Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Psalm 29

How long should an artist pursue an idea? a dream? a vision?  

The "idea/image" came to me in a flash of inspiration, but getting that image on the block was going to be quite a journey.
I knew that I wanted to pay homage to Hokusai's great print, but how?  Lino seemed way too cold and a rectangular woodblock just wasn't exciting me, until I helped a neighbor cut down a tree and saw him slice off a chunk.

 Aha, that was it!  

I then set off on a journey to find the perfectly shaped stump that would inspired me and do honor to the image.  After a few hours of searching and a long explanation to the guy selling fire wood that I only wanted a "slice" of a log, I had three perfect slices.

But then I quickly realized two things: one was that these slices were not of an even and consistent thickness, and two was that they were far from dried wood.

First, let's get my favorite stump slice dried!  So I left it in my hot car all day long.  Uh oh, it's cracking, what to do?  The it dawned on me, this fits right into the Psalm even better;
The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars; 
yea, the Lord breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.
 I could make this work I was thinking, now to get the thing leveled.

Sweet Jesus, it's cracking even more!  OK, I can still make this work.  I think.  It took me a total of two weeks to finally get this block level, sanded and to stop it from splitting apart any more.  BTW, it usually takes me less than an hour to prep a block.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, the image I wanted to carve wasn't working on the first stump slice, it was splitting in an awkward way.  So I had to start all over again with one of the other slices.

 So, here is the image drawn on the block, prior to carving.
And, the finished carved piece (which still was not perfectly leveled, but good enough to work with).

OK, now many months later, I am finally ready to print!  The final printed image almost made me weep, I was so happy that it came out like it did.

Printed with Graphic Chemical black water based ink on a sheet of 15" x 22" Zerkal Book off white 145gpm paper.

Getting the ink to distribute evenly on a warped block was a nightmare, so I glued the block to a piece of 3/4" plywood and weighted the sucker down for a week.

And printed again.

Here are a few random pictures of the illumination process:

 And here is the final, full size illuminated manuscript:

Quite simply, this image is a gift from God, in it's totality, truly a gift.

Please leave a comment below.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Psalm 28

2 " Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help,"

In my mind, whenever I consider what is going on in the world today, I imagine the events as swirling, angry and invasive "winds".  When I consider my safety or harbor, I see the cross.  But many times, too many times, those winds try to invade my harbor, my safety.

But the cross remains: sturdy, strong and never bending or breaking.

I tried out so many ideas and techniques on this print and wood block that I felt like it was an experiment.  But the final image, when printed, came out so cool and so detailed that I kept it as a final, completed Psalm.

I used cherry wood for the block, finely sanded and prepared.  Still using mainly an ex-acto knife, my only other tool was a very sharp and very lethal tungsten needle.  I started off merely marking the lines with the steel needle very lightly, then decided to go back over the lines multiple times, going deeper with each "scratch" until the void was deep enough for printing.

For all my printmaking buddies, the paper was Zerkal 145 lb. off -white book, cut in half for a paper size of 18" x 30".  Block was printed with Graphic Chemical water soluble black ink using the Western method of a brayer and dry paper.  I do not use a press for the impression, just good old school muscles with a wooden spoon and glass of whiskey.

The decorative initial and color choices for the illumination were inspired by the image.  I used just plain old water based paints from Michaels Crafts and a very teeny tiny paintbrush.

I wish you could see the original images, the gold never scans correctly, but looks awesome!
Here is the final image in all it's glory.  Let me know what you think.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Psalm 27

I have been doing this blog for years now, but is anybody reading it?  I keep thinking of the lyrics to a song, "Is there anybody out there?  Does anyone care?".  So, if you do read this, leave a comment below, please.

 One of the things that annoyed me in my college education and subsequent readings over the years has been the "opinions" of historians and critics on the "meaning" behind paintings and drawings.  How did they really "know" what the artist meant, or was getting at, or what inspired them?  It was all a guess, maybe an intellectual one, maybe not, but it is still a guess. 

So, that being said, this time I would like to focus mainly on the image and TELL you my motive, inspiration, meaning, etc.....

I must have read this psalm over and over again twenty times before it hit me, this image is not going to be about a specific verse or group of verses, but about the ":feeling" I get when I read the whole psalm: safe.

So, what says safe?  After considering many ideas and images, I finally settled on the image you now see, a cleat.  Once that idea took shape, the rest came along easily.  The rope represents ourselves and our lives; twisted, rough, non-uniform, strong and rotting at the same time.  But wrapped around the cleat?  Security, safety, tied, etc.....

As you may have noticed, I like to represent God, or the idea of God, as pure white.

Technical details: lino block, Zerkall Book 145gm, Graphic Chemical Black w/s ink.

Peace out.  If enough people comment, I will come back and explain the decorative initial and illumination.