Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Completed Mergansers and Grebes Woodcut

Mergansers and Grebes on the Schuylkill River. Multi-block Reduction Woodcut by Ken Januski.

Done! Though inevitably as I print what should be the last state of a print I start thinking, 'Well I could do that or I could add this.' But Sometimes you just have to stop and save any new thoughts for a new print.

This is an edition of 15. The entire print is 9x11 inches and the image itself is 6x8 inches. I used Daniel Smith water soluble relief inks on Shin Torinoko paper from McClains. I had read that this paper, reasonably priced, was also good for use with multiple blocks. Since I knew I'd be using both reduction woodcut and multiple wood blocks it seemed like a good choice. And I have to say that it's held up well.

I'm quite happy I pursued this, especially the 5-6 abstract shapes that constituted the first image that I printed, way back when. They force this print out of the category of something you might actually see, I think, into the category of evoking something you might experience.

As returning readers well know I have a thing about photography. I doubt that it's far removed from the notion, apocryphal or not, that photographs steal your soul. To me they are always so much less that what I've seen and experienced.

I guess that's why I've always loved art. But wildlife art seems to be joined at the hip to photography. Numerous artists have complained about this but photographic wildlife art still seems to completely overwhelm any other type of wildlife art.

So since the day I started bird art, almost eight years ago now, I've wanted to create a type of art that is both naturalistic, in the sense that there is some sort of truth to the birds and other fauna and flora portrayed but that is also artistic, that is not limited by verisimilitude. A well known wildlife artist once questioned online my notion that artists can know too much. But surely they can, just like muscle bound athletes are limited. Knowledge is in the service of art and not the other way round.

In any case I found a few years ago that relief printmaking seemed to offer a way to combine naturalism and art. But I also found that I was still getting a little closer to photographic representation than I liked, even if it was fairly expressionistic.

So this print is really the first to really break out of that. The geometric shapes put a stumbling block in the way of representation, deliberately. In my mind they have served well in forcing me to keep this print about art, as well as about representation. All in all I'm quite happy with the results and hope that this will be a fruitful path to pursue. I'm pretty confident that it will.

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