Sunday, March 23, 2014

Next to Last Color on the Mergansers and Grebes

Mergansers and Grebes on Schuylkill River. Third State of Multi-block Reduction Woodcut by Ken Januski.

After deliberating about the second color for the water in this print I went ahead and printed it this morning. Yesterday I had a deeper blue green but I decided that something more olive/yellow might work better. We shall see.

It's so hard to actually evaluate a print at this stage. I know that the final(hopefully) black color will bring back a lot of contrast. I hope it will both accentuate the birds, separating them a bit from the background, and add sparkle to the tonal sense of the print.

As Winslow Homer and many others have said, it is tone that underlies everything. I hated those gray scale charts in beginning art class and they really seemed worthless at the time. I'm not sure if you ever really learn anything from doing them. But I think at some point most artists realize that tone is their friend.

One of the things that turns me from so much illustration, including wildlife illustration, is that it often has no tonal contrast. There's just a variety of  lukewarm grays. As I said tone is your friend.

As usual when I print I realize how easy it is to get lost in technique. I never pursued printmaking in my lengthy college education, perhaps because it seemed to rely too much on technique. But the more I print the more I realize that technique too is your friend, though it may take many years to master or even vaguely control it.

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