27 October 2017


Watercolor woodblock (moku hanga)
17 x 11 inches (43 x 28 cm)
Made from 5 blocks, 7 hand-rubbed applications of color
Edition of 10 on Yukimi paper
Shapes derived from four video stills of a bonfire.

I've been working on these prints for almost a year now. After the 2016 election I was so upset and thrown off my game that I could barely tear myself away from the news cycle and drag myself into the studio. When I finally got going again, it was images of fire that matched my inner felt sense* (see below for definition).

My usual way is to just dive in and go once I choose a direction, but for reasons unknown to me I spent most of the spring and summer test printing the blocks for this series. For the past two months, and probably for another couple of months ahead, I'm editioning the prints, probably 10 or 11 different designs in total. So today, I give you "Bonfire."

Less intimate than a hearth, a bonfire conjures up a larger gathering, in a park or on a beach or in a back yard — like a campfire, but bigger. On a darker note, the image of a bonfire can also suggest a ritual burning of objects deemed immoral, a "bonfire of the vanities" such as book burning or burning of art as conducted by iconoclastic religionists or authoritarians. Bonfires can also be included as part of a protest or riot.

As with all of these prints, I'm depicting the flames, not the fuel.

Below are the blocks showing the four different shapes derived from a video that make up the print.

* Felt Sense*
This is a term from a psychotherapeutic technique called Focusing. A felt sense is a body sensation that is meaningful and that points to and somehow matches a vague, elusive and often pre-verbal inner experience. I think that locating the felt sense of any particular experience or situation is useful for artists and is in fact often used by artists intuitively — that moment of aha, when an image just feels right.


Andrew Stone said...

Like all the fire series prints I've seen so far, this one is beautiful and mesmerizing--like a real fire--and the eye moves back and forth from color to color, flicking flames to shapes of fire.
I find the pink color--maybe the first block?--oddly unsettling. It's not a color I ever use, or that I associate with fire but more with cartoons, but it fills a space in this print that keeps drawing my gaze and competes with the yellow-white hot space at the center. This feels "hotter" than flame or hearth and maybe more violent too.

Annie B said...

Thanks Andrew. Great observations. I just today noticed that same quality you mentioned — my eye can't quite land anywhere as I scan the edges. I started out with a very orange palette (you know this from the first flame I did for Linda's portfolio). I think I was influenced by all the references to Trump's "orange-ness." But as I've worked with the images they've gotten redder and redder. That pink resulted from adding just a couple of drops of magenta.

KP said...

Magnificent! I feel like I can warm my hands on this one. We just had the strongest cold front so far this "fall" come through here in A-town and I'm wearing a coat inside (I'm a wimp, yes :-)

I see lots of colors in fire -- pink-ish is definitely one of them.

Thanks for sharing your work!

Annie B said...

Thanks KP! Getting chilly here, too, just in time for a bonfire.

Olga Norris said...

Extraordinary work - the whole series! Thank you so much for sharing your process. The time taken has certainly been worth it; the detail, layers, animation of the finished prints, the ideas, ... your craft and art - it is all inspirational.

Annie B said...

Olga, thank you so much!