Monday, November 2, 2015

phase 8 - facilitate a good choice

A busy week in Artlandia!  Things were a little fragmentary this week, with energy going in a few directions. 
First, I made 2 finished pieces from last week's Gothic capital block - thumbs up :)

I went ahead and placed them into the life-sized work in progress, which is moving in the right direction, if sloooooowly.
Shifting focus, an ongoing sub-project related to the tiny tarot has been using the tarot iconography as a "control" while changing the plate material; for example, here are the four versions of Justice that I've made since July, on a pronto plate, copper plate, aluminum plate, and linoleum block.

On the one hand, it may seem like overkill, but it has been helpful  to compare a single image across the different media in trying to understand and appreciate the qualities of the materials.

I bring this up because it's been on my mind in terms of the drapery block from 2 weeks ago that I put on pause, but haven't put away.  I've been looking at it everyday and thinking about it in terms of phase 8 and facilitating a good choice. I think that I'm having such a hard time with it because in some ways, it's the 'almost right' things that are hardest to let go. Like how, if they're approximately the same size, it actually is possible to get a square peg in a round hole if you hit it hard enough, enough times (and are willing to overlook a little split wood ;)) The more I look at the block, the more I think I could make it work if I had to - it's a not a bad approach....but it's not the best choice either, because I'm asking the media to do something it doesn't want to do (make a mostly open form), and so I'm not using it to it's highest efficiency. (Hmmmmmmmm.)  

So, I reverted to minis, to see it I can figure it out on a smaller scale first.  With that last block of Justice, I really pushed against the limit of the what the material will hold (the harder the block material, the finer cut it will hold, and these are a soft rubber). So I decided to try a harder block material, but at this point, even I'm ready to try a new image, so I went with Fortuna instead.
I carved a new Fortuna on a hard linoleun block...and was reminded of why I switched to the soft blocks 2.5 years ago...

The softer the plate material, the easier it is to print by hand. Try as I might, I couldn't get a good proof of this. Also, because each cut takes more force and the marks are smaller, the carving time shoots way up...
with a quarter for scale - the face is about the size of
George Washington's 
state proof - 6 x 4"

...Still, there is just something about this medium that I find particularly satisfying.

By the time I gave up on trying to get a good proof, I was pretty frustrated. I try to remind myself of the first tiny tarot blocks that I did at home and how the proofs printed by hand were terrible compared to the final prints done on a press (no exaggeration - see the proof vs. final print of the Empress below). So I picture and go over in my mind exactly how I'm going to print it when I have access to a press very soon: "I'm going to ink this in bone black, then put it on the hot plate, and take out a nice, damp packed piece of Hahnemeulhe warm white paper..." It sort of worked, sort of...

But I decided to shift gear to something that would be more immediately gratifying ;). I marbled new round paper...

This paper is 18" - 50% larger than the round paper for the Fledermice, and that and the Fortuna block got me thinking about scale.

Sometimes, I make art mistakes because I'm seeing something as 1 issue, and instead, it turns out to be an overlap of 2+... Each material has a strength in terms of open vs. closed forms...but it also has a certain scale and tool/mark size that it likes...hmmmmmm.  Getting a little overwhelmed, I tried to separate and categorize the ideas/issues with a color coded diagram...and filled a 3 ft white board, no problem.

I got to thinking that maybe I need more than one block to create the image I have in mind.  For example, I made a plant on aluminum plate last week because some plants are more opened than closed, and I want to see if I can make it coordinate with my existing relief blocks of plants...but then I realized that the lines in the aluminum will be too fine not to be overwhelmed by the relief, I tried putting the larger lines in a pronto plate...

Of course, I haven't printed either plate yet, so, for now, it's just a guess...we'll see :).

In making the chart, one thing that I keep coming back to is wings (no surprise there), but I also keep thinking about the tapestry show I saw at the Met last year.  I think about it all the time - I loved the borders - that reminded me of life-scale versions of illuminated manuscript borders and also the cartoons. Seeing the cartoons, the drawings that were used to create the tapestries was very interesting to me, because they're an essential to the process, but not finished works in themselves (and as a result, they were often discarded and almost never displayed) in a finished tapestry there are two layers of work - a visible (fiber) layer and the invisible working layer (drawing)....

Another pattern in the chart - the shows that have had the biggest impact on me fall into two categories "Gothic stuff" and "Contemporary stuff." Surprising (to me) - all the contemporary stuff that has made the biggest impression on my over the last 3 years involves some digital processing.

So, I decided to try something. I scanned one of my favorite wing blocks and worked with it on the computer and then printed it out life-scale... 
Jr. helping establish scale
in the studio - and just like that - I have a cartoon.

Then, not forgetting about the tiny tarot! I made the next plate, "The High Priestess."  For this, I was influenced by two of my favorite's Philosophy by Durer, and a miniature from the "Consolation of Philosophy".
Philosophy by Albrecht Durer, 1502
Philosophy from Boethius Consolation of Philosophy

In conclusion - scattered progress?