Monday, March 23, 2015

Why I Bother with Prints, and Other Stuff

Part of the Newly Signed Edition of Mergansers and Bufflehead Woodcut. Photo by Ken Januski.

With all the consternation that seems to be an integral part of printmaking it's easy to wonder why anyone bothers with it. One of the main reasons can be seen above. Rather than just one object, as with a painting or drawing you can end up with many, more or less identical. When you're happy with the print this is great. When you're less happy then you might again question why you do it. Fortunately I'm happy, or at least satisfied with the results most of the time.

Red-breasted and Common Mergansers with Bufflehead at Flat Rock Dam. Two-block Woodcut by Ken Januski.

I debated whether to leave a little white in the upper right hand corner of this print. Almost all art can benefit from a variety of lighter, or in this case lightest, areas. But sometimes it just looks tentative and can call attention to itself in the wrong way. That was the case here so I touched up that area with watercolor similar in color to the color of the foreground water.

Female American Kestrel Eating American Robin at Morris Arboretum. Watercolor Sketch by Ken Januski.

Speaking of calling attention to itself in the wrong way that's exactly what happened to the American Robin above. It was in front of the car of a visitor to the Morris Arboretum wetlands yesterday. When she returned after birding the area she found this female American Kestrel having it for lunch. If you pay much attention to the natural world you can quickly see how brutal it can be. As another example a male American Kestrel met a similar fate along the wetland ponds a few months ago. I stumbled upon some beautiful feathers that could only have come from a male American Kestrel. My guess is that he was eaten by a Red-tailed Hawk. Also this winter we ran across the remains of a Great Horned Owl, which itself is usually the predator. We're not really sure what might have gotten the owl.

The Announcement of Spring -2015. Pencil Sketch by Ken Januski.

A few weeks ago there were signs of early spring everywhere: two Killdeer together at the Manayunk Canal, singing Song Sparrows everywhere, and the first singing Red-winged Blackbirds again at Morris Arboretum. In my mind I toyed with the idea of combining some of these sites into a print celebrating spring. Above is a template for a possible woodcut or linocut. Unfortunately I could find no way to include the newly returned Wood Ducks.

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