Thursday, March 20, 2014

Stravinsky - A Rite of Spring

Mergansers and Grebes in the Schuylkill River. Second State of Multi-block Reduction Woodcut by Ken Januski.

Well I missed it! I was too busy out seeing what new birds might have arrived and sketching an American Wigeon that is lingering and then too busy working on the second state of the mergansers and grebes woodcut to listen to Stravinksy's Rite of Spring.

Each year for the past few years WRTI, our local classical and jazz radio station has played it on the first day of spring. I assume that they did so again today. I mention it because each time I hear it I'm reminded of how exciting it is, and yet how old it also is, 101 years to be exact.

I have the same reaction each time I hear it: how can anyone be doing traditional art in the light of music as revolutionary as this?! I know we can't, and shouldn't, all be revolutionaries. But each time I hear it I am forced to question the type of art that I do.

So given the experimental nature of my new print it seemed quite fitting to mention Stravinsky. Though it certainly wasn't planned or intentional this print does to some extent try to answer the question of how to make art, especially wildlife art, in the light of over 100 years of modern art, in the visual arts, music, literature etc.

I planned out what I intended to do today, cut out a little more from the second wood block, and then printed it. I really had no idea what the print would look like when I lifted it up off of the block. No idea at all and only the vaguest notion that I thought it might be exciting.

Well I'm pleased. I did some more cutting and proofing and then finally printed this second color on the good paper. For the first time I'm trying Torinoko paper. So far it's worked fine.

As usual I always discover a few technical problems when I print. I think that's largely because I'm not a full time printmaker. I'm not devoted just to it so I often forget things that I learned about technique. But I'm improving. One thing I've noticed is that I prefer a washier ink when using woodblock. That lets the grain of the wood show a bit more. It ends up giving the image an overall softer quality and that seems fine.

I plan on at least two more colors here: a second color for the water on the block I printed today, and then black on the first block. I'm hoping it will tie everything together. If not I may have to go back into the third block, the one I printed first with the colored geometric shapes. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

For now I can just say that I'm happy with the way that this is going.

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