Posts Tagged ‘ woodblock art ’

Totally, Totally immersed

It’s funny how, say for example you talk to someone about a red car and then for days, all you see is red cars, no matter where you turn. Well that selective process of identifying the things that capture our thoughts and imaginations has taken a firm hold of me in regards to woodcuts, woodblock prints, relief prints, everything and anything to do with this medium of expression and art.

About a year and a half ago, I was looking for new and interesting design ideas for illustrating cd artwork. My interests were sparked when I looked back as far as Eric Gill. I ended up going further back, back to Albrecht Durer and was amazed at the history, the skill and craftsmanship and a whole lineage of art I’d never heard of or been taught about in my years of regular schooling.

These days I wonder what it would be like to go to art school and learn about woodcut prints but I know I don’t have time to stop and formally learn how to do… what I’m already too busy doing. When I set this blog up in June, I didn’t personally know anyone who was doing this. In a few short months I’ve discovered a handful of people in my town who dabble and create woodcuts, I’ve found a history of people from Australia who made wonderful work (Margaret Preston, Thea Proctor, Adelaide Perry, Cressida Campbell), joined a printing collective and scrolled through dozens and dozens of amazing blogs filled with inspiring work from people dotted all over the globe.

I also recently joined a woodblock forum called Barenforum, an extremely interesting if not slightly bamboozling forum to someone as novice as myself – what with talk of various techniques and multiple block colour schemes and such. Baren however did recently lead me to have my first international sale of one of my prints. That was really exciting for me.

My latest discovery is an artist named Lynd Ward. He was an American Artist who came to prominence in the 1930s with his wordless woodcut novels. I have been overwhelmed with options of late of what to do next, what to learn and what direction to take. Should I do traditional Japanese prints in multiple blocks, should I try reductionist prints, woodblock etchings etc. I’ve felt overwhelmed until a few weeks ago when I finally found Lynd Ward.

Book2

Book1

I just got these books recently and I know that this is the direction I want to take myself in. This to me, and my way of seeing things, is my high-water mark, this is where I want to strive to get to. I’m going to stick to single block images for a while and try to improve my skills. At the moment, just trying to empty the contents of my brain onto various woodcuts is taking almost all of my spare time and I’m really enjoying it.

Funny enough, I don’t want to put up everything I’m doing because that will leave nothing when it comes time to show people in my town in a gallery. That said, I’m proud of what I’m doing and I want people outside of my town to see it. A few weeks back I finished a woodcut that was my tribute to technology. In the same vein, I finished another technological favourite of mine at the start of last week, the Hot Rod.

Roadster

and a few days later I did a North Queensland Palm cockatoo. Easily the most interesting and entertaining of birds I’ve ever come across.

Palm Cockatoo

Today I’m starting the view from my worktable, the place I do all of my carving at. After that? Who knows, I’ve got about another four blocks in the planning stage at the moment. I honestly don’t think I’ve felt this driven at any other time in my life.

One day at a time

A friend asked me how long my typewriter print took me to do. Normally I’d reply with a time span of weeks given that I’m usually slow at these things. This time however it was actually only a matter of days from start to finish.

Usually I’d sit down for around two hours a day and work on the block. Along the way, at the end of each day I took a photo of my progress. I figured I’d break whatever mysterious¬† spell art is supposed to to have and show you my day by day progress.

The idea was about a month in the formulating, swirling about my head until I pulled the typewriter down off the bookshelf. After sketching the typewriter and my hands onto the block, this was the starting point…

The Start:
Block

End of Day 1:
Day1

There is no day 2 or 3 because I was to busy to sit down and concentrate.

End of Day 4:
Day4

End of Day 5:
Day5

End of Day 6:
Day6

End of Day 7:
Day7

As it turned out, day 8 and 9 were spent at home with an ear infection. It kind of sucked because I couldn’t hear much but it did give me more time to finish this thing off. I think i spent about four hours per day for the last two days cutting away at the block.

End of day 8:
Day8

Finished on day 9:
Day9

As you can see in the photos, I used a small and medium U shaped cutter and a small V shaped cutter for a lot of this block. The tool that was of the most benefit to me was actually a surgical scalpel. That’s how all the keys and fine inner workings of the typewriter were cut away.

…and here is the block, all inked up in red after the first print was done:

End

And yes, I think I will do an edition of these some time down the track. Not today though because I’m half way through trying to carve a 1932 Ford Coupe Hot Rod out of a slab of Qld Maple.

Owls (revisited)

A little while back I did up a woodblock of two owls for a special friend. The response I got from both them and from others that saw it was overwhelming. I had a print in my recent show and quite a few people wanted a copy even though there was only one available (sorry).

18

So I decided to revisit the owls about a month ago, but of course, I didn’t want to just repeat myself. I decided to do something a little more detailed and not quite so cute. I found some old National Geographic’s and of course (as is the way with me) let things get out of hand. The result is below and it’s a lot more detailed than I originally planned but it seems to have worked out alright.

The first one is hand painted with watercolours.

Owls Painted Sml

The second is made up of multiple blocks to show a background and mid-ground with the owls in the foreground.

Owls Combined Sml
It’s been really challenging and should I get a good print on the Dutch Etching paper I bought today, I’ll do a full print with colour. Don’t expect an edition though.

Scorch

Ok, so I want to tell you a story…

I don’t want to give to much away before the night but seeing as I now have permission, I want to share.

So back in late 1993, back when I had to walk half an hour to the Beenleigh train station, sit on the train for an hour, go to the big scary record store called Rocking Horse and buy my one cassette that I’d spent weeks saving for, off the intimidating store clerks… I one day found this zine (I think you could call it that, it’s actually pretty fancy for a zine):

Scorch Cover

Anyway, I remember, reading the damn thing front to back and then back to front again and it changed my life in the same way hearing your first punk record changes your life. I read an article on Vivisection (I had never heard of the practice before) and go so head up I went and dumped all the meat products out of my fridge/freezer, into the bin (17 years later I still haven’t though about eating meat). I read about bands I’d never heard of before, bands like Bolt Thrower, Dreamkillers, Babes In Toyland, Acid World, D.O.A., No Means No and more. I saw ads for things called Livid and Market day and a few weeks later went to my first festivals. I first heard about a station called ZZZ etc etc… you get the idea.

So I got this crazy idea in my head to try to make, for my final project in grade 12 art class a clay sculpture of the image on the front cover of the zine. As you can see it’s a pretty out there human face, all chopped up and such. So some weeks later I had gotten to the point where this clay sculpture was not working (mainly due to gravity, “damn you” *shakes fist*). The whole thing fell apart, my art teacher, failed me, told me to stop trying art and go do something else with my time. I did…

But, I felt resentment in the back of my mind that I’d been told not to try and for some reason, it was that project that I attached that resentment to. So now let’s fast forward 17 years…

I decided about two months ago that with my now meager skills in woodblock carving, I wondered if I could have a second attempt at the Scorch image. I was too nervous to ask the artist who first illustrated the cover image if he would let me try a woodblock cause even if he said no, I knew I would have to attempt it regardless. I owed it to the kid who failed art class to prove it to his teacher that he could re-make this mangled face into something cool (even though i always thought it looked awesome from the start).

So blah blah blah, this story’s getting long. It took me about five weeks to carve out the woodblock and it’s the biggest block I’ve attempted yet. The zine image was 22cm high while the woodblock I’ve made is 68cm high. I made one or two adjustments to the image cause I know my limitations and I really wanted it to work but I still feel as though I have kept the essence of the image and put all the important factors into my block. Yesterday I sheepishly asked the artist if I could put the woodblock into my art show as a collaborative piece. He said “sure, but it’s not the best thing I’ve drawn”.

I’m stoked that I get to show people. I really feel like I accomplished something with this one.

Scorch 2
my hands in it so you get some idea of scale.

Scorch 1

Article in this Week’s Scene

Check it out… I’m famous! *cough*
Well maybe not, but still, it’s made my day. :)

Brisbane street press mag Scene Magazine

Scene Article

Thanks to the always awesome Matt Brady

I Used To Skate Once 5 is on next week!!!

I Made A Book

Book 1

Book 4

Book 2

Book 3

So, the last year has been a pretty wild ride in a number of ways. And with the show still a little way off, I decided to document the last 12months from my first woodblock to my last (and all in between).

So… I made a book! It’s 68 pages with big colour photos of all my work, stories and explanations for why and how. There’s also five original prints (on Japenese printing stock) in there as well (Utah above being one of them). The whole thing is nicely printed on pearl paper, hand bound by me with a pretty embossed cover.

It seemed like a good idea when I started it… and it was. It was more work than I imagined though so subsequently, I’ve only made 6 of them and one of those 6 is for me to keep. The other five I’m going to sell on the opening night of the art show.

I wonder what crazy ideas I’ll have between now and the 17th July?

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