25 February 2006

Food For Thought

Wow, the comments on my last print, "Loosen the Knots," gave me lots of food for thought. It was good, because I had to get more conscious about my choices and look at why I did that print the way I did it.

As I said in a comment, the birds are red because I had a dream in which the birds were red. So the birds are red. But a lot of folks also seemed to want to see the birds have more (or less) depth, body or dimension. I can see that. But there's another thing I'm working with, which is that the print is part of a series. The working title of the series was 36 Ways to Use Your Lifeline but I'm now calling it 36 Views of Meditation so that it's clearer what it's about. It's based on a comment my meditation teacher made a couple of years ago, "your practice is your lifeline." So the series is about meditation as a lifeline, and what holds the prints together is this image of a lifeline, a rope, that appears in each print. The lifeline is made out of nothing. It's the part of the wood that's carved away. It's the white of the paper. Emptiness.

The lifeline is the "star," the main character. The other characters that populate the prints - the feet, the climber, the birds - are secondary characters. The white rope is the consistent element. So I guess that's why I haven't made a great investment in making the characters look "real" or embodied.

The other reason is that I'm not interested in working with that kind of detail right now. In addition to exploring this theme with this little series (who knows how close to 36 I'll get!) I'm also exploring the medium. I'm a beginner. Totally. So my goal is to get comfortable with the general techniques - carving, how paste and water affect the printing, improving my bokashi, getting colors more balanced, what size brush to use when, stuff like that. I don't want to get to the level of how fabric looks if it's wrinkled or those kinds of representational isues. Being kind to myself, I'd say I'm trying to keep my task manageable. Being more ruthless, I could say it's my lazy streak showing!

Please know that I'm not mounting a defense of myself. Rather, I'm responding out loud to your comments and sharing what my thoughts have been. I'm wanting to acknowledge that in blogging about my journeys in moku hanga I've invited you all to watch and also to participate as you want to. So please do! I appreciate all the comments and I definitely ponder everything you say.


Sharri L. said...

It is always so intresting to hear the artists' thoughts about why they do what they do and what their images represent. Personally, I would say to stay away from pure representation, but only because I think that dilutes the image. The viewer tends to get caught up in "how" you got the folds in the cloth, etc. You are on a marvelous journey and will learn many exciting and wonderful things about hanga, and about yourself, along the way. Bon voyage!

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for sharing your vision about the prints you are creating. It is so helpful to hear your thoughts and reasons. When I read an artists statement about their work it changes how I see and feel their work. It is such a difference to see it through your eyes and experience, rather than mine. Thank you.

BZ said...

Hmm. My take on a finished print is not what I can do to change it, it's wondering about what an artist is expressing, accepting that work as the artist's finished statement, even if it is a decision NOT to finish something. If a portion is left unrefined, then that is part of the finished work. Personal fine art is not a service, unlike a job in commercial art. It is not necessarily a collaboration. I honor it when you say it is "done" because "done" is when the piece has been developed adequately into the message the artist is trying to send.
That comment made, just my .02, I personally love the brilliant red birds and would feel that working them up to represent of depth would detract from the non-literal style of the image and it appears loyal to its own identity. If it were more of a literal nature scene, well then I can see somebody wanting those birds to have depth. I like your vision on this one, Annie.