28 September 2011

Car Completed

Third layer of color applied. Car_4Layers
Black layer applied.

This image is based on a news photo of a burned-out car in Iraq. The car is complete, but the full image is not finished yet. Next I'll be using a new piece of wood to create some smoke and fire.

23 September 2011

A Car by Reduction Method

The traditional Japanese method of woodblock printing calls for carving one block for each color, although in practice a printer will often designate areas for more than one color on a block if the areas are far enough apart to be inked accurately. But for the most part, it's one color per block.

As I've begun to work with very large prints and blocks of wood, more and more often I've found myself seeking ways to save money and time by consolidating my materials, and one way I've found to save on wood is to use the reduction method whenever possible. The reduction method involves carving a block, printing that block on all the sheets of paper in the planned edition, then carving ("reducing") the block more, printing again, carving again, and so on until the image is completed.

Last week I started a new print in my "Loaded" series of prints about money, and I'm using the reduction method to create an image of a car that will be central to the print. Below are photos of the first two printed colors from the initial reductions, plus a photo of the block carved for a third time and ready to print. There will be one more reduction after this one.

First, a pale blue impression of the whole shape of the car. Then I went back and carved again.

Next I printed a gray layer.

Today I finished the third "reduction" and tomorrow (hopefully) I'll print it using another tone of gray.

13 September 2011

Pilgrims In Journal of the Print World

Several friends have told me that my portrait of John Alexander and Thomas Roberts, the gay Pilgrims from Plymouth Colony, was on the cover of Journal of the Print World but I was unable to find a copy. Today my printmaker friend Melody Knight Leary sent me a link to an image of the cover online, so I've finally seen it. Thanks, Melody. And thanks, Journal of the Print World!

06 September 2011

Storing Large Prints

HangingPrints The last couple of prints I've made are too big for my flat files, so I've been at a loss for how to store them. Right after the Great Wave prints were completed I rolled them and put them in a tube, but I was concerned that the curl would be hard to get rid of so I started thinking of other options.

I was considering setting up something in our basement, but we took in a couple of inches of water during Hurricane Irene so I'm very leery of using the basement now. Buying larger flat files is the obvious solution, but my spare-bedroom studio in our not-very-big ranch house is already feeling cramped with the flat files I have, so I'll need to figure out where I can put more. In the meantime I put out the question to the Baren Forum listserv to see if anyone had any ideas and I got some great responses.

For now, until I figure out something better, I'm hanging the prints on the back of my studio door simply using skirt hangers and some strips of foam core (photo) as suggested to me by printmaker Barbara Mason. You can see that there's still some curl at the bottom of the prints from being in the tube for a few weeks. There's also not much room on my over-the-door hook, so I'll need to upgrade that as I make more prints.

Woodcut artist Maria Arango pointed out that there are products made for hanging architectural drawings, so I'm looking into that option. I'd like to find a wall-hanging unit of that type, since I'm lacking in floor space.

Some folks seemed to think that rolling the prints isn't really a bad option. That would make it very simple if it were true, so I may try keeping a set of prints rolled and see how it works over time.

My favorite response came from Mexican artist Guadalupe Victorica who has a friend who stores large prints between 2 plywood boards under the mattress. Now that's a good use of space! Under the bed is possible too, although my dog likes to sleep there.

Of course, I could just sell all the prints! That would completely solve the storage problem.

I'm open to any other ideas if you'd like to leave a comment. Thanks for the help! xo Annie

01 September 2011


Japanese-method woodblock (moku hanga)
Image size: 21" x 35" (53 x 89 cm)
Paper size: 25" x 38.5" (63.5 x 98 cm)
2 shina plywood blocks
13 hand-rubbed color layers
Paper: Shikoku White
Edition: 9

Based on a much enlarged section of the back of a one dollar bill.

Honey bees have fascinated human beings for millenia. The honeybee, honey and hives are emblems of sweetness, wealth, and industry. Like us, bees have elaborate societies, they work hard, and like us they are suffering from strange maladies in this century. These creatures, who sting and yet are able to transform beauty into sweetness using their own bodies, have been cited in religious texts for thousands of years. Here's a small sampling of the ways that bees and honey have been linked to God in various traditions.

The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. (Bible, Psalms 19:9-10)

Have you found honey? Eat only what you need, that you not have it in excess and vomit it. (Bible, Proverbs 25:16)

Your Lord revealed to the bees: "Build dwellings in the mountains and the trees, and also in the structures which men erect. Then eat from every kind of fruit and travel the paths of your Lord, which have been made easy for you to follow." From inside them comes a drink of varying colours, containing healing for mankind. There is certainly a Sign in that for people who reflect. (Quran, 16: 68)

Just as though a man were at a crossroads pressing out pure honey and a large group of people were poised in expectancy, so too, when the recluse Gotama is teaching the Dharma to an assembly of followers, on that occasion there is no sound of his disciples' coughing or clearing their throats. For then that large assembly is poised in expectancy: "Let us hear the Dharma the Blessed One is about to teach." (The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha)

O noble one, the wise always offer a handful of flowers humming with bees in the direction where Bhagavan is awake. He is the eternal witness of the drama of the rise and the dissolution of this universe. (Shree Guru Gita, verse 51)

Interestingly, John Eliot, who translated the Bible into a Native American language in the 1660s, noted that there was no Native American word for wax or honey. Eliot claimed that the Indians used the term ‘White Man’s fly’ to describe bees. It seems that the native Americans were more in tune with the sting of the bee than the honey, as bees were interpreted by tribes farther west as a dark omen and harbinger of the white man's arrival. I guess this links bees with the expansion of capitalism in America.

This morning I'm thinking of this little edition of 10 prints as a handful of flowers humming with bees.