Time for another installment of Swallows Installation Project!
Last time, I discussed the early planning stages for the upcoming "10 Artist/ 10 Objects" exhibition at Tremaine Gallery in January 2018 which will include a new installation piece based on Audubon's Swallows. When we left off, I had done the initial sketch, visited the site, and seen and photographed the Audubon's swallows from the permanent collection.
This time, I'm narrowing my focus, doing historical research, and preparing the digital and physical materials to carve new relief prints for the installation.
I first had to choose the specific source materials I want to work with, and in order to do that, I needed to know what exactly I was looking for. Even within the category "Audubon's swallows" there are many different types (which can be seen online at : http://www.audubon.org/bird-family/swallows ).
I'm inspired by the experience of seeing the original prints, but my goal is not making copies, it's trying to communicating the experience of interacting with them, what I see and think about and feel when I look at them. This experience is influenced not only by the objects themselves, but also by my memories of seeing real swallows and other artwork of swallows. Audubon documented the differences between types of swallows so that others could recognize and identify them, but my purpose does not include this element of categorization, so I feel free to draw on elements of all of the Audubon prints as well as other sources. I tried to narrow down my search by thinking about what characteristics make up the idea of swallow to me.
|Albrecht Durer, Sampson fighting|
(rending) the Lion, 1497-8
Fun fact: the Metropolitan
Museum of Art has the
original block for this print
One could argue that they're definitely birds, but question whether they're swallows - but! if we zoom in close, the sharp wings and forked tails characteristic of swallows are visible (also, the landscape shows a rocky outcropping beside the sea - an ideal habitat for nesting swallows.)
|Detail of Durer's Sampson fighting the Lion with my highlights|
Michael Wolgemut, Creation of
Adam and Eve, from
Schatzbehalter der wahren
|close up view with my highlights, Michael Wolgemut, Creation of Adam and Eve, from Schatzbehalter der wahren Reichtümer des Heils, 1491 in the collection of the Library of Congress|
Looking at these was helpful for me in deciding what characteristics are most important to communicate the idea of swallow. I decided I want to use the two-tone coloration like of a tree swallow, but the feather pattern of the Violet-green swallow (where the white goes over the eye). To me, the long tail feathers are iconic of swallows, so I'll base the tail on the barn swallow. To capture the moment of seeing the bright yellow in the print, I'll add gold to the eyes.
Knowing what I'm looking for and what changes I want to make, I went back to the Audubon prints looking for a swallow in flight as a starting point. I chose to start with an image of the Violet-green Swallow, which can be seen online: http://www.audubon.org/birds-of-america/bank-swallow-and-violet-green-swallow ).
Let the art-making process begin!
Let the art-making process begin!
|I digitally zoomed in on a single bird.|
|I printed my digitally adapted version on transfer paper and pressed it onto the block.|
|Then I carved.|
|first swallow proof!|
|I then scanned one of the lighter versions.|
|I worked with the scan in Photoshop to make it into a template for the others.|
I made sure it has a solid outline and high contrast.
|I made copies of various sizes in both directions...|
|...and printed them onto two polyester lithography plates.|
|Polyester lithography plates setting in the oven.|
|I then printed the polyester plates onto the block.|
|close up view of the block with polyester lithography prints on it to act as carving templates|