Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Big Flycatcher Delays Tiny Shoveler

Northern Shoveler at 'The Meadows' of Cape May. Multiple Block Reduction Woodcut by Ken Januski.

Northern Shoveler at 'The Meadows' of Cape May. Multiple Block Reduction Woodcut by Ken Januski.

One reason we didn't go out to see the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at Bartram's Garden over the weekend, when any sane person would have gone, was that I was involved in this tiny two-block, reduction woodcut.

It is just 5x6 inches including the borders, and 4x2.5 inches for just the woodblock itself. Who would think you could get so involved with such a tiny, little thing? But you can. And I've enjoyed it. I've liked woodcuts and linocuts since I first started them three years ago. But I'm still finding my way with them, looking for a method that both gives me the results I want but also doesn't drive me crazy with all the technical complexity, or endanger my health with unhealthy fumes.

Two of my favorite prints were also the most difficult and the most nerve-wracking, The Blackburnian Warbler and the Green Heron with Twelve-spotted Skimmer.They were total improvisation from start to finish.

Since then I've tried various other methods, always with the original intent of keeping the process simple. It didn't always turn out that way though.

A few months ago I bought a Shina Plywood Grab Bag. It includes numerous very small pieces of Shina Plywood. They seemed perfect for experimenting and so that's how I got started here. At first this was just a one block, one color experiment.

But once I was done with seeing the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and doing a watercolor based on it I wanted to get back to this. To make a long story short I printed two colors on the original woodblock then flipped it over and printed four more. It is finally done.

In many ways I prefer this to the flycatcher watercolor. I think that's because it is a separate, almost abstract painting, while at the same time being fairly accurate in portraying a Northern Shoveler. Prints and particularly woodblock prints seem to lend themselves to this method.

So I'll keep at it and keep experimenting.

This is an edition of 12 on Rives Lightweight paper and will eventually be for sale on my Etsy store.

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