Monday, January 16, 2017

So many blocks!

A very busy week in Artlandia - working on 5 blocks at once :o (which is not normal for me, and probably not a good idea, but let me explain...)

So...for the first block, I'm continuing on the "seven deadly sins through (faux) consumerist garbage."  This week I made the block for "Acedia" [*fair warning - about to nerd out] - which is usually translated "sloth," but since that's not a commonly used word anymore outside this context, I don't find it that useful as a translation. But! one of the great things about translation, is you can go back to the word in the original language and re-examine it any time.  I'd say it means something more like despair - not having the energy to begin because it's hopeless. (To me, sloth covers the "not having the energy to begin" part, but I think kind of misses the "because it's hopeless," where as despair leans more heavily toward the later part but still incorporates the first part...but neither is perfect.) I made a syringe for "Acedia" and that was the first block - I'm especially proud of getting the shine within the tip of the needle and the letters (ooooh the letters.)
Carving Gothic script, backwards, on this scale was definitely "exciting" - oy :P - happy with the way it turned out though - thumbs up!

Next, I've been working on the phoenix block. A close friend requested this, and when I finish the seven deadly sins in individual panels, I've been thinking of making one big tapestry-scale piece with all of them, and doesn't every good garden of Earthly delights need a phoenix?

I was especially inspired by Chinese screens for this, but also (always) Durer and early Northern European blocks.  Still  ways to go on this, but lots of progress, and that was the second block.
Image result for durer wing black and white
black and white of Durer's watercolor,
"Wing of a Blue Roller," 1512:

I made the primary feathers striped to keep things interesting ;) - fun times

The third block is a continuation of the tree trunk from last week. Now the I have the base, this week I got new MDF panels and had them cut to 12 x 30" (because 30" is the length of a standard sheet of Stonehenge paper, and close to the maximum length print I can pull from Lucille's 36" press bed.)

Like the base, I free drew this one directly on the block from imagination, and like how it's developing, but there are a loooooot of cuts in this. When I need a break from it and to help me stay motivated, I also started a squirrel (because what's the point of having a tree trunk if I can't put a squirrel on it?) I just started the squirrel (so holding off on photos), but that's the 4th block. 

Image result for 14th century bestiary manuscript
Medieval manuscript depicting animals

For the 5th block, I'm trying an experiment - I want to add repeating patterns onto a solid color background to use behind the animals (I'm thinking particularly of the fox). This is a common feature of Medieval manuscripts (example to the right). To get the most pattern per carving, I'm trying a pattern that can be quartered, so that I can carve 1/4 of it and rotate the block.  I got the pattern by cutting out a snowflake in black paper, scanning it, then printing 1/4 of it on the block as a template.  (This is also early, so no photos until I print it and see if it works :) ), but that is the fifth block.

Whew!  Luckily I've had lots of help from my feline assistants.  They keep me motivated,  going into the studio immediately after breakfast and getting the carving pillow warmed up while Honey and I walk.  There are blocks everywhere, but they've been taking shifts on the pillow while I work.