Saturday, June 29, 2013

Your Painting Looks Like Naugahyde

Black-throated Green Warbler. Second stage of Woodcut/Linocut by Ken Januski

I've always been pretty certain about my artwork. Any doubts I have I think are not as strong as those that many artists have. This doesn't necessarily mean I'm correct in my judgment. I may just be wrong or foolishly and blindly optimistic. Still most criticism doesn't bother me all that much.

It may confuse me as I mentioned in a recent post when I get seemingly contradictory opinions from different people at the same time. And then there are of course snide comments that are easily ignored. I've found that snide comments are usually meant for the critics peers more than for the artists criticized. They always reek of groupthink.

However when, many years ago, a woman blurted out in our painting class critique, that my paintings looked like Naugahyde it struck me. And she said it with passion. As though she was really offended that I would paint in such a way. I've always valued such passionate comments even if I disagree with them or don't really understand them. It's easy to tell that they are honest and an honest opinion is a rare thing in the world of art.

What she meant I think was that my paintings, 6'x8' heavily painted abstract acrylic paintings at that time, had resistant, unyielding surfaces, the kind that made your eyes bounce back from rather than go into  the painting. At the time I liked that. It seemed modern. I still admire many artists who work or worked in that manner. Stuart Davis, a great American painter in my mind, quickly comes to mind.

I happened to think of this as I was working on this print. The first color on the Shina plywood looked somewhat transparent and watery in some versions. As I printed the ink got thicker and it turned into a more unyielding surface, like that which so offended my fellow student.

One reason for using the plywood, outside of plain old curiosity, was that I thougth I might like its surface, especially in the background of a print. So I experimented with this and when I finally printed the first color of this print on good paper( Rives Heavyweight) I kept the ink thin. As I did this I remembered the old Naugahyde comment.

So today when I went to color number two, this time on the first lino block, I also sought a thinner less reflective surface. I don't think I've ever worked this way in my linos. Certainly the Green Heron lino had very thick heavy ink.

But this time I'm going to try to keep it thin and see what happens. This lino block will be reduction, which means that I'll remove some of the lino and then print different colors on the lino that remains. Finally I'll print black on the second lino, and hope that it all holds together and that I don't have to get out a fourth block to do some mending. At the moment I'm hopeful. And I finally understand that Naugahyde comment!

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