10 November 2005

And Commitment Issues

Commitment

The biggest difference I find between making a digital illustration and making a woodblock print is in degree of commitment. On a good day I can create a finished digital illustration that I'm happy with in about a half a day, and the medium is so fluid I can try out a lot of different options fairly easily. A multicolor woodblock print, on the other hand, is at least a two week process (for me at this stage, anyway) and it's quite methodical, so I find that I want to be really committed to the image. For a couple of weeks now I've been making some sketches for the next print, but just the thought of all the work it will take to actually make the print keeps dissuading me from following through on various sketches. I keep making sketches that I don't like well enough to work with for the long haul. I guess in a way this is good. It's forcing me to wait until the image is really right and keeps me from settling for less. But what about experimenting and just "fooling around" with the medium? Woodblock doesn't seem to lend itself to easy experimentation. It's such a different process, such a different pace than what I'm used to.

I think i would really like the pace if woodblock was all the work I was doing, but the extremely fast and high-pressured pace of commercial illustration work kind of takes over my life and it's hard for me to readjust my clock even when I manage to find some time for woodblock. I'm not quitting yet, though!

Any thoughts or tips?

7 comments:

Ellen Shipley said...

Hmmm. That's interesting. I on the other hand just wing it most of the time (my reduction block doesn't count -- I planned that thing up the wazoo!). I have a basic idea, or a central image, and then I work around it. I especially like working with textures and patterns, but if I planned it all out from the beginning I would be bored by the time I got to it!

I can see how digital art can be more satisfying as to finished product. But what I really like about woodcut is the process. I like to be "in the moment."

Annie B said...

I should add that the thing I really *don't* like about digital illustration is the final product, because there isn't really a final product. You can make a printout, of course, but in my opinion a digital print, even on high quality paper, lacks the human touch and has none of the beautiful layering and depth that you get from a relief print.

tom said...

Hi Annie,

I am feeling the same way. When I use Photoshop to rearrange photographs or drawings for the woodblock process, things flow beautifully. The design template is strong and there is no need to wander off into the countless permutations that the program offers. Maybe a little cropping, correcting perspective and simplifying shapes, but not rebuilding. However, when designing on computer from scratch there seems to be no end point. Damn Godzilla!

Terry said...

I can totally relate. I don't do prints, but I juggle digital editorial projects and slow, physical oil paintings. It's really difficult to switch from one to the other, and it takes three days just to get into the groove.

And I too, am experimenting with going back to old-school for illustration work. pushing paint around is just more fun than pushing pixels around.

Andy English said...

Interesting thread. I definitely work too hard, juggling all kinds of tasks but, although I count engraving and printing as part of my work it seems that time slows down and I life my life a little more at a healthier pace when I do these things. Still with deadlines, still with problems to solve but sometimes achieving a zen detachment and sometimes finding myself happy in my work. Hope all is well with you.

Marissa said...

I feel that while traditional woodblock printmaking doesn't lend itself to easy experimentation, there are so many other ways of using it that can be quite free. You might want to check out the book; "Relief Printmaking" by Ann Westley.

I think we met on flickr awhile back.

Julio Rodriguez said...

I think woodblock gives you some flexbility...not much but some...I seen artists that experiment and create a night and day version of a landscape just by introducing some new color blocks and reusing the original keyblock(s) or changing the colors on exisitng blocks...