relief printmaking

Coping with Failure

These collagraph plates are the start of a failure. I worked hard cutting out these shapes last week but what I didn't take into account was the lines from the corrugated cardboard printing in a very distracting pattern. Nothing to be done but reuse the prints for some other purpose, trash the plates and chalk the whole thing up as a learning experience. It is upsetting and very frustrating. I get discouraged and a little depressed about it. Being a beginner and learning is hard but so important. The well tread safe route rarely (never) leads to breakthroughs. In honor of my artistic growth and change I am currently offering all my older prints at a discount on Etsy. Get them while they are still around. Keep doing the work through the problem and come out on the other side better off for the struggle. Can't say that about every painful experience in life.


Right vs Left(y)

I'm a left handed artist. In printmaking it means that I need to throw out* the right handed knives that come with most sets and get a special left-handed or duel-bladed knife for myself. A typical right handed style blade is on the left and on the right is a duel sided pointed blade that works when held in both the left and the right hand. Very useful little tool that had to be special ordered. 

There are lots of little challenges to being a left handed artist. The biggest one for me was avoiding smearing drawings with the side of my hand. Maybe that is one reason why I got into printmaking because there is no risk of smearing my work. Just a few special tools and tweaks and I am all set.

* Really I save them for students whenever I teach instead of throwing them out. But I can't use them effectively.  


Carving Again. Why wait?

It's been a few months since I worked on art for myself. How did that happen? Why the delay? No more of that thank you. This is a busy week for me but I have this morning free so I carve. Resistance won November and December, but it will not be taking my January. Not anymore. Springlike weather has me wanting to print and to print I need to finish carving this block and it isn't going to carve itself sitting on a shelf.


Carving in the Cold

Like just about everyone my days are very busy and it is often very hard to carve out art time during the day. Unfortunately I typically don't have much creative energy left in the evening after the kids go to bed. Which is a pity since that is sometimes the only time I have to make art. Thankfully carving is totally different and doesn't take much creativity or energy once I have a drawing already mapped out on the woodblock. Carving is a mentally minimalist and meditative process that gives me a chance to unwind at the end of a long day. Not too many things out there get me to slow down but carving a block of wood is one of those things that does force me to slow down and narrow my focus to the quiet and labor intensive careful task of carving a block of wood to print in the spring. As the days get shorter and colder there is something just right about spending the evenings in my little studio carving while drinking a cup of hot tea. As summer ended I found myself craving to have a large block of wood to slowly carve away so I got started on the planning and sketching. That is what I did during most of October. Now I am ready to carve.


Stay Flexible

When my typical method for transferring an image kept failing I ended up using an iron on transfer method to get a few photocopied images on my block. Not my preferred method and certainly not the cheapest or most low tech but it works. Rather than run around town trying different photocopiers until I maybe found one that worked I just bought a 5 pack of iron on transfer paper and was done with it. Now my drawing is all touched up and the whole block is sealed and ready to carve. I only fell one day behind my plan. Easy enough to catch up. Woo hoo!