Monday, October 12, 2015

phase 8 - make the right choice easy(er) - mini-project conclusion

5 blocks/plates a week for a month mini-project wrap up!

The new (final) blocks:

and all together now...

New (final) plate:

All together now....


There are actually 22 blocks/plates - that joke I made about my being able to divide 7 by 2 - I shouldn't have, because somewhere along the line, I got off in tallying the blocks/plates (sigh) but, hey, in the end, I met the goal of 20 in 4 weeks ;).  

And you may be noticing that the plates are looking particularly lovely :)...

On Wednesday, the final day of the project, I went to Zea Mays and printed all day. I tried to be super prepared, tearing down and damp packing all the paper, making a registration key, organizing all the materials, so that I could focus on printing. By that point, I'd pictured it in my mind so many times, I managed to pull 56 prints and (most gold-star-accomplishment :) - ) no fingerprints(!!). With one exception, where we were calibrating the pressure of the press, they're all even, registered, clean, and clear ( :D !!!)

In addition to those plates that are part of the mini-project, I printed the first 4 plates from August:


And (and, and) I made the 5th fledermaus:

All together now:

And started framing them (until I had to stop because I cut myself on the framing and didn't want to bleed on the artwork- I'm conscientious like that :p)

And - made the piece on the right for my cousin.                                                                                                      On the one hand, I made lots of things and feel like that's a good start (and that, in general, it's better to do something, anything...) Some of the blocks are working toward a large-scale piece; others went into the Fledermice; and progress continued on the tiny tarot. I learned some things about the process that are not flashy, but important - like learning to remember to back the plates before etching them...and when I fail to remember, putting a sticky note on the cover of the mordant that says: "Did you back the plate yet?" haha.                                                                     
 ...So I did things - real, tangible, "with art as my witness" things...but...

It's still hard to see the "why" behind it.  I can understand how it might look like I'm just interested in the next new technique, or make "a lot of random stuff." (which I've been told, except, I don't think the word used was "stuff." ;).)  

In my mind (in pictures) it's very clear, but when I try to put it into words, it all just falls apart, and I wonder if my explanation is relevant compared to the work itself...but then I think that if I haven’t even tried to explain, it would be justifiable to assume that I just don’t know. 

So...phase 8 to the rescue! I made a chart to try to turn the words into a picture as a starting it goes.

I feel like I am narrowing down my focus and making a series of deliberate decisions. 

First, I’ve been transitioning from direct to indirect processes, from drawing to printmaking.  I still rely heavily on drafting skills, but by drawing on blocks and plates instead of directly into the composition. The reason for indirect rather than direct processes is that it leaves the possibilities open longer. Instead of a drawn element being fixed within composition early on, by having it on a block or plate, it can be easily moved around and reproduced so that the combinations and arrangements are almost infinite. 

The other reason for transitioning from direct to indirect is that that it makes those areas that are direct more potent. I haven't abandoned direct techniques - I still draw into the final collages (for example adding colors and metallics to the eyes). By making most of the composition indirect, the direct parts become more powerful – they stand out as different/important in a way that they wouldn’t if the whole composition was direct.

Next, moving toward primarily subtractive techniques, ones where the mark is made by cutting or etching away material.  Subtractive methods are unforgiving - once the material is gone, it’s gone, and I admire the way they demand commitment to every mark. I also like the aspect of destruction – trying to balance the sensitivity of rendering and the beauty of the content against the controlled violence needed to create it. By making it part of the process, I want to make sure that this destructive aspect can't be easily ignored.

At last, getting down to open vs. closed form. Assuming that one is using the media to it’s strength, I feel that relief lends itself more to closed forms - where most of the thing is ink, and intaglio lends itself more to open forms - where most of the thing is the paper showing through.  This classification of "open" or "closed" isn't content specific - it mostly depends on the background and light (and both techniques can to be used in either way). But... I feel like having both will help me capture a broader range of forms. 

The distinction between "open" and "closed" has been on my mind for a while - I think this is what I was looking for/ trying to understand when I highlighted this area of "Saltzburg" from the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493) last November - I wasn't able to explain what I meant at the time, but the ability to go from closed to open, with the same form (tree), in a single composition (only a few inches apart!) without breaking the illusion of a single space, to me, is part of what makes Wolgemut a master.

Lastly, the bubbles on chart are green, because, on the one hand, I really want all these techniques...but only if they're as green as possible. The idea of making images of plants and animals in a way that is harmful to actual plants and animal does not appeal to me, at all. In a way, it's only the recent availability and access to new materials and techniques that make all the other decisions possible. (Otherwise, I would stick with drawing.) 

When it comes to summing up the mini-project, I'm of two minds.  On the one hand, I know I've been incredibly fortunate to have the chance to learn and study these techniques and like any new technique, it takes time. I also still feel sure that intaglio and relief can be made to go together like two halves of the same coin; but, on the other hand, I'm little frustrated because with the mini-project, I practiced them individually, but haven't yet combined them as successfully as I'd like...not there yet... 

My other frustration is with my handling of the B.I.G. ground - I don't think I've even scratched the surface of what it can do  - it feels like having a fancy race car, being on a track, and then letting it sit in a single gear at 35. 

So, to sum it all up - I feel like I'm moving in the right direction, but slowly, slowly. 

Still, it was a good mini-project and a happy week, so let's end with kitties and flowers :)

My clever feline assistants know where it's at - here they both are this week, having decided that my carving pillow is the very best place in the room for napping, so that each time I get up to take care of bio-needs, I come back to a different kitty in my spot, and some of the last flowers of the season.