03 December 2014

Counterspells: a Series of White Line Prints

The next few posts are catch-up posts in which I'll be showing you prints I completed in November 2014 for a show that's hanging here in Northampton, MA, called "I Was a 20th Century Lesbian." Because I needed to get these prints done much more quickly than my usual multi-block woodblock method would allow, I chose to do this group of works as white line woodcuts. The prints, which celebrate organizations that helped move gay rights forward in the U.S. in the late 20th century, are based on the shape of a triangle, and all eleven of them were completed using just two different matrices.

Matrices for the eleven "Counterspells" prints.
You can see in the photo above that the wood gets stained by the watercolor pigments even though I wash the block from one print to the next. You can also see that I used the bottom matrix more than I used the top one. I also occasionally used an uncarved block for background colors.

The process is painstaking. A sheet of washi (Japanese paper) is attached to one side of the block and pulled aside while pigment is applied to small areas of the block, a little bit at a time, using small watercolor brushes. Impressions are taken using the back of a wooden spoon. The prints are thus printed one at a time -- I found it took about 3 hours per print, and I made three of each design.

I've already posted about the first four prints in the series if you'd like to go back for a look:
1. ACCOMMODATE (Daughters of Bilitis)
2. MASQUERADE (Mattachine Society)
3. ACTIVATE (Gay Liberation Front)

First four "Counterspells" prints


mary ewert said...

you are amazing

Annie B said...

And you are very sweet to say so.

Elizabeth Busey said...

Wow! These are a real time commitment -- and so beautiful. Can you say political prints are also beautiful? Do you print one color at a time? And does the paper need to be damp to absorb the paint?

Annie B said...

Thanks Elizabeth. I like that these political prints look beautiful to you. I don't think 'political' has to punch the viewer in the nose. Yes, one color at a time seems easiest to me. I printed dry, which seemed to work just fine.