08 April 2018

Thinking About a Book

Now that the Fire Series has gotten me through Year One of Trump, I'm feeling a strong need to re-evaluate some things for Year Two.

First of all, I've made some personal resolutions for 2018 with the hope of improving my mental state. I developed some bad habits in Year One, including a propensity to utter, either mentally or aloud, the word “f-k” way too many times per day. This might make you chuckle, and maybe you can identify with it, but I've found it to be a very unhealthy habit, like a bad mantra. I'm resolving to replace it with a better, more uplifting mantra. The things that slide off my tongue that have just the double meaning I'm looking for are “lord have mercy,” "bless your heart" and “heaven help us,” so I'm starting there. I'm also looking to rein in my media/news habits a little more. This is something I've already been working on, but there's more to do.

On the art front, I'm still not 100% sure what my next project will be, but I want it to be similarly uplifting. It's probably not possible for me to do work that's free from political content, but as I clean up my mind and my media habits, perhaps the focus and clarity of my work will follow a similar track.

Right now the idea that has the most traction for me is making a book. Except for an excellent workshop I took at Anderson Ranch a few years ago with the wonderful printmaking artist Karen Kunc, I've never made a book. Nevertheless, many of the print series I've done end up being narrative, at least in my own mind, so I feel confident that I can do a book. And if I can't figure out binding, there are an abundance of bookbinders in my area. I'll keep you posted.

22 February 2018

Mokuhanga on Evolon

While I was working on the Fire series, I ran across a reference to a new synthetic paper called Evolon that sounded interesting. Evolon is a non-woven nylon/polyester microfiber "paper" (you could also categorize it as a fabric) that is being touted for all sorts of uses, from industrial to packaging to conservation. Another of the areas being explored is using Evolon as a printing paper, and apparently Atlantic Papers will be the main U.S. distributor of the paper form of Evolon.

I purchased a couple of sheets of 98gsm Evolon from Dick Blick a few weeks ago. It's an odd substance if you're used to real paper — it's soft and very fluid-feeling. It has "drape," like fabric, so it's a little hard to handle. But it has some intriguing qualities for art: never stretches, always dries flat, can be wrapped like canvas, dampens well, comes in huge sizes, archival, and UV resistant. You can also launder it or wring it when wet and it will become a soft fabric that you can sew. What's not to like? So today I used an old set of four blocks to test Evolon AP for mokuhanga. I printed them consecutively, one color on top of the other with no waiting in between. Here are my results.

One interesting feature of Evolon is that you can launder it or wet and crumple it and it will become fabric-like. The upper left image was printed dry on a piece of Evolon that was previously crumpled. The image on the upper right was printed on dry Evolon, and the bottom image was printed on Evolon that had been damp packed in the standard way for mokuhanga.
Here's a close view of the print made on damp Evolon. The color is a little richer than in the other prints, but there was some bleeding, especially around thinner lines. I don't think I would use this paper for very fine ukiyo-e style work.
Here's one of the prints that I made on dry Evolon. The tooth of the paper shows more, but lines are fairly crisp and it picked up both brush strokes and wood grain quite easily. If you've ever tried printing mokuhanga on dry Japanese washi, you'll know that it never comes out this well!
Here's a sheet that I wrung out wet and then dried, to see how it would behave in "fabric" mode. Here you can see some creases and fabric texture under the ink, and the paper dipped into uncarved areas more easily so there are more stray marks. But still, it's not half bad and a more forgiving design would print just fine. I think there are a lot of possibilities here!


19 January 2018

Eclipse


ECLIPSE
Watercolor woodblock (moku hanga)
11 x 17 inches (28 x 43 cm)
Made from 1 block, 7 hand-rubbed applications of color
Edition of 10 on Yukimi paper
___________________

This is the last print in this series about fire. Today is day #365 of Trump and it's been a hell of a year. It's become a truism to say that the USA is a divided country, and it is, but one thing that brought Americans together in 2017 was the American Solar Eclipse. People from all different places and backgrounds and races and political orientations — all of us were riveted on the total eclipse of 2017. It wasn't political, it was just the awesomeness of nature and science and being a human on this beautiful blue planet. So I wanted to end things here, on this note.

As usual, here are the steps I took to make this print.

This board has been used for the first (yellow) layer on every one of the previous 11 prints. I created the entire eclipse print using just this one block.
I scribed a circle using a compass and carved the circumference with a narrow v-gouge. The small dots are guides I made for the "Vigil" print so I would know where to wipe for the white spots of each flame.

First color, as usual, was yellow.
Then I carved the sun's corona, which is visible during an eclipse.
That was the only carving. The rest of the corona was built up with brushes only.





One year down.

14 January 2018

Vigil


VIGIL
Watercolor woodblock (moku hanga)
11 x 17 inches (28 x 43 cm)
Made from 5 blocks, 10 hand-rubbed applications of color
Edition of 10 on Yukimi paper
Shapes derived from four video stills of a group of candles.
___________________

vigil
/ˈvɪdʒ·əl/
​noun
• a period of staying awake, to be with someone who is ill or to call public attention to something
___________________

So we gather together and stand shoulder to shoulder. We watch and wait, and we try to stay awake.

The way the grain printed, with the suggestion of a current of energy running between the individual flames, was everything I could have hoped for when I chose that piece of wood for the final layer.

As usual, here are some process shots.


05 January 2018

Fire and Fury



FIRE AND FURY
Watercolor woodblock (moku hanga)
11 x 17 inches (28 x 43 cm)
Made from 5 blocks, 10 hand-rubbed applications of color
Edition of 8 on Yukimi paper
Shapes derived from four video stills of a North Korean missile launch.
___________________

“Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
–Robert Oppenheimer, quoting the Bhagavad-Gita, 16 Jul 1945

“I call upon the scientific community in our country, those who gave us nuclear weapons, to turn their great talents now to the cause of mankind and world peace: to give us the means of rendering these nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete.”
–Ronald Reagan, 23 Mar 1983

“Since Auschwitz, we know what man is capable of. And since Hiroshima, we know what is at stake.”
–Viktor Frankl, 19 Jun 1983

“Japan learned from the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that the tragedy wrought by nuclear weapons must never be repeated and that humanity and nuclear weapons cannot coexist.”
–Daisaku Ikeda, 25 Apr 2012

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
–Donald Trump, 9 Aug 2017

“Will someone from [Kim Jong Un's] depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
–Donald Trump, 2 Jan 2018

What else is there to say? I have nothing to add.

First two colors.
Color three.
Fourth color. The fifth block was printed four times to complete the print. Unfortunately i didn't take any photos.

27 December 2017

Wildfire


WILDFIRE
Watercolor woodblock (moku hanga)
11 x 17 inches (28 x 43 cm)
Made from 5 blocks, 9 hand-rubbed applications of color
Edition of 8 on Yukimi paper
Shapes derived from four video stills of a California wildfire.
___________________

2017 has been a remarkable year for the United States of America for many reasons, including the record-setting wildfires in California and other parts of the western USA. This year is the most expensive firefighting year on record for the US Forest Service with over $2 billion spent. Climate change deniers continue to argue that we've always had fires and weather is just weather and it's those people's fault for building there anyhow; the Trump administration continues to dismantle federal actions that address both the causes and the effects of climate change (can we at the very least respond to the effects, please?); but meanwhile the Thomas Fire north of Los Angeles has been burning for 23 days and still rages as I type this post. Fires have also erupted in Europe this year and, perhaps most alarmingly, wildfires have begun to occur farther north than ever before. In August of this year, "unusual and possibly unprecedented" multiple fires broke out in melted peat bogs in Greenland.

This print is dedicated to all those who have lost homes to the fires, including my friend Laury and her family, who lost their home to the Sonoma County fires in October. ♥

Here are some photos of the print in progress.

A small bright spot created by wiping away pigment on the first layer.
Shapes from first video still added.
Wiping is needed to keep the shapes from the first layers visible as the pigment builds up.
One more set of shapes in a darker shade, still wiping to keep visibility of the layers below. I like the "steamy" effect created by the wiping.
This is the fifth block. The photo was taken after printing, which is why it's stained with color. You can see that the block contains another set of fire shapes (a fourth video still) in the sky area plus trees that were in the video foreground. I worked the two areas separately for the most part and printed five or six different times before I was satisfied with the color balance.

27 November 2017

Gaslight


GASLIGHT
Watercolor woodblock (moku hanga)
11 x 17 inches (28 x 43 cm)
Made from 5 blocks, 16 hand-rubbed applications of color
Edition of 8 on Yukimi paper
Shapes derived from four video stills of fracking flares.
___________________

Gas•light [gas-lahyt] verb
To cause (a person) to doubt his or her sanity through the use of psychological manipulation:
How do you know if your president is gaslighting you?

Gas•flare [gas-flair] noun
A gas combustion device used in industrial plants such as petroleum refineries, chemical plants, natural gas processing plants as well as at oil or gas production sites such as hydrofracking operations:
The gas flares, which are bright enough to be seen from space, turned a peaceful little life into a nightmare.

The shapes in this print are derived from a video of gas flares from a fracking well, but I couldn't resist the double-entendre with the psychological term "gaslighting," which is being used often this year as people discuss the condition called narcissistic personality disorder and whether or not the president of the United States suffers from it. Gaslighting is one of the things that narcissists do.

Here are some process photos.