Posts Tagged ‘ hand printing ’

Into The Light


There’s really a hundred different ways I could title this post. Today it will be this though. You might be noticing a patten here. A flurry of blog posts then nothing for months. Another flurry and then nothing and so on. Sorry, that’s just how it is really. Time to tell others is something I’m not good at factoring into my to-do list.

This is something I’ve been working on for almost a year now. In fact when I started it last November, I didn’t even know I was creating a series of interlinked woodcut prints. Sometimes the story evolves and writes itself as you go along. It was an unexpected conversation with a gentleman named John Dyer Baizley in February that not only gave this series focus but in no small part completely upended the way I have created my prints this year. It’s funny how a few well times words can ripple and grow inside your head until they change the way you look and approach everything you make. To me, I have John to thank for the prints below…
This first print was initially titled ‘When Lessons Go Unlearned’. It was a lamentation on the way I have in the past treated (or mistreated) my bones and my physical body. Let’s just say that as a kid, I often found out things the hard way and got to know the emergency ward of the Penrith Hospital pretty well.
From there I started to consider some of the ‘near misses’ I have had throughout my life. A cat has nine lives, or so the story goes. If that’s the case then I most certainly do not have all nine left to toy with.

These are shots of the test prints as they have come off the blocks. Each print is an exploration of my memories and thoughts of an exact moment in time. I won’t explain them here, maybe I’ll make an artist book some day soon and include the gory details there…

This is half of the last chapter in the series. This is the block I finished and printed a few hours ago. There is also a red block to go with this black block. That will be next up on the to-do list.


Plans are afoot to properly exhibit the whole series in December. More details of that when I have them though. That’s me for now. There will be more to share when I next have the time.


Getting Off To A Good Start

So I have been working hard at a new musical project (commonly known as a band) since February this year. It has been a huge amount of fun and I really don’t want to start playing gigs because it’s so cool just getting in a room and writing, refining songs and really just making a lot of noise with really great friends.

But as it goes, you tell other friends about the band and then other friends want to hear the band and so forth… Which eventually leads you to making a demo of your songs. Well, the recording side of the demo was made a few weeks ago which left the obvious question of how to distribute what we’d recorded. Sure, putting a digital file up on the internet would have been the easiest and zero dollar option but where is the fun in that? No I was hoping my bandmates would let me make something more tangible – even if it was just for us to keep.

Well making CDs was definitly the cheapest and quickest physical option available so over the last few weeks I’ve been toiling away at making something attractive to house our recording. Here is what I cam up with.


Obviously the woodblock looked a lot nicer before I printed the heck out of it. Still, the little Calavera character that I carved out was mighty tricky simply because he was no bigger than my thumb. Still some handy work with a surgical scalpel got me what I was wanting…


And here is the cheeky little bugger printed:


Then came the task, fun at first but not so after some 8 or 9 hours of printing the coverart onto the custom made sleeves I got from Stumptown Press


And so now (after some handy folding and burning of CDs) my bandmates and I have 50 copies of our first recording. I love making these things and really I hope it never changes so long as I have music to share with my friends.



Anyone Can Play Guitar

…or to be more accurate, anyone can play with a guitar. Way back in February of this year I was talking with Tim of Tym Guitars and while we don’t really talk guitars, we can talk wood. He obviously uses it to make superior audio instruments (aka: guitars) while I use it to make pretty pictures with. He had the great idea of me using a guitar as a woodblock. On paper it seemed straightforward enough.

Well, it turned out to be a bit more challenging than first anticipated. There’s the types of wood that guitars are made of and there’s the wood I usually use which would make a guitar possibly way too heavy to hold comfortably and anyway a lot of guitar woods are too soft for the fine detail that I wanted to achieve in a woodcut. Thankfully Tim found a body that worked for me and most importantly was flat! If skateboards have taught me anything, it’s to stay away from printing and carving on curved surfaces.

While I play drums in a band and don’t know the first thing about playing guitar, I do profess an almost obsessive love of music, even more than my love of art which too is quite sizable. So knowing that this woodcut was going on a block that cost several hundred dollars, I wanted to make sure I got it right and I wanted it to, even partially, speak something of those things that I love in the creative sphere of both aural and visual arts.

So I looked into the art, artists and music that have inspired me greatly in recent times and placed like trophies those elements into one image. All the while grappling with the block and it’s life post woodcut. From the outset, this had to end up being a fully functioning guitar that someone would play and continue the creative journey.

The wood was a minefield. The grain changed direction every few centimeters, there were potholes of softer and harder wood in amongst the grain and so I ended up carving almost the entire block with an artist knife (basically a safer type of scalpel). Another element of the project that came from the initial conversations with Tim was for me to use the whole guitar, meaning the front and the back so as to try to make something more than what you could easily see. Well, working at it when I could and taking time away from it now and then, I finally finished carving in May. Now it was time to print the block…

Obviously looking at the print, you can see the reverse (or positive) image from the block (the negative image) with the front of the guitar on the left and the back of the guitar on the right, both joining in the middle to complete the image. So the printing part of the creative process was by far the hardest. I couldn’t put the guitar through a printing press for fear of damaging it so I had to print it by hand at home (with the help of plenty of masking tape and patience). A few weeks later and I had completed five prints (of which one was the test print). From here The guitar was set aside for a few weeks which is how long the oil based ink was going to take to fully dry.

I then set about finishing the prints. I had decided that they needed some colour, not a lot but enough to bring out the depth of the image. I pulled out my gouache paints and began the battle that I have with them and their ever changing colours… Needless to say another month later and I had four prints completed. After a bit of framing and at over a meter wide, this is the finished print.

The final (and current) part of the puzzle was where Tim re-enters the picture. At the moment this is what the guitar looks like:

The original plan was to have it fully finished before unveiling but while I was filling my spare time painting prints last month, the fine folks at Paradise Hills gallery in Melbourne contacted me about being a part of their group, music-themed art show. I figured I had to show the guitar! It’s like they already knew I’d made this even though Tim and I had told no one of our pet project (in case I didn’t work out how we’d hoped).

Either way, both the guitar and the print will be hanging on the wall at Paradise Hills in Melbourne this coming Friday night. If you’re in Melbourne then please come down and have squizz! When the show’s over the guitar will go to Tim to be lacquered, built and set up. Then both the guitar and the print will most likely go on sale together at Tym Guitars for someone to go and make a racket with!

I love it when a crazy scheme comes through!