Monday, March 17, 2014

Mergansers and Grebes Woodcut - The Beginning

Mergansers and Grebes on Schuylkill River. Stage Two of Woodcut by Ken Januski.

I know that this print is a far cry from my last watercolor sketch. But it won't stay like this. I'm putting it up more to show a print in a very raw state, and to convince myself I hope to keep some of the rawness. This is the second state of the print, replacing the pockmarked first state that I put up yesterday.

I'm really much too old to be a bad boy when it comes to art. But often as I look through reproductions of wildlife art there's something in me that wants to scream, that makes me want to become a bad boy.

I can appreciate more realistic art work, and when it seems honest I can like it very much. But if it doesn't feel true, if it feels formulaic or sentimental my hackles go up. I want to do very raw wildlife art as an antidote. I also know that at heart I 'm just not the type of person who should do particularly realistic art. It may please me a bit, perhaps please others even more. But it will never be really exciting to me. For excitement and fulfillment, at least in my own work, there has to be something else.

So we'll see where this leads. I often find that I can think art to death. This results in procrastination. It's hard to know if all the thinking eventually adds to future work. Perhaps when this print is done I'll have a better idea. In the meantime I decided it was time to stop thinking and instead start working.

One recent thought upon looking at some catalogs from shows of wildlife art was that so much of it looked like it was from the 19th century. That's not inherently bad. Great art has been done in many styles. Perhaps someone really loves 19th century art and nothing since then. It's quite easy to throw your hands up in the face of contemporary art. But isn't it possible for some wildlife art, and I know that there is some, to look like it's familiar with both the 20th and 21st century?  I can't claim to represent this type of art but it is something I've been thinking about and it may help decide where this print goes.

Pictured are Common Mergansers, both male and female, and two grebes, a Red-necked and a Pied-billed. I saw all over the last month in the nearby Schuylkill River.

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