Thursday, July 31, 2008

Psalm 8, a teaser

O.K., I haven't had time to print this yet, but thought I would at least show you the block:

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Psalm 7, another favorite

I like the imagery of this Psalm. It came to me on a visit to Washington, DC., with my wife and daughter. The idea of justice, in all its forms and functions, was being illustrated by the sites I saw.
I really liked the way the sky turned out, I used a dremmel again to poke holes in the lino-block.
This is also the first time I experimented with the white line concept in the building.

This was my longest Psalm yet, calligraphy wise, and took a good deal of time and practice to get the spacing and layout correct. Below are the decorative capital and a sample of the text.

I switched from the calligraphy marker to a calligraphy pen that had different nibs, then had to write out the Psalm two or three times to get the spacing right:

Just in case you didn't know, you
can click on any image and see
the enlargement.

I really like the bottom image, one of my favorites so far-

And here is the final image. Love to hear the comments!

This is as far as I have gotten with completed prints, I have the blocks carved for Psalm 8 and Psalm 9, still fighting in my head with the image for the woodblock (I've got 6 cherry blocks cut to the size I need!) for Psalm 10.
Funny thing is, I am biting at the bit to get to Psalm 11, I already have the image in my head all planned out.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Psalm 6, my favorite so far

I'm tired today, so I will just post images with little talk: I used myself this time as the model and borrowed slightly from the book of Kells again for the illumination, with some minor changes of course to fit my idea.

And of course, the final image:

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Psalm 5: Using your friends

This was another new print in the series and one of the funnest yet.

I used our executive book keeper at work, Ryan, as my model. He was very gracious in posing for me, but I had to add the tie myself (I don't know if Ryan even owns a tie!). This is one of those prints where the image was in my head for quite a few weeks, so once I had the model the drawing, carving and printing went very quickly.

In my original drawing, I had the road going backwards at a straight angle, but once I got it on the lino-block, I decided the road should be curved or arched to add some depth. I also changed the sky, which originally was going to be just white, but I wanted more, more, more, so I added some fun by attempting to make the sky look like dawn, which fit the passage better. I used a dremmel tool, set at highest speed, and just used to or three different heads, carefully pushing it down into the block. This is also the first print where I incorporated the title into the actual print, hence the road sign.
Here is the capital letter and bottom image, using my favorite spare time scribble, vines wrapped around an image.
And the bottom art:

And here is the final piece. The text was the hardest part, I had to practice the calligraphy many, many times to get the whole thing to fit on one piece of paper. I usually practice by writing the chapter out completely on a scrap paper, then keep figuring out the layout and spacing necessary to get it all pleasing to the eye.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Psalm 4

"O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah."
By the way, all of these pieces that I am doing are using the King James version of the Bible. Somehow I just thought it was right to use the King James, it seemed to fit better with the whole scheme of what I was getting at.
Wow, where do I begin with this Psalm? There were so many ways I could go, but my mind got stuck on the passage above more than any other, so I went with my gut and did the following image:

I was trying to depict the many things that people put there time, money, love, passion and interest in, other than looking to God for their happiness and contentment, myself included. Many of the things in this print are personal passions of mine, and dislikes also. Some people like this print, some don't. I will say this, it is one of my favorites to draw and carve. I tried for so many textures and one homage to a fellow printer in Chicago.

This is the last print to actually include the title so bold in the print, after this I gave up and started to include them in the image itself.

How many passions can you find?

Here is the decorative capital:

I really wish the gold would show up the way it really looks in person, I just feel like it doesn't have the total effect online. Once again, I was trying to be cool by adding a bit of the image into the decorative letter, this time by using a design similar to a dollar bill (even though the face on the print is a for a hundred dollar bill). The illuminated design is one I like, it covers the bottom of the piece entirely, I can usually only get away with that when I do the short Psalm's
(my daughter likes to tease me about how I am going to do Psalm 139, but I will cross that bridge when I get there).
Here is the design:

O.K., here is the final piece:

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Psalm 3 and a clarification

Thought I should let everyone know that I am already up to Psalm 8 in finished pieces, I just started this blog a few days ago. I'm not superhuman and no way could I design, carve, print and letter and color and everything in one day! This blog will eventually get to a point when the finished works will be more spaced out over a longer period of time.
So, on to Psalm 3!
Here is the original sketch, which I actually did secretly in church one day when it came to me (didn't want the pastor to think I was ignoring him):

The image idea was from the passage "But thou,
O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the
lifter up of mine head".
As time went on and the sketches became more
detailed, I decided to add "I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about" to the image. Well, here is the final print, done on lino-block:

As you can see, I made a lot of changes to the original idea. The shield changed, the swords became more intense, people were added and I got to carve my favorite things: wings! I love doing wings, I just think they look cool in prints. It doesn't hurt also that wings are an acceptable design principle in anything religious. This is almost the last time I tried to actually carve the title into the print, I just don't think I was made for carving out letters. Funny isn't it, I can carve the finest detail on and in designs, but give me letters or numbers and I screw them up somehow. My favorite figure in the crowd of "enemies" is the one with the hand raised up in the "rock on" symbol (center under the shield).
Now, I love the decorative capital, but some people think it is too much.

Showing the illumination part is too hard, because it encompasses the the print almost entirely. So I am just going to show the final image down below and call it a day. This is one of my personal favorites by the way.

P.S. In case anyone ever wonders, my chop mark is the letter "d", although I should have done it

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Psalm 2

Well, I skipped yesterday, figured I had already posted on the Sabbath, so I better skip a day.
Only kidding, not that conservative, just didn't have much too say.
O.K., Psalm 2. Here is a sketch of my original idea.
Oh yeah, when I was in college I heard this preacher, Ern Baxter, give a sermon on this Psalm when I lived in Bowling Green, OH. I had had the idea for this image ever since then, almost 20 years rolling around in my brain. The Psalm tells of how the rulers of the nations, feeling strong and bold in their own strength, gathered together and decided to break the chains they felt God had put on them (Hence the United Nations logo, strong arms and the breaking of the chains). Of course the Psalm goes on to speak of how God will crush them, but I had the imagery I needed for my print. I don't always show everything the Psalm discusses, but what my "vision" was after reading and studying the Psalm. The essence of what I "saw", I suppose, would be a good way to word it. I'm not a theologian, or a Bible expert, but I want to, Dew what I Dew! Hah. Here is the final print version, same size as the all the rest, printed on the same paper with the same Graphic Chemical Ink.

As you can see, I changed a few things from the original sketch, but not much. This image was carved
on Cherry wood, rather than on a linoblock like the
Psalm 1. To try and add some depth to the image, I added the lines going through the United Nations logo, while also creating super highlights and contrast in the arms and hands, making it almost cartoonish, which I liked. So I went ahead and made the "city" look like a cartoon also, furthering the idea that fighting or denying God was laughable.
When the preacher described the way the Greek spoke of God "holding them in derision", he compared it to a little two year old trying to beat up a professional heavyweight boxer, that it was laughable, foolish.
Until of course God had had enough of the foolishness and crushed them. Here is the decorative initial for the Psalm:

I continued on with the buildings in the capital letter, wish you could see this in person, the scanning just does not like gold and messes everything up.
Some one asked me about the calligraphy. Yes, I do all of it myself on the same piece of paper I did the print on and the capital letter on. So not only does the print need to look nice, but I also can't mess up the capital letter, or the Psalm lettering, or the illumination, or the whole thing gets trashed. I do keep copies of all the "templates", so if I ever want to do another one it shouldn't be too hard. Oh yeah, for the first few Psalms, I used a calligraphy pen that I bought at Target for about five bucks. As time went on, I invested in a better calligraphy pen with interchangeable nibs.
Here is the final image:

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Psalm 1, A Beginning

I'm really not sure how to start this, so I decided to just jump in and at least write something, even if it sounded stupid or weird. After reading and rereading the Psalm many times, I saw a river through a plane of space separated by extreme weather conditions:
But the "ground" needed to be something, so I decided on the book because that it where it all began for me, in "the" book.
I also decided to include the Psalm title in the actual woodblock print, which later I have "Durerized" by hiding it within the image, sometimes boldly and sometimes like a a "where's Waldo" located title, or just placed it at the bottom if I couldn't work it into the image.
I tried to mirror the image, on the left being lush and green and plentiful, while on the right burned out, degrading and crumbling.
The image was carved on a linoblock and I used Graphic Chemical's black water based ink. Hand rolled and printed on Goyu paper by my own hands (funny side note, I printed the first print on the wrong side of the paper, leaving me no space to put the calligraphy text of the Psalm).
Now for the fun part! Once the print was primed up right, I printed the woodblock onto the paper and got ready to add the text. I have really tried to make the illuminated portion of the image work with the text and illumination, sometimes the outcome was not exactly what I wanted, but this time I think it worked. Here is the key decorative capital:
The letter I think is from the Book of Kells, but since I rarely follow the rules, I've changed it up a little bit. I hope this works, cause I'm still trying to figure out this layout stuff, but here is the bottom image:

It is really hard to see here, but I have used the same colors and the same animals, just in different positions. I know it doesn't look like it, but the gold color is really a bright gold color, about as close as I could get to the real thing. Someday maybe I will try using gold leaf, but for now I've found that multiple layers of a gold pen will give you quite a brilliant, shiny gold. Oh well, too much talk, here is the final image. Once I figure out how much and how to sell these "prints?", I post them up:

Stay tuned, I will post Psalm 2 soon (oh yeah, I did the calligraphy also), total paper size is roughly 15" x 21".

Saturday, July 19, 2008

How it all began

When I first starting researching woodblock printing, I found some images that were used to make illuminated manuscripts. With the invention of movable type, lots of poor monks suddenly found themselves not needed. Bibles could now be mass produced, quickly and cheaply. But I think we lost something as a society, we lost the beautiful images and hand written pages these monks and artists made.
So, I decided to "try" and bring back a little of the old and mix in in with a little of the new, creating my own illuminated manuscript, based on the Book of Psalms.
I had already done a woodblock print for an exchange with the Baren Group ( that was based on Psalm 2, so that was the start of my quest.
I've posted just a copy of the image, later I will post the whole illuminated page, also with an explanation of how I "saw" the Psalm, visually.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A First Timer

Well, I finally figured this all out and hope everyone enjoys.
To start, I am an artist trapped in an hourly job. No bars and chains, but a desk and telephone have kept me from my love for over twenty years. I love to create, envision, interpret and share.
I started into printmaking during college, because my mother would claim any good painting or pastel drawing as hers, so she would wind up with the only copy. But with printmaking, I can sell, share, giveaway, whatever and still have one or more left over. I started with etching, moved on to lithography and finished my education with screen printing. But that was twenty plus years ago.
Once I got out of school, I stopped almost everything except the once in awhile painting or drawing.
But then, my daughter Meagan had to learn about the invention of movable type and printing.
So, off to the local art store where I found some Speedball printing blocks, ink, carving tools, brayer and paper. Amazed, I could do this on the kitchen table!
And thus I began.