Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Between a Blob and a Photographic Rendering

Killdeer Studies. Pencil Sketch by Ken Januski.

Killdeer Studies. Pencil Sketch by Ken Januski.

When I did the pen and watercolor sketch of an American Goldfinch, a Great Blue Heron and a Killdeer that I showed in last post, I wasn't really concerned with detail. I was hoping that the three birds would be recognizable but I don't think that proved true for the Killdeer.

That wasn't really a problem to me. My intent as I said in post was to give some sense of the experience of seeing all of those birds on a very cold day along the Manayunk Canal. Still I was disappointed that the Killdeer didn't look like much more than a blob.

Since then I've continued to toy with the idea of a print based on that sketch. If I make one the three birds will have to be somewhere between shapes that are nothing more than blobs and a more photographic rendering. The Killdeer will be the smallest shape, assuming I keep it in the far background. and so it will need the most simplification. It will be too small to have much detail. And yet it has to be more than a blob. So that's the purpose of the pencil sketches above, done over the last two days from photos that I've taken.

I'd like to get a better since of Killdeer before I start simplifying them. Great Blue Heron are probably one of the easiest birds to simplify. Especially in cold weather they have a distinctive hunched shape that is unique. The problem with them is not making them too simple and including at least some detail so that it looks like a bird not a caricature of a bird.

In the end I'll try to coordinate all of these birds. That was the main point of the sketch from the last post, to explore how they could all fit together. I'm happy with that sketch and probably won't change the general composition. But whether it will be a woodcut or a linocut, using one color or more, using one block as a reduction print or multiple blocks all still have to be determined.

One thing I can predict with some accuracy though is that the final birds will be closer to blobs than to the renderings above. I hope that they will be a happy medium, somewhere in between. But I do think it's safe to say that most of this detail will not appear in the print.

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