Friday, August 23, 2013

Faster Than a Speeding Skipper

Zabulon Skipper. Two-block woodcut with watercolor by Ken Januski
Zabulon Skipper. Two-block woodcut by KenJanuski

My reduction linocuts take a very long time to do and can be quite exhausting. Out of curiosity I checked on the hours spent on them and they average between 40 and 60, not counting the many hours spent trying to decide on a subject. After the last couple of reduction linocuts I vowed to do something simple but still ended up getting involved with complicated, time-consuming linos and/or woodcuts.

Not today. The two-block woodcut immediately above took 3.5 hours from the first cut in the block to the final cleanup. It's not exactly what I envisioned but I wanted to do something simple and I wanted to try a grab bag of Shina plywood cutoffs that I received a week or two ago.

This print, done on leftover Rives Heavyweight paper, is about 4x5.5 inches. I printed and hand-colored it in an edition of 5.

Along with dragonflies Jerene and I have continued to develop our interest in butterflies. One that we see quite often is the Zabulon, pictured above. The colors really should be orange and brown not red and black. Still I think it gives an approximation of the butterfly.

When I started it I thought about just doing a one color print in black and then hand-coloring the prints with watercolors as I did with my Osprey at Cape May lino. But I just couldn't resist trying  to get the orange by carving the butterfly on the reverse side of the black woodcut. Of course that's not really very orange. But I might just try some watercolor and see what happens.

Printmaking can be both fun and work. By the time I'm finished with a complex reduction lino I think of it as work. This was fun.............

24 hours later and I realized that I just wasn't happy with the colors in this. So I added a touch of watercolor to one of the five prints I pulled. It's at top. It looks better but still not as good as I'd like. I may eventually redo this as a slightly more finished print. I will keep it slight though as I'd like it to stay fun.

Speaking of fun that is generally my experience in observing nature, especially birds. That's not always the case in situations where the weather might be miserable for instance. But normally it is fun and full of excitement.

When I turned to wildlife art for my own subject matter I was hesitant because that sense of excitement seemed missing most of the time in the work that I saw. That changed when I first read Drawing Birds by John Busby. I was reminded it of this again when I saw an announcement for some David Measures exhibitions at the Society of Wildlife Artists web site.

Other artists have suggested that I turn my love of dragonflies into work from life. But how? They seem even more active than birds. The David Measures work shown in the link gives the answer, and captures all the excitement of seeing dragonflies on a sunny day.

I wish I were showing in the Annual Exhibition of the  SWLA this year. Work was due for the jurying over a week ago. But I didn't apply. Much as I'd like to be in it the extra fees required to have a courier store it and deliver it to the Mall Galleries in London on a specific date was prohibitively expensive. That's not to mention the costs of shipping the work itself. I paid all of these fees last year but even if I'd sold everything I probably would have lost money. And I didn't sell anything. And then there is the morass of customs.

I'd resigned myself to not showing this year and wasn't going to write anything about it.  But seeing that announcement for the David Measures show reminded me of how appealing it is to show there with artists like the late David Measures.

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