Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A New Woodcut, a New Bird or Two

Black-crowned Night Heron, Greater Yellowlegs and Short-billed Dowitcher. Woodcut proof by Ken Januski.

I can't remember how long it's been since I last printed but it must be six months or more. The oddest thing about this is that I got a new brayer and baren towards the end of 2015. You'd think I'd be eager to use them. Well I was but I just didn't have any ideas for prints.

I've been looking at photos and sketchbooks for 2-4 weeks now and finally decided on a small 4x6 inch woodcut of this grouping of birds, first seen at Forsythe NWR quite a few years ago. I always liked the lurking night heron and the oddball dowitcher amidst all of the yellowlegs.

I've mentioned many times that I never plan out my prints, unlike so many prints that I see. I can't say that this is good or bad. But I know such planning is beyond me. In any case once I get going with a print I remember how enjoyable it is to go through the process of carving, proofing, more carving, more proofing, etc. There's always a great anticipation of seeing how the print will develop.

Given that this print is only 4x6 inches I really can't do much in the way of detail. So it is probably nearing completion. I'll most likely print an edition just in black. But after that I may eventually do an edition that also includes some color on the reverse side of this block.

Eastern Phoebe. Photo by Ken Januski.

Along with my first print of 2016 I'm also seeing some first birds of 2016. Above is an Eastern Phoebe, a sure sign that breeding birds have returned. It's always a question of when we'll see the first one. The photo above is from one seen yesterday. But we've been seeing them for at least a week. This was the first that sat still for a minute, in good light, so that I could take a photo.

Savannah Sparrow. Photo by Ken Januski.

Dixon Meadows Preserve has turned out to be a great spot to see Savannah Sparrows. I can't remember whether or not I saw some in early 2016 there. But we got clear looks at this one last weekend. They're always a pleasure to see. We may have heard another Pine Warbler yesterday but we're still waiting to get our first look for 2016.

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