15 May 2018

A Book of Awe

Ancient Indian palm leaf manuscript
I've been making some pages for my "palm leaf" style book and I thought I'd start showing them to you now that I've completed four.

The topic is the emotion we call awe, which has recently become an object of study for psychologists and brain scientists, most notably Dacher Keltner and Jonathan Haidt, who wrote a 2003 paper on the subject and who define awe as "a feeling induced by vastness that requires some sort of mental accommodation to overwhelming new information." Further studies have found connections between the experience of awe and enhanced creativity, improved health, a sense of belonging, and an increase in pro-social behaviours such as kindness, self-sacrifice, co-operation and resource-sharing. According to a 2017 article in Psychology Today, awe is also one of the few emotions that can reconfigure our sense of time and immerse us in the present moment.

Palm leaf books were one of the earliest formats for Buddhist texts, so I decided to begin my book with the Sanskrit word kathamcid, which means "somehow or other." This may become the title of the book, I'm not sure yet. The pages are 6 x 15 inches. On a desktop, you can click on the images below to enlarge them.





I don't know right now if this is the order of the pages or not. Things are very fluid at the moment (not usually how I work!). I'm using old woodblocks, pochoir (stenciling), and rubber stamping to make these. More to come…

13 May 2018

Pressing Matters Magazine

There are two printmaking magazines that I've been devoted to ever since I started making prints: Printmaking Today out of the UK and Art In Print from the US. I love both of these magazines and have always felt that between the two of them I was staying closely informed about this field. Both are somewhat academic, especially Art In Print which often takes a historical view as well as focusing on contemporary art and collecting. Printmaking Today has a bit more emphasis on print process than Art In Print, which I've always appreciated.

 But there's a new printmaking magazine on the scene and it's filling a gap that I didn't even realize existed. Pressing Matters, now on its third issue, is all about contemporary print artists, both well-known and lesser-known, and it's a beautiful publication.

The first thing I notice about Issue 3 (my first time seeing the magazine) is the paper stock — it's not shiny. It's uncoated and fairly heavy and it feels like… well, like paper. Like the kind of paper we printmakers might want to print on. Clocking in at almost 100 pages, the magazine is well designed and feature articles are given generous space, running from four to eight pages, interspersed with large well-printed illustrations. Artists and art lovers are clearly the intended audience and, let's face it, we're in it for the pictures.

There's a strong craft, DIY, and interdisciplinary focus in Pressing Matters. Graphic design, fabric prints, ceramic screenprinting, letterpress, relief printing, intaglio, some registration tips, work spaces — all of these topics plus four or five lengthy artist profiles appear in issue 3. Below are a few spreads so you can see more. I'm definitely in for a subscription to round out my printmaking library.

Opener from a feature on the oversized photo-realistic reduction linocuts of Dave Lefner.
Opening spread from an interview with Houston-based printmaker Delita Martin.
Tips and tidbits like this are interspersed.
Oh, and maybe the best thing of all? This magazine smells like real ink.