Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Osprey and Goldfinch Prints in Progress

Osprey with Fish at Valley Green. Proof of multi-block Linocut by Ken Januski.

Experience is absolutely necessary in order to learn all that may be done with one's own instrument of expression, and more especially to avoid what should not even be attempted. When a man is immature he plunges into all kinds of senseless experiments, and by attempting to force his art to yield more than it either can or should concede, he fails to reach even a small degree of superiority within the bounds of what is possible... Only fools and weaklings torture themselves by trying to achieve the impossible.

And yet we need to be very bold. Without daring, without extreme daring even, there is no beauty...
Eugene Delacroix, The Journal of Eugene Delacroix, translated by Hubert Wellington, published by Phaidon Press, entry for Sunday July 21, 1850.

So ... to put it briefly, I hope I'm being bold and not foolish and weak by experimenting as I am with the two prints shown here. Above is a linocut that I abandoned about four years ago. It was based on a field sketch I did of an Osprey seen at Valley Green, along the Wissahickon in Philadelphia on November 15, 2010.

I stumbled upon it by accident recently. As I recall I decided it just looked too clunky and primitive for my tastes. But now I find something appealing in it so I'm reviving it. Out of curiosity I printed the image on the back of the mounted linoleum and carved away the pressed wood backing where the Osprey would print. I then used a rolled blend, something I've never tried, onto the pressed wood surface, not the most inviting surface in the world.

Well as you can see it didn't really respond well to being inked. And yet it did give some color, which is really all that I wanted, to serve as a backdrop for the black linoleum print. This is a proof. Most likely I'll do some more carving on the linoleum, getting rid of a lot of gouge marks and probably just print in one color, black. But only time will tell.

American Goldfinch on Thistle. Proof of multi-block Woodcut by Ken Januski.

I started the Osprey print today after printing the proof above for the Goldfinch woodblock. I'm trying to figure out how much of the yellow to keep. Since most of the first proof is yellow, whatever I carve away will stay yellow.

American Goldfinch on Thistle. Proof of multi-block Woodcut by Ken Januski.

Most likely the last printing will be the black from the first side of the woodblock. As I continue adding colors I'll need to carve away much of the black so that it doesn't overprint as it does here. But I proof it continually at points like this just to get some idea of what it might look like, and what I might lose forever if I cut it away now. Most likely there won't be much black left when I finally print that block on top of everything else. But that stage is still quite a ways away. One thing I would like to get, and I think I have it to some degree in the proof without the black, is a fairly bright print, just like my recollection of the goldfinch on the thistle.

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