07 January 2007
Slow Work, Fast Work
After almost two years, I'm finally getting comfortable with the pace of printmaking. It's such a sharp contrast to the pace of my illustration work, where a client often needs an image turned around in a day or two. Even 20 years ago before the internet speeded everything up, I often had only a couple of days before I had to Fedex a final for publication. This moku hanga way of spending weeks or months on one image has created a kind of revolution in my artmaking experience and has made me realize how stressed I've been by the pace of my life for the past few years.
I found a quote this weekend that reflects on the pace of handcrafting. This was attributed to Rosemary Hill, a British potter and art critic. She says "To make objects by hand in an industrial society, to work slowly and uneconomically against the grain is to offer, however inadvertently, a critique of that society."
It feels grandiose to say that by working in woodblock I'm critiquing society, but I do feel that I'm working against the current. I feel the way someone might feel who has spent hours and hours riding rapids in a raft and then suddenly steps out of the raft onto a boulder, to sit and watch the water stream by. When I was young, in my 20s, I made a vow (one I couldn't keep) to someday live "in a house where I knew where everything came from." I wanted to make everything I used, or know who made it. I wanted not so much to be self-sufficient as to be intimate with my surroundings, not to feel so removed from the source of things.
I'm enjoying this slowing down, this taking care, paying attention to craft, to process, and to my thoughts as I work.