As promised, I'm back with a mid-week update.
Last week was a big push to carve the blocks for and put together the diptych.
|Excepts from the Magical Land of No, 30 x 48," 2015|
Part of the reason I'm pushing very hard to get these pieces done is that I have two major application deadlines coming up Jan 31st (due on the same day - haha!), and then another Feb 15th, with framing, delivery of work, and an opening in between (All good things! Fortituuude! :) )
As much as I love carving blocks and spring out of bed every morning all excited to make more prints/collages, in putting together the portfolios, I had to face the fact that I don't (yet) have 10 medium scale pieces that make a tight set and show where I'm going with this work [head in hands - doh.] Luckily, this is situation is totally fixable, and there (may) still be enough time to have a full set of "Excepts from the Magical Land of No." (I'm so close - one more, just one more...)
|made this 10 x 8" collage yesterday as a present,|
using a scrap piece of block to make the new village on the right.
Maybe it's a good thing that the blocks were back ordered, because as much as I'm chomping on the bit to make the last piece for the portfolio, not having blocks is forcing me to make sure I'm using completely and taking care of the blocks I already have (and also doing the not very exciting but very necessary paperwork for the applications).
In terms of caring for the existing blocks, I (finally!) made a chart of them and put them away in books. An aspect of my goldfishiness is that even though I know what every line of each block looks like, I have trouble recalling their existence if I can's see them (- that's why I take a picture of the blocks each week, because when/how many is not the type of information I'm likely to remember without a dated photo.) So I finally turned the photos into a chart (...turns out there were more than 70 blocks out in the studio - no wonder it felt like they were taking over!) I sorted the chart and pages by type (birds, sea creatures, vehicles, plants, etc.)
I also did an experiment, trying to print gold on black (not quite there yet - hmmmm.)
On the left is a polyester lithography plate and the right is the relief print.
Another mission: I got some new books recently, and I am so excited about them! I got a book on Martin Schongauer (love, love), starting to read more about Japanese woodblock printing, and a gem of a book about large scale printing (Grand Scale: Monumental Prints in the Age of Dürer and Titian, ed. by Larry Silver and Elizabeth Wyckoff, 2008) - the article on historic modular printing is pure gold ("Modular Prints: A Special Case for the Assembled Woodcut in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries" by Stephen Goddard - my heart goes pitter patter for giant modular prints).
These art books are wonderful, but my method of storage leaves something to be desired.
|After - Yay me - I heart non-saw power tools.|
|Before - This is my bed.|
Let it not be said though that looking through these books over and over (as well as attempting to absorb them by osmosis ;)) didn't lead to anything - art discovery!
[Complete and utter art-nerd gush ahead - fair warning :)]
Last winter, the "it's sub-zero outside" books I chose were on Durer and the Nuremberg Chronicle, by Durer's teacher Michael Wolgemut. By spring, I'd become particularly attached to this image from the illustrations of Creation in the Nuremberg Chronicle.
It's avian cannibalism ... the owl, of course, I notice the owl.
|and there it is today, blown up on my studio wall,|
on the left above the desk
I also love Schongauer. (I think he's in the "best" bubble of any artist ven diagram, right up there with Durer in terms of skill, but working at the very end of the Gothic era when his world and a whole way of life were ending.) So this year, about two weeks ago, I got a book of Schongauer's work (it's out of print, but I found an economic used copy). Looking through it (o, once, maybe twice ;) ) I saw this, one of Schongauer's last prints and burst out laughing.
I promise - this is extremely funny! Stay with me...
Durer loved Schongauer's work (and on a separate tangent for another day - Michelangelo did too). Shortly after finishing his apprenticeship with Wolgemut, Durer went to go meet Schongauer and hoped to study under him. Unfortunately he arrived shortly after Schongauer's death, though Schongauer's brothers gave Durer pieces of the late master's work and helped him during his subsequent travels.
Wolgemut received the commission to start the Nuremberg Chronicle while Durer was still his apprentice, and since Durer went from his apprenticeship with Wolgemut to seek Schongauer, it seems likely that he was already familiar with Schongauer's work by the end of his apprenticeship. Of the hundreds of blocks that make up the Nuremberg Chronicle, no one knows for sure which ones (if any) Durer may have worked on, but, to me, given the Christian world-view of the text, it makes the most sense that the first blocks to have been developed would have been those illustrating the Creation from Genesis. Not only is this logical sequentially and in keeping with societal values, but also, (though admittedly, I don't have them in front of me) I think the later contracts concerning the Nuremberg Chronicle which were drawn up after Durer had completed his training focus on the city blocks, (the "Sixth Age"); if so, this implies that the Genesis blocks (the "First Age") were no longer a subject of discussion - i.e. they were already complete.
With a little digital manipulation trying to get back to what the original drawing for the Nuremberg block would have looked like - subtract the color (which is added by hand later,) and flip the image (since the process of printing results in a mirror image), now zooming in on that cannibalistic owl...
|close up from the Creation in the Nuremberg Chronicle|
The curves of the owl's wings are the same, even the way the tip is obscured; the dead bird is in the exact same position; even the landscape elements in the Nuremberg image mimic the ornamental elements in Schongauer's print!
I imagine Apprentice Durer working on this, lovingly making a drawing with Schongauer's print in front of him, discussing it with Wolgemut. A fantasy? Maybe, but Durer would have had to bring proofs with him when he went to meet Schongauer (how else would 'recent graduate' Durer have convinced the master to take him on as a student?) and Schongauer's brothers must have seen something in Durer's work that convinced them to give him Schongauer's prints, help him with introductions to other printers, and even let him stay with one of them while he was traveling. What better evidence of admiration than the skillful integration of the master's work?
Ah - and that is how it all comes back to the cannibalistic owl, hahaha.
...And I could keep gushing about Schongauer (to the point of being irritating I'm sure, so just two more then I'll stop - promise! :)):
|Madonna and Child with the Parrot |
(yes, 'the Parrot!' - he
not only made an owl, but a parrot too!)
|Best St. Sebastian ever?!?|
As much book fun as I've been having, it hasn't been all indoor time - some recent photographs from the nearby conservation area. Even though I don't always directly quote from the landscape, the idea of "magical land + contemporary/potentially destructive tech with uncanny feeling of interruption" comes directly from experience. I think it really does look magical (and see the airplane in the upper left of the right picture. It was just out of frame to get it in the left image, but it was there!)
|Also, I feel like I've been having animal encounters |
lately when I don' t have my camera on me
(or, um, have run the batteries into the ground - again ;)).
Busting out the cell phone camera...