Posts Tagged ‘ woodblock ’

Never Let An Idea Get Away

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Last year I was commissioned to illustrate and design album artwork for a band. It was a fun project that thankfully wasn’t too stressful (meeting other peoples expectations is always different to meeting your own). But like just about any project that requires consultation, there were several ideas in the running but only one used in the end.

What we have here was one of the ideas that didn’t communicate exactly what was needed for the project but still a few months after things were wrapped up, kept coming back to me as something I should invest some time into.

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The piece is titled ‘I Have Seen Death’. It is number two in what could be an ongoing series – we’ll have to wait and see. If it’s not totally obvious yet, the woodcut is of a distressed and mummified face.  I was conscious that I didn’t want this to look like some Converge ‘Jane Doe’ type rip off so getting the right level of detail was really important. Basically this meant that the block was going to have to be large to get the desired effect.

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About two months of carving on and off and I finally finished it off.

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The first test print off the block…

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…and the final proof below.

I am really happy with this, it’s one of those prints that allows you to get up real close and see the totally abstract-like cuts that have gone into the print only to then stand back and take it all in as a whole. Fun! …creepy! …but fun.

The edition is of 10 in total and I have, for the first time, made this print available online. There is only two prints available online so far. Go check it out here…

 https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/AlexGilliesWoodcuts

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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!

Woodcut Workshop Sunday 28th August.

It’s a bit late notice but I am holding a workshop this coming Sunday at the Impress Studio out at Camp Hill. I will be running through various woodcut techniques and printing methods and getting folks to try their hand at making some relief prints of their own. It will be from 10am-4pm and one or two places are still available.

Follow this LINK to find out more and book a place.