14 July 2009

Dorothy May Gets a Makeover

The Dorothy Bradford print has been bothering me ever since I finished it. It was an odd experience -- I was emotionally satisfied with it but aesthetically unsatisfied. When Beth at Cullom Gallery received the prints, she tactfully wondered aloud if maybe I could go a little farther with it, and I knew she was right. I waited a couple of days to let it all percolate and then decided to go back into the edition and make some adjustments. Here's what happened:

DMayMakeover1

The shot on the left is the original "final" version. The first thing I did was darken her hair considerably. Then I added some green to the water around the figure. I also darkened the folds in her clothing along her back and on her breast and arms. Those four new impressions are reflected in the photo on the right.

DMayWhiteLayer

In the initial version, there had been no block for her dress, just the white of the paper, so I cut a new block in the shape of her dress. I then printed the dress shape in a bright white. You can see in the comparison photos above that the white layer gives her dress a milky diaphanous quality and smooths out the goma zuri (speckles) from the previous printing. Now I was getting close!

DMayMakeover3

Finally, I did some spot painting on the dress-shaped block to bring out some highlights on the forward-facing parts of the dress. Above is a closeup of that layer of printing.

And here's the new final version:

DMayNewFinal

DOROTHY BRADFORD COMES TO AMERICA

Japanese woodblock (moku hanga)
Paper size: 22" x 9.5" (55.9 x 24 cm)
Image size: 20" x 8" (50.8 x 20.3 cm)
7 shina plywood blocks
22 hand-rubbed impressions
Paper: Echizen Kozo
Edition: 30

16 comments:

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

Great changes, I love what you did with the dress and the green really emphasizes the coldness and deeperness (deeperness) of the lower water.....

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

I meant (deeperness???)

Daniel Dew said...

Very much like the additions, the added depth "finishes" it off nicely! I loved the original composition, I love it even more now that it is darker.
In my case, it is usually my wife who points these things out to me, you are lucky to see them on your own.

Diane Cutter said...

While I loved the print when you first printed the final, the change is very dynamic and works wonderfully, making her more the center of focus.

Debra James Percival said...

Absolutely gorgeous! Love the change and I thought I loved it before.

Eli Griggs said...

The changes really do improve the final image.

Nice work, thanks for sharing your progress.

Magic Cochin said...

As Debra said, I liked this before but agree that your additional colours have made it more dramatic and taken it a step further.

I can understand why you thought it was 'finished' before. You'd worked so hard on cutting the blocks and thinking through the colours and layers. Maybe it's a good lesson - put the print away for a few weeks and then re-assess. something I don't do and maybe should... mmmmm?

Printmaking gets more and more like learning Tai Chi... just when you think you've grasped what it's about, a whole new aspect gets revealed and another long journey begins...

Celia

Sally said...

YES!
This is really lovely.
Such depth, and I love the milky diaphanous dress.
Well done.

Tom Kristensen said...

Saved!

Annie B said...

Thanks so much for following along with this. I've never gone back into a print and done this much reworking before. Celia, like you I don't often wait until there's some distance and reassess.

Tom, you said it! I thought of you often while I was rescuing poor Dorothy -- I knew that with your careful proofing you would never have let it come to this. I'm grateful to my own stubborn self that I was able to let myself dive back in and go another round.

Kristen said...

beautiful work Annie.

kit said...

Annie, the additions you add such richness and depth to the colors...and really warms up the print. Thanks for sharing your process. The work is beautifully done and the subject matter is fascinating!

Leslie Moore said...

Love the filmy dress against the cold, green sea and your determination to get it just right.

Robyn said...

Splendid refinements - I loved the original too but delighted to see that what appears finished can still rise to another level.

Andrew Stone said...

Because you described what happened in the text, imagine the print without the figure at all. In the original version the presence of Dorothy was more illustrative (in case we missed the point) and handled with the same degree of detail/interest as the rest of the print. With your changes Dorothy has become much clearer as the focal point of the print pulling the eye and viewer down and deeper.
It makes it a better print and I'm glad you were able to go back and make changes.

Eraethil said...

Great finishing touches - the few steps further make a huge impact on this one. Never would have believed it, as it was sooo good before. Wow!