28 January 2009

Toh-less Carving

I've been invited to participate in an exchange print portfolio by a group of Boston-area illustrators called "Limited/Unlimited." The image area (8" x 9"), paper size and type (12" x 16", probably Rives), and ink colors have all been chosen. Interpretation of the theme is up to the artist.


The ink colors are red and blue, which I've found VERY limiting. I just can't stop seeing Shepard Fairey's Obama poster in my mind's eye. I've always wanted to try doing a portrait, and I have some portraits coming up in my Pilgrims series, so I finally decided to give in and try a portrait.

Rather than do Obama, I've decided to work with Lincoln as he is portrayed in the Lincoln Memorial statue. I found a photo online and used it as a base for my carving, pasting the printout right onto the block. Here I'm peeling away the back of the paper to reveal the image:


Then I wipe on some mineral oil to make the image completely visible:


I've always carved my blocks with a toh, a flat-blade knife, in the ukiyo-e style of carving but for this print I'm using only gouges. This is more western style, especially reminiscent of the German expressionists, and I'm trying to do a loose kind of drawing with the gouges right on top of the printout reference.

Here's a closeup of the hair and forehead:


And some swirls in the beard:


Using a proof of this block as reference, I'll carve two more blocks, one for areas of undercolor and one for background.


mizu designs said...

Good on you for trying a looser style and not using your toh knife. I need to braver about this kind of thing. Look at all that lovely texture you're going to get in your print!

Jimu said...

Hello Annie, Joined the Baren Forum about 1 month ago, so I'm a total newbie. How do you actually paste that printout onto the wood and rub off the paper, I tried this with poor results. Is that a simple computer printout (inkjet),& what glue do you use, a brief explanation of that process would be much appreciated.

Love your work and blog, here is mine


Cheers & Ciao


Annie B said...

Thanks Kylie. You could carve like this, I know you could!
Jimu, sorry for not going into more detail in my post. The printout I used is a laser print not an ink jet. I think inkjet might bleed using this method, I don't know. Laser print is more like a xerox. I use a little home made wheat paste to paste the printout face down onto the block - a tablespoon of flour mixed into 1/3 cup of water and heated just to a boil, until thick. After the paste cools I brush it thinly onto the block and then position the laser print and gently pat it down. Rubbing too hard will cause the paper to stretch and bubble, so just patting it is the way to go. Once it dries completely, then I spray it with water and begin rubbing with my fingertips until layers of paper loosen and begin to peel off. It takes some time and patience, but once it begins to peel, the paper will come off in satisfyingly large hunks.
This is NOT the only way to transfer a sketch. Many other methods can be found in the Baren Forum archives. But I like this method and I find it easy to do.

d. moll, l.ac. said...

Like the close-ups....what was the theme? or did I miss it.....

Annie B said...

Theme is broad -- just limited/unlimited. So I'm just going with limited colors. Maybe limited life, unlimited impact (Lincoln).

Jimu said...

Thanks for the info Annie, I'll certainly try that...those archives are quite a rescource!

Cheers from NZ


Anonymous said...

Spencer Fairey sure is everywhere these days!

I saw this article about Google Earth and thought of your work using digital map images http://www.alternet.org/environment/124236/how_google_earth_is_literally_helping_to_save_the_earth/

Happy Groundhog Day!
Kristen Dolloff

Anonymous said...



Leslie Moore said...

Wow, Annie! Talk about "expressive carving"! Those eyes just look right through me. This one's going to be fabulous. I can tell.

Annie B said...

Thanks for that interesting article, Kristen. I love Google Earth! Hope winter is treating you OK up north.

Thanks for the encouragement, Leslie. I'm happy with how this is coming along...