more fields to fill in (the stream, some trees, silos and the sky) and it will be done. I’ll have time to start another one before the Chicago Expo – it will be a good thing to have a couple of these displayed there!

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