Monday, May 28, 2012

There's a New Design in Town. And It Has Utensils.

First, it seems only appropriate to acknowledge Memorial Day. I'm not walking through a cemetery or playing taps with my bugle. I love the country I was born to and live in; and certainly hope that my life somehow improves other people's lives. But I have never experienced a call to serve my country in such a deep way that I would find myself in a war torn landscape, knowing I could be maimed or killed. I don't know what that is. I am grateful to those who have felt this call, and have sacrificed themselves in this way.

One of my favorite metaphors about loss that I have ever encountered is from Laurie Anderson's "World Without End" -- it begins in an obvious fashion, but ends profoundly:

"When my father died we put him in the ground. 
When my father died it was like a whole library Had burned down."

All those past gems of knowledge and future experiences, nullified. So. I guess that's what I tend to think of, on a day like this. The families and loved ones, who have/and are experiencing this. The servicemen and women who have been lost.

The Design that Wasn't

Really no good segue way here, so I'll just get on with it. Remember that Grimm's Call to Artists? That I was so excited about?...I know, it's been awhile. It's not that I haven't done anything, but I have yet to find my new groove in the evenings, with the new job. Soooo many things have gone by the wayside (hopefully only temporarily). Recent text from dear friend:

Hey you alive? Or just not talking to me :p

That kind of says it all. Yes, alive. Yes, talking to you, just wiped out.

So. I have made slow progress on the White Snake design (What? You don't have this obscure tale memorized? Read a version here).

I got a little over-ambitious. But RAWTHER focused on it. Apparently, part of me was focusing on a more classic approach to it, even as another part wanted to do more of a sideways take. No matter to the latter: I was soon caught up in making repetitive leaf patterns and snake scales.

Behold, some snaps:

So, as you can see, there was a fair amount for me to obsess over. Not edgy, too classic, too large! But noooo, it will be so cool, once it is carved and hanging, with a bit of hand-coloring! A good testament to a weird classic! Scales all over too busy, not enough apples, too many apples. Overly busy, said Ginger, lacking a central focus. And snakes have scales all over, not just in patches. What's the deal with his super long arm, anyway? Hmm, hmmm, hmm. I stalked back and forth past my dining room table, drawing and erasing repeatedly. I periodically worried over the amount of carving (design size 30"x 16"), then set that aside. Finally ordered the woodblock Sunday before last.

And then, this past Friday, reality belatedly hit. Riding along from dinner at One-Eyed Betty's (burger *great*, maple-bacon doughnuts a sad, yeasty undercooked disappointment: stick with Washtenaw Dairy maple glazed, and serve up your own side of bacon.) and a showing of "Dark Shadows" (also lackluster, though as with any Burton flick, visually fun). Compatriot drove, I stared out the window and suddenly realized that if I didn't get the woodblock for another week (as predicted), I'd have 2 1/2 weeks tops to carve and print a design that I'd normally allow myself a couple months for. Seriously, after all the work so far, would I REALLY not have something to submit? Did. Not. Compute. But! But! But! No...truly not realistic.

"But would this be a design you'd carve even if it wouldn't be for this exhibit?"

A fair question from Comp, though one I didn't want to touch. Yes! No! Definitely Yes! ...Arrrrrgh. So, this Memorial weekend brought lots of agonized creative hustling on my part. Lots of gear shifting and examining from new angles, etc. etc. But! After two solid days of wearing my pencils down to nubbins, it seems I (potentially) have a different solution. Three of them, to be exact. ooOOo, a *triptych*, how fancy! Still lots of work, but I have the blocks already. So we shall see. I'll (hopefully) keep you updated.

Off to fumigate myself with lacquer thinner and transfer the first design...

Best to Everyone, on this Memorial Day!


  1. Love the idea of a triptych, and the designs so far. I am sure whatever you come up with will be amazing. Thanks for the reviews of One-eyed Betty's and Dark Shadows! :-)

  2. Thanks, Ann!! Fingers crossed. And One-Eyed Betty's is definitely worth a go, their bar food is solid.

  3. Well, I can relate to the competition inspired art work - that ends up being far from your artist self.

    Regarding your first attempt: I for one love the tree, and it's detail and it's fruitfulness - and I like the encircling white snake, but I liked it better before it had scales at all... in fact I like the contrast of the detail of the tree and the absence of detail in the snake... if you must add scales, could you do it suggestively in the hand coloring process so that it wouldn't register so strongly as a line in a wood cut? And I think the very first version I saw just had just the smallest of sections that indicated scales -- that's all I would create even if subtly via hand coloring? And as far as long arms... come on - this is Grimm's anything goes!

  4. Well, hmm. The scales continue to elicit different reactions...and maybe a printing with a textured surface would be a good way to handle in the future. Hmm. will think and return to, for the larger design. Glad you like the tree! I think that will come out rather differently in the carving than in the sketching, but I probably won't get to carve this block for some time, so this design may evolve further. The telescope arm also appears within the triptych. Busily carving, around the edges of my life!

  5. Hmmm... yes. Perhaps an embossed scale texture to the paper? Or perhaps Chine-collé? For later perhaps -- given that you have a new more expedient route. Good luck and can't wait to see your final entry.
    (P.S. I can't get Washtenaw Dairy Maple doughnuts out of my head -- what is it about those?! I don't even generally like maple-y things... )